The Child in Poland

I just found out that Dobrochna Zubek will perform The Child, Bringer of Light as part of the “Fast Forward Crescendo” concert at Zamek Cesarski happening on January 7 at 7:30 pm. This will be the first time that my music is heard in Poland.

Moja Muzyka

Dobrochna Zubek

Dobrochna Zubek rehearsing The Child at the Music Gallery in Toronto in February 2014. 

The door in Mississauga

The lovely Ilana Waniuk and Suhashini Arulanandam will perform Through closed doors with the one-and-only door score in Mississauga, ON this Sunday, November 22. Dobrochna Zubek will also perform The child, bringer of light for solo cello. The performance will be part of a Thin Edge New Music Collective concert featuring music by Linda Caitlin Smith, Anna Hostman and Ana Sokolovic.

The concert will take place at 2:00 pm at the Great Hall in the Unitarian Congregation, 84 South Service Rd., Mississauga, ON.

The door score

Trio Chimera

I’m looking forward to the US premiere of my newest trio Like doves with grey wings embracing, performed by Trio Chimera as part of the Princeton Sound Kitchen concert happening on Tuesday, September 15 (8:00 pm) at Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ).

This piece draws on material from my work Weeping for a dead love, which I premiered with So Percussion last May. The violin and cello sing my vocal lines, while the piano expands on the sound of the four Noah bells, which so magically fit themselves into the sonic landscape of this piece.

“Mirror, mirror” on display

My recently completed set of prints, which make up the illustrated manuscript for the mini-opera Mirror, mirror, are now on display at the Vancouver office of the Canadian Music Centre located at 837 Davie St. This is one of seven such sets and is available for sale.

This opera is based on the Grimms’ fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. During performance, the five panels are to be laid flat on a table with the Queen’s and Snow White’s lines appearing on opposite sides. The timing of each vocal entry is coordinated through small square symbols. The staves change size and shape to indicate changes in dynamics and accents.

Mirror, mirror

The prints were carved into linoleum sheets and printed with oil-based ink on handmade paper from Bhutan. Each sheet is hand-coloured and features inserts made from fine tissue papers from Japan, Nepal and Thailand. After printing and colouring, I also wove through threads of woolen, hand-died yarn. Though there are seven copies of each print, each one is unique because it incorporates so many hand-worked elements.

Mirror, mirror

Mirror, mirror

Weeping premiere

I’ve been in Toronto for a few days preparing for the upcoming premiere of my newest piece Weeping, which will be presented by New Music Concerts on Saturday, April 4th. The piece is based on traditional Ukrainian grieving songs (golosinnja). Since this is an exclusively female tradition, it amuses me greatly that all the performers in this case are male. They’ve been really great sports about trying all the funny squeaky sounds that I’m asking them to produce in an attempt to imitate vocal cracks, hiccups and the raw timbre of older, worn out voices. This performance is also going to be my conducting debut and I am eternally grateful to the performers for being so patient and kind to me.

The premiere will take place on Saturday, April 4th at the Betty Oliphant Theatre located at 404 Jarvis St. in Toronto. There will be a pre-concert talk at 7:15 and a reception following the 8:00 pm show.  The concert also features music by Ukrainian composers Karmella Tsepkolenko and Valentin Silvestrov, as well as Canadian composers of Ukrainian origin Gary Kulesha and Alex Pauk.

For more information on Weeping and my composing practice in general, I invite you to listen to this podcast recently produced by Paul Steenhuisen.

This commission and my presence in Toronto is generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Shevchenko Foundation.

 

Obsessive circularity

I just finished my first ever piece for solo harpsichord, …the obsessive circularity of thought…, commissioned by Katelyn Clark. She will premiere the work at 8 pm on February 11 at Chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur, 100 rue Sherbrooke E, Montreal.

The piece was inspired by the tendency to obsessively replay certain conversations in our minds, wishing we said something different and analyzing each phrase from a million different angles. Musically, I concentrated on the slight differences in colour and tuning between the two manuals found on some instruments, obsessively repeating the same pitches and patterns through interlocking hands.

The harpsichord, which I used to compose this piece, located at Princeton University, made in Pennsylvania in the 1980s. 

One of the harpsichords at Princeton University   Inside the harpsichord

The Child in Uruguay

On Tuesday, March 25, the lovely French violist Claire Poillion will perform the viola version of The Child, Bringer of Light in Montevideo, Uruguay. Claire and I met at the Banff Centre in 2011. She was living in the Netherlands at the time and now she will be giving my music its South American debut. Crazy how life works these days.

The Child in Montevideo

Super concert with Thin Edge

I just want to say that I am thrilled with how the Thin Edge concert went last Friday. Gallery 345 is a beautiful space with great acoustics. The new violin duo, Through closed doors, looked great in there and Ilana and Suhashini sounded FANTASTIC! I couldn’t be happier with the piece at this stage in the process.

"Through closed doors" premiere

Photo by Terry Lim. Performers: Ilana Waniuk and Suhashini Arulanandam. 

I am happy to say that the notation seems to be working exactly as planned. I feel so lucky to work with such adventurous and dedicated musicians. Now I’m waiting for the recording (and taking a little breather) before making some revisions and starting on the next stages: making the final layout of the score and engraving the door (if this sentence is confusing, look down at the last two posts).

I am also extremely happy to have met the cellist Dobrochna Zubek, who performed The Child, Bringer of Light. It was great working with her to prepare the piece. She approached it with thoughtfulness, sensitivity and a strong desire to make it her own. She is now the fourth performer to take it on and it’s fascinating to hear the transformations the piece goes through each time.

Dobrochna Zubek performing "The Child, Bringer of Light"

Photo by Terry Lim. Performer: Dobrochna Zubek. 

Speaking of The Child  and its transformations, the piece will be performed at the end of March by Claire Poillion in a brand new arrangement for viola. I am very curious to see how the piece will transfer to this instrument. The performance will be my Uruguayan debut (check the Events page for details).