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Robert Aitken, artistic director

Boulez and Bashaw

Boulez and Bashaw
Simon Docking, solo piano; New Music Concerts Ensemble; Robert Aitken
Monday February 15, 2016 Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis St. 8PM

This concert made possible by the generous support of The Michael and Sonja Koerner Charitable Foundation

New Music Concerts, Robert Aitken founding artistic director, continues its 45
th season with a concert dedicated to the memory of Pierre Boulez who died at the age of 90 on January 5 at his home in Baden-Baden. Pierre Boulez was one of the most influential musicians of our time and in terms of contemporary music perhaps the most important personality of the last 100 years. His music was featured on the New Music Concerts series a number of times, beginning with the North American premiere of Messagesquisse back in 1979 with cello soloist Peter Schenkman under Robert Aitken’s direction. Marc Widner performed the Piano Sonata No.1 in 1986 and in April 1991 Boulez’s close associate Jean-Pierre Drouet conducted the NMC ensemble in Mémoriale with Robert Aitken as flute soloist. The following month NMC presented Boulez conducting the Ensemble InterContemporain in a concert at Roy Thomson Hall which included the iconic Le Marteau sans Maître. On that visit Boulez also directed a workshop on Mémoriale with our musicians at the Royal Conservatory. In 2002 when Boulez was awarded the Glenn Gould Prize NMC had the privilege of preparing the award presentation concert of seven seminal works which he conducted, including Messagesquisse, with the Glenn Gould “Protégé” prize winner Jean-Guihen Queyras as soloist. The occasion was an experience of a lifetime for our musicians, especially soloists Patricia Green, Fujiko Imajishi and Christina Petrowska Quilico.

The February 15th concert features a work that occupied Boulez for most of a decade. It began in 1994 as Incises (English: interpolations), a solo test piece for the Umberto Micheli Piano Competition. Lasting less than 10 minutes, Incises was his first work for solo piano since the Third Sonata was completed in 1963. In 1996 Boulez began Sur Incises, dedicating it to Paul Sacher for his 90th birthday. Based on the material of Incises, it is an extended two-movement work lasting 40 minutes for three pianos, three harps and three percussionists who use a variety of tuned percussion instruments. Here the sounds of the piano in Incises are broken into component parts played by the harps and percussion, and they are deployed across space by spreading the three groups (each consisting of piano, harp and percussion) apart in the performance area. David Robertson conducted the Ensemble InterContemporain in the world premiere of Sur Incises in Edinburgh's Usher Hall on 30 August 1998. In 2001 Boulez revised the solo piano work and in 2006 made final corrections to Sur Incises. Simon Docking will play the original version of Incises and Robert Aitken will conduct Stephen Clarke, Wesley Shen, Gregory Oh, Erica Goodman, Sanya Eng, Angela Schwarzkopf, Rick Sacks, Ryan Scott and David Schotzko in the final version of the ensemble work.


The second half of the concert is devoted to a new piece by Canadian composer Howard Bashaw. A graduate of the University of British Columbia (DMA, 1989), he joined the Department of Music at the University of Alberta in 1993. Working almost exclusively in the acoustic medium, Bashaw’s repertoire ranges from solo instruments to full orchestra. His musical language is perhaps best described as being broadly contemporary, and his scores exist in various conventional, aleatoric, graphic and hybrid formats.


A number of these aspects are present in Postmodern Counterpoint – Antiphonals and Canons with Gabrieli Remembered, for two brass quartets, woodwind quartet, string quartet and two percussion. Stylistically, Bashaw describes the work as a rather unlikely collection of colourfully contrasting movements in which 1) imitative counterpoint is prevalent; 2) the 5-choir division of the ensemble features antiphonal brass and reflects changing contrapuntal textures; and 3) the Rick Sacks percussion conveyor belt is strikingly unconventional and memorable.


The concert will be preceded by an Illuminating Introduction hosted by Robert Aitken during which Simon Docking will perform excepts from Incises and Howard Bashaw will discuss his work. There will be a post- concert reception in the theatre lobby.


Pierre Boulez (1925-2016) – Incises (1994) for solo piano
Pierre Boulez – Sur Incises (1996-98/2006) 3 pianos; 3 harps; 3 percussion
Howard Bashaw (b.1957) – Postmodern Counterpoint –
Antiphonals and Canons with Gabrieli Remembered

Simon Docking, solo piano; New Music Concerts Ensemble; Robert Aitken
Monday February 15, 2016 at Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis St.
Concert at 8PM, Illuminating Introduction at 7:15 Tickets $35 (regular); $25 (artists and seniors); $10 (students) Box office opens at 6:45; Advance sales call (416) 961-9594