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Robert Aitken and Norma Beecroft, founding artistic directors

03 January 2016

Pierre Boulez 1925-2016

Dear Friends,

It is with sadness that we note the passing of one of contemporary music’s icons, composer, conductor and educator Pierre Boulez. His music was featured on our series a number of times over the years, beginning with the North American premiere of Messagesquisse back in 1979 with cello soloist Peter Schenkman under Bob Aitken’s direction in 1979. Marc Widner performed the Piano Sonata No.1 in 1986 and then in April 1991 Boulez’s close associate Jean-Pierre Drouet conducted our ensemble in Mémoriale with Bob as flute soloist. The following month we presented Boulez conducting the Ensemble InterContemporain in a concert at Roy Thomson Hall which included Le Marteau sans Maître and he also directed a workshop with our musicians at the Royal Conservatory. In 2002 when Boulez was awarded the sixth Glenn Gould Prize we had the privilege of performing the award presentation concert of seven seminal works all conducted by the master, including Messagesquisse, this time with Glenn Gould “Protégé” prize winner Jean-Guihen Queyras as the soloist. That occasion was a very special opportunity for our musicians, especially soloists Patricia Green, Fujiko Imajishi and Christina Petrowska Quilico. It was also a highlight of my time with New Music Concerts and I will always treasure the two days I got to spend as Mr. Boulez’s liaison in Toronto. There are many tributes appearing in the press and here are links to a few of the most notable, including an extended encomium by NY Times critic Paul Griffiths (who took part in our series last season).

The New York Times (Paul Griffiths)
The Washington Post (Tim Page)
The Globe and Mail (review of Boulez conducting the NMC ensemble by Robert Everett-Green from Nov. 26, 2002)
British Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Boulezian appreciation by Mark Berry

February 15, the Family Day Holiday Monday, New Music Concerts will present our tribute to the late master. Initially intended as a celebration of Boulez at 90, we will instead mark his passing in the best way we know how, by performing one of his later masterworks Sur Incises (1996/2006) for the amazing combination of 3 pianos, 3 harps and 3 percussion. Stephen Clarke, Gregory Oh, Wesley Chen, Erica Goodman, Sanya Eng, Angela Scharzkopf, Rick Sacks, Ryan Scott and David Schotzko are already hard at work preparing this stunning 40 minute work. The concert also includes the original solo piano work Incises from which the ensemble piece is derived performed by Simon Docking, and a new work for 18 musicians by Edmonton composer Howard Bashaw. It promises to be a memorable evening indeed and I hope to see you there.

David Olds
General Manager
New Music Concerts