Sunday December 3, 2017 @ 8 Introduction @ 7:15
Ryan Scott percussion Max Christie clarinet Eve Egoyan piano
NMC Ensemble directed by Robert Aitken
Betty Oliphant Theatre at 404 Jarvis Street [MAP]
New Music Concerts’ 47th season continues with a very special undertaking, featuring three works with soloists and a larger ensemble than we normally employ. The title “Concertos” is a bit of a misnomer because as Linda Catlin Smith points out in her program note, Path of Uneven Stones employs “piano, which is soloistic, yet non-heroic – a kind of anti-concerto.” Soloist Eve Egoyan says “Since the beginning of my career [...] I have been compelled and intrigued by Linda’s sound world, fascinated by the unusual elegance of her writing and her deep intuitive connection with the piano.” New Music Concerts is proud to be a part of the ongoing collaboration between these two esteemed Canadian artists who have recently returned from Huddersfield, where Egoyan performed a solo recital of works by Smith who was a featured composer at that renowned British contemporary music festival. Eve Egoyan is represented by Latitude 45 artist management.
The concert also includes a clarinet concerto – Cloak – by London, ON-based composer Paul Frehner. Frehner’s concerto grew out of an orchestral work – Cloak of ‘Allophenia – which was a sesquicentennial commission from the Victoria Symphony. Frehner explained to artistic director Robert Aitken that aspects of the clarinet part from that short orchestral work seemed to organically grow into this stand-alone three- movement concerto. We are pleased to have the opportunity to showcase Max Christie, principal clarinet in the National Ballet Orchestra and a longstanding core member of our ensemble, in this world premiere performance.
Percussionist Ryan Scott is another frequent flyer with New Music Concerts as well as being artistic director of Continuum Contemporary Music and a well-known soloist in his own right. He’s featured in the Percussion Concerto by Dutch composer Robin de Raaff, co- commissioned by the American New Julliard Ensemble and the Dutch group Insomnio. Premiered in 2014 at Lincoln Centre in New York, conducted by Joel Sachs with Sae Hashimoto as soloist, in the word’s of New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe, it was “the most rewarding work” on the program. There’s a Canadian connection here too: the Percussion Concerto was partly written during a stay, in June 2013, at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
It was five years ago now that Elliott Carter died, just a month before his 104th birthday. Since that time, New Music Concerts has celebrated Carter’s birthday by performing one of his late works on December concerts. On this occasion members of Accordes, who worked closely with the iconic American composer on a number of occasions, will perform his String Trio (2011). I hope you will join us on Sunday December 3rd. The Illuminating Introduction begins at 7:15 and the 8:00 concert will be followed by our usual wine and cheese reception, courtesy of New Music Concerts’ Board of Directors. I look forward to seeing you there!
David Olds General Manager
Elliott Carter (USA 1908-2012) String Trio (2011, Canadian premiere)
Born in New York City on 11 December 1908, Elliott Carter began to be seriously interested in music in high school and was encouraged at that time by Charles Ives. With the explorations of tempo relationships and texture that characterize his music, Carter is recognized as one of the prime innovators of 20th-century music. The challenges of works such as the Variations for Orchestra, Symphony of Three Orchestras, and the concertos and string quartets are richly rewarding. In 1960, Carter was awarded his first Pulitzer Prize for his visionary contributions to the string quartet tradition. Stravinsky considered the orchestral works that soon followed, Double Concerto for harpsichord, piano and two chamber orchestras (1961) and Piano Concerto (1967), to be "masterpieces". Elliott Carter was the recipient of the highest honours a composer can receive: the Gold Medal for Music awarded by the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the National Medal of Arts, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and honorary degrees from many universities. Hailed by Aaron Copland as "one of America's most distinguished creative artists in any field," Carter received two Pulitzer Prizes and commissions from many prestigious organizations.
In planning to compose this string trio I realized that the viola had a more somber sound than the more brilliant violin and cello. While held like the violin, it is somewhat larger which forces the fingers that stop the strings to reach further for high notes. Therefore, I felt that I would make the viola have its own voice and be the most prominent member of the ensemble. The work is dedicated to Rolf Schulte, Richard O’Neill and Fred Sherry. It was composed in May, 2011. — Elliott Carter
Accordes evolved out of a string quintet that was formed in 1975 to perform a composition by John Beckwith, commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Women's Committee. Frequently heard on CBC radio, they have performed on the Roy Thomson Hall Chamber Music Series and constitute the core string players of the New Music Concerts series. This concentration on contemporary music has allowed Accordes to give Canadian, and sometimes world, premieres of works by such composers as Elliott Carter, Ben Johnston, Peter Paul Kropowski, Brian Cherney, Peter Michael Hamel, Michael Tippett, Henri Dutilleux, György Kurtág, Jörg Widmann, Ann Southam and Hope Lee. They have recorded extensively for the Canadian Music Centre label Centrediscs, including discs devoted to the music of Harry Freedman (Spirit Song), Harry Somers (Somers String Quartets, nominated for a JUNO award in 2001) and Alexina Louie (Dénouement). Their recording of NMC co-founder Norma Beecroft's Amplified String Quartet with Tape was nominated for a JUNO in 2004. Internationally, Accordes travelled to Cologne with Robert Aitken in 2004 to perform a program of Lithuanian music including works by Balakauskas, Kutavicius and The Oriental Elegy by Raminta Šerkšnytė, a NMC commission. More recently in 2013, under the auspices of Soundstreams, they travelled to Taiwan to perform Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera and to Beijing for the Beijing Modern Music Festival.
Paul Frehner (Canada b.1970) Clarinet Concerto “Cloak” (2016, World premiere)
Paul Frehner’s initial musical experiences came from playing guitar in several rock and folk music groups throughout his teenage years. Frehner’s compositions have been performed and broadcast both in Canada and internationally by leading professional soloists, ensembles and orchestras. His works have received numerous national and international awards. In 2007 his work Lila was awarded the Claude Vivier National Award in the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s International Composition Competition. In 2012 he was awarded the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in Classical Music administered by the Ontario Arts Council. Paul Frehner is on the Don Wright Faculty of Music of Western University where he teaches composition, electroacoustic music and co-directs the contemporary music ensemble.
My Concerto for Clarinet and Ensemble, subtitled “Cloak”, explores a range of expression and technique in its three movements. The subtitle of the concerto is a nod toward the shadowy ambience evoked in espionage novels by authors like John le Carré and Olin Steinhauer, which are a source of inspiration for the mood of the work. The meaning of the subtitle also hints at something that is secret, or that is hidden from view.
In the first movement the clarinet’s role is untraditional with regard to concerto form. Instead of occupying the role of the soloist, the clarinet, through most of the movement, plays a subtle, coloristic role, giving the overall instrumental timbre a shimmering quality through the use of multiphonics. These multiphonic sonorities have both harmonic and inharmonic properties in relation to the underlying harmony, causing soft beating patterns to emerge from the texture. There are two passages in the movement in which the clarinet has a more overtly soloistic role, hinting at what is to come. The clarinet is revealed as the soloist of the work in the second movement, where it plays a quasi- improvisatory and florid obbligato part over a contrapuntal accompaniment in the ensemble. The third movement resembles a more traditional concerto form with the focus moving between the soloist and ensemble in alternating passages. In the climax of the work, a theme that has been previously heard in various secondary guises over the first two movements emerges as perhaps the principle theme of the concerto, played here by the clarinet, violin and viola over a full accompaniment. In the concluding section motivic material from the first movement is revisited and played in alternation by the soloist and ensemble in new transformations, giving the listener a new perspective on the material. — Paul Frehner
Clarinetist Max Christie’s career is defined by excellence and versatility. As comfortable in the soloist’s role as he is in the orchestra, he is a gifted chamber musician as well an insightful experienced interpreter of the most important modern and contemporary works. Mr. Christie has performed and toured with the National Ballet Orchestra, where he holds the principal clarinet chair, as well as with the Canadian Opera Company, The Esprit Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared as soloist with the TSO, the Calgary Philharmonic, The Esprit Orchestra, Kitchener Waterloo Symphony and the Windsor Symphony. The former principal clarinet of the Esprit Orchestra, he remains a devoted champion of new music, especially by young Canadian composers. He as recorded and performed with the most prominent contemporary music ensembles in the country, including Toca Loca, Soundstreams, Continuum Contemporary Music, Array Music and New Music Concerts. His recording of Elliott Carter’s music, including the solo work Gra, is available on the Naxos Label.
Linda C. Smith (USA/Canada b.1957) Path of Uneven Stones (1986)
Linda Catlin Smith grew up in New York and lives in Toronto. She studied music in NY, and at the University of Victoria. Her music has been performed and/or recorded by: Tafelmusik, Tectonics Festival (Glasgow), Trio Arbos (Madrid), Victoria, Kitchener-Waterloo and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras, Arraymusic, Tapestry New Opera, Via Salzburg, Evergreen Club Gamelan, and the Del Sol, Penderecki, and Bozzini string quartets, as well as by soloists including Eve Egoyan, Philip Thomas, Elissa Poole and Elinor Frey. In 2005 her work Garland (for Tafelmusik) was awarded Canada’s prestigious Jules Léger Prize. Recently several solo discs of her music have been released: Thought and Desire, with Eve Egoyan, and Dirt Road and Drifter on the label Another Timbre. A new cd will be released by Another Timbre in spring 2018.
Path of Uneven Stones was commissioned by the Société de Musique Contemporaine de Québec (SMCQ) through the Canada Council for the Arts. Central to the work is the piano, which is soloistic, yet non-heroic - a kind of anti-concerto. Throughout the work there are moments where I was trying to create a thicker texture than often found in my work, though at other moments the work thins to almost nothing. The work explores melodic line, (sometimes several lines in layers), which have a slightly uneven rhythmic nature, a path where the stones are unevenly spaced perhaps, though there are places where evenness is paramount. — Linda Catlin Smith
Eve Egoyan is an artist whose medium is the piano. Her intense focus, command of the instrument, and insightful interpretations are a perfect match to the unusual elegance and intimacy of Linda Catlin Smith’s works for solo piano. Compelled by Linda’s deep intuitive connection to the instrument, Eve commissioned A Nocturne in 1994, which also appeared on Eve’s first solo album, thethingsinbetween (1999), and began a long collaboration between the two artists. Eve’s most recent album Thought and Desire (2015) is a collection of recent works by Linda. The disc has garnered a broad range of critical acclaim, including a place on columnist Alex Ross’ “Nightafternight playlist”.
Robin de Raaff (Netherlands b.1968) Percussion Concerto (2013)
Robin de Raaff (Breda, Netherlands b.1968) discovered his own diverse musical world through playing classical piano as well as bass guitar from a very early age. After being introduced to the legend and legacy of Jaco Pastorius, de Raaff’s musical world expanded explosively as an instrumentalist. Parallel with this early development, de Raaff also created his own music and lyrics for his band in which the instrumental sections grew in significance, ultimately expanded into completely scored instrumental works. These instrumental compositions led him to enrol as a student of composition. He first studied composition with Geert van Keulen at the Amsterdam Conservatory and later with Theo Loevendie, graduating cum laude in 1997. In 1999 de Raaff had the special privilege of being invited to work as George Benjamin’s only composition student at the Royal College of Music in London where he also studied with Julian Anderson. de Raaff finished his first opera RAAFF in 2004, commissioned by the Dutch National Opera in a co-production with the Holland Festival. His second opera, also commissioned by DNO and in both cases with librettos by Janine Brogt, resulted in Waiting for Miss Monroe (2012). de Raaff’s Violin Concerto No.1 “Angelic echoes” (2008, written for Tasmin Little and Jaap van Zweden) was selected as the Best Orchestral Work of the year 2008 in the Dutch composition competition Toonzetters. His special interest in this genre led him to compose many Concertos of which his Percussion Concerto is the most recent one. In September of 2016 his Oratorio Atlantis and In Memoriam Pierre Boulez were succesfully premiered in Vredenburg, Utrecht. His latest symphony, Symphony No.4 “Melodies Unheard” was successfully premiered in a concert-tour in January of 2017 with the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra as part of his Composer in Residency. Later this season violinist Tosca Opdam premieres de Raaff’s 2nd Violin Sonata “North Atlantic Light” at the Kurt Weill Hall of Carnegie Hall; Opdam will also present the orchestral version of the work, his Violin Concerto No. 2. Four CD’s of de Raaff’s music have appeared in 2017, most recently with Jaap van Zweden conducting his Violin Concerto No. 1 “Angelic echoes” and his Symphony No. 1 “Tanglewood Tales.” For 17 years de Raaff has been professor of Composition and Instrumentation at the Composition Department at Codarts (formerly the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music).
The Percussion Concerto was partly written during a stay at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada in June 2013. It was commissioned by the American New Julliard Ensemble (NJE) and the Dutch ensemble Insomnio. The NJE gave the world premiere of the Percussion Concerto on 1 April 2014 in the Lincoln Centre in New York, conducted by Joel Sachs and with Sae Hashimoto as soloist. Ten days later the first Dutch performance was given by Insomnio, with conductor Ulrich Pohl and percussionist Diego Espinosa.
The ensemble, comprising 15 players, strives for maximal differentiation of sounds: single strings, harp and piano, an extensive percussion section, horn, trumpet, trombone, flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon alternate with piccolo and alto flute, alto oboe, bass clarinet, contra-bassoon vibraphone and gran cassa, amongst others. The register effects in the score are already anchored in the instrumentation itself. The soloist has a complete arsenal – bongos, a marimba, temple blocks, tomtoms and vibraslaps, amongst others. The ensemble percussionist has, amongst others, a glockenspiel and a vibraphone. In the first movement, the marimba is the central nervous system of the body of sound, the motor of the ensemble. A distinctive feature of the solo part are the upward gestures, involving ever wider intervals, that culminate in de Raaff’s characteristic trills that multiply in the strings, harp and piano. The dramaturgy of the piece is created by strategic contrasts of texture between movements: the marimba dominates the first movement, the bongos, tomtoms, big bass drum and vibraphone the second, and the solo cadenza for marimba, the third. The intertwining of the instruments goes so far that sounds seem to grow together, for example where the brass and wind stir up the vibraphone, where the soloist and the piano melt into one percussion part, or where the trumpet triggers a rapid descent in the tutti by means of rising and falling glissandi: the brass, low winds and white keys of the piano sink to the bottom in a crescendo glissando, while the high winds, harp, violins and violas climb upwards. The result is a cavernous effect, a counterpoint of registers, that gives the music a physiological dimension, and sets the percussion in the middle as protagonist, driver, seeker of both unity and conflict. The long solo cadenza with its particular performance instruction – ‘like a hum’ for the marimba – prepares the way for the dynamic finale, in which repeated pulse tones and tremolos underline the ‘physical’ character of the percussion’s music. — Bas van Putten
Leading Canadian percussionist Dr. Ryan Scott has been hailed as “Fierce and delicate...a chameleon-like virtuoso who triumphs over the varied colouristic demands and technical challenges” (Gramophone). As a marimba and multi-percussion soloist he has performed extensively in contemporary music festivals in Europe, Japan, China, Indonesia, South Africa, the UK and The Netherlands. He has also performed as guest soloist with the Esprit Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, The Hyogo Performing Arts Centre Orchestra, The Austin Symphony and numerous other orchestras and chamber ensembles across North America. A core member of Continuum Contemporary Music, he also serves the organization as Artistic Director.