What Next Fes­ti­val of New Mu­sic a trib­ute to Canada’s 150th birth­day

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - LEONARD TURNEVICIUS

What’s next at the Hamil­ton Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra? Glad you asked.

It’s time for the HPO’s sev­enth What Next Fes­ti­val of New Mu­sic, which will be held on three nights: Tues­day, May 23; Satur­day, May 27; and Sun­day, May 28. The first of those con­certs will be held in First Hamil­ton Chris­tian Re­formed Church, 181 Charl­ton Ave. W., and the last two will take place down the street in The Church of St. John the Evan­ge­list, 320 Charl­ton Ave. W. All three con­certs get un­der­way at 7:30 p.m.

With 2017 be­ing Canada’s sesqui­cen­ten­nial, you could bet the ranch that this year’s fes­ti­val would train the spot­light on Cana­dian com­posers and their works.

“It was ab­so­lutely ob­vi­ous to do the sesqui­cen­ten­nial this year, but in my opin­ion, it wasn’t enough to have all of the mu­sic com­posed by Cana­di­ans which, of course, was a must,” ex­plained HPO com­poser-in-res­i­dence and fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Abby Richard­son-Schulte over the line from her Dun­das home. “But I wanted to put to­gether a fes­ti­val that cel­e­brated the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments of Canada.”

For ex­am­ple, half of the open­ing con­cert for string or­ches­tra has a folk bent to it. Richard­son-Schulte, in an ob­vi­ous nod to the old, has pro­grammed Sir Ernest MacMil­lan’s “Two Sketches — based on French-Cana­dian Airs,” com­posed for string quar­tet in 1927 and re­vised in 1928. There­after, it’s Queen’s U mu­sic prof John Burge’s 1996 “Up­per Canada Fid­dle Suite,” which the com­poser de­scribes on his web­site as “based on orig­i­nal ma­te­rial which of­ten in­cor­po­rates tra­di­tional fid­dle clichés and rhythms in a slightly off­beat fashion.”

Burge’s col­league at Queen’s, for­mer Hamil­to­nian Mar­jan Mozetich, who came from his Kingston home to FirstOn­tario Con­cert Hall on April 8 to hear the HPO per­form his “The Pas­sion of An­gels” dou­ble harp con­certo, will be rep­re­sented by his three-move­ment “Post­cards from the Sky.”

“It’s min­i­mal­ist, but very colour­ful and takes in three dif­fer­ent el­e­ments of things com­ing from the sky es­sen­tially,” said Richard­son-Schulte of Mozetich’s 1998 work.

The open­ing bill also in­cludes “Zi­pangu” by the late Claude Vivier.

“Peo­ple out­side of Canada look to Vivier as one of our most im­por­tant com­posers,” said Richard­son-Schulte. “It’s tragic he died so young, mur­dered (at age 35 in 1983) in a Paris ho­tel room.”

Wil­liam Row­son re­turns to guest con­duct the 13-piece string or­ches­tra for this con­cert.

The sec­ond con­cert, en­ti­tled “The Fu­ri­ous Stomp,” fea­tures Hamil­ton-based com­poser Wil­liam Peltier’s trib­ute to the late Stompin’ Tom Con­nors, “The Fu­til­ity of the Fu­ri­ous Stomp” with HPO prin­ci­pal flute Les­lie New­man and as­so­ciate con­cert­mas­ter Lance Ouel­lette.

“Yes, there’s go­ing to be ply­wood and she’s go­ing to be stomp­ing on it,” said Richard­son-Schulte about New­man and the Peltier.

That bill also in­cludes “Light Frag­ments” by Hamil­to­nian Liam Ritz, who stud­ies with Richard­son-Schulte and will be en­ter­ing his fi­nal un­der­grad year as a com­po­si­tion ma­jor at the U of T in the fall, as well as Brian Cur­rent’s “Bire­frin­gence,” Bar­bara Monk Feld­man’s “The Loons of Black Stur­geon Lake,” Chris­tos Hatzis’s “Arc­tic Dreams 1,” Derek Charke’s “Reel Vari­a­tions on a Jig,” and John Beck­with’s “Four Love Songs” with Hamil­ton-based bari­tone Jeremy Lud­wig. The other mu­si­cians on this night in­clude Neil Spauld­ing on French horn, per­cus­sion­ist Ste­fan Ki­tai, and pian­ist Shoshana Tel­ner.

The fi­nal con­cert is en­ti­tled “Trails of Grav­ity and Grace” af­ter a work for clar­inet, cello and pi­ano by one of Richard­son-Schulte’s teach­ers, Al­lan Gor­don Bell, who com­posed the piece in 2004 af­ter hav­ing watched prairie fal­cons in Saskatchewan’s Cy­press Hills. That bill also in­cludes Burling­ton com­poser Elma Miller’s 1996 “La nuit s’ou­vre” writ­ten for HPO prin­ci­pal clar­inet Stephen Pierre, Richard­son-Schulte’s 2005 pi­ano trio “The Pull,” U of Wind­sor prof Brent Lee’s 2003 “Gatineau River” and Bri­tish Columbia-based Jor­dan Nobles’s 2006 “Tides,” the lat­ter two for wind quin­tet. The night will be capped off by Kelly-Marie Mur­phy’s barn­stormer from 2000, “Post­cards from Home” for pi­ano, clar­inet and vi­o­lin, with HPO con­cert­mas­ter Stephen Si­tarski on fid­dle.

“The ti­tles are meant to re­flect the spirit of the con­cert and the spirit of the fes­ti­val is one that is ac­ces­si­ble and nar­ra­tive,” said Richard­son-Schulte. “Every piece in this fes­ti­val tells a story. It’s al­most like a mu­si­cal photo al­bum of Canada. We can re­ally travel from coast to coast.”

And what’s more, this all-Cana­dian, sea-to-sea mu­si­cal trav­el­ogue is PWYC, pay what you can, at the door. Could you criss-cross this land for less?

Leonard Turnevicius writes about clas­si­cal mu­sic for The Hamil­ton Spectator. leonard­turnevi­cius@gmail.com

The HPO will per­form “Post­cards from the Sky” by Mar­jan Mozetich.

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