Victoria festival takes symphony to the people
What: Victoria Symphony New Currents Festival of Music When: Tomorrow through Feb. 5 Where: Various locations downtown Tickets: $7 - $19: Tel. 386-6515 or visit www.victoriasymphony.ca
When Tania Miller first came to direct the Victoria Symphony, her vision was to one day host a festival of contemporary music that included all the major organizations in town.
“I wanted a real community feel,” Miller says. “Something hip.”
Miller will see her dream come to fruition this week, as the Symphony’s third annual New Currents Festival of Music partners with the University of Victoria’s Sonic Lab and Open Space at venues around town — even a swimming pool and a rock music bar.
“I’m so thrilled about this,” Miller says. “Presenting new music this way encompasses who we are and how the arts work together.”
Miller says the festival has been received well by the symphony’s main audience in previous years, with popular performances by pianist Eve Egoyan, Aventa Ensemble and the Emily Carr String Quartet.
The festival gives the orchestra a chance to try something new, “Like playing their instruments in a way they are not used to,” she says.
It also showcases the Symphony’s composers-in-residence. Last year, Tobin Stokes premiered Bits of Beauty. This year, Anna Höstman premieres Trace the Gold Sun on opening night.
This is Höstman’s fifth orchestra piece in her three-year residency, which she says, “has provided me an incredible amount of ‘trial by fire’ growth as a composer.”
Written for flute, alto flute and chamber orchestra, the work features new-music flautist extraordinaire Mark McGregor. Höstman had McGregor in mind when composing the piece.
“I felt quite compelled to work with Mark after hearing him perform on a number of occasions,” Höstman says. “He was also generous both with his enthusiasm and time, and as an articulate collaborator throughout the creation process.”
Miller says the inclusion of other arts groups and genres will open the orchestra’s audience to ideas and reach out to new, younger audiences.
The Reel Music concert on Saturday night partners with the Victoria International Film and Video Festival. The orchestra will perform five pieces of music by eight different composers accompanying two short independent films, Lily by Victoria’s Scott Amos and Running by Ann Marie Fleming. Winning pieces will be chosen at the end of the night as soundtracks for the films.
Open Space Gallery — an historical hub of experimental music and arts in Victoria — has also partnered with the Symphony for New Currents.
Tina Pearson, music co-ordinator at Open Space, says, “Open Space and the Victoria Symphony have not often worked together. The New Currents Festival provides a good ground for collaboration ... it will be exciting to see what develops in future years.”
Pearson will lead the Quantal Strife Sound Event at Open Space on Monday night. The event combines the visual installation Quantal Strife with music inspired by it.
Resonant Chambers, at the Metro Theatre on Feb. 1, will also explore the relationship between sound and art — inspired by Alvin Lucier’s work Chambers.
One of the biggest nights of the festival will include 40 musicians and 53 bits of music on stage at once in the Alix Goolden Hall, for Terry Riley’s seminal work In C. UVic’s Sonic Lab and Christopher Butterfield perform the piece in Inside/Outside, which also includes Gordon Mumma’s Ex Streams from his Rendition Series and Butterfield’s Grotto.
Performances by reputed ensembles have been the highlight of New Currents in past years and this one looks no different. Vancouver’s wellknown Standing Wave gives a rare Victoria show this Sunday, local vocal ensemble Hexaphone performs at the Crystal Pool Feb. 2 and Victoria Symphony violist Kenji Fuse arranges songs by indie rock star Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, Atlas Strategic) for the metapop orchestra (a group of VS and nonmusicians) at Logan’s Pub on Feb. 5.
Clockwise from back left: Tania Miller, Tobin Stokes, Christopher Butterfield, Anna Höstman and Tina Pearson team up as part of the symphony's New Currents Festival of Music.