NOW HEAR THIS!

Fes­ti­val ex­pands to six days

Edmonton Journal - - YOU - MARK MOR­RIS

Now Hear This, the mu­sic fes­ti­val pre­sented by New Mu­sic Ed­mon­ton, has firmly es­tab­lished it­self in Ed­mon­ton’s clas­si­cal mu­sic scene as a place to ex­pe­ri­ence the cut­ting edge in con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal mu­sic.

It has in the past been crammed into a hec­tic week­end, with four or more events a day.

But this year the fes­ti­val is ex­tend­ing it­self over six days, from Tues­day, March 14 through Sun­day, March 19.

It is also ex­pand­ing its venues. While many of the events are tak­ing place in its tra­di­tional home, Holy Trin­ity Angli­can Church, oth­ers are tak­ing place in a rel­a­tively new Ed­mon­ton venue, Stu­dio 96, housed in the for­mer St. Stephen’s Angli­can Church, a his­toric land­mark on Church Street (10909 96 St.).

“We wanted to spread the fes­ti­val out, in­stead of hav­ing marathon days,” says New Mu­sic Ed­mon­ton’s vice-pres­i­dent Al­li­son Bal­cetis. “I think you can en­joy more shows over­all.”

She is also hop­ing that hav­ing more con­certs in the evening will make the fes­ti­val more ac­ces­si­ble to new au­di­ences.

This year’s events are cen­tred around the 2017 fes­ti­val’s artistsin-res­i­dence.

The Bozzini Quar­tet, based in Mon­treal, is one of Canada’s finest and most ad­mired string quar­tets. Founded in 1999, it has con­cen­trated on play­ing — and com­mis­sion­ing — new mu­sic. It has toured all over the world, and its record­ings have reg­u­larly won awards.

The quar­tet now has a strong Ed­mon­ton as­so­ci­a­tion. Its lat­est mem­ber, who joined in 2015, is the vi­o­lin­ist and com­poser Alissa Che­ung. She grew up in Ed­mon­ton, stud­ied at the Univer­sity of Al­berta and played with the Ed­mon­ton Sym­phony Orches­tra be­fore join­ing the quar­tet.

The Bozzini’s reper­toire ranges from con­tem­po­rary works in a more con­ven­tional string quar­tet for­mat to more rad­i­cal mu­si­cal ad­ven­tures, and that is re­flected in the Now Hear This fes­ti­val. The most in­trigu­ing is the per­for­mance of In a Large Open Space by the Cana­dian-Amer­i­can com­poser James Ten­ney, who died in 2006 (Thurs­day, March 16, noon, free).

It’s a kind of gi­ant med­i­ta­tive har­monic sound­scape de­signed to in­ter­act with a large space, for string quar­tet and other acous­tic in­stru­ments.

Here the venue is City Hall it­self. The Bozzini will be joined by the Vaughan String Quar­tet and a num­ber of other Ed­mon­ton mu­si­cians, spread on two lev­els through­out City Hall.

On Fri­day, March 17 at 7 p.m., the Bozzini plays a more con­ven­tional con­cert at Holy Trin­ity Church. The pro­gram in­cludes the 2009 String Quar­tet by Ed­mon­ton’s Ian Crutch­ley, and the pre­miere of a new work by Che­ung.

On Sun­day, March 19 at 2 p.m., the quar­tet is join­ing forces with Mile Zero Dance artis­tic di­rec­tor Gerry Morita to cre­ate a new im­pro­vised work es­pe­cially for the fes­ti­val.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited to see how the dance and string quar­tet in­ter­act here,” says Bal­cetis. “I’ve never heard the Bozzini im­pro­vis­ing.”

The ma­jor in­ter­na­tional guests are the Ber­lin en­sem­ble Lux:NM. Founded in 2010 with the goal of “cre­at­ing self-de­signed and var­ied con­cert pro­grams with a flex­i­ble in­stru­men­ta­tion,” the lineup here will be sax­o­phone, trom­bone,

ac­cor­dion, and vi­olin, with electronics. The en­sem­ble’s con­cert on Sun­day, March 19 at 7 p.m. in­cludes a num­ber of Cana­dian and North Amer­i­can pre­mieres, and a world pre­miere by the Ger­man com­poser Max­i­m­il­ian Mar­coll, with the in­ter­est­ing ti­tle Com­pound No. 1a: Car Sex Voice Honker.

It will end with a work by a Cana­dian com­poser who now lives in Ber­lin, Jef Chippewa. His cabi­net des cu­riosités is a work in nine parts for sax­o­phone, ac­cor­dion, vi­olin, trom­bone and sound ob­jects with a strong the­atri­cal com­po­nent.

An­other thread to this year’s fes­ti­val is a trib­ute to a ma­jor pio- neer of new mu­sic, the Amer­i­can com­poser Pauline Oliv­eros, who died last Novem­ber. She coined the term “deep lis­ten­ing” and the idea of“sonic aware­ness ,” and her works can be heard in a num­ber of con­certs with Ed­mon­ton mu­si­cians. These in­clude two late-night con­certs (Wed­nes­day, March 15 and Thurs­day, March 16 at 9:30 p.m.), a con­cert by the Ed­mon­ton Sax­o­phone Quar­tet( Thurs­day, March 16 at 7 p.m.), all at Stu­dio 96, and the con­cert by New Mu­sic Ed­mon­ton’s own en­sem­ble, Ul­traViolet, at Holy Trin­ity Church (Satur­day, March 18 at 7 p.m.).

Satur­day af­ter­noon’s con­cert might sur­prise any­one whose ac­quain­tance with the recorder has been lim­ited to their el­e­men­tary school ex­pe­ri­ence. The Ger­man Sylvia Hinz is one of the world’s lead­ing recorder play­ers, spe­cial­iz­ing in con­tem­po­rary mu­sic, and she’ll be mak­ing her Cana­dian de­but at the fes­ti­val (Satur­day, March 18 at 2 p.m.). Her con­cert will in­clude the Cana­dian pre­miere of a 2012 work for re­nais­sance so­prano recorder by the Cal­gary com­poser Clio Mon­trey.

Other fes­ti­val high­lights in­clude a mul­ti­me­dia evening fea­tur­ing Mile Zero Dance, the vis­ual artist Stacey Cann and the mu­si­cal trio Pi­geon Breed­ers (Satur­day, March 18 at 9:30 p.m.). In­stru­ments of Hap­pi­ness is an elec­tric gui­tar en­sem­ble, led by Mon­treal’s Tim Brady, and they are ap­pear­ing in Ed­mon­ton for the first time (Wed­nes­day, March 15 at 7 p.m.). The con­cert in­cludes five newly com­posed works by Cana­dian com­posers.

The en­tire fes­ti­val starts on Tues­day, March 14 at 7 p.m. in the Mut­tart Hall where the Ed­mon­ton Warszyn­ski-Simur­dova Pi­ano Duo will play works for pi­ano, fourhands, and pi­ano with electronics. Their con­cert in­cludes a New Mu­sic Ed­mon­ton com­mis­sion, 4-2-1, by the Ed­mon­ton com­poser Jacek So­bieraj.

The Bozzini String Quar­tet, fea­tur­ing Alissa Che­ung, Stephanie Bozzini, Cle­mens Merkel and Is­abelle Bozzini, has a reper­toire that in­cludes ev­ery­thing from con­ven­tional string-quar­tet mu­sic to new and more rad­i­cal cor­ners of clas­sic mu­sic. The Now Hear This fes­ti­val runs from March 14-19.

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