Toronto-based Canadian composer/musician Nick Storring was commissioned by his frequent Toronto collaborator/choreographer Yvonne Ng (of tiger princess dance projects) to compose music for her five-dancer piece Wéi (成). Starting in a December 2017 Banff Centre residency, and completed in 2021, Storring takes a single instrument – the piano – and composes, performs and records layered multi-tracks on grand and upright pianos and a Yamaha computer-controlled acoustic Disklavier piano to create sounds ranging from traditional to prepared piano to full orchestral soundscapes and silences.
A short Wéi 成 YouTube clip with dancers reaffirms Storring’s detailed understanding of creating dance music. It is equally fantastic as listening music. The opening I introduces the listener to Storring’s multi-faceted music. A contemplative held-note gradual crescendo from silence opens. A piano single line widely spaced lyrical melody follows, then gradual introduction of tonal to atonal chords. A fadeout section is followed by a crescendo of repeated notes, effects, loud rumbling sounds like a dramatic full orchestra then back to more quiet atonal electronic keyboard effects, to closing wobbling held notes fading directly to the next track. Other sections build on these, including subtle tastes of jazz, rock low notes, romantic and contemporary sounds in III; full orchestral sound with wide-pitched electronic effects in V; and funky musical ideas from drum-like rocking cymbal crashes and guitar-like grooves to the closing quiet ending in VI.
Storring’s experimental compositions and performances, ranging from ambient calm to shorter tense qualities, are inspirational.