02 ICOT RecurrenceRecurrence
ICOT Chamber Orchestra
Leaf Music LM256 (leaf-music.ca)

The ICOT Chamber Orchestra was founded by five Toronto-based composers and musicians of Iranian descent who set out to produce concerts that musically bridge Canadian and Iranian culture. Over the last 13 years it has produced operas, ballets and works for orchestra, chamber ensemble and voice. ICOT’s newest release Recurrence explores the many nuances of the notion of musical repetition through new compositions by Canadian composers Jordan Nobles, Nicole Lizée, Keyan Emami, Maziar Heidari and Saman Shahi. For this project ICOT consisted of strings (New Orford String Quartet), flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, upright and electric bass, piano and two percussionists. 

A notion such as repetition is an intriguing theme for a series of compositions – one which each of the composers decided to make their own via real-world lenses. Ecology, geological processes, social (in)justice, mathematics and fashion design were all themes harnessed. 

Two approaches caught my attention. Lizée cites visionary fashion designer Alexander McQueen as a direct inspiration for her Blissphemy. It reflects his work’s embrace of beauty in unexpected places and reach for artistic risks – much like the composer herself. Emami’s Kian in Rainbows is a moving musical memorial to those who died in 2022 in Iran, shot by government security forces during the crackdown on the Mahsa Amini protests. The nine-year old Kian Pirfalak was one of the victims, his memory evoking the innocence and fleeting beauty of childhood. Another sad inspiration for Kian in Rainbows: the sudden death last year of Canadian composer Jocelyn Morlock at 53.

Listen to 'Recurrence' Now in the Listening Room

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