June is an important time of transition. This is true not only for the seasons (the 21st marks the summer solstice and a promise of consistently better weather) but also for the live music scene, where the closing concert season makes way for a flourishing of summer music festivals.

p16_inwiththenew_electronicaunplugged_.photo_by_colin_savageIt is also true for me: I am making a transition away from the music field to take up new challenges in the arena of arts and learning. This means that I will also be stepping away from writing this column, which has given me endless opportunity to explore how Toronto’s new music community has made its own remarkable transitions over time. The most noticeable of these is in the sheer range of appropriations, influences, inspirations and collaborations new music makers employ to create and showcase exciting new work.

We can look to a handful of this month’s concerts to see this notion at play.

One group that has been constantly pushing at the boundaries of what it means to be “new music” is CONTACT Contem-porary Music. Their multidisciplinary approach crosses between live and electronic, traditional and site specific, popular and avant-garde, audiovisual and interactive, in ways that many other ensembles would be too timid to try. If that weren’t enough, the content of each CONTACT show treads into touchy territory – from transexualism to transcendentalism, popular music to electro-eroticism, and just about everything in between. Ultimately, CONTACT seeks to unlock the power of artists, leveraged through music-based collaborations, to create situations that eliminate barriers, open new dialogues, find new perspectives and advance new understandings of current, contemporary challenges. It would be absentminded not to mention their “Electronica Unplugged” lunchtime concert on June 8 at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, which features original electronic works by David Bowie, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Gavin Bryars and Philip Glass arranged for the unique forces of the CONTACT ensemble. You can learn more at www.contactcontemproarymusic.ca

Another case in point is the deliriously eclectic Adventures of the Smoid, a creative concoction from the ever-adventurous percussionist/composer/artistic director Rick Sacks for the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan. Drawing on the growing popularity of visual story telling through comic books and graphic novels, Sacks inventively connects a diverse series of dots to link this world to the tradition of gamelan and Indonesian shadow puppetry. Sacks asks the Club to do double duty as musicians and puppeteers to tell a humorous tale about an astronaut’s adventures in space. Adventures of the Smoid is prefaced by a song cycle from iNSiDEaMiND, the wildly experimental turntable duo. New music crossover eclecticism doesn’t get much better than this. The boundaries are definitely pushed once again for these June 13 and 14 events at the Music Gallery.

Tapestry New Opera Works has long been exploring new paths to collaboration between composers, writers and musicians in the creation of the highest of musical forms: opera. Over the last quarter century and beyond, this hallmark company has expanded beyond its Canadian roots to provide a haven for an increasingly international network of creators to develop some of the most promising new work in the field. Tapestry’s season-closing New Opera Showcase will no doubt be another exhilarating adventure through a collection of shorter pieces in development, ranging from those by veteran creative partners to new collaborations. The inspirations range just as far, from Ancient Greek tragedies to modern-day Irish pub love stories, from Icelandic mythology to Canadian immigrant stories filtered through Old Testament morality tales. Be sure to visit www.tapestrynewopera.com to get full details for the June 14 and 15 performances at the Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District.

These three events are just the tip of an iceberg of musical innovation at work in our local music community; I hope to find such radical minds and creative connections in my future work. Don’t miss your chance to catch such new sounds while they are still summer fresh! Be sure to get in with the new via The WholeNote concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com.

Jason van Eyk, The WholeNote’s longtime New Music beat writer is stepping down from this column and from his position as Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre.

Contemporary music concerts are springing up in bunches this month, with a trio of themes each containing a quartet of events.

Quartet 1: Celebrations

19April’s sense of celebration flows into May, with a greater emphasis on new musical voices.

On May 15, the Esprit Orchestra will reach the peak of its five-day New Wave Composers Festival, exploring a range of musical inspirations from Bach’s A Musical Offering to the cosmic “music of the spheres” and the mythological Phoenix. This Koerner Hall concert also offers three other reasons to celebrate: it features the world premiere of composer Chris Paul Harman’s Coyote Soul for orchestra; it recognizes the 60th anniversary of the venerable Canadian League of Composers; and it trumpets the return of the Toronto Emerging Composer Award by announcing its first winner in five years. For more details about Esprit and its New Wave Composers Festival, visit www.espritorchestra.com and follow the links.

Array will celebrate in its own way on May 29 with its Young Composers’ Workshop Concert. [See “The ETCeteras” section of listings.] This afternoon event is the culmination of a month’s intensive work completed by a carefully selected foursome of emerging music creators. The resulting pieces will receive their world premiere in the very urban Array Space at 60 Atlantic Avenue. For more info, visit www.arraymusic.com.

The Toronto music community will come together on June 1 at Walter Hall to celebrate the 80th birthday of musical polymath Derek Holman. The concert will feature a variety of Holman’s music for choir, strings, clarinet, voice and pianos, in performances by the Talisker Players, Choir 21, Canadian Children’s Opera Company, pianists Bruce Ubukata and Stephen Ralls, and clarinetist Peter Stoll. A special treat will be the world premiere of Holman’s latest work for tenor and harp, featuring Lawrence Wiliford as soloist. Stay on after the concert for a big, belated birthday party!

Pushing into June, we’ll find the Penderecki String Quartet celebrating its 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the PSQ has commissioned seven new works from a cross-section of Canadian composers. We’ll get to hear some of the early results with world premieres from Michael Matthews and Norbert Palej during the Penderecki’s annual QuartetFest (co-produced with the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society) – an intensive string quartet training and performance program that runs June 1-7 at several locations throughout Kitchener-Waterloo. For more info about Quartetfest and this year’s invited ensembles, visit www.quartetfest.ca. To buy tickets, call 519-886-1673.

Quartet 2: Intersections

The connection of new music to other genres and art forms has been sprouting up more often in Toronto, with this month offering four interesting examples.

On May 3 and 4, the Talisker Players continue their explorations into words and music with their season-closing concert “Façade.” Alongside the title-bearing work by William Walton, and others by Harry Freedman and Alex Eddington, is a world premiere from Toronto’s Alexander Rapoport based on the poem “Jabberwocky.” Soprano Xin Wang and tenor James McLennan join the Taliskers in this program that explores how we look for coherence in words that sometimes hold no meaning. Visit www.taliskerplayers.ca.

The Music Gallery’s Emergents Series will explore a totally different type of intersection, that of genres and styles which collide. The Dupuis/Clark Duo combines harpsichord and electric bass to bridge the distance between four centuries of musical creation. The stretch between these two worlds is not as far as we think, if we conceive of a rock rhythm section as the modern baroque continuo. Sharing the program is GREX, a vocal ensemble that claims to defy easy description. Their set of Meredith Monk, Ned Rorem, R. Murray Schafer and traditional Georgian folk songs makes the claim clear. Visit www.musicgallery.org.

The Canadian Opera Company’s Chamber Music Series unites music and dance in a short, free concert of Beethoven and Golijov, on May 17. Toronto’s celebrated Tokai Quartet will perform the String Quartet Op.131 alongside Golijov’s bittersweet Tenebrae in its original version for soprano and clarinet. Jacqueline Woodley and Kornel Wolak join the Tokai’s as guest performers. Toronto-based dance maverick, Matjash Mrozewski, offers new choreography for four dancers to illuminate the music’s intentions.

Near the end of the month, on May 28, the Music Gallery presents “From Eye to Ear,” an exploration of visual influences in contemporary music, tracing a re-emerging movement towards non-conventional notation and graphic representation. New “scores” by the mercurial John Oswald and the more minimalist Chiyoko Szlavnics are works of art whether sounded or not. Live video will allow the audience to view each piece as it is performed by pianist Eve Egoyan and Quartetto Graphica. More Szlavnics scores, part of the Intimate Music exhibition on loan from the Canadian Music Centre, will be on display.

Quartet 3: Globalization

From Finland to Malaysia, Toronto regularly welcomes the global flow of contemporary music creation. This quartet of concerts demonstrates the range of international ideas on our local stages.

Paris-based Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho, seems to be popping up everywhere in Toronto classical concert calendars. On May 6, a set of her solo works will appear at the Music Gallery, including her From the Grammar of Dreams for two female voices set to texts of Sylvia Plath, NoaNoa for flute and electronics, Sept Papillons for solo cello and Six Japanese Gardens for percussion and electronics. Singers Carla Huhtanen and Marion Newman, percussionist Aiyun Huang, cellist Rachel Mercer and flautist Camille Watts bring a powerhouse of talent to these demanding and beautiful works.

On May 8, New Music Concerts continues its exploration of music from the Far East in a concert titled “Malaysian Voices.” The program has been curated by Kee-Yong Chong, currently Malaysia’s leading composer. He is credited with a rare musical talent, expressing a highly innovative yet deeply spiritual style. The programming hinges on several pieces by Chong, including a new flute concerto for NMC Artistic Director Robert Aitken. The remaining works by Chow Jun Yi, Yii Kah Hoe, Tazul Izan Tajuddin and Neo Nai Wen will bring a mix of Canadian and world premieres to a portrait of new music from an underrepresented community. Visit www.newmusicconcerts.com.

A little further afield, but also on May 8, the Elora Festival Singers will demonstrate the diversity of voices that makes up the Canadian multicultural mosaic. Simply titled “Oh! Canada,” this program of recent works by Mark Sirrett, Gary Kulesha, Derek Holman and Leonard Enns will bring us some of the best voices in Canadian choral writing as performed by one of our leading choirs. For more information about this afternoon event, and to buy tickets, visit www.elorafestival.com.

Our global tour will end at Roy Thomson Hall on May 26, when the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs Chinese composer Tan Dun’s Water Concerto and Paper Concerto. Both works reflect the composer’s ideas of an organic music, which embodies sounds of nature and the mind. He claims, “The environment is related to our lives, and spiritually, everything germinates from one seed of creativity.” Tan Dun made a great splash in Toronto with his appearance during the 2009 New Creations Festival. He returns to conduct the TSO in his own imaginative works for unconventional solo instruments. For more info and tickets, visit www.tso.ca.

This is a larger list than I normally offer, but May is a month of many new sounds. But there’s still plenty more music to be discovered, so be sure to get in with the new via The WholeNote concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com.

Jason van Eyk is the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre. He can be contacted at newmusic@thewholenote.com.

21_adamsherkinIt feels awkwardly “new age” to admit, but now that we’ve passed the spring equinox – the days becoming warmer, fresher and lighter – there is a sense of celebration in the air. But it’s not the type of unrestrained revelry we see during hotter summer months. Rather, it’s a bittersweet levity, balanced between an urge to discover what’s new and the impulse to commemorate and meditate on important influences and inspirations. As always, our makers of new music are attuned to these needs, as we can see in April’s offerings.

We open the month on a festive note with “Ping!” CMC-Ontario’s celebration of new music for young musicians, on April 5. While I may be biased, given my role with the CMC, I can think of no better way to usher in spring than brand new works created to showcase the talents of a new generation. “Ping!” will feature special guest, harpist Judy Loman, in an all-Canadian program alongside world premieres from composers Dean Burry, Jim Harley, Chris Paul Harman, and Jan Jarvlepp, performed by harpist Gina Min, cellists Gabby Hankins and Bridie McBride and the Earl Haig/Claude Watson Strings conducted by Alan Torok. This fête supports New Music for Young Musicians – a program to create music and opportunities which develop the talents of Canada’s young string players. For more visit the CMC online events calendar. For tickets, visit www.rcmusic.ca.

Spring also heralds the homecoming of a fresh new voice in composer/pianist Adam Sherkin, barely back from studies at the Royal College of Music in London, England. Following an illustrious series of overseas premieres and performances at the likes of London’s National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Covent Garden and Royal Albert Hall, Sherkin has returned to Toronto with gusto, receiving premieres in prestigious places like the Luminato Festival, Nuit Blanche and Soundstreams’ Young Artists Overture Series. He closes his own self-crafted concert series on April 7 at the Jane Mallett Theatre in what he is calling a “debut recital.” The concert title – “As at First” – refers to a world premiere work that will close an ambitious program, ranging from Bach and Beethoven to Claude Vivier and Colin McPhee. Amongst the mix of classical lineage and modern origins are two “older” Sherkin works: 2008’s Sunderance, inspired by the words of Virginia Woolf, and 2009’s Daycurrents, which was written for the Haydn bicentenary. To learn more about Adam Sherkin, visit www.adamsherkin.com. To purchase tickets, visit www.stlc.com.

The bittersweet balance comes in reflecting on the loss, late last year, of composer, educator, innovator and great champion of Canadian music, Ann Southam. Southam is still very much present in the thoughts of many communities with which she shared her great enthusiasm, energy, optimism and bigheartedness. While we can expect numerous dedications to appear next season, there will be two upcoming opportunities to assemble and celebrate Southam’s music and the art it inspired, as well as to share in personal tributes that honour some of the many aspects of her rich life and legacy. The first of these falls on April 14 at the Music Gallery, when the Canadian Contemporary Music Workshop will dedicate their “Composers Orchestra” concert to Ann Southam. Southam was always very encouraging of the next generation of Canadian composers, but was quiet about her generosity towards them. She took great responsibility for the family lineage she inherited, and shared widely the advantages that it could afford, including the ability to act as a constant source of support for the CCMW over its 25 year history. This tribute will include a performance of Southam’s intricate Waves for string orchestra, conducted by Gary Kulesha, alongside world premieres by emerging composers Adam Scime, Chris Thornborrow, Paola Santillan and Rob Teehan, and music by Colin Eatock. For more information about CCMW, visit www.ccmw.ca.

A fuller remembrance of Ann Southam will take place on April 21 at the MacMillan Theatre, U of T Faculty of Music. It’s a fitting location, given Southam’s many collaborations with modern dance which took place on that stage. Billed as an intimate event for family, friends, colleagues, and admirers of this pioneering Canadian composer, the “Ann Southam Tribute” will provide an opportunity for various communities blessed by the benefits of her best qualities to come together and celebrate her music, her life and her legacy. While the artists involved have asked to remain uncredited – the event is to truly focus on Ann – the calibre of her creative collaborators, including pianists Eve Egoyan and Christina Petrowska Quilico, as well as dancers/choreographers Patricia Beatty and Rachel Browne, should speak to the expected tone and quality of this occasion.

22_normabeecroftWe’re extremely fortunate to have at least one pioneering Canadian woman composer still with us, the remarkable Norma Beecroft, who at age 77 (as of April 11) seems to be making up for lost time. On her 75th birthday in 2009, Beecroft marked the occasion with a new piece for flautist Robert Aitken and harpist Erica Goodman. We’ll have the pleasure of hearing another new work for flute, harp and percussion at the Music Gallery on April 17, during a celebratory concert spanning Beecroft’s career. These are just two small credits in an active life as a composer, producer, broadcaster and administrator. Beecroft’s illustrious career is well noted for award-winning contributions to music broadcasting and production, but more so as a pioneer of electronic music. Her musical aesthetic was first influenced by the music of Debussy, then later by her teachers Weinzweig, Petrassi and Maderna, and furthermore by the music of Stockhausen. As an administrator, Beecroft is well known as founder, with Robert Aitken, of New Music Concerts. For all her efforts, she has been honoured twice with the Canada Council’s Lynch-Staunton Award, an honorary doctorate from York University and an Honorary Membership from the Canadian Electroacoustic Community. After a lengthy hiatus, Beecroft is back in the business of composing. We should all eagerly await the results. To learn more about the tribute concert, visit www.musicgallery.org.

This is just a small sampling of the newly sprung spring. From New Music Concert’s AMP showcase, to Array’s innovative Electrique concert, and from Talisker’s ongoing celebration of words in music, to the TSO’s emphasis on the music of the remarkable Kaija Saariaho, there is plenty of other inspiration to be found. So be sure to get in with the new via The WholeNote concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com.

Jason van Eyk is the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre. He can be contacted at newmusic@thewholenote.com.

The effect of too many winter days indoors and the budding promise of spring seem to have inspired new music presenters to think of movement in March, and especially of the human desire to dance. Or perhaps it’s my own craving for unbundling weather – where we can move more freely – that’s making me see choreographic connections. Regardless, no fewer than six concerts this month touch on the subject openly or in more subtle ways.

New Music Concerts’ celebration of British composer Jonathan Harvey may be the most tangential to the theme, but I can’t go without mentioning it. Harvey’s remarkable training and unique opportunities for musical exploration have allowed him to gather influences from Berg, Messiaen and Britten to Babbitt and Boulez, which he then infuses with the power of Stockhausen and his own investigation of the mystical. Early successes have since opened doors for Harvey to compose for just about every classical genre, and for some of the world’s best soloists and ensembles. But his skill and imagination seem best applied to electroacoustics, which is the main feature of this March 6 concert at the Betty Oliphant Theatre.

Programme notes for works like The Riot (the only non-premiere here) read like descriptions of choreography. Musical themes bounce about sharply, join in polyphonic ensembles or re-combine in new configurations. Scena for solo violin and large ensemble develops just like a classical ballet. Be sure to arrive early for a pre-concert event, where U of T’s gamUT ensemble will deliver the world premiere of Harvey’s Vajra. Harvey is in constant demand for commissions, meaning his dance card is plenty full, so any chance to catch a new work of his is a special one. To learn more or buy tickets, visit  www.newmusicconcerts.com.

On March 17, pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico will unveil the results of her Glass Houses Revisited recording project in a live concert at the Glenn Gould Studio. The CD, released on Centrediscs, consists of extensive revisions to nine selections from the original 1981 Glass Houses by composer Ann Southam, and was Petrowksa Quilico’s last Southam collaboration before the composer’s sudden passing last November.

In her incomplete programme notes, Southam explained the genesis of the work: “I have called these pieces Glass Houses in order to identify them as minimalist music. The best known composer of this style of music at the time… The tunes in Glass Houses were inspired by… Canadian east coast fiddle music. Generally speaking, these tunes are spun out… until all tunes are present, at which point they wind back to the beginning.”

Petrowska Quilico describes Glass Houses Revisited as “fiendishly difficult,” comparing the cycle to Ligeti’s etudes, Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes and to the complexity of Bach’s counterpoint – fleet, virtuosic dances around the keyboard. It’s interesting to note that Southam was a celebrated composer of music for dance, having written over 40 scores for the likes of Patricia Beatty and the New Dance Group of Canada (now the Toronto Dance Theatre) and for other companies and choreographers such as Danny Grossman, Dancemakers, Rachel Browne and Christopher House, including House’s acclaimed choreography set to Glass Houses. To learn more about Ann Southam and her work, visit www.musiccentre.ca. ickets,

Continuum returns to Toronto from the 2011 Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques Festival for a March 20 concert at the Music Gallery. Titled “Step, Turn, Kick,” the programming here is grounded in the idea of “dancing in the mind.” At its core is a quartet of new pieces by Canadian composers Cassandra Miller, Nicolas Gilbert, Linda C. Smith and Lori Freedman, that, taken together, can be imagined as a French baroque dance suite for the 21st century. Also featured is the Canadian premiere of Marc Sabat’s John Jenkins, a work inspired by the prolific 17th-century English composer and dance master. Rounding out the concert are solos and duos by UK’s Michel Finnissy and Holland’s Martijn Padding that express an impulse to move. To learn more about Continuum, visit www.continuummusic.org. Tickets will be available at the door.

23_deromeI’m very eager to hear Julie-Anne Derome in recital on March 24 at the Jane Mallett Theatre. This new music specialist presents an ambitious programme rich with Canadian content. She will open with the brief but intense Ivresses, songes, sourdes nuit by Québec composer Jean Lesage. Its percussive sonics and other dramatic effects make it ripe for use as a solo dance soundtrack. Chan Ka Nin’s very popular Soulmate, taken from his figure-skating-inspired Poetry on Ice, will offer a nice counterbalance. And closing the evening is Tracking for solo violin and live video by Laurie Radford. Radford defines “tracking” in the sense of the title as “the coordination of speed and gesture for two points locked in a reciprocal force and action.” Put simply, the act of both leading and following, as in a pas de deux. Radford further explains that tracking implies linked relationships between time, material and action, controlling energy and gravitational force. All very heady stuff, but it sounds very dance-like to me! More details are available through www.music-toronto.com.

The Scarborough Philharmonic carries through the dance theme to April 2 with a new work by their Composer-in-Residence, Alex Eddington. Entitled Dancing about Architecture, Eddington describes the work for nine wind instruments and percussion as “a new way to organize a dance suite”, inspired by Jean Cocteau’s phrase “Give me music I can live in like a house!” This concert at the St. John the Baptist Norway Anglican Church also features world premieres by Toronto’s Phil McConnell and American composer Bruce Broughton. For more details and to reserve tickets, visit www.spo.ca.

We end on a high-energy note on April 3 with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and their premiere of Brian Current’s Whirling Dervish for sufi whirling and orchestra. If you have never experienced Sufi whirling – a dynamic, dancing form of mystic meditation – then you’re in for a treat. It can be a mesmerizing experience, and I’m sure Current has come up with some excellent new music to make this an event that will spin us right into spring! For more details, visit www.kwsymphony.ca.

From dances of the mind to mystic motion, new music never ceases to move us. So be sure to get in with the new via the WholeNote concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com. ν

Jason Van Eyk is the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre. He can be contacted at newmusic@thewholenote.com.

Why is it that the winter months attract new music festivals? Is it because Canadian artistic directors feel that we contemporary music lovers are a highly dedicated lot, determined to weather the cold, the snow or any storm to experience the latest premiere or discover that new composer? Or is it simply now a matter of tradition? One of our hallmarks – the Winnipeg New Music Festival – celebrates 20 years of new music making this season. Whatever the case, we must all be attending these festivals with enough verve and volume that our country’s music institutions are encouraged to keep offering us more. For, just as Winnipeg, Halifax’s Open Water Festival and the U of T New Music Festival are all wrapping up in the first days of February, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is gearing up for the sophomore edition of its What Next? Festival.

p16_17_parmela_attariwala_and_shawn_mativetskyIn 2011, What Next? expands upon its successful inaugural celebration by placing an emphasis on the multidisciplinary. From February 3 to 6, HPO-invited creators will cross-pollinate, taking to various locations throughout the city to present intriguing collaborations across different genres. Among them are numerous champions of Canadian composers’ music, such as violinist Parmela Attariwala and tablaplayer Shawn Mativetsky, who perform together as the Attar Project, and who often also incorporate South Asian influenced dance. Pianist Eve Egoyan and artist David Rokeby will present their mesmerizing Surface Tension project for disklavier and interactive video at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, where the McMaster Cybernetic Laptop Orchestra and Percussion Ensemble (led by composer DavidOgborn) will also unleash cutting edge sounds. In addition to these collaboration concerts and their related panel discussions, What Next? will also feature three chamber music concerts by HPO musicians. Friday’s “Rain Coming” will celebrate Canadian women composers Abigail Richardson and Nicole Lizée; Saturday’s “Buzz and Hum” will feature chamber music for brass by Jacques Hétu, Jeffrey Ryan, Scott Good and Michael Horwood; and Sunday’s “Kiss On Wood” showcases string music from Kotoka Suzuki, Toru Takemitsu and others inspired by nature, pop and cartoons. For complete details on the 2011 What Next? Festival visit www.whatnextfestival.com.

If you can’t make it to Hamilton for What Next? then there’s a nice duo of concerts in Kitchener-Waterloo that you may want to catch. On February 9, mezzo-soprano Ramona Carmelly will resume the role of famous Canadian painter Emily Carr for a reduced remount of Jana Skarecky’s Emily, the Way You Are at Conrad Grebel University. This one-woman opera, based on a libretto by poet Di Brandt, was premiered by Carmelly and the Talisker Players at the McMichael Gallery in 2008, as part of the New Music in New Places series. An excerpt of this performance, along with programme notes, can be found in Skarecky’s profile as part of the Canadian Music Centre’s Influence of Many Musics online project at http://musiccentre.ca/influences/. Then, on February 12 at Centre in the Square, the Grand Philharmonic Choir, the KW Symphony and violist Rivka Golani, all under the baton of conductor Mark Vuorinen, will premiere Kingston-based John Burge’s latest large-scale work. Entitled Declaration, the score takes its inspiration from the text of the United National Declaration of Human Rights, which was drafted by a Canadian – John Humphreys – during his tenure as the UN’s first Director of the Human Rights Division, and was globally adopted over 60 years ago.

If Hamilton and KW are too far away for you, especially in this winter weather, then there’s a trio of Toronto concerts to consider. First is Trio Voce’s February 17 appearance in the Music Toronto series. Alongside works by Shostakovich and Beethoven, this accomplished, all-female and Canadian piano trio will give the Toronto premiere of American composer Jonathan Berger’s Memory Slips. A Professor of Music at Stanford University, Berger is also an active researcher in a wide range of fields relating to music, science and technology. He’ll be present for this concert at the Jane Mallett Theatre to explain, amongst the music making, his current research and personal experiences with music, memory and aging. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit the St. Lawrence Centre box office at www.stlc.com.

On February 24 Soundstreams invites Les Percussions de Strasbourg to Koerner Hall as part of the ensemble’s 50th anniversary tour. Co-founded in 1962, this sextet is the first known Western percussion group. Their exceptional longevity, artistry and commitment to new music have inspired the creation of hundreds of works. Their anniversary program cradles a world premiere from Canadian composer Andrew Staniland, who has a strong command of percussion writing, between contemporary classics by Xenakis (his iconic Persephassa) and John Cage (Credo in US.) For more details and to purchase tickets visit www.soundstreams.ca.

p16_17_vincent_ho_portrait_photo_by_hans_arnoldThe Array Ensemble will take to the Music Gallery on February 27 to perform a collection of Canadian works drawn from their extensive score archive. This program of pieces from Martin Arnold, Scott Godin, Michael Oesterle and Rodney Sharman will be complemented by a newer work for the ensemble from past Array Artistic Director Linda Catlin Smith, which was premiered last season as part of the Contemporary Classics concert. Array has been very diligent in cataloguing their extensive score library, which includes over 250 commissioned works. Thankfully, they’ve made this catalogue publicly available online at www.arraymusic.com. It’s a useful tool for new music geeks like me. More information about the upcoming concert and how to buy tickets is also available at the Array website.

As I mentioned, February is bookended by yet another new music festival. This time it’s the TSO’s seventh New Creations, which will focus on cross-border exchanges, with music by guest American composers John Adams and Jennifer Higdon. Canada is represented here not only by TSO Composer Advisor Gary Kulesha, who will have his Torque performed on March 5, but also by Winnipeg-based Vincent Ho, in the form of his percussion concerto, The Shaman, which was premiered by remarkable Dame Evelyn Glennie during this year’s Winnipeg New Music Festival and will be repeated here on March 2. The work’s title is inspired by Ho’s impression of Glennie as a musical shaman, bridging human and spiritual worlds with her spellbinding performances. Adams is well represented with his now classic Short Ride in a Fast Machine and other works, and also with a TSO co-commission, City Noir. However, I’m particularly looking forward to the festival finale concert on March 10 with guest artists eighth blackbird. This dynamic ensemble will join the orchestra in a freshly commissioned chamber concerto from Higdon, which will sit alongside the world premiere of our own R. Murray Schafer’s latest symphonic work, simply titled Symphony No. 1. For more info about the 2011 New Creations Festival and to buy tickets visit www.tso.ca.

From the multidisciplinary to the simply symphonic, new music never ceases to seduce us. So be sure to get in with the new via our concert listings here and online at www.thewholenote.com/listings.

Jason van Eyk is the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre. He can be contacted at newmusic@thewholenote.com.

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