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New Music Concerts Robert Aitken, artistic director

David Eagle and the Art of Interactive Electronics

Friday November 1, 2013 @ Betty Oliphant Theatre
Xin Wang
soprano | Julia Den Boer piano | Katelyn Clark harpsichord
Rachel Mercer
cello | New Music Concerts Ensemble | Robert Aitken direction
Introduction 7:15 | Concert 8:00
Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis Street [MAP]

Jimmie Leblanc - Lignes d'ombre (2011) piano, harpsichord, electronics

David Eagle - Fluctuare (2009) flute, computer

Anthony Tan - Pose II - On the Shadows of Ideas (2013) piano, electronics

David Eagle - Unremembered Tongues (2013) voice, ensemble, electronics

Anna Pidgorna - The Child, bringer of light (2012) amplified cello

Hans Tutschku - Behind the Light (2011) string quartet, electronics

David Eagle
David Eagle’s compositions range from solo, ensemble and orchestra pieces to electroacoustic works. Active as a composer and interpreter, he has developed various approaches to the performance of instrumental and computer music encompassing improvisation, sound spatialization, aleatory and multimedia collaborations. With the aim of enhancing live expression in interactive music, he performed and co-developed an instrument called the aXiO. Currently he is continuing in this area using motion sensors and touch surface tablets.

On faculty in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary, he teaches composition, sonic arts and computational media design, and directs the Happening Festival of New Music and Media. He studied music at McGill University, the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg and the University of California at Berkeley (PhD 1992). In 2013 he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

David Eagle’s works have been presented at New Works Calgary, New Music Concerts and New Adventures in Sound Art, Vancouver New Music, Winnipeg New Music Festival, International Computer Music Conferences in Banff, Hong Kong, Huddersfield and Perth Australia, the Cantai Festival in Taipei, Musica Scienza in Rome, Musicacoustica in Beijing, ISCM World New Music Days in Hong Kong, ZKM Piano+ Festival in Karlsruhe and the Mantis Festival in Manchester. Recent works are an octophonic sonic art work based on soundscapes of western Canada, Passages and Scenes, Reflection and Memory; Waves and Points for free-bass accordion and electronics, and Two Forms of Intuition for chamber orchestra and electronics premièred by the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in their 2012 Windsor Canadian Music Festival.  Recent recordings are available on lightblue records – Passages – and on Centrediscs with New Music Concerts and composer Hope Lee – Renew’d at Ev’ry Glance and Secret of the Seven Stars.

David Eagle: Fluctuare

Fluctuare is an interactive work for flute and computer in eight channels. The work may also be presented in four channels. Musical gestures on the flute are transformed through computer processing – just intonation and microtonal transposition and harmonization, delays, granularization – and octophonic sound spatialization creating a complex texture of multiple flute sonorities surrounding the audience. Instead of amplifying the flute, the microphone is used to bring the listener closer to the flute, revealing more of the subtle breath sounds and shifts in timbre. The composer participates in the performance by the controlling the live processing at the computer. Fluctuare was composed for and is dedicated to Robert Aitken who premièred the work in the Happening Festival of New Music and Media in Calgary.

David Eagle: Unremembered Tongues

“We are speaking about a waterfall of destruction unprecedented in the history of our species. In our lifetime half of the voices of humanity are being silenced.”

Unremembered Tongues is an interactive composition for solo soprano and ensemble with live electronics and octophonic sound projection. The initial inspiration came from thinking about the many forgotten and endangered languages that are disappearing in our relentlessly modernizing society and monoculture. Sonic evocation of these lost modes of expression is a main focus of the work. And listening to these languages as patterns in sound, with the awareness that there is meaning there that also has disappeared into the past, that too is part of the intent of the composition.

The languages used are Iwaidja and Kayardild from northern Australia, Latin, Blackfoot, Basque, Cree and Hawaiian. They were chosen for their sonic qualities, the vowel shapes and sound of the phonemes, and also for the cultures and histories that they represent. As well there are two passages of phonemes unrelated to these languages, instead an invented language. The work grows through a dialogue between the different languages and between the solo voice and the ensemble.

With microphones and computer processing one can listen more closely to the live musical gesture and then follow its transformation, as it moves into a kind of dream state, at times very close, at other times reflected in the distance as if in the past. The processed music is projected through eight speakers surrounding the audience creating layers of harmonized, delayed, filtered and granulated melodies, harmonies and sound events. These textures are shaped, spatialized, and transformed live during the performance with interaction from the composer. Unremembered Tongues was commissioned by New Music Concerts with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Anna Pidgorna
Anna Pidgorna (b. 1985) is an emerging composer and media artist who combines her interests in sound, visual arts and writing to create works that are dramatic and picturesque. Cherishing close connections with performers, Pidgorna particularly enjoys working with voice, solo instruments and small chamber groups, and has a special love for opera. Her fascination with Ukrainian folksong took her on a journey through Ukrainian villages in the fall of 2012, with generous funding from the Canada Council for the Arts. Her folksong research inspired several of her works, including her chamber opera “On the Eve of Ivan Kupalo” and “Bridal Train”, a recent commission by Thin Edge New Music Collective. Pidgorna is a recipient of two SOCAN Foundation Emerging Composers' awards and has taken part in composition workshops at Carnegie Hall with Kaija Saariaho, Ottawa's National Arts Centre with Gary Kulesha and Chen Yi, and Toronto's Soundstreams with R. Murray Schafer and Juliet Palmer. Her “Light-play through curtain holes” will represent Canada at the ISCM World New Music Days 2013 in Vienna. Pidgorna holds a MMus from the University of Calgary, where she studied with David Eagle, and a BA from Mount Allison University.

Anna Pidgorna: The Child – bringer of light
for solo cello with optional amplification

This work was inspired by Carl Jung’s archetype of the Child, which appears in myriad myths and stories. The Child is born in unusual circumstances, as if from mother nature herself. He finds himself alone and struggles against the darkness within and around him to bring light into the world.

The Child – bringer of light was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and premiered by Paul Dwyer (cello) as part of the Kaija Saariaho and Anssi Karttunen Professional Training Workshop at Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City on March 12, 2012. This will be the first time that the piece is amplified and diffused through a multi-channel speaker system.

Anthony Tan
Anthony Tan is a Chinese-Malaysian composer born in Canada now residing in Germany. His music has been performed by Ensemble Recherche, Les Cris de Paris, Ensemble Cairn, L’Orchestre de la Francophonie Canadienne, Ensemble Moderne Academie, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the New Orford String Quartet, Toca Loca, and the Rubbing Stone Ensemble. He has presented his music at ICMC, Matrix, Voix-Nouvelles at Fondation Royaumont, Domain Forget, Acanthes, the National Arts Centre Composer's Program and the Academie Internationale de Composition du Blanc-Mesnil. Also involved with music for contemporary dance, he has written for the Merce Cunningham School, Tangente, and the Bravo!FACT dance movie commissions. Awards include a 2012 Stipendium from the Experimental Studio, the 2011 Giga-Hertz Prize from the ZKM and Experimental Studio, laureate of the International Competition for live-electronics of the Hamburg Klangwerktage, and the Médaille d’or in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Anthony is currently pursuing the Meisterklasse at the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber Dresden with Mark Andre and Franz Martin Olbrisch. Additionally, he holds a Ph.D. (ABD) from McGill University in Montreal, under the supervision of John Rea (Composition), and Steven McAdams (Psychoacoustics). From 2009 to 2010 he studied mixed music with Philippe Leroux and the analysis of electroacoustic music with Robert Normandeau at the University of Montreal. Anthony draws upon past experiences as a DJ, studies in biological sciences, and eastern metaphysics as artistic influence. Further, the interplay between poetic intent and musical structure remains a central question in his work.

Anthony Tan: Pose II – On the Shadows of Ideas

This second work within the Pose series deals with the relationship between music and memory. I intended to explore how the hierarchical structure of music influences our ability to perceive, understand, and recall music. Some theorists state that the repetitive, and nested structures of music contribute to the mental organization of musical sounds. Certain musical organizations lead to memory reinforcement, while others lead to memory sabotage. Further, in the middle ages and renaissance, before the commonality of the printed word, the art of memory represented an important skill for rhetoric, philosophy and mysticism. This skill required the memorizer to visualize each ‘object’ to be memorized, place it within a specific location of a theatre or hall, and then make it memorable by linking a striking emotional context to the object. To sequentially recall these objects, the memorizer simply had to ‘walk’ through this visual theatre, and observe the objects in order. I believe this process sounds extremely similar to music composition. For what do we do as composers but take musical objects, place them within a location in space, and give it some emotional context? Therefore, music’s communicability may rest on its ability to engender memorable acoustic objects within the mind of the listener. Thus, this work models the process of one attempting to memorize a list of objects. As repetition, contextualization, visualization are all techniques one uses to memorize, I attempt to present musical objects in the same manner.

The title of the work comes from a text by Giordano Bruno, De Umbris Idearum (The Shadow of Ideas) – a treatise that presented a system of memorization through mnemonic, psychological and hermetic magic. My deepest gratitude goes to everybody at the SWR Experimentalstudio for the commission and assistance in the completion of this work. Further, I am grateful for the technical guidance received from Gary Berger and Simon Spillner for this piece. Pose II was premiered by Julia Den Boer on October 12, 2013 at the SWR Experimentalstudio’s matrix13 festival in Freiburg, Germany.

La nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.
Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.
Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
- Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,
Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.
— Correspondances, Baudelaire

"We ought, then, to set up images of a kind that can adhere longest in memory. And we shall do so if we establish similitudes as striking as possible; if we set up images that are not many or vague but active (imagines agentes); if we assign to them exceptional beauty or singular ugliness; if we ornament some of them, as with crowns or purple cloaks, so that the similitude may be more distinct to us; or if we somehow disfigure them, as by introducing one stained with blood or soiled with mud or smeared with red paint, so that its form is more striking, or by assigning certain comic effects to our images, for that, too, will ensure our remembering them more readily."
— Ad Herennium, Cicero

Jimmie LeBlanc
Jimmie LeBlanc was born in 1977 in urban Quebec, Canada. Influenced by pop and jazz, he was first trained as a guitarist, and then completed his studies in classical guitar. He continued his education in composition and analysis at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, and is currently working on his doctorate at McGill University Schulich School of Music, honing his skills under the guidance of such composers as Brian Ferneyhough, Michaël Lévinas, and Philippe Leroux. His music has been played by Ensemble Contrechamps, Esprit Orchestra, Quatuor Bozzini, Pentaèdre, Trio Fibonacci, Les Enfants Terribles, Hwaum Chamber Ensemble, Kore Ensemble, Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal and Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM).

As a guitarist, LeBlanc has performed as a finalist in the International Guitar Competition at Domaine Forget (2nd prize, 2000), and on Radio-Canada’s program Jeunes Artistes in 2001. He was also the bass guitarist for Interférences Sardines, and has performed at various other venues. Jimmie LeBlanc has composed original music and sound design for theatre in Montreal (Châteaux de la colère 2005, Blanc 2008, Judith 2011). He also produced various soundtracks for commercials, TV and films at Apollo Studios in 2006-2007. In 2003, he did short films music for David Mollet’s Le Silence gourmand, and Gaudreault/Hizaji’s Continuum. In addition to teaching guitar and composition, LeBlanc co-produced Perdre Pied (2006), a performance-opera realized with artist Olivia Boudreau and based on a text by Jean-Sébastien Lemieux. Jimmie LeBlanc is also the winner of the 2009 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music for the work L’Espace intérieur du monde. He just finished Lignes d'ombre (Shadow Lines), a mixed piece for the Contemporary Keyboard Society, and is now preparing the composition of a work for Esprit Orchestra, Le Toucher de Psyché (The Touch of Psyche).

Jimmie LeBlanc: Lignes d'ombre

… une « écriture comme un couteau »... des idées très simples, claires, tranchantes... Textures électroacoustiques faites de sons de piano et de clavecin sans les attaques, trames lisses, mais de grain variable, sur lesquelles se dessinent – se posent, des figures performatives très précises, trop précises pour éviter l’ambiguïté, mettant ainsi en doute le découpage volatile que notre propre perception opère sur la matière… c’est le jeu des lignes d’ombre...
Lignes d’ombre est un titre proposé par mon ami et poète Jean-Sébastien Lemieux, qui sait toujours mieux nommer que moi les sources de mon inspiration!

… it’s “writing like a knife”… simple, clear, sharp ideas… Electroacoustic textures composed of piano and harpsichord sounds without the attacks, sonic canvases, but of variable grain, on which take form - pose themselves, very precise performative figures, too precise to avoid ambiguity, thus making us doubt our own volatile perception of these severances that, itself, operates on the matter… it is the game of the lines of the shadow…
Lignes d’ombre (Lines of the Shadow) is a title proposed by my friend and poet Jean-Sebastien Lemieux, who can always better name than me the sources of my inspiration!

Hans Tutschku
Hans Tutschku was born 1966 in Weimar. He has been a member of the "Ensemble for intuitive music Weimar" since 1982. He studied composition of electronic music at the College of Music in Dresden and Beginning in 1989 he had several opportunities to participate in concert cycles of Karlheinz Stockhausen where he refined his knowledge of the art of the sound direction. He undertook further studies in Sonology and electroacoustic composition at the Royal Conservatoire in the Hague (Holland) in 1991/92. In 1994 he began a year of studies at IRCAM in Paris. He was a guest professor of electroacoustic composition in Weimar in 1995/96 and in 1996 he also participated in composition workshops with Klaus Huber and Brian Ferneyhough. He taught electroacoustic composition at IRCAM in Paris from 1997-2001 and from 2001 to 2004 at the Conservatory of Montbéliard.

In May 2003 he completed a doctorate (PhD) with Professor Dr. Jonty Harrison at the University of Birmingham. During the spring term 2003 he was the Edgar Varèse Guest Professor at the Technical University in Berlin. Since September 2004 Hans Tutschku has been working as composition professor and director of the electroacoustic studios at Harvard University (Cambridge, USA). He is the winner of many international composition competitions, including awards from Bourges, CIMESP Sao Paulo, the Hanns Eisler prize, the Prix Ars Electronica, Prix Noroit and Prix Musica Nova. In 2005 he received the culture prize of the city of Weimar.

Hans Tutschku: Behind the light
for string quartet and electronics

Behind the light is a reflection on reflections. What surfaces are capable of reflecting incoming light? How does this alter colour and how do the qualities of the reflections change the visual atmosphere? Behind the light is an exploration of the relationship between source and multiplication. I took the flickering quality of sunlight on a river, the neutral atmosphere of light tubes in a hallway, or the moving shadows created by a burning candle, and re-imagined them in the musical world. They inspired relationships between sonic atmospheres and the explorations of a string quartet and electronics. I’m interested in concepts of verticality and horizontality: the quartet and electronics often develop their individual wanderings for short periods of time, but are then resynchronized by strong vertical events.

The electronics were composed of shorter sequences, recorded with the Chiara Quartet, and then manipulated in the studio. The work was premiered on November16, 2011 by the Chiara Quartet at Sanders Theatre, Cambridge MA
— Hans Tutschku


World renowned Canadian flutist, composer and conductor Robert Aitken has been honoured with the Order of Canada and is a Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). In 1970, having previously served as principal flute for both the Vancouver and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Aitken embarked on a solo career that has taken him to virtually every corner of the globe. He has more than 70 recordings to his credit and such notables as John Cage, George Crumb, Elliott Carter, Toru Takemitsu, Gilles Tremblay, John Beckwith and Bruce Mather have dedicated works to him. In 2003 he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Flute Association (USA). In 2004, he retired as Professor für Flöte at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany, a position he had held for 16 years. In 2009 Aitken was the recipient Canada’s largest arts award, the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts. As a composer, he holds Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of Toronto and all of his works are published by Universal Edition, Salabert, Ricordi and Peer Music. Robert Aitken was director of the Banff Centre Winter Program in Music, founder and artistic director of Music Today, Music at Shawnigan and co-founder, with Norma Beecroft, of New Music Concerts which he has directed since its inception in 1971.

Canadian harpsichordist
Katelyn Clark specialises in historical performance and experimental music on early keyboards. With a repertoire spanning from the 14th-century to the music of today, she has performed as a soloist and collaborative musician across Europe and Canada, appearing at such diverse festivals as the Vancouver New Music Festival, Musica Antigua de Barcelona, and Festival Medièval d'Elx. A leading performer of contemporary harpsichord music, Katelyn has premiered over 100 solo and chamber works and is actively expanding the modern harpsichord repertoire through commissions and collaborations with composers from Canada and abroad.´╗┐ She is a member of the Victoria-based ensemble Les Amusements de la Chambre, which focuses on Baroque and early Classical repertoire for keyboard and strings. Katelyn has been an artist in residence at the Banff Centre (Canada), NES (Iceland), OMI (USA), and studied with Christophe Rousset at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. Originally from Victoria, British Columbia, Katelyn studied harpsichord and figured bass´╗┐ with Bob van Asperen at the Amsterdam Conservatory in The Netherlands. While in Amsterdam, she also studied modern harpsichord repertoire with the late Annelie de Man. After returning to Canada, Katelyn completed a doctorate in early music performance at McGill University with Hank Knox and Tom Beghin. She currently resides in Montréal.

French-American pianist
Julia Den Boer is based in New York where she enjoys a versatile career as a soloist, chamber musician and pedagogue. Julia holds a DEM from the Lyon Conservatoire de Region and a Bachelor of Music from McGill University, where she studied with Sara Laimon, Tom Plaunt and Anton Kuerti. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral studies at SUNY Stony Brook under the guidance of Gilbert Kalish, where she held the position of head piano teaching assistant for five years. She is on faculty at Bloomingdale School of Music and curates the East Bank Music series at Church of the Ascension in Brooklyn. A strong advocate for new music, Julia performs regularly in North America and Europe. She has had the opportunity to work with composers such as Martin Matalon, Heinz Holliger, Philippe Hurel, Philippe Manoury, Unsuk Chin and Ludger Brümmer and with conductors such as Alan Pierson, Denis Bouliane, Lorraine Vallaincourt and Frank Ollu. Her performances have been broadcasted on Q2, CBC Radio 2, the SWR and France Musique. Recent performances include the MATA Festival with Talea Ensemble, a solo recital at the Bohemian National Hall, Ear Heart Music at Roulette with Iktus Percussion, the International Computer Music Conference, the Klangspuren Festival in Austria, Matrix 11 at the SWR Studio in Freiburg, Live@CIRMMT Series in Montreal, Poets Out Loud at Lincoln Center, the Five College New Music Festival and Manifeste at IRCAM.

Described as a "pure chamber musician" (Globe and Mail) creating “moments of pure magic” (Toronto Star), Canadian cellist
Rachel Mercer has demonstrated her love for sharing music through performance since she was three years old. Deeply rooted in chamber music, she brings to each performance a spirit of collaboration and a sense of the magic of the moment, whether playing in a small ensemble or with a full 80-piece orchestra. Winner of the 2009 Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank Competition, Rachel was awarded the use of the 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius cello from 2009-2012. As the grand prize winner of the 2001 Vriendenkrans Competition in Amsterdam, Rachel made her European debut in the Concertgebouw and has appeared as a soloist across Canada, in Europe, the United States, Balkans and Israel. A member of the award-winning Aviv String Quartet from 2002-2010, Rachel toured regularly on five continents. Currently based in Toronto, Rachel is cellist of Ensemble Made In Canada, the Mercer-Park Duo, the Seiler Trio, and is Artistic Director of the “5 at the First” Chamber Music Series in Hamilton. Rachel has given masterclasses at schools, conservatories and universities across North America, South Africa and in Israel and can be heard on the Naxos, Dalia Classics and EnT-T record labels. Her second solo CD of the complete Bach Suites will be released on Pipistrelle in March 2014.

Xin Wang has distinguished herself as a dynamic and captivating performer of contemporary music, having sung works by Canadian and international composers Alice Ping Yee Ho, Petar Klanac, Fu Hong Shi, Jose Evangelista, James Rolfe, Ana Sokolovic, Jurg Wyttenbach and many more. Ms. Wang has performed with many of Ontario's best known venues for contemporary music, including the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, Tapestry Opera New Works, New Music Concerts and Soundstreams Canada, which presented “Pimooteewin”, the first Cree opera. Composed by Melissa Hui with libretto by Thompson Highway, Xin premiered and toured this production to Northern Ontario. Xin performed Abigail Richardson's “Sanctuary Songs”, which won the 2009 Dora Award for Best New Musical/Opera. Her performance of Aaron Gervais’ "Sensational Revolution in Medicine" at the SHIFT Festival 2009 won Mr. Gervais the SOCAN AWARDS' first prize in the vocal category. When offstage, Xin Wang is a passionate voice teacher. Teaching since 2001, her students range from amateurs to those in university pursuing careers in music, from teenager to retired seniors. She treasures immensely the collective process of discovering and owning one's voice.

Robert Aitken performs “Fluctuare” by David Eagle