Ensemble 1534
Ensemble 1534 performing Le Marteau sans maître by Boulez at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, on 12 January 2013.

I’ve never been a devout believer in astrology, but I have to admit: I’m the archetypal Sagittarius. The “typical traits” of the Sagittarius will vary from source to source, but there are a handful of characteristics that seem universally agreed upon. For example, we tend to exaggerate everything (I mean it! Absolutely everything!). We’re also known to be short-tempered (guilty), tactless (yup), and garrulous (my students know that I have six moderately amusing anecdotes that I recycle mercilessly). But there’s also this: Sagittarians love to travel. So when presented with the opportunity to tour and perform with ensembles like Aventa and Ensemble 1534, I practically pee myself with excitement (please see earlier comment regarding tendency to exaggerate).

Aventa’s 2013 Tour will kick off in Montreal, where we’ll be performing as part of the SMCQ’s festival, Montréal Nouvelles Musiques, on February 27th. The very next day we’ll be heading down to Brooklyn, NY where the band is being presented by Roulette. From there we’ll head to Winnipeg (my first time in Manitoba!) to perform as part of GroundSwell‘s series on March 2nd, followed by New Works Calgary on March 4th, and finally back to Aventa’s home base in Victoria on March 5th. The tour repertoire includes new and recent works by Michel Gonneville, Jocelyn Morlock, Laurie Radford, Kaija Saariaho, and Simon Steen-Andersen. If you live in or near any of these cities, come out and hear this truly audacious and beautiful programme.

Immediately after Aventa’s Victoria finale, it’s off to Toronto for Ensemble 1534’s second concert of the season. Named for the year of Jacques Cartier’s first voyage to the New World, Ensemble 1534 is comprised of musicians throughout Canada who have dedicated themselves to the performance of contemporary music. The programme includes two virtuosic ensemble works by the French composer Philippe Leroux: AAA and VOI(rex), as well as recent pieces by Laurie Radford and Giorgio Magnanensi. But I also have the honour of giving the Ontario premiere of a work for solo flute entitled Avarice by the Toronto-based composer Gregory Lee Newsome. A couple years back I asked seven composers to each write a solo flute piece based on one of the Seven Deadly Sins — Greg chose “Greed” and the resulting piece, Avarice, deftly portrays the sin’s ability to corrupt and destroy by gradually disintegrating the sound of the flute. Avarice was commissioned with assistance from the Ontario Arts Council, so it’s a nice feeling being able to “bring it home”. Ensemble 1534 will be performing this programme twice: the first on March 9th at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the second on March 10th at the Music Gallery in Toronto.

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