NoVentyx! (NOVO, Onyx, Aventa — and November)

Onyx Trio: Joy Yeh (harp), Marcus Takizawa (viola), and Mark Takeshi McGregor (flute)

I’ve long since learned not to complain about the weather to the rest of Canada when one lives in Vancouver — especially as we approach winter. So instead of using this post to tell you how my banana tree finally experienced the indignity of being moved indoors this week (he’s much happier now, by the way), I’ll take this time to talk about some of the wonderful music events that are taking place this month, both in Vancouver and Victoria.

I’ve posted a few times now about the Onyx Trio, my new chamber group with Marcus Takizawa (viola) and Joy Yeh (harp). These past couple weeks we’ve been armpit-deep in preparations for what certainly has to be our most ambitious project yet: a concert in Victoria presented by Open Space and the Blue Moss Ensemble. Taking place this Saturday at 7pm at Open Space (510 Fort Street, 2nd floor, Victoria), we’ll be presenting a programme of new works, mostly written especially for us, by Victoria composer Mitch Renaud, Toronto composers Anna Höstman and Emilie LeBel, Vancouver New Music Artistic Director Giorgio Magnanensi, and an older work (if 1996 counts as “older” in the world of classical music) by Giorgio’s mentor, the Italian modernist Franco Donatoni. Random facts you may or may not know about these composers: 1.) Anna and I go back as far as 2007/08, when I premiered her flute concerto, Trace the Gold Sun, with the Victoria Symphony; 2.) Giorgio’s new piece, written for Onyx, features an electronic soundscape that makes us feel like we’re trapped on the spaceship Nostromo shortly following its encounter with planetoid LV-426 (but only in the most awesome ways possible); 3.) Franco Donatoni’s Small II is virtuosic, visceral, and exploits the colours of the three instruments in ways I’ve never heard. Also, the handwritten score and parts bring new depth to the term “chicken-scratch” — seriously, we’re talking about the penmanship of a serial killer after six cups of coffee. For more information about this audacious concert, visit Open Space’s website by clicking HERE.

This past weekend I teamed up with cellist Marina Hasselberg, bassist Mark Haney, and pianist Corey Hamm to form the newest incarnation of the NOVO Ensemble for the first of two performances of LUX. This concert, featuring music by Jordan Nobles, James Maxwell, Nico Gonzales Thomas, Michael Oesterle, Luc Martin, and Owen Underhill, played to an enthusiastic audience at the Pyatt Recital Hall at the VSO School of Music. On Sunday, November 23 I’ll be rushing back from the Island to repeat this concert at St. Philip’s Anglican Church (3737 27 Ave W, Vancouver) at 4pm. Click HERE for more details. And if you’re the type that enjoys visual stimuli, I invite you to get a gander at these lovely shots from our Pyatt Hall concert, courtesy of Carol Carson.

Finally, the month ends with another trip out to Victoria, BC to make music with my “second family”, the Aventa Ensemble. We’ll be presenting our first concert of the season, entitled Schnee, on Sunday, November 30 at  8:00pm, at the Phillip T. Young Recital at the University of Victoria. This concert features the Canadian premiere of the Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen‘s Schnee, as well as La Chambre des cartes by Tristan Murail and two recent works by Giorgio Magnanensi. In addition to their love of all things Canadian, Aventa directors Bill and Darnell Linwood have been staunch supporters of new Danish music — a passion that has resulted in two tours to Denmark and even the opportunity for me to premiere Anders Nordentoft’s solo flute piece, Turmalin, in New York City back in  2009. Schnee continues Aventa’s exploration of the music of this amazing country — and, if the title of Abrahamsen’s piece is any indication, provides evidence that the Danes are far more comfortable glamourizing cold weather than your average West Coast Canadian.

Aventa Ensemble. Bill Linwood, director.




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