Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries there have been extraordinarily prolific pairings of flutists and composers that have created a wealth of music for the instrument: Karlheinz Stockhausen and Kathinka Pasveer; Salvatore Sciarrino and Roberto Fabbriciani; Kaija Saariaho and Camilla Hoitenga, to name but three. Over the last fifteen years I’ve enjoyed a similar relationship with the Iranian-Canadian composer Farshid Samandari. To date, I’ve commissioned and premiered six works by Samandari: two solo pieces; a flute and percussion duo; a trio for flute, cello, and percussion; a quartet for flute, viola, harp, and percussion (all of which were recorded for his debut album, Apogee); and a concerto, Phoenix Rising, for flute and traditional Chinese orchestra, which we’ll record with the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra in Taiwan, as soon as we can safely travel again. Most recently, we recorded his work for flute and electronics, If this is a man, with a wonderfully psychedelic video by Vancouver filmmaker Dejan Radovanovic. To be clear, If this is a man was not commissioned by me: it was commissioned and premiered by the flutist Suzanne Snizek, but I’m appreciative for the opportunity to create my own interpretation of this incredible piece. The work is inspired by the words of Primo Levi, specifically an invocation that prefaced Levi’s memoirs as an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor. Samandari frames the author’s words in three musical movements: first, Levi invokes his safe and well-fed audience (I. You who live safe). Then he recounts forms of degradation and abuse visited upon humanity throughout history (II. Consider if…). Finally, he stresses the importance of remembering these atrocities so they do not occur again (III. Meditate that…). I want to express my gratitude to Giovanni Aniello for coaching me on the Italian text and to Walter Quan and the BC Arts Council for supporting this project.
And now for something completely different: back in September my guitarist Adrian Verdejo and I filmed a couple videos of choros by the Brazilian-Canadian composer and guitarist Celso Machado. Our original venue for filming fell through (because Covid), so at the last minute local pianist Rachel Kiyo lwaasa was kind enough to offer her backyard as the backdrop for these two beautiful videos, shot by Jordan Nobles: Paçoca (named after a popular Brazilian peanut candy) and Quebra Queixo (another Brazilian candy, specifically a jawbreaker). Thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts, Creative BC, and the BC Arts Council for supporting these projects!