9 in the time of 5 – ISCM 2017

When Sean Bickerton of CMC-BC Region asked me to give my Top Five list for the ISCM World New Music Days 2017, I knew I was in trouble – first off, I can’t pick only five concerts, and worse, I am, in one way or another, involved with four of the events (I’ll explain momentarily…)

Fortunately, in 21st century music, complexity is perfectly acceptable and I was able to barter a deal using the power of tuplets. And thus, what follows is a list of nine stellar concerts – four in which I declare bias, five where I don’t. (I get most of the bias over near the beginning, so bear with me.)

1. Tuesday November 2, 7:30 pm – Opening Concert: Life Reflected

National Arts Centre Orchestra, Alexander Shelley (Artistic Director), presented by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

NACO opens ISCM WNMD 2017 with its multimedia view into the lives of four brave and influential women. “Life Reflected” combines music, dance, film, photography, graphic design, song, and spoken word to create a synergistic, emotionally powerful event. I have strong personal bias for this one – I’m one of the four composers involved, and very proud to have written music about Amanda Todd with the emotional guidance of her incredible, heroic mother, Carol Todd.

2. Friday November 3, 10:15 pm – Riot and Lori Freedman

Double bill par excellence – Lori Freedman is an incredible, ferocious composer and clarinettist – she can hold her own against bagpipes! Or probably anything else that comes along — the woman is a force of nature. In “Riot”, John Korsrud and the Hard Rubber Riot Ensemble take an intense, energetic look at the depths people sink to when mob mentality sets in. Once again I must declare bias – the multitalented, genre-smashing JK is my boyfriend. But, full disclosure – the reason I ended up dating him sprung from trying to get to know him better because I loved his music so much. (Be warned.)

3. Sunday November 5, 7:30 pm – Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Declaring personal bias yet again, due to the presence of my newly revised That Tingling Sensation – but what I really want you to hear is the World Premiere of Mohamed Assani and John Olivers co-composed sitar concerto, Pressed for Time. Assani and Oliver experimented together with many ragas and many harmonic transformations over a long period of time, carefully creating a real dialogue between Hindustani classical music and the Western contemporary orchestral tradition.

4. Sunday November 5, 10:15 pm – Question Notions: Music for Composer-Performers

Gabriel Dharmoo is amazing; tonight he presents his one-man show Anthropologies imaginaires – it is incredibly funny, thoughtful, peculiar, and wonderful. Leo Correira de Verdier is new to me, but I’ve heard/read many intriguing things. And “one of the world’s foremost sewing machine players” makes me so very curious. Let’s find out!

5. Monday, November 6, 7:30 pm – Ensemble Contemporain de Montreal (ECM+) and Turning Point Ensemble

Another excellent double bill. I’m particularly looking forward to the world premiere of Ana Sokolovic‘s violin concerto, Evta. Isidora Zebeljan is new to me – I am fascinated by the idea of her piece Needle Soup: A Surrealistic Fairy Tale for Octet (right? So curious!) I like the look of this whole concert – both presenting ensembles are outstanding!

6. Tuesday, November 7, 5:00 pm – Powell Street Festival

I’m very excited about hearing shō virtuoso Ko Ishikawa from Japan, not least in Yasunoshin Morita’s ReincarnatiOn Ring II for Shō, U and iPods (!), as well as local favourites Tiresias Duo and Brian Nesselroad; looking forward to hearing introspective, fascinating composer Justin Christensen’s This is fun for me, even if you don’t think it is, another time.

7. Tuesday November 7, 7:30 pm – PEP (Piano and Erhu Project) & Standing Wave Ensemble

One last declaration of bias, as I work with Standing Wave; but don’t let that dissuade you from checking this one out. PEP and Standing Wave are remarkably innovative, virtuosic local ensembles; stand-outs for me include a second hearing of James O’Callaghan’s gloriously quirky subject/object, the World Premiere of Jordan Nobles’ delicate, ethereal Echo Chamber, and Terri Hron’s Parting. (And yeah, that’s 100% CanCon.)

8. Wednesday, November 8, 12:00 pm – Aventa Ensemble

I’m delighted to see Victoria’s Aventa Ensemble making a rare appearance in Vancouver! This is a world-class ensemble, and we don’t hear them often enough in deepest Vancouver. Having heard Miranda Wong give a fierce rendition of Stefan PrinsPiano Hero at Music on Main, I’m deeply curious about his Hände ohne Orte for ensemble; and Giorgio Magnanensi’s music is always a highlight.

9. Wednesday November 8, 7:30 pm – Closing Concert: A Kind of Magic

Solo pianists Vicky Chow, Eve Egoyan, Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, Megumi Masaki

There’ so much great stuff here it’s hard to know where to begin, so I’ll just say that I heard Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa rehearsing the world premiere of Klavierklang by Hildegard Westerkamp the other day, and it was amazing. This will be an awesome close to ISCM World New Music Days 2017. Do not miss it!

So Much Yes!