It may be hard to believe, but here we are in December, and already halfway through the Murray Adaskin Salon Concert Series’ second season. So far, we have enjoyed three fabulous, sold-out concerts featuring the music of Lloyd Burritt, Jean Ethridge, and Hubert Klyne Headley. Our immersive, single-composer concert experience allows audiences to enjoy a broad selection of each composer’s body of work, representing a retrospective of pieces from throughout their careers, and thereby letting us get to know intimately each composer’s music. Each concert also includes one work by an up-and-coming emerging composer, giving a talented young person valuable professional exposure. So far, we have heard two gorgeous art songs by Roydon Tse and Katerina Gimon, leaving no doubt that the future of composition in BC is bright!

On Friday, September 29, the season launched with a gala concert celebrating the music of Lloyd Burritt. The first half of the program featured a selection of four fascinating song cycles, one each for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone, on texts by his beloved poets Robin Blaser and Marilyn Lerner. Two of these cycles also including significant obbligato roles for English horn and French horn, respectively. The second half featured something entirely new to our Salon: a semi-staged performance of Lloyd’s gorgeous and moving chamber opera, Miracle Flight 571, complete with visual and auditory elements that thoroughly immersed the audience in this dramatic story of tragedy, hope and survival.

Sean Bickerton, Robyn Driedger-Klassen, Carman J. Price, Steven Bélanger, Geronimo Mendoza, Leah Giselle Field, Lloyd Burritt, Terence Dawson, Andrew Clark (photo credit: Tom Hudock)

The second concert of our season, on Friday, October 27, celebrated the life and work of BC composer Jean Ethridge, in a lovely evening of art song, and chamber music for voice, strings and piano including extensive excerpts of Jean’s opera, The Ballad of Isabel Gunn. Jean is a prominent student of Jean Coulthard (whose life and work we celebrated last season) and writes in a highly accessible, attractive idiom with a great deal of rhythmic vitality, sometimes incorporating folksong elements. The concert experience was made especially memorable by the presence of the composer, who also had an opportunity to spend some time with each of the performers in rehearsal prior to the concert.

Sean Bickerton, Bogdan Dulu, Nina Horvath, Jean Ethridge, Stephanie Nakagawa, Ken Lin, Stefan Hintersteininger, Luke Kim (photo credit: Tom Hudock)

Rounding out the first half of our season, the most recent concert on Friday, November 17, showcased the music of Hubert Klyne Headley, a fascinating Canadian / American composer whose music was unjustly neglected for decades until being fortuitously rediscovered in 2016. Performers and audience alike were astounded at the high quality of Headley’s work, which also featured the largest ensemble ever assembled in the Murray Adaskin Salon – a Septet for woodwinds and strings! The concert, which included a photo slide show and an archival recording of the composer himself at the piano, was made even more memorable by the presence of Headley’s widow Constance, and other family members and friends.

Constance Headley, Headley family members, Sean Bickerton, Stefan Hintersteininger (photo credit: Tom Hudock)

We now find ourselves on a brief mid-season hiatus, with preparations already well underway for our upcoming concerts in the New Year. The first on March 9 highlights the vocal and chamber music of Vancouver composer Leslie Uyeda. Described as a composer with that rare combination of clear-eyed intelligence and deeply-felt emotion, Leslie Uyeda has spent her life crafting delicate, intimate masterworks inspired by her dual passions for poetry and for the human voice. Many of Leslie’s pieces were composed with specific performers in mind, artists with whom she has had longstanding collaborations and deep connections. It is they, including soprano Heather Pawsey and the composer herself at the piano, who will bring Leslie’s music to life in this very special concert that also celebrates International Women’s Day. The featured emerging composer presented at this concert will be Nova Pon.

The final two concerts in our 2017 / 2018 season celebrate two legends of electroacoustic music, Hildegard Westerkamp on April 6 and Barry Truax on May 11. Hildegard Westerkamp hears the world differently than most people. Where many of us might hear noise, she uncovers extraordinary beauty and meaning. It’s all in how we listen to our environment. After completing her music studies, Hildegard joined the World Soundscape Project under the direction of Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver. Her involvement with this project not only activated deep concerns about noise and the general state of the acoustic environment in her, but it also changed her ways of thinking about music, listening and soundmaking. Hildegard’s concert will include both electroacoustic and concert works with live performers.

A true pioneer in the field of electroacoustic composition, Barry Truax is retired from the School of Communication and the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University where he taught acoustic communication and electroacoustic music. He has worked with the World Soundscape Project, editing its Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, and has published a book, Acoustic Communication, dealing with all aspects of sound and technology. As a composer, Truax is best known for his work with the PODX computer music system which he has used for solo works and those which combine tape with live performers or computer graphics.

In celebration of the Holiday Season, we’re currently offering a generous three-concert subscription package, with all three amazing concerts offered for just $75 (a savings of $15 over the cost of single tickets). Tickets can be purchased online or by phone at 604-734-4622. This subscription package makes a great holiday gift for a loved one, or even for yourself! Hurry – quantities are limited!