On Wednesday, January 16, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra launches its 6th Annual New Music Festival, its first under Music Director Otto Tausk, who took the helm from long-time VSO Music Director (and New Music Festival creator extraordinaire) Bramwell Tovey at the beginning of VSO’s 100th Anniversary 2018 / 2019 season. This New Music Festival is also the fifth and last curated and hosted by Composer-in-Residence (and NMF favourite) Jocelyn Morlock as her term in this position comes to an end. The VSO New Music Festival has been a significant addition to musical life in Vancouver, giving audiences the opportunity to hear large orchestral-scale works, by Canadian and international composers, that would otherwise seldom (if ever) be heard on regular concert programs. This year’s festival features an immense variety of repertoire, ranging from classic 20th Century works as Claude Vivier‘s revolutionary Lonely Child featuring soprano Nathalie Paulin and Henri Dutilleux‘s landmark Symphony No. 2, Le Double; to 21st Century pieces that are rapidly becoming classics (consider Jan Sandström‘s luminous Ocean Child and John Luther Adams‘ monumental Become Ocean), to exciting world premieres like Nicole Lizée‘s dynamic percussion concerto Perxploitation, to be performed by VSO’s Principal Percussionist Vern Griffiths, and Emily Doolittle‘s Reedbird, a work for wind ensemble inspired by the composer’s studies of birdsong. Another great benefit of the VSO New Music Festival is the opportunity to showcase regular partnering ensembles as Standing Wave, another festival favourite, which this year offers a program of almost entirely Canadian repertoire including Jocelyn Morlock’s Stone’s Throw, Jared Miller‘s Leviathan, Christopher Mayo‘s Oh Come Now! There is a Beautiful Place!, and the premiere of VSO Composer-in-Association Marcus Goddard‘s Pool of Lost Groves. The New Music Festival with a continuing partnership with Early Music Vancouver this year presenting vocal chamber ensemble New York Polyphony in a program that includes Missa Charles Darwin by American composer Gregory Brown. Full details of the VSO New Music Festival, which runs January 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th, are available here.
In anticipation of this year’s festival, we thought it would be fun to look back through our archives for some highlights of past VSO New Music Festivals. The Festivals have, combined, presented more than 140 works in total, many of them by Canadian composers, and many of them premieres.
Music Director Bramwell Tovey and Composer-in-Residence Edward Top launch the VSO’s inaugural New Music Festival. CONCERT 1: Standing Wave and soprano Robyn Driedger-Klassen, music by by Kati Agócs, Marcus Goddard, Edward Top, featured guest composer Brett Dean, and Missy Mazzoli. CONCERT 2: VSO, Rascher Saxophone Quartet, and cellists Ariel Barnes and Joseph Elworthy, works by Jennifer Butler, Jocelyn Morlock, and Brett Dean. CONCERT 3: VSO, soloists Brett Dean (viola), John Korsrud (trumpet), and Robyn Driedger-Klassen (soprano), works by Alexander Pechenyuk, John Korsrud, Peter Hannan, and Brett Dean. CONCERT 4: VSO, Rascher Saxophone Quartet, and music by John Oliver, Edward Top, and Brett Dean.
Music Director Bramwell Tovey and Composer-in-Residence Jocelyn Morlock launch the VSO’s second New Music Festival. CONCERT 1: Standing Wave performs Claude Vivier’s Pulau Dewata arranged by Michael Oesterle, Jocelyn Morlock’s Theft, John Luther Adams’ The Light Within, Nicole Lizée’s Sculptress, and Steve Reich’s Double Sextet. CONCERT 2: ‘Choral Magnificence’ with the Phoenix Chamber Choir and director / host Graeme Langager (Twenty-First Century choral works including Arvo Pärt’s Berliner Mass). CONCERT 3: VSO performs ‘Blood & Ice’, including Harrison Birtwistle’s Night’s Black Bird, Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Blood Upon the Body, Ice Upon the Soul, Jocelyn Morlock’s That Tingling Sensation (premiere), and Claude Vivier’s Orion. CONCERT 4: VSO performs ‘Sand & Stars’, with Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Black Sand, Frederick Schipizky’s Sea Glass Music (premiere), Jocelyn Morlock’s Ornithomancy, Marcus Goddard’s Wind, Sand and Stars (premiere), Toru Takemitsu’s A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden, and Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Through the Unknown, Unremembered Gate.
3rd Annual New Music Festival curated and hosted by Bramwell Tovey and Jocelyn Morlock. CONCERT 1: Standing Wave performs Jocelyn Morlock’s Undark, Jeffrey Ryan’s Readings from Book of Love, Philip Glass’ Music in Similar Motion, Gordon Fitzell’s evanescence, and Nicole Lizée’s Hitchcock Etudes. CONCERT 2: Kronos Quartet, various works. CONCERT 3: Linda Catlin Smith’s Adagietto, Glenn Buhr’s in gloriam, Jennifer Higdon’s blue cathedral, Christopher Mayo’s Aerial Courser (premiere), Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Three Screaming Popes, and Rodney Sharman’s study for a crouching figure. CONCERT 4: VSO and Kronos Quartet perform Marcus Goddard’s Regenerations (premiere), Thomas Newman’s It Got Dark, Jocelyn Morlock’s Earthfall (premiere), and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s LA Variations.
4th Annual New Music Festival curated and hosted by Bramwell Tovey and Jocelyn Morlock. CONCERT 1: Hard Rubber Orchestra, various works. CONCERT 2: ‘New Music for Old Instruments I’ curated by Rodney Sharman and Alexander Weimann includes Christopher Reiche’s An Overture for Joy, Markus Zahnhausen’s 2 movements from Winterbilder, Murray Adaskin’s Two Pieces for Solo Viola da Gamba, Louis Andriessen’s Ende, György Ligeti’s Continuum, Moritz Eggert’s Ausser Atem (Breathless), Linda Catlin Smith’s Grey Broken, and Peter Hannan’s Trinkets of Little Value. CONCERT 3: ‘Pure Piano’, various works. CONCERT 4: Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation. CONCERT 5: ‘New Music for Old Instruments II’ includes Emily Doolittle’s Falling Still, Thierry Tidrow’s Ricercar, Linda Catlin Smith’s Sinfonia, Rodney Sharman’s She Walks in Beauty, André Ristic’s Fandango Immanis, Jocelyn Morlock’s Golden, Patrick Giguère’s La Belle-Anse, Rodney Sharman’s Obsessions, Liebeslied, Songs from Faust, and more. CONCERT 6: VSO and Standing Wave perform Jocelyn Morlock’s Hullabaloo (premiere) and Corvid (premiere), Emilie Lebel’s monograph of bird’s eye views, Marcus Goddard’s Spooky Action at a Distance (premiere), Jennifer Higdon’s On a Wire, and Nikolai Korndorf’s The Smile of Maude Lewis.
5th Annual New Music Festival curated and hosted by Bramwell Tovey and Jocelyn Morlock, featuring guest violinist Rachel Barton Pine. CONCERT 1: Standing Wave presents Pavane, Galliard, and Variations by Rodney Sharman, Doublespeak by Nico Muhly, James O’Callaghan’s De Natura Sonorum, and Louis Andriessen’s Workers Union. CONCERT 2: ‘New Music for Old Instruments: After Bach’, music by Rodney Sharman, Douglas Finch, Jocelyn Morlock, Ligeti, and Sinfonia Della Passione (premiere) by Bramwell Tovey. CONCERT 3: ‘Cobalt Clouds and Clear Blue Seas’, featuring the VSO with John Estacio’s Trumpet Concerto, Anna Clyne’s Prince of Clouds, Jocelyn Morlock’s Cobalt, and Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No.1. CONCERT 3: ‘Intimate NMF Cabaret’, various works. CONCERT 4: Violin Concerto by Marcus Goddard, Andrew Staniland’s Vast Machine, Samy Moussa’s Nocturne, and Kaija Saariaho’s Ciel d’hiver.