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Premiere Title of Commission Composer Listen
04/15/2014 Hymns to Pareidolia Nicole Lizée Listen Close

The piece reflects structures found in Bach’s score and imagines how unlikely instruments, including stylophones, omnichords, oscillators and vinyl would work in Baroque practices, such as in basso continuo, canons, chorales, or hockets. The psychological concept of Hymns to Pareidolia invites us to embrace unexpected sensory illusions as familiar.

11/13/2013 Boiling Song André Ristic Listen Close

This composition uses pop and folk material as building blocks but also introduces “...clear reference to liquid heating, bubbles appearing, and the whole thing turning into vapour at the end"

10/30/2011 Uskok Rhapsody André Ristic Listen Close

Though written for brass, Uskok Rhapsody sounds unlike any brass music with which most ears are familiar. To begin with, its instrumentation is unconventional: three brass quintets rather than the standard ensemble. Ristic describes the work as “a catalogue of psycho-geographic memories” that he collected while visiting the Uskok region of Montenegro.

11/24/2009 Berliner Konzert Paul Frehner Listen Close

Created to mark the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this piece does not merely celebrate that momentous event; its larger purpose is to explore through music the entire story of the city’s division. Each of its six movements is inspired by historical events during the Wall’s rise and fall.

03/16/2008 Seven Last Words of Christ Paul Frehner Listen Close

In this series of seven musical meditations on the words spoken by Jesus on the cross, Frehner makes dramatic use of counterpoint and other forms of superimposition to explore the meanings and universal resonances of the texts.

02/11/2008 Pimooteewin: The Journey Melissa Hui Listen Close

In this acclaimed and ground-breaking work, the first oratorio ever to be written in the Cree language, Weesageechak and Misigoo bemoan the departure of the living to the land of the dead. They travel to the magic island where the Spirits of the Dead dance by the light of the moon, held up by Atheegis the Frog.

11/06/2007 An Unfinished Life Brian Cherney Listen Close

Etty Hillesum was twenty-nine when she died at Auschwitz on November 30, 1943. 'An Unfinished Life' is based on the diaries that this young Dutch Jewish woman kept from March 1941 to October 1942. Cherney transformed several brief passages of Hillesum’s own writing, including several prayers, into a form of verse, and set these for the voices.

06/04/2006 Isfahan R. Murray Schafer Listen Close

Isfahan’s three brass quintets occupy different spatial positions throughout the performance. Co-ordination is provided by a leader sounding a seven-stroke motif on a slapstick or a drum.

01/17/2006 Lila Paul Frehner Listen Close

Lila is a Hindu creation myth in which Brahman, the supreme universal spirit, transforms himself into the world. Frehner draws a parallel between this concept and his own compositional process: a single musical idea may seem to come out of nowhere to become part of the composition, travelling and developing in many possible directions.

03/05/2005 The Passion of Lavinia Andronicus Omar Daniel Listen Close

Daniel’s oratorio is an exploration of that unknown Lavinia from William Shakespeare’s blood-soaked revenge tragedy Titus Andronicus. The solo vocal groups, consisting of soprano and four male singers (countertenor, two tenors, and baritone), collectively speak with Lavinia’s internal “voice” while the chorus provides external commentary and acts as the voices of those around her.

05/09/2000 Indelible Lines, Invisible Surface Kelly-Marie Murphy Listen Close

The emotional roots of this piece lay in Murphy’s own thoughts about the flaws of society and the arrival of the new millennium in the year 2000. The single-movement piece is divided into three sections (fast, slow, fast) that unfold over approximately twelve minutes. It opens with an expressive cello solo that gradually climbs to a high C sharp.

02/06/2000 Keys to the Unseen Randolph Peters Listen Close

Using text from Salman Rushdie’s novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet and from abbreviated versions of the Latin Mass, Keys to the Unseen examines the subject of music itself. Two of its parts, Kyrie and Sanctus, refer to music from the past that survives in our consciousness and continues to exert an influence on the way we hear things today.

06/17/1997 Terror and Erebus (A Lament for Franklin) Henry Kucharzyk Listen Close

The story of that ill-fated expedition of Terror and the Erebus, under the command of Admiral John Franklin, had long fascinated Kucharzyk, and when he discovered in the archives of the CBC a transcript and tape of Gwendolyn MacEwen’s 1975 radio play on the subject, he seized the opportunity to give musical voice to the tragic tale.

06/13/1997 Borealis Harry Freedman Listen Close

Borealis makes use of such antiphonal and spatial effects. It also, as its title suggests (Borealis being Latin for “of the north”), draws inspiration from another awe-inspiring space: the frozen vastness of the Arctic. The text used in the piece is an abstraction of Inuit and other aboriginal languages.

05/28/1996 Traces (Tikkun) István Anhalt Listen Close

Traces is not a conventional opera. Rather than conforming to traditional concepts of music, staging, drama, and plot, it is driven by the inner drama of every human life. In part, this deeply emotional work is autobiographical, drawing on Anhalt’s own experiences during the Holocaust. Multiple roles are adopted by the solo performer, who sings a series of monologues in a variety of different dramatic voices.