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Premiere Title of Commission Composer Listen
03/21/2014 Mediaeval Dance John Kameel Farah Listen Close

A contemporary piece for piano, synthesizer and computer that employs arabic rhythms, electronics and sampled percussion, and combines meticulous notated structures with modal improvisation sections.

02/02/2014 Hear The Sounds Go Round R. Murray Schafer Listen Close

This setting for three choirs commissioned by Soundstreams Canada is an abbreviated version of the full spoken text - a poem which has accompanied me worldwide to conferences and workshops and which captures the elusive playfulness of our ever-changing soundscapes. -

10/01/2013 Ave Maria Riho Esko Maimets Listen Close

In the summer of 2013 I visited my great aunt in Estonia. At the time I was looking for inspiration to write a new piece for Soundstreams. Although my great aunt was a citizen of Soviet Estonia, she was one of the very few people who was allowed to travel to the West - to Canada, to visit my family.

10/01/2013 Open Road James Rolfe Listen Close

Whitman's long lines and purple passages are a challenge to set and to sing. The soloists deliver the more personal, incantatory lines, with the choir responding, shading, interfering, echoing.

05/14/2013 Distance Fuhong Shi Listen Close

Distance is scored for mixed ensemble including four Chinese traditional instruments and Western instruments.

05/14/2013 Small and Curious Places Dorothy Chang Listen Close

Small and Curious Places, puts aside the question of East vs. West and instead approaches the ensemble as a group of individual instruments and their unique characteristics, with none more distinct or exotic than the others.

03/05/2013 Carrousel Michael Oesterle Listen Close

Carrousel is a quartet for keyboards: Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, Marimba, and Piano.

01/27/2013 Five and a Half Bridges James Rolfe Listen Close

11/11/2012 ASAP 4 SATB Ana Sokolovic Listen Close

This choir piece is inspired by text messaging or texting, which we use very often. The piece is written in three sections, each one inspired in a different way by these ‘texts’.

10/11/2012 The Mountain Spirit Fuhong Shi Listen Close

The text of this work comes from poetry anthology Nine Songs written by a great Chinese poet Qu Yuan. Nine Songs consists of 11 poems and presents various parts that reflect rituals of ancient China.

03/02/2012 White Label Experiment (for John Cage) Nicole Lizée Listen Close

Composed to celebrate what would have been the hundredth birthday of avant-garde pioneer John Cage, this work pays homage to the ideas and philosophies embodied in his music and his words. Lizée—noted for incorporating turntables and other electronic devices into the concert-music setting—here makes extensive use of various objets trouvés (including typewriters and vinyl records on portable turntables struck with mallets) as percussion instruments, regardless of their original purpose.

11/29/2011 Tango: Del Amor Imprevisto James Rolfe Listen Close

Rolfe’s own words best describe the challenge he faced in composing this work—the difficulty of writing from outside of the culture and style—and how he rose to meet it: “As an Anglo-Canadian composer writing a tango, I’m skating on thin ice. How can my stolid northern soul find its way into the very particular language, singing, rhythm, and soul of this dance?"

11/29/2011 Serbian Tango Ana Sokolovic Listen Close

The intention behing this commission was to create new approaches to a familiar form by seeing it afresh through a contemporary lens. Sokolović’s contribution is inspired both by jazz and by the traditional Serbian dance known as kolo.

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.

03/23/2011 Breathe James Rolfe Listen Close

'Breathe' redefines many musical periods through its blending of ancient and modern texts, and through the performance of new music with historical instruments and techniques. Each part of the piece focuses on one of the four classical elements—air, fire, water, and earth—all of which are strongly present in the poems Rolfe has chosen for his text.

11/07/2010 The Soul of God R. Murray Schafer Listen Close

Conceived for four choirs, separated in different places around the audience to suggest the mystical omnipresence of God in unlimited forms and revelations, this work brings together texts from diverse eras and cultures.

04/29/2010 Mallet Quartet Steve Reich Listen Close

'Mallet Quartet' marked the first time Reich had written for the five-octave marimba. Written in three movements (fast, slow, fast), the work involves a series of interlocking patterns among which the four players move. The marimbas create a dense harmonic background in the two fast movements, while in the central slow movement the texture becomes unexpectedly spacious and transparent.

04/27/2010 Look on Glass Michael Oesterle Listen Close

Though the marimba and the Japanese koto come from divergent musical cultures, their timbres complement each other: both have a particular contemplative quality. Oesterle exploits the sonic texture of this unusual combination of instruments extensively throughout this piece, drifting from extremes of density and volume within a restrained melodic contour.

01/30/2010 Arise, Cry Out in the Night Norbert Palej Listen Close

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 was one of the twentieth century’s most tragic episodes of heroism: a desperate act of Jewish resistance against the murder of the ghetto’s population. Palej’s musical commemoration of this event draws on texts both ancient and modern.

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.

11/03/2006 When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d James Rolfe Listen Close

Commissioned for Soundstreams’ biennial University Voices event in 2006, 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d' is based on the lyric elegy written by Walt Whitman upon the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. It began life as a piano piece, Lilacs, which imagined the poem’s free-verse rhythms and cadences as a purely musical narrative.

06/04/2006 Murphy Fanfare Kelly-Marie Murphy Listen Close

The Toronto Fanfare Project, a series of eclectic concerts presented as part of the 2006 soundaXis festival of music and architecture, offered an elaborate five-day welcome to this rich literature for brass ensemble, animating some of the great architectural and acoustical masterpieces in the core of Toronto with a celebration of the music of Canada and its northern neighbours.

02/12/2006 The Weaving Maiden Chan Ka Nin Listen Close

The story of the Cowherd and the Weaving Maiden, a tale of two forbidden lovers who are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month over the wings of magpies, is well known in Chinese folklore. Since the Weaving Maiden is from heaven and the Cowherd is of the world below, the music embodies the division between the celestial and the earthly.

06/04/2005 Invocations and Last Word John Tavener Listen Close

Four invocations, each invoking a deity from one of the world’s great religions, are punctuated by cries of the mystical syllable “Om.” Each invocation is followed by a poem by the Sufi philosopher Frithjof Schuon; each poem’s setting is based on the musical material of the invocation that precedes it.

04/14/2005 Quintette: Variations psychogéographiques sur Tannhaüser André Ristic Listen Close

Ristic’s piece maps Wagner’s opera to memory and to emotion. As a selective recollection, it has a certain randomness; the notation is almost entirely devoid of specific pitches. Instead, the players read from a page with very specific rhythms and use a reference line to create their own pitch choices.