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Premiere Title of Commission Composer Listen
05/09/2021 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.

02/06/2021 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.

02/26/1999 Voices Harry Freedman Listen Close

Freedman acknowledges that the title of this work “may strike some listeners as being somewhat redundant: one does not, after all, go to a choral concert expecting to see fifty krumhorn players on stage!” But in fact that title points to the innovative nature of the piece, for unlike most choral works, Voices has no meaningful text.

06/09/2021 Sextet Gary Kulesha Listen Close

The first of Sextet’s two movements (fast and slow) contains the “thinking” of the piece: dramatic and rhythmic, it is full of contrapuntal “games” and theatrical gestures. An opening “motto,” played by solo piano, presents the basic material, from which everything that follows derives in some way.

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.

06/25/1996 Arc of the Covenant Milton Barnes Listen Close

Commissioned by Soundstreams to coincide with the 1996 celebration of Jerusalem’s third millennium as the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, 'Ark of the Covenant' draws its inspiration from the Old Testament. Composed in a Middle-Eastern Mediterranean style, this work is divided into four main sections bearing the subtitles: “Invocation,” “Recollections,” “Rituals and Cortege,” and “Bacchanal.”

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.

04/04/2021 Heirmos Christos Hatzis Listen Close

In composing Heirmos, Hatzis sought to evoke his experience of visiting Greek orthodox monasteries and hearing the monks and nuns sing their Sunday services. Certain aspects of this experience, such as the cantors’ philosophical approach to time and the way the ambient space affected the timbre of their voices, made him aware of unexplored potential in his own work and prompted him to consider alternative ways of thinking about musical continuity.

05/25/1994 11 Miniatures for Oboe Harry Somers Listen Close

In composing these eleven short pieces, Somers has declared that he deliberately set out to put the performer’s technique to the test by exploring the entire gamut of the oboe’s range.

05/25/1994 The Birminal Trilogy Harry Somers Listen Close

Described by the composer as “wurbl inwentions by Edward Lear, boshed to music by Harry Somers,” this trilogy of settings combines one of the eccentric English humourist’s best-known nonsense poems with two other less familiar pieces from his pen.

04/27/1994 The Charmer Chan Ka Nin Listen Close

As he contemplated writing a chamber concerto for oboist and Soundstreams Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney, Chan thought immediately of the oboe d’amore—and, in particular, of that double-reed instrument’s age-old association with snake charming. It was with that exotic quality in mind that he set out to compose this piece.

05/05/2021 Song of Songs Barry Truax Listen Close

The lyrical and sensual imagery of the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon is portrayed in four movements: “Morning,” “Afternoon,” “Evening,” and “Night and Daybreak.” The soundscape is derived from vocal recordings of the text and from other recorded sources.

04/26/1992 Prime Time John Weinzweig Listen Close

Intended to be seen as much as heard, Prime Time is a music-theatre work, with words assembled by the composer. Those words consist of a series of disparate messages from the news media presented in juxtaposition without heed to chronology. Moments of quiet rumination, ranging from the contemplation of hidden meanings to furtive thoughts, are interrupted by concert events.

04/06/2021 Laudes Creationis Derek Holman Listen Close

Laudes Creationis exemplifies many of the characteristic aspects of Holman’s musical style. Each movement has a distinct harmonic and rhythmic identity. The three percussionists and the harp add a distinct colour to each section by accenting the angularity of the melodic material. Though certain passages in the work are more tranquil in mood, these usually function as resting places between more actively rhythmical sections.