Via Salzburg Chamber Orchestra

Via Salzburg Chamber Orchestra

February 05, 2010 12:24 ET

Via Salzburg and OnnanoKo Drummers Present Two World Premieres by Canadian Composers Alice Ho and Kevin Lau

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 5, 2010) - In 1999, violinist Mayumi Seiler set out to fulfill her musical vision of a Toronto-based chamber music ensemble that would fuse the extraordinary talents of both Canadian and international musicians with string-oriented repertoire spanning from the Baroque to the contemporary.

Via Salzburg's third concert of the season will feature a collaboration with special guest artists, the OnnanoKo Drumming Ensemble. At the heart of the program are two world premieres of works written for Via Salzburg and OnnanoKo by Canadian composers Alice Ping Yee Ho and Kevin Lau. Also on the program are Barber's Adagio for Strings and Bartok's Divertimento for Strings.



Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 8:00 pm
Friday, February 19, 2010 - 8:00 pm
Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front Street West, Toronto

Tickets: $50/45/20 at Roy Thomson Hall (416) 872-4255
or at Glenn Gould Studio two hours before the concert


OnnanoKo Drumming Ensemble

OnnanoKo Drumming Ensemble is a vibrant and dynamic group which began with a goal to create a new sound by combining traditional Japanese rhythms with western musical influences. These vivacious young female musicians first blended their musical desires while studying at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. Under the guidance of Kiyoshi Nagata (Nagata Shachu), OnnanoKo's debut performance in April 2004 featured original compositions as well as new arrangements of traditional pieces. They performed in WholeNote magazine's 10th Anniversary concert series, and have appeared as featured soloists with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. OnnanoKo has participated in Operaworks, in conjunction with the Canadian Opera Company directing workshops for younger children. They have been invited to perform multiple times in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Season's Centre for the Performing Arts as part of the Canadian Opera Company's Noon Hour Concert Series.

Composer Kevin Lau -- http://www.kevinlaumusic.com/bio.php

Notes on "Elemental" by Kevin Lau

As I was searching for a theme that would unite this unorthodox combination of forces, I came across a poem entitled "Elemental" by the astrologer Tracy Marks. The title of the piece is a reference to Marks' verses and to the Classical elements themselves, whose properties are ripe for spiritual and psychological metaphor.

Historically, culturally, and sonically, these two magnificent ensembles-the Western string orchestra and the Japanese taiko ensemble-are worlds apart; in order to bring them together, I sought to delve beneath the surface into the realm of universal metaphor, where both ensembles could be 'in their element.' The music of Elemental serves as a conduit, channeling energy into a multitude of primal human conditions-violence and aggression, dance and song, love, despair, and change-as symbolized by the elements of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water.

Elemental is cast in five movements. "Prelude" sets the stage with a distant, folk-like melody on solo viola that is then 'set aflame'-a symbol of violent creation. "Fire" is a vicious perpetuum mobile modeled after the 'machine-music' of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Climbing dissonances, reminiscent of wildfire spreading, lead to the intrusion of an external force: taiko drummers, performing in miyake style (an athletic and theatrical stance requiring the performers to play the drums on their sides.)

The scherzo-like third movement, "Earth," returns us to our 'roots'-combining elements of Eastern folk music, martial rhythms, pop, and jazz within a highly ritualistic framework. In the slow movement "Air," a luminous interlude featuring the solo violin (a very personal metaphor in my own life) is bookended by an impassioned statement of the initial theme. The final movement, "Water," is at times purely descriptive, suggesting the weight and power of a stormy sea, while at other times acknowledging the transformative spirit, the quintessential human capacity for change.

Composer Alice Ping Yee Ho -- http://www.alicepingyeeho.com/bio.html

Notes on "Melange" by Alice Ping Yee Ho

This composition is inspired by the idea of "fusion": mixing musical elements from series of encounters in a cosmopolitan city that celebrates diversity and multiculturalism. The percussion part highlights traditional Taiko drumming and inculcates other "Western" and "Non Western" percussion playing such as nostalgic references to Jazz, garage band, and East Indian folk melodies. The string ensemble, besides playing the role of harmonic and rhythmic pillar, displays an individual voice that blends the "classical" virtuosity and lyricism with a variety of "novel" colors and effects. The music is written in a "quasi concerto grosso" format, presenting an intense and energetic interplay between the drumming ensemble and strings. The unique combination of distinct instrumental forces and musical styles symbolizes the "coming together" of many different forces and traditions embraced by our metropolitan society.

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