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‘This work has spread like wildfire across North America, but hasn’t hit Canada yet...Now it has’
— Colleen Richardson, The Beat

Canadian soundscapes 

By Nicole Laidler

Orchestra London and the UWO Don Wright Faculty of Music are trying something new this month. A new collaboration, dedicated to new music.

The inaugural TD Canada Trust New Music Festival brings the two organizations together for a three-day celebration of 20th-century sounds, with a focus on emerging Canadian composers and their music. “We have to keep the [Classical] standards. We love them for a reason, but we can’t live in the past,” comments UWO Wind Ensemble director, Colleen Richardson.

“We have to honour and respect and perform the music that is being created by the composers of our generation. It’s exciting. It’s representative of our times.”

The festival gets underway March 2 with a noon-hour lecture by visiting composer, Scott Godin. “He’ll be speaking about the joys and frustrations of being a composer in today’s world,” explains Orchestra London executive director, Joe Swan.

Godin’s dang (2001) will be performed by the UWO Contemporary Music Ensemble at that evening’s Cardinal Points concert. Th e UWO Wind Ensemble and members of Orchestra London join forces the following evening for the aptly-titled Converging Soundscapes. Th e concert opens with the Wind Ensemble playing a transcription of Paul Estacio’s Frenergy (2004), described by Richardson as “fi ve minutes of pulsating rhythm.”

The program continues with the Canadian premier of Matthew Tommasini’s Three Spanish Songs (2005), featuring mezzo soprano Patricia Green. “This work has spread like wildfi re across North America, but hasn’t hit Canada yet,” Richardson says. “Now it has.”

Students and their professional counterparts share the stage for the second-half ’s A Child’s Garden of Dreams, Symphony No. 2 (1983) by David Maslanka. “Th e students are so excited to be collaborating with Orchestra London,” says Richardson. “They will learn so much sitting next to these professionals, as well as the conversations that will happen off -stage.”

The festival’s fi nal day begins with a noonhour recital by Montreal’s Transmission Ensemble, and wraps up at 7:30 when Orchestra London and music faculty students team up for performances of Brian Cherney’s Into the Distant Stillness (1984), Paul Frehner’s Sarantine Polyphony (2010), Jacob ter Veldhuis’ Th ere must be someway out of here (1995/ 1997) and Peter Paul Koprowski’s Sinfonia da Camera (1987).

“If people are looking for a taste of the diff erent and want to expand their horizons, this is the festival to go to,” Swan says.