Esprit Orchestra’s final concert of the season, The Last Paradise, takes place on Sunday, March 29 at Koerner Hall. The program features a diverse spectrum of styles and themes found in two World Premieres commissioned from Canadian composers Andrew Staniland and Scott Good, plus outstanding works by leading French and Chinese composers Marc-André Dalbavie and Xiaogang Ye. Conducted by Music Director and Conductor Alex Pauk, the concert features Esprit’s own Concertmaster, Stephen Sitarski, as soloist in Ye’s idiosyncratic work for violin and orchestra.
In his Vast Machine, Andrew Staniland draws a parallel between Esprit and the world’s fastest and largest machine, the Large Hadron Collider. As in the collider, with its acceleration of particles smashing things apart, this piece accelerates musical elements in ever-greater complexity to reach maximum intensity, colliding sections of the work in aural space, creating a climax that eventually shatters its themes into musical fragments.
Scott Good’s Resonance Unfolding 2 moves at a blistering pace, with harmonies unfolding in kaleidoscopic fashion, coming and going until a final, full saturation is achieved. Musical materials, employing spectral layers of sound colours and textures, move the piece in the direction of sound sculpture. The work was composed as an “Hommage à Olivier Messiaen” with the final four chords of Messiaen’s organ masterpiece Dieu Parmi Nous providing source material.
While Xiaogang Ye’s The Last Paradise initially suggests a personal response to the European violin concerto, incorporating certain elements of Chinese music, the piece is more like a late Romantic tone poem. It recounts the fate of a protagonist – portrayed by the violin – culminating in his funeral and eventual happiness upon the release of his spirit into the afterlife. The work traces experiences of the composer and his family through China’s Cultural Revolution and reflects on points of view many had for getting through the struggles of that time.
In Medieval times, the term color designated ways of creating melodies. Marc-André Dalbavie’s Color moves from a melodic entanglement to timbral music made up of chords – or from line to colour, in accordance with the title’s double meaning. Dalbavie extends the principles of “spectral music” (sounds based on recent acoustic discoveries, forms with continuous transformations, perceptual considerations aimed at accessibility). Melodies emerge from a harmonic/spectral resonance of colours and textures integrating tonality and atonality in a way that avoids the clichés of post-modern neo-romantic music.