WNMF 5: Building Bridges


Centennial Concert Hall: 

WNMF 2024 wraps in style with a striking slate of stylistically eclectic works, putting a spotlight on the extreme and thrilling musical contrasts that the symphony orchestra is uniquely capable of.

Missy Mazzoli opens the program with River Rouge Transfiguration, inspired by the relationship between industry and geography in the development of Detroit’s urban identity.

Canadian iconoclast and multiple JUNO nominee Andrew Staniland in turn mines the rich timbral and gestural possibilities of his own primary instrument in his concerto for electric guitar (RE)volution, featuring New York City-based virtuoso Jay Sorce (Hypercube).

WSO composer-in-residence Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis reprises his epic tone poem Holocene Extinction, a work that mines the sweeping symphonic language of romanticism and cinema alongside the propulsive drive of modern metal as it ruminates on humanity’s unprecedent impact on the geological evolution of the planet and of its biosphere.

New Orleans-based composer Courtney Bryan presents her expressive work Bridges, an elegant symphonic tapestry that considers the physical and societal connections between the disparate communities of a single city through the symbol of its interconnecting bridges.

And finally, capping off this program and the festival, Maestro Daniel Raiskin leads the WSO in the Canadian premiere of Pretty, a raucously celebratory and irreverent new work by legendary American composer, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Bang On A Can co-founder Julia Wolfe.


Thank you to our Premier Patron, Michael Nesbitt, whose generosity helped to bring Julia Wolfe to the WNMF 2024.


Program Notes

Missy Mazzoli – River Rouge Transfiguration (2013)

“…all around me and above me as far as the sky, the heavy, composite, muffled roar of torrents of machines, hard wheels obstinately turning, grinding, groaning, always on the point of breaking down but never breaking down.”

—Louis-Ferdinand Céline, from Journey to the End of the Night

I first fell in love with Detroit while on tour with my band, Victoire, in 2010. When I returned home to New York I dove into early Detroit techno from the late eighties, Céline’s novel Journey to the End of the Night and early 20th century photographs by Charles Sheeler, who documented Detroit’s River Rouge Plant in 1927 through a beautiful, angular photo series. In my research I was struck by how often the landscape of Detroit inspired a kind of religious awe, with writers from every decade of the last century comparing the city’s factories to cathedrals and altars, and Vanity Fair even dubbing Detroit “America’s Mecca” in 1928. In Mark Binelli’s recent book Detroit City Is the Place to Be, he even describes a particular Sheeler photograph, Criss-Crossed Conveyors, as evoking “neither grit nor noise but instead an almost tabernacular grace. The smokestacks in the background look like the pipes of a massive church organ, the titular conveyor belts forming the shape of what is unmistakably a giant cross.” This image, of the River Rouge Plant as a massive pipe organ, was the initial inspiration for River Rouge Transfiguration. This is music about the transformation of grit and noise (here represented by the percussion, piano, harp and pizzicato strings) into something massive, resonant and unexpected. The “grit” is again and again folded into string and brass chorales that collide with each other, collapse, and rise over and over again. River Rouge Transfiguration was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony in honor of Elaine Lebenbom. Thank you to the Detroit Symphony, Leonard Slatkin, Erik Ronmark, Rebecca Zook, Farnoosh Fathi, Katy Tucker and Mark Binelli.

—Missy Mazzol

Andrew Staniland – (RE)VOLUTION (2011) concerto for electric guitar & orchestra
Jay Sorce, electric guitar

It was March 27 2009, the day after the CBC’s very last young composers competition, entitled Evolution. ECM+ and Veronique Lacroix had just given a tremendous live-to-air concert featuring the works of five young Canadian Composers. My work, Devolution, was amongst these works, and, as it happened, was awarded the National Grand Prize. As Veronique and I waited for the airport shuttle outside the Banff Centre for the Arts, we spoke about a possible commission. The result of that conversation, is before you tonight: (RE)volution – an electric guitar concerto

In this work I treat the guitar as much as an electro-acoustic element as a traditional stringed instrument. The work is in three movements. The first explores textural and rhythmic morphology, and in sound resembles a written our movement of electroacoustic music. The second movement shifts focus to melodic material, featuring lots of expressive portamento on slide guitar. The relationship between longing, romantic, espressivo line is paired somewhat eccentrically with the sound of alarmist air raid sirens. The third features a cadenza in a rather unusual place – the end. It is ushered in by a sudden termination of a massive orchestral build, brought about by a pistol shot. This cadenza is built with a distillation of musical material into a three-line Palestrina-like counterpoint enveloped in a gorgeous and angelic electroacoustic treatment of the electric guitar.

(RE)volution was commissioned by ECM+ with assistance from the Ontario Arts Council. It was premiered by ECM+ and Tim Brady in Montreal, Canada in 2012.

—Andrew Staniland

Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis – Holocene Extinction (2018) for orchestra – 18’
I. Eden
II. Arrival
III. Threnody
IV. Hammerfall
[WSO commission]

The Holocene epoch, which spans the past 11,700 years, encompasses the totality of humanity’s written history. Our species’ staggering growth and development into Earth’s first global super predator is unprecedented in the known history of the planet. An unintended consequence of this explosive rise is the pervasive impact humanity has had on the environment. Human predation’s effects on food webs, the destabilization of biodiverse habitats, industry’s role in climate change, overpopulation, and profligate consumption are among the principal causes of an increase in the extinction rate of plant and animal species to between 100 and 1,000 times higher than natural background rates

The Earth has experienced five mass extinction events in its history, spread out over hundreds of millions of years. Humanity is the first species to have directly precipitated such a cataclysm – what has been termed the sixth mass extinction, or the Holocene extinction

This work is a symphonic poem, a meditation on our unfortunate complicity in this ongoing mass extinction event. The narrative is set in four continuous movements.

The first, Eden, imagines an idyllic Earth before the growth of humanity. It seeks to capture the simplicity and balance of the world as depicted in our origin myths. Gradually, a sense of foreboding invades the dreamlike naivety of the opening.

In Arrival, humanity enters the scene. A frenetic increase in energy and aggression depicts our rapid proliferation and takeover of the ecosystem.

Threnody, from the Greek θρηνῳδία, or “wailing ode”, is an exercise in catharsis, a purely emotional response to this ongoing tragedy.

The finale, Hammerfall, evokes the massiveness and cold brutality of industry, an unstoppable force subjugating the musical landscape with mechanical implacability.

-Haralabos [Harry] Stafylaki


Courtney Bryan – Bridges (2019) for orchestra [Canadian premiere]

Bridges is a tribute to the city of Jacksonville, its diverse communities, and the bridges that bring them together. As Mary Carr Patton Composer-in-Residence with the Jacksonville Symphony, I have had the opportunity to learn about Jacksonville (and St. Augustine) by visiting museums and galleries, historic landmarks, educational institutions, and by meeting with contemporary artists, art supporters, and residents. A central inspiration for the music comes from my visits to several schools in different neighborhoods of Jacksonville where the young students improvised sound of their neighborhoods, particularly sounds of water, weather, and traffic.

Bridges begins with an acknowledgement of the early cultural encounters of Northeast Florida along the St. Johns River from the time of Ossachite to Cowford to Jacksonville, including the Timucua (Saturiwa), French, Spanish, West African, British, Seminole, and Americans. Following this are musical responses to my experiences while visiting Jacksonville. While bridges may separate the city, this piece celebrates how through people’s intentions and actions, they can bring the city together.

—Courtney Bryan

Julia Wolfe – Pretty (2023) [Canadian premiere]

The word “pretty” has had a complicated relationship to women. It implies an attractiveness without any rough edges, without strength or power. And it has served as a measure of worth in strange, limited, and destructive ways. It has a less sweet origin from the old English – “cunning, crafty, clever.” As words evolve, it morphed to a much softer sentiment. My Pretty is a raucous celebration – embracing the grit of fiddling, the relentlessness of work rhythms, and inspired by the distortion and reverberation of rock and roll.

–Julia Wolfe


Centennial Concert Hall: 

Returning to our familiar concert hall, music director Daniel Raiskin leads the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in a series of works featuring a stunning array of acclaimed guest soloists from around the world. This unique program places a spotlight on the relationship between soloist, conductor, orchestra, and composer – and the dialogue, synergy, and conflict that arise from their interactions.

Distinguished guest composer Missy Mazzoli returns with her sonorous concerto for double bass Dark with Excessive Bright that features WSO principal bassist Meredith Johnson, placing a spotlight on a ubiquitous instrument of the orchestra and its rich expressive possibilities.

Chinese-American composer and guzheng master Wu Fei is joined by NYC oud specialist Shanir Blumenkranz in the orchestral adaptation of her monumental Hello Gold Mountain, a powerful work inspired by the real stories of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai from Europe in World War II and built new lives in China.

In Mirror of Eternity, Lebanese composer Houtaf Khoury explores the socio-philosophical complexities of life in the Arab world through the soulful sonorities of the flute and symphony orchestra – a performance that doubly serves as a celebration of WSO principal flutist Jan Kocman’s stunning 50 years of service to the orchestra.

Finally, Kamancello returns to the stage, this time with the WSO, to weave together a rich sonic tapestry with their semi-improvisatory Convergence Suite, an expansive outgrowth of their repertoire heard three nights earlier at The Leaf.


Supported by

Dr. Jens Wrogemann



Program Notes

Kamancello – Convergence Suite in 3 Movements (2019) double concerto for kamancheh & cello
Kamancello: Raphael Weinroth-Browne, cello; Shahriyar Jamshidi, kamancheh

I. Incantations based on themes by Kamancello and arranged by Raphael Weinroth-Browne
II. Aether composed by Raphael Weinroth-Browne
III. Paala Bidar based on a piece by Shahriyar Jamshidi and arranged by Raphael Weinroth-Browne

Since 2014, Canadian duo Kamancello (kamanche + cello) have been blurring the lines between Persian and Western string playing with their improvised performances, creating a sound that travels beyond both traditions. Convergence Suite sees the duo taking this synergy a step further by combining the disparate worlds of chamber and orchestral music.

Incantations is built on themes from two of Kamancello’s recorded improvisations: Tenebrous (from the album Kamancello II: Voyage), and Incantation (from the album Kamancello). After a short improvised introduction, the soloists begin to exchange a lively 7/8 theme which beckons the orchestra to follow suit with similar hypnotic dance rhythms. This tumultuous movement wends through jagged rhythms and austere soundscapes before reaching an intense and propulsive final sequence.

Emerging seamlessly from the final chord of Incantations, Aether is an atmospheric interlude where sparse chords in the orchestra hang suspended in the air as the soloists’ fluid improvisations weave in and out of the texture. Eventually, the chords dissipate into a single droning note, gradually disappearing into nothing. The soloists’ dialogue continues and gradually intensifies as they herald the dynamic opening of the final movement.

Paala Bidar originated as a composition by Shahriyar Jamshidi for kamanche and percussion from his 2008 solo album Call of the Mountains. The piece was arranged and adapted for Kamancello and string orchestra by Raphael Weinroth-Browne. While Incantations and Aether focus on a conversation or exchange between the kamanche and cello, this final movement unifies the soloists; they frequently play the same line in octaves or in parallel harmonies, while the orchestra acts as a complex and interconnected percussion instrument. As the piece builds into a frenetic and rhythmically dense climax, one last winding sinuous line drives the music to its conclusion, with the soloists and all sections playing in unison, a final convergence of polarities: East and West; improvisation and recitation; individual and collective, joining as a single voice.

Missy Mazzoli – Dark with Excessive Bright (2018) for double bass & string orchestra
Meredith Johnson, double bass

While composing Dark with Excessive Bright for contrabass soloist Maxime Bibeau and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, I continuously listened to music from the Baroque and Renaissance eras. I was inspired in no small part by Maxime’s double bass, a massive instrument built in 1580 that was stored in an Italian monastery for hundreds of years and even patched with pages from the Good Friday liturgy. I imagined this instrument as a historian, an object that collected the music of the passing centuries in the twists of its neck and the fibers of its wood, finally emerging into the light at age 400 and singing it all into the world. While loosely based in Baroque idioms, this piece slips between string techniques from several centuries, all while twisting a pattern of repeated chords beyond recognition. “Dark with excessive bright,” a phrase from Milton’s Paradise Lost, is a surreal and evocative description of God, written by a blind man. I love the impossibility of this phrase, and felt it was a strangely accurate way to describe the dark but heartrending sound of the double bass itself. Dark with Excessive Bright was commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Aurora Orchestra in London. In 2019, I arranged the work for solo violin and string orchestra.

—Missy Mazzoli


Houtaf Khoury – Mirror of Eternity (2002) concerto for flute & orchestra
I. Molto lento
II. Allegro con ritmico
III. Largo
Jan Kocman, flute

The Concerto Mirror of Eternity is dedicated to Wissam Boustany and this is the world premiere recording. It has a socio-philosophic message, reflecting life in the Arab world, where society remains closed and entrenched. It therefore represents a person who is shaped by the characteristics of his cultural environment: where all is forbidden under the threat of attracting the wrath of God … this is the idea behind the first movement, where there is a sense of birth and contradiction, a desolate figure living in the middle of a society in denial. The second movement represents the material life of this person, a life of cabarets and dancers. Time quickly passes by and he finds himself depressed and disillusioned again … the third movement appears suddenly, the music taking on the form of a mirror image of the first movement (hence the title), retreating backwards towards the depressed banality of his life … all has been lost … but memories of good moments still linger … and life continues to its inevitable conclusion.

—Houtaf Khoury

Wu Fei – Hello Gold Mountain (2022) for guzheng, oud, and orchestra [Canadian premiere]
I. Overture
II. For Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese Schindler
III. Lily and Meimei
IV. Stateless Dance
V. July 17, 1945 – The Raid
VI. Shanghai Dark Sea
VII. Hello, Gold Mountain
Wu Fei, guzheng
Shanir Blumenkranz, oud

Hello Gold Mountain is a requiem for lost possibilities of the Jewish community of Shanghai.

The work, an original composition by Wu Fei, will feature chatterbird along with Wu Fei, guzheng, and Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, oud (Silk Road Ensemble).

The piece is inspired by stories of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai from Europe during World War II. From 1933 until the end of the war, Shanghai was often the only port at which Jewish refugees fleeing Europe could disembark without a visa. In the early 1940s, more than 20,000 Jews lived in Shanghai and contributed to its cultural and civic life.

But the Jews could not stay. As China’s bloody civil war came to a close in 1949, most fled. Many emigrated to the US, often arriving at the port of San Francisco, or Old Gold Mountain 旧金山.

What musical possibilities were lost because the times did not allow neighbors from these different cultures to grow old together, sharing songs and stories? Similarly, what artistic creations will be lost if Europe and the United States close the door to refugees and migrants from lands in chaos?




Knox United Church:

WNMF once again teams up with long-time collaborators Polycoro Chamber Choir – this time joined by Kamancello member Raphael Weinroth-Browne on cello – in a program of deeply personal, introspective musical creations, presented in the inviting and resonant Knox United Church.

Grammy-winning composer and Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Gilbertson’s choral work Returning explores what draws humans together, while WNMF 2024 distinguished guest composer Missy Mazzoli’s Year of Our Burning for vocal ensemble and cello presents a window into the mind of the artist during a time of great turmoil and deep isolation.

WNMF celebrates the life of the great Winnipeg-born composer Jocelyn Morlock, presenting her masterwork Exaudi, a stunning piece for vocal ensemble and cello that seeks meaning and empathy within the depths of grief.

Interspersed throughout the program are selections from Raphael Weinroth-Browne’s album for solo cello and electronics Worlds Within, each piece a richly atmospheric and wordless exploration of sound, space, and the complexities of our inner lives.


Supported by


Program Notes

Raphael Weinroth-Browne – Unending I / From Within II / Tumult I-II-III (2020) for solo cello & electronics

My first solo album Worlds Within is a continuous 40-minute piece for amplified cello, effects, and loop station. The composition is a variation set built from a very simple initial seed, gradually branching out and recreating itself in different forms. I think of it sometimes as the soundtrack to a life cycle, beginning from an unending ether (Unending I), emerging into innocence and wonder (From Within), growing into self-awareness (From Above) followed by chaos and upheaval (Tumult), making peace with what is (Fade [Afterglow]), and returning to the infinite (Unending II). I wanted the bookends to feel timeless and to reflect the passing of time from the perspective of nature. By contrast, I wanted the inner sections to have a fast-paced momentum, embodying human subjectivity and impatience.

Unending I represents the infinite, an endless ether. This piece illustrates an inchoate world, one without humanity. I wanted to express how the passage of time would be felt differently by forests, mountains, and rivers, in much larger intervals and without the strict metronomic clockwork that we as humans have imposed on it.

I’ve always felt From Within to be very evocative of nature, specifically the forest. The title suggests an inner world, the world we carry inside ourselves and the place where nascent ideas and thoughts take seed and eventually grow to tower over us. The piece opens with three melodic phrases which seem to pose questions that are left unanswered. The repeating groove that follows is akin to the inexorable passing of time and the cycles of nature, while the solo line that emerges and eventually takes centre stage represents the more subjective viewpoint of a human being attempting to navigate life. The ascending and atmospheric arpeggios in the final section signify the dissolution of previously held beliefs and flight beyond the shelter of the forest in search of renewed purpose and deeper truths.

Tumult I-II-III is a medley of the first three parts of the Tumult suite from Worlds Within. It is the dynamic apex of the album and contains some of the more metal-influenced sections as well as some percussion loops, which I create by tapping rhythmically on the bridge pickup and running the signal through a delay pedal. This results in a unique sound reminiscent of electronic/programmed drums, but with a more organic quality.

The piece opens with short, fragmented motifs, like disparate thoughts that slowly intertwine and form a tangled web, a mind lost in chaos and confusion. These repeating rhythmic loops are akin to insistent voices that echo over and over again. Each movement of the piece builds up from a single cell to a fully formed structure, dissolving almost as soon as it is complete, with musical themes reconstructing themselves again from nothing like old thoughts in a new guise. This triptych ends as it begins, emerging darkly triumphant from an arduous struggle.

—Raphael Weinroth-Browne


Michael Gilbertson – Returning (2015) for choir
Part I: What knits us
Part II: I thought of staying quiet

Michael Gilbertson’s 20-minute Returning is loosely based on the biblical story of Jonathan and David; exploring what draws one human to another.

Part I

What knits us
to the soul of another
the way dusk light becomes
a part of dankness returning

What connects us to a life
more than our own

What makes us choose

Night pours into sky
like the first rains
in a riverbed
colors of stone
made true by water


Your voice speaks now
as it spoke before
though what I hear more
the space between words
your breath preparing for sound


I think of what I forget
the slipping image of your hand
the rivers in your fingers formed
by the waters of use
currents carrying me towards you

Night pours into sky
like the first rains
in a riverbed
colors of stone
made true by water
If I speak to you now
could you hear
for the air around me
is like your nearness

You were always the wilderness
taste of the unknown berry
colors etched in my lips
foliage lush without water

What makes us choose

How many kinds of light
live in a night sky

Is light ever separate
from the time
it travels through

What connects to a life
more than our own

Part II

I thought of staying quiet
the night of the full moon

Air that night
like the colors of stone
made true by water

Before I spoke that night
I knew my father
would curse

If I had not asked you to speak
a lie

Why are there words
I cannot speak to your face
but only to your memory

would you still be alive

I thought of staying quiet
the night of the full moon

or a part of the silence
we come to know

For a moment
my silence
became my reign

Are you dead
because of my life

For a moment
my quiet
spoke king

Would you have ruled
better than I

For a moment
I let you die

What knits us
to the soul of another
the way dusk light becomes
a part of darkness returning

Tonight I look at the sky
and cannot find
the space between light and dark

Tonight I look at the sky
the space between light and dark
how the edge of one
becomes the edges of the other

Jocelyn Morlock – Exaudi (2004) for choir & cello

Exaudi explores a spectrum of emotional reactions to the words “exaudi orationem meam ad te omnis caro veniet.” As the music progresses, the cooler, ritualized aspects of the music are transformed into awe and terror, which gradually recede into something more calm. During the conclusion of the piece, which works like an extended coda, the cello solo becomes the main focus of the music. It is echoed and amplified by the sopranos, while the other voices have very simple chorale-like parts.

Exaudi was written for a concert about memory, mourning, and loss. My grandmother died in the year prior to me writing it…Exaudi is loosely based on her emotional and spiritual life as I saw it from a distance, in addition to being written out of love for her.
She lost her husband at a young age, and this relates to the meaning of the first half of the text, “Exaudi orationem meam,” which means “hear my prayer (or “hear me”), all flesh will come to you.”
At the beginning of the piece, this text is set as ritualized repetition of words from the requiem mass, but during the course of the first section of the piece these words become very specific, meaningful, and painful, describing my grandmother’s overwhelming sense of loss following the sudden death of her husband.

My grandmother lived to be almost 90. As she got older, the horror of death in general, and the painful nature of her grief, changed and faded. When she was much older, the idea of death became a more gentle thought to her, comforting, and possibly something to look forward to. She talked about perhaps being reunited with her husband after she died. (This is the second section, the In Paradisum section of the piece. That sense of comfort.) She used to joke about him seeing her and wondering who this old woman could possibly be…

—Jocelyn Morlock

Widely considered a masterpiece and of Jocelyn’s greatest works, Exaudi is presented on this program in tribute to Jocelyn and in celebration of her life and contribution to the musical arts. She was a great artist and a dear friend; she is deeply missed.

—Haralabos Stafylakis

Missy Mazzoli – Year of Our Burning (2021) for choir & cello
o Part One: Darkness
o Part Two: Blame
o Part Three: Alone
o Part Four: Rescue
o Part Five: Rebirth

8:00 pm & 9:30 pm

In 1992, the WSO planted a musical seed in Winnipeg, carving out a space within its traditional programming season that would be dedicated entirely to new musical creations by the artists of our own time. Over 33 seasons, the seed has grown organically into the internationally renowned Winnipeg New Music Festival, an institution unto itself whose tendrils have reached across the globe, creating new connections and introducing new voices to its audiences.

This year, WNMF moves to The Leaf, the new architectural and horticultural crown jewel of Assiniboine Park, for two performances by the innovative cello and kamancheh duo Kamancello.

Kamancello brings together the individual voices, stylistic explorations, and cultural influences of Canadian cellist & composer Raphael Weinroth-Browne (Leprous, The Visit, Musk Ox) and Kurdish-Canadian kamancheh player & composer Shahriyar Jamshidi. Weaving together equal parts composition and improvisation, each unique performance grows organically as these master musicians respond to each other in the moment – which the audience will fittingly experience while nestled within the natural environment of The Leaf’s Mediterranean Biome.


Supported by


Original Works – selections will be announced from the stage

Kamancello, comprised of Shahriyar Jamshidi and Raphael Weinroth-Browne, is an East-meets-West duo whose music transcends genres and cultural boundaries. Their highly evocative performances unite the Kurdish kamanche with the classical cello while travelling beyond both musical traditions.

In this fully improvised concert, you will hear rich lyricism and microtonal ornamentation in long, exploratory pieces that “feel their way forward from quiet drones to chugging, propulsive rhythms and intricate counterpoint.” –Musicworks Magazine

“The duo give[s] new meaning to the words close listening, with each attending to the other’s playing with the utmost concentration. One player often echoes the other’s melody; at other times, one builds upon a statement made by the other to take the material to an unexpected yet nevertheless natural place. Each amplifies the emotionalism of the other, such that as the music builds in intensity, both contribute equally to the escalation.” –Textura

Kamancello proves “that cultures can mingle without losing their distinct identities, and that diversity inspires richness. The national origin doesn’t matter; we can all hear unity in these grooves.” –A Closer Listen

Musical installation (ambient sound):

Helga JakobsonEntropic Symphony

Program Notes

Entropic Symphony is a composition created from over 500 hours of information recorded at the Assiniboine Park Conservatory before its closure in 2018. This recording is a registration of the plants throughout the last months of their lives.

When the 104-year-old Assiniboine Park Conservatory in Winnipeg closed, the plants had taken over the building. A palm tree was trying to push through the glass ceiling. The roots of many of the decades-old trees had mingled together to the point where they could not be transplanted nor moved.

During the last months of its existence, Helga Jakobson recorded as many of the Conservatory’s plants as possible. They were recorded through an arduino sensor that read the bioelectric capacitance of the plants, outputting their electric impulses as MIDI notes. For more information about this project, check out this interview.


Centennial Concert Hall: 

The WSO is proud to present this year’s WNMF distinguished guest composer, American powerhouse Missy Mazzoli. Two of her orchestral works are presented this evening, each an epic musical journey unto itself. Orpheus Undone reaches back to Greek mythology for its inspiration, tracing the bard-prophet’s death and journey into the underworld, while the five-movement Violin Concerto (Procession) – featuring WSO associate concertmaster Karl Stobbe – evokes magic and mystery, with the soloist serving as a processional guide through the ebb and wane of fear and wonder.

Restless Oceans by English composer Anna Clyne deploys the orchestra in both familiar and unconventional ways in this celebration of the power of women; while Ukrainian-Canadian composer-conductor Eugene Astapov shares his work Burial Rites that explores the nature of grief and memory in response to deep personal tragedy. Opening the concert is Croatian pianist-composer Dejan Lazic’s S.C.H.E.rzo, composed as a tribute to Beethoven and the musical form he pioneered, replete with references to his seminal Third Symphony.


Supported by

Sandi and Ron Mielitz



Dejan Lazic – S.C.H.E.rzo (2019/2022)

In his symphonies, piano sonatas and various chamber music works, Ludwig van Beethoven played a major role in the evolution and rise of the fast and spirited scherzo movement (literally meaning a “joke”) as a replacement for the slower and more dance-like minuet movement. The scherzo turned later in the 19th century into an independent instrumental form; the best known became the four “Scherzi” for piano solo by Frederic Chopin. This development was a wonderful source of inspiration for me both as pianist and composer.

In anticipation of the celebrations for the Beethoven year 2020, I wanted with this work to pay a tribute to this great composer in form, spirit, and in humour. The four capital letters in the title are imagined rather playfully as musical cryptograms that employ German note names (“S” corresponds to “Es” = E-flat, and “H” corresponds to B), thus subsequently forming both the main melodic motif and the harmonic base of the work (E-flat, C, B, E). For the instrumentation — in addition to significant percussion and piano segments — apart from horns and trumpets I haven’t used traditionally paired wind instruments, but rather each one singly. This reinforces the uniqueness and high recognition value of each instrument’s specific and distinctive sound and colour.

As the concert program of the world premiere in Indianapolis, USA, features Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, I allowed myself to quote some of the themes and motifs from this symphony in the course of my work. As an example, the ten notes of Beethoven’s main theme from the first movement are introduced in reverse order by the brass (the counterpoint forms the main motif of “Quasi valzer”). Later we also hear a quotation from Claudio Monteverdi’s “Scherzi musicali” published in 1607, one of the very first compositions carrying this term in its title.

The intertwining parts shape a rather traditional A-B-A-C-A form, the symphonic and chamber music-like sections stand in strong contrast with each other. A sarcastic-grotesque A section is traversed by vigorous, odd rhythms while in the gentle, lyrical B section the solo woodwinds and the strings introduce new melodic material. The C section contains jocular and dramatic features where the brass, percussion and piano come forward. In the conclusory short epilogue, the three main motifs come together.

-Dejan Lazić

Eugene Astapov – Burial Rites – (2023)
Movement I
Movement II
Movement III

Burial Rites is a work composed as a tribute, a dedication and a gift created in memory of a late student who passed on way too soon. Marcus Gibbons was an extraordinarily talented young man who I was blessed with teaching music for over 7 years. I met Marcus when he was just 10 years old and in a few short years he proved himself to be an extremely bright and gifted musician whose piano technique and deep understanding of music grew quickly beyond his young age. By the time Marcus turned 13, he was already learning some of the most difficult piano repertoire and imagining the day he would enroll into a music program to pursue his dream. Tragically, around the same time Marcus was struck with a horrible disease – a very rare form of cancer that only occurs in children, called Ewing’s sarcoma. It was a moment of painful anguish for Marcus, his family and those around him. In moments like this, it is very often difficult to find the right words to express the difficulty of the situation and with the present work I aim to do that, which cannot be verbally expressed.

This piece is multifaceted in the ways it tells its story. A lot of time ensued since Marcus’ passing in the late summer of 2020 and upon much reflection, I decided to compose a work that not only would express the tragedy of the loss of Marcus and the devastation it brought upon the family and those close to him, but also a work that would celebrate his legacy and embody a positive, life-loving image that Marcus epitomized until the end, always carrying a stoic attitude and undaunting frame of mind. This is exactly why the ending of this piece is lively and celebratory – in part to pay tribute to Marcus’ heroism he maintained through all his suffering.

The piece is a mosaic of memories, a collection of mental photographs and impressions imprinted in my mind over the years of my interactions with Marcus and his family. It is a musical portrait of his courageous demeanour, strengths, his mischievous, yet deeply philosophical and empathic personality. It is also a selection of experiences, musically depicted, from the joyful beginning of Marcus’ studies with me to the very difficult ending.

The title of the work comes from the profoundly emotional experience I had during Marcus’ funeral. It was the first time I had attended such a solemn ceremony, with sorrowful emotions slowly drifting through the church with choking intensity – and with words once again running dry, I found that it was best to express my feelings through music. In Burial Rites these feelings are primarily present at the end of the second movement with its slow and desolate harmonic progressions accompanied by slow bursts of gongs and cymbals with the English Horn melody soaring above it all.

This piece is a commemoration of Marcus’ life and legacy. It is a musical monument created to celebrate and cherish the light he brought to this earth in the short 17 years he spent on it. The piece runs approximately 17 minutes in duration, with every minute of music celebrating each year of Marcus’ life.

-Eugene Astapov

Missy Mazzoli – Orpheus Undone (2019)
I. Behold the Machine (O Death)
II. We of Violence, We Endure

Orpheus Undone, an orchestral work commissioned in 2020 by the Chicago Symphony, is an exploration of two brief moments in the Orpheus myth – the moment that Eurydice dies, and the moment that Orpheus decides to follow his lover into the underworld. Constructed of two connected movements, Behold the Machine, O Death and We of Violence, We Endure, this work explores the baffling and surreal stretching of time in moments of trauma or agony. The movement titles come from Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus and this work uses small fragments of material from my 2019 ballet Orpheus Alive.

-Missy Mazzoli


Anna Clyne – Restless Oceans (2018)

I composed Restless Oceans for Marin Alsop and the Taki Concordia Orchestra for performance at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. The piece received its world premiere at the opening ceremony in 2019 where Marin Alsop was presented with the Forum’s prestigious Crystal Award in recognition of her championship of diversity in music. This work draws inspiration and its title from “A Woman Speaks”- a poem by Audre Lorde and was composed with this particular all-women orchestra in mind. In addition to playing their instruments, the musicians are also called to use their voices in song and strong vocalizations, and their feet to stomp and to bring them to stand united at the end. My intention was to write a defiant piece that embraces the power of women. Restless Oceans is dedicated with thanks to Marin Alsop.

-Anna Clyne

A Woman Speaks – by Audre Lorde
Moon marked and touched by sun
my magic is unwritten
but when the sea turns back
it will leave my shape behind.
I seek no favor
untouched by blood
unrelenting as the curse of love
permanent as my errors
or my pride
I do not mix
love with pity
nor hate with scorn
and if you would know me
look into the entrails of Uranus
where the restless oceans pound.

I do not dwell
within my birth nor my divinities
who am ageless and half-grown
and still seeking
my sisters
witches in Dahomey
wear me inside their coiled cloths
as our mother did

I have been woman
for a long time
beware my smile
I am treacherous with old magic
and the noon’s new fury
with all your wide futures
I am
and not white.

Missy Mazzoli – Violin Concerto (Procession) (2022)

I. Procession in a Spiral
II. St. Vitus
III. O My Soul
IV. Bone to bone, Blood to Blood
V. Procession Ascending
Karl Stobbe, violin

Violin Concerto (Procession) casts the soloist as a soothsayer, sorcerer, healer and pied piper-type character, leading the orchestra through five interconnected healing spells. Part one, “Procession in a Spiral,” references medieval penitential processions; part two, “St. Vitus,” is an homage to the patron saint of dancing, who could reportedly cast out evil spirits; part three, “O My Soul,” is a twisted reworking of the hymn of the same name, and part four, “Bone to Bone, Blood to Blood,” derives its name from the ninth-century Merseburg Charm, a spell meant to cure broken limbs. In the final movement, “Procession Ascending,” the soloist straightens out the spiral of the first section and leads the orchestra straight into the sky. Violin Concerto (Procession) was commissioned by the National Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony and the BBC Symphony for soloist Jennifer Koh.


Centennial Concert Hall: 

This concert is FREE, but tickets must be reserved.

Reserve Tickets

Throughout its history, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has played a leading role in supporting the creation of new music in Canada, most notably through its now 33-years-young Winnipeg New Music Festival. Building on this tradition of fostering the voices of the future, the WNMF Composers Institute now enters its sixth year, gathering emerging talents from across the nation to work with the WSO in bringing to life an exciting program of fresh ink orchestral music.

Maestro Julian Pellicano is joined by WSO’s new RBC Assistant Conductor Monica Chen and RBC Guest Conductor Serena Reuten as they lead your WSO through a set of world and Canadian premieres of new works by six gifted composers, including the winner of the Canadian Music Centre’s annual Emerging Composer Competition. Mentor composers Eugene Astapov and Amy Brandon join WSO composer-in-residence Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis in introducing this year’s featured young artists as the 2024 Winnipeg New Music Festival lifts off in this free symphonic concert celebrating Winnipeg’s musical community.

The composers selected to have their pieces premiered at the 2024 Winnipeg New Music Festival and to participate in the 2023 WNMF Composers Institute are:

  • Lauren Greenberg: Bonds Of Cosmic Origins – Canadian Premiere
  • Willyn Whiting: Framework – World Premiere
  • Tom Lachance: Blizzard Sylvestre – World Premiere
  • Yejin Kwon: White Clad – World Premiere
  • Judah Williams: Cosmic Abyss – World Premiere

Also participating in the 2024 Composers Institute are the winners of the CMC Prairie Region and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Emerging Composer Competition:

  • Robert Humber: Warmth Comes – World Premiere


Supported by

Betty and Kevin McGarry


Program Notes

Robert Humber

Warmth Comes

Warmth Comes is about grief. It was written at a point in time when I had lost an important figure in my life, and in many ways the very act of writing it helped me to grieve. The piece loosely follows the stages of grief, beginning with cold, fierce stabs in the brass section, echoing the melodramatic “knife in the heart” moment of a Romantic opera. This is the initial pang of disbelief. Gradually, it leads to confusion, realization, and waves of sadness and dread, represented in the music by the gradual stacking of disparate textures: frantic woodwinds, sour trumpets, a mournful descending string chorale. Around the midway point, there is a shift in direction. Out of the ashes of the violent outbursts appears a new, much gentler motif, carried by a solo violin. I think of this final section as a “thawing,” a gradual blossoming of gratitude and remembrance. Grief does not go away, but it changes shape.

Lauren Greenberg

Bonds Of Cosmic Origins

The inspiration for the piece came from my undergraduate experiences at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee (BoCo) and the connections that I made with friends, musicians, and faculty. Hence the title, Bonds Of Cosmic Origins – BoCo. I wanted to conceal these letters within my piece so I used morse code to spell out BOCO in the percussion parts. The rhythms in the motif, first represented by the timpani, is morse code for BOCO. The percussionists performing this hidden message in plain sight is an expression of my appreciation for the outstanding experience at BoCo.  

Willyn Whiting


Framework consists of two layers of music: one which is slowly descending, the other ascending. In both layers voices gently enter and exit at different rates of speed, subtly changing the orchestra’s color over a brief four minutes. Framework is also the first in a series of pieces for varying instrumentation which all focus on the dichotomy between chronometric and lived time.

Tom Lachance

Blizzard Sylvestre

Blurry outlines, abstract colors, uncertain shapes. Everything seems to softly float in a heterogeneous and pictural magma. Then, the object slowly reveals itself. Palpable traits emerge, radiant shades lighten. Large black streaks are running through the surface from a diagonal to another, while coaly veins are taking scattered directions. Getting closer, a multitude of individual worlds discover themselves and energetically float in a quivering ether. Their unique forms and colors abruptly juxtapose each other. However, they progressively blend, and a journey is initiated through already visited countries. The worlds, formerly heterogeneous, now blend together and unveil, like a long-awaited answer, the architecture that ties themselves. Finally, diving in the deepness of a microscopic perspective, everything becomes uncertain and freezes in an infinite impulse.

Yejin Kwon

White Clad

Completing the second movement of my orchestral composition, “Biblioteca, 2022,” marked a pivotal moment when a simple yet majestic sound resonated in my mind. Struck by its intrinsic connection to my artistic roots, I endeavored to manifest this auditory revelation, birthing White Clad in July 2023.

The title, “White Clad,” harkens back to the Joseon Dynasty (1393-1910), referring to Koreans who adorned themselves in white attire. Rooted in physitheism and reverence for the sun within Korean popular religion, the color white held cultural significance.

In contemporary times, the diversity among Korean individuals has transcended traditional norms. With White Clad, I aimed to transcend this historical symbolism, orchestrating a musical journey that transforms from white to a spectrum of vibrant colors through the enchanting palette of orchestral instruments.

This composition serves as a musical self-portrait, capturing my identity as a Korean composer who underwent musical education in France and Canada. It encapsulates a dual narrative— the Westernization of Korean traditional music and the Orientalization of Western musical elements. In its essence, White Clad becomes a harmonious convergence of cultural influences, reflecting the evolving tapestry of my artistic identity.

Judah Williams

Cosmic Abyss

Cosmic Abyss is a series of short, musical episodes which embody the menacing cruelty of outer space.

I. Asteroid Belt

Lush harmonies present the grant and elegant view of an asteroid belt circling the sun from afar. Approaching the asteroid belt, sonorities become more dissonant as the heat of the sun and chaos of the whirling asteroids close in.

II. Bottomless Chasm

The rhythmic and melodic figures within each of the instrumental timbres represent a wandering voice in an infinite nothingness.

III. Supernova

The explosion and death of a star. String and wind ostinati represent time ticking towards the star’s imminent demise, while recurring harmonic and melodic figures symbolize flares of heat and light. The piece ends in rhythmic unison and a thunderous theme in the timpani manifests the explosion of the star.

The 33rd annual Winnipeg New Music Festival (WNMF), which features world and Canadian premieres, exciting up-and-coming composers, and unique venues, blooms amid a prairie winter from January 25 to February 2, 2024.

2024 WNMF Promo Video

Thursday, January 25, 2024 –
Friday, February 2, 2024
[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2g3zHqT5eY[/embedyt] The 33rd annual Winnipeg New Music Festival (WNMF), which features world and Canadian premieres, exciting up-and-coming composers, an...
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WNMF: Launchpad

Thursday, January 25, 2024
  Centennial Concert Hall:  This concert is FREE, but tickets must be reserved. @Reserve Tickets Throughout its history, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has played a leading role in ...
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WNMF 1: Rites & Passages

Saturday, January 27, 2024
  Centennial Concert Hall:  The WSO is proud to present this year’s WNMF distinguished guest composer, American powerhouse Missy Mazzoli. Two of her orchestral works are presented this e...
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WNMF 2: Kamancello

Sunday, January 28, 2024
8:00 pm & 9:30 pm:  In 1992, the WSO planted a musical seed in Winnipeg, carving out a space within its traditional programming season that would be dedicated entirely to new musical creations...
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WNMF 3: Worlds Within

Tuesday, January 30, 2024
SOLD OUT! Knox United Church: WNMF once again teams up with long-time collaborators Polycoro Chamber Choir – this time joined by Kamancello member Raphael Weinroth-Browne on cello – in a pro...
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WNMF 4: Dialogues

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
  Centennial Concert Hall:  Returning to our familiar concert hall, music director Daniel Raiskin leads the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in a series of works featuring a stunning array of a...
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WNMF 5: Building Bridges

Friday, February 2, 2024
  Centennial Concert Hall:  WNMF 2024 wraps in style with a striking slate of stylistically eclectic works, putting a spotlight on the extreme and thrilling musical contrasts that the symp...
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