WMNF 1: Ancestral Tales

Saturday, January 28, 2023 , 7:30 pm

Artists

Nelson Tagoona,  throat-boxer
Sandra Laronde,  choreographer
Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

Works

Kalevi Aho:  New Work for Orchestra - World Premiere
Missy Mazzoli:  {Sinfonia} for Orbiting Spheres
Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis:  Piano Concerto No. 1: Mythos - World Premiere

Centennial Concert Hall: 

Renowned choreographer Sandra Laronde and Red Sky Performance come to Winnipeg for the first time to present the striking multimedia work Adizokan, a collaboration between Laronde and Manitoban composer Eliot Britton that explores and celebrates the artists’ Indigenous roots. Weaving together the throat-boxing of Nelson Tagoona, Indigenous dance, video, lighting, and symphony orchestra, this is a work of contemporary art to truly stimulate the senses.

Teaming up with New York City pianist Jenny Lin – last heard at WNMF performing alongside Philip Glass – WSO composer-in-residence Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis in turn delves into the traditions of Greek story-telling and myth-making with his Piano Concerto No. 1: Mythos.

The program opens with a new orchestral fanfare commissioned by Daniel Raiskin and written for the WSO by this year’s distinguished guest composer, the award-winning Finnish artist Kalevi Aho. We then look to the skies with exciting, swirling works by American powerhouse Missy Mazzoli and the great Bramwell Tovey, to whom we pay grateful tribute with this performance.

 

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Missy Mazzoli Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) (2013)

Revised 2021. Harmonicas are pitched in A and C (Bassoons), A (Horns), C (Trumpets), and F (Trombones). Harmonica notation is approximate; players should simply blow into the instrument unless otherwise indicated, taking care to play in approximately the same octave as the other harmonica players. Recorded electronics: locate the speaker(s) behind the percussion at the back of the stage. Playback should be loud enough to reach the back of the hall yet balance with the orchestra.


Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis Piano Concerto No. 1: Mythos (2023) for piano & orchestra

Movements:

  1. Prologue: Creation
  2. Sonata: Legend
  3. III. Scherzo: Destruction
  4. Fantasy: Lullaby

Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada), Research/Creation Grant, in partnership with the University of Ottawa. Premiere by Jenny Lin and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Raiskin conducting, on January 28, 2023 at Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that mythology is really a form of archaeological psychology. Mythology gives you a sense of what a people believes, what they fear.” ―George Lucas

“The Greeks created gods that were in their image; warlike but creative, wise but ferocious, loving but jealous, tender but brutal, compassionate, but vengeful.” —Stephen Fry, Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold

Though I grew up from an early age with the piano and its repertoire as an integral part of my daily life, I did not truly fall in love with the instrument until I discovered the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff as a teenager. His piano concerti, especially, moved me deeply; they began to reveal to me how the grandeur of Classical-Romantic musical idioms could be harnessed in a more modern context. Years later, when I first began transitioning out of metal songwriting into classical composition, one of my first attempts (ambitiously and wildly naively) was in the form of a piano concerto. Though I did not at the time have the tools necessary to succeed in such a massive endeavor, the attempt itself was invaluable to the development of my compositional voice. (Some small elements from that piece of juvenilia have wormed their way into this new opus…)

Piano Concerto No. 1: Mythos came into existence some 15 years later, following my collaboration with pianist Jenny Lin on my series of piano etudes. Born of my love for two of my favorite instruments – the piano and the symphony orchestra (yes, I consider it an instrument) – this concerto serves as a semi-biographical archive of my personal musical history.

Each of the four movements is modelled – loosely and idiosyncratically – on a traditional form and its archetypal function within a multi-movement work: prologue (prelude), sonata, scherzo, fantasy. Together they trace a dramatic-narrative arc that, I hope, conveys the sense of mythological grandeur that I feel when I consider the vaunted history of the piano concerto as one of our most important and celebrated orchestral genres.

The work is dedicated to Jenny Lin and Maestro Daniel Raiskin, without whom such a massive project would not have been possible.

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