WNMF Showcase: Launchpad
Centennial Concert Hall:
This concert is FREE but tickets must be reserved.
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 32-years-young Winnipeg New Music Festival. Building on this tradition of fostering the voices of the future, the WNMF Composers Institute now enters its fifth 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.
Maestros Daniel Raiskin and Julian Pellicano are joined by RBC guest conductors Jaelem Bhate and Dmitri Zrajevski as they lead your WSO through a set of world premieres of new works by nine gifted composers, including three winners of the Canadian Music Centre’s annual Emerging Composer Competition. Mentor composers Kelly-Marie Murphy and Eliot Britton join WSO composer-in-residence Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis in introducing this year’s featured young artists as the 2023 Winnipeg New Music Festival lifts off.
The composers selected to have their pieces premiered at the 2023 Winnipeg New Music Festival and to participate in the 2023 WNMF Composers Institute and are:
- Rebecca Adams – Lion’s Den
- Nolan Hildebrand – ArtDiesSoundsRepeat
- Eliazer Kramer – Fantasy for Orchestra
- Jessica MacIsaac – Thirteen
- Liam Ritz – Kaleidoscope
- Darren Xu – To Liberate
Also participating in the 2023 Composers Institute are the winners of the CMC Prairie Region and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s 2021 and 2022 Emerging Composer Competition:
- Gregory Parth – Teutoburg (2023 Winner)
- Thomas Joiner – Dawn (2022 Winner)
- Isaac Zee – Day of Judgement (2021 Winner)
Reserve your WNMF LAUNCHPAD TICKETS today!
Isaac Zee On the Day of Judgement – World Premiere
On The Day of Judgement was written at a time of uncertainty, where my home town was rife with unrest: students armed with nothing but umbrellas were out on the streets in protest, friends I used to go to school with were brutalised and jailed by the ones that were supposed to protect them, some never to be heard from again. In music, I hope to capture and share my feeling of helpless frustration that words fail to communicate.
The piece begins with a thin and uneasy melody that slowly devolves into a murmuring sonic concoction, from which emerges a giant, marching off to its destination with unrelenting conviction.
Since I wrote this piece, many world-changing disasters have occurred. It is my wish to have this piece be dedicated to those who yearn for the day of judgement, for at least one person out there shares their desire.
This piece came about during the early stages of the pandemic where the world had tuned in to more unfortunate events around us, and because of isolation, the sensation of chaos was further augmented. To Liberate portrays the fragmented state of mind that I was in, where anything could send out a distress signal and draw me away from the present moment, be it the daily news on TV, an Instagram post about wildfires, a YouTube video of social unrest, or simply a glance of an object in my room that brings out unpleasant memories.
Thirteen reflects on memories and inspirations from my past. When writing this piece, I hit a point creatively and personally where I was feeling lost. I turned to music from my teenage years that kept me going through tough times. Modifying rhythmic motifs and lyrics to create a personal narrative, I wanted this orchestral piece to evoke feelings of sadness and loss mixed with hope for the future.
All sounds can be measured by their sound envelope or the way the sound changes over time. The envelope consists of four main parts: the attack, the decay, the sustain, and the release (ADSR). The sound envelope was my main inspiration for this work.
The composition process began with taking a recording of a snare drum hit and time stretching it out over two minutes. This process was repeated with each snare hit being half the length of the last (two minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds, 15 second etc.) until it is reduced to its original, unstretched form. Time stretching the snare drum created interesting timbral changes and broken melodies which were then mapped and orchestrated to the acoustic instruments. In the work, the orchestra is treated like one giant sound that realizes the four parts of the sound envelope. As each sound envelope iteration gets shorter, the individual instruments become part of a larger whole. A single monolithic, intense, and brutal super instrument.
Lion’s Den was written in early 2019 to be workshopped with Symphony Nova Scotia throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.
The concept for Lion’s Den is based loosely off of the biblical story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. It was also inspired by my own experiences of having a close family member struggle with illness, whilst living in different provinces. The piece features an underlying drone, and is based off of one simple motivic gesture. The motivic gesture is frequently heard in one voice, to reflect the feeling of being left alone. The piece concludes much along these lines as well, with an unaccompanied clarinet solo slowly fading to silence.
I have always been drawn to programmatic music. By looking to an extramusical source of creativity, a composer can give coherence to music that might otherwise sound chaotic and abstract. In this instance, I wished to challenge myself and depict the events of a historic battle through music. I chose the Battle of Teutoburg Forest (9 AD) as my inspiration. In this battle, the Roman army, led by Varus, was ambushed by Germanic warriors while travelling through Teutoburg Forest. A subsequent series of calamitous attacks decimated the Roman army. Many Roman officers, including Varus, took their own life. Some believe the remaining Roman soldiers were taken by Germanic forces for human sacrifice. The massacre marked the end of Roman expansion into Germania and changed the course of history.
Teutoburg depicts these events through sound. The piece germinates from an ominous layer of tension and culminates on a forceful note of defeat. The music is a gruesome exploration of noise and represents notable events of the battle through provocative musical gestures. Consequently, the piece embodies an excessive, uninhibited, in-your-face presence that reflects compositional trends from the latter half of the 20th century.
Fantasy for Orchestra is a continuously unraveling piece that explores textures and emotions ranging from calm and simple to rageful and chaotic. I wrote Fantasy for Orchestra during the first year of my doctorate at the University of Montreal; the version being performed at the Winnipeg New Music Festival is actually the first half of the longer one-movement work.
The piece begins unassumingly, with an introduction that outlines its main theme. After a short outburst, a section entitled “Awakening” follows in which the entire orchestra enters progressively, leading to a chaotic texture that culminates in a huge crescendo. A more militant section ensues, which ends in a tumultuous exclamation. Depleted, the piece then recedes to a more tranquil and introspective state.
One of the joys of writing for orchestra is the endless amount of colours it offers the composer. Indeed, Fantasy for Orchestra’s rhapsodic and evolving nature is the result of composing for a medium with such a wide range of expression. The symphonic orchestra allows composers to explore intensities and articulate in ways that are simply unavailable to other ensembles: Fantasy for Orchestra is my attempt at communicating in ways that are new and meaningful to me.
The term ‘kaleidoscope’ derives from three Greek words: kalos (beauty; beautiful), eidos (form; shape), and skopeō (to examine). It quite literally translates to “examining
beautiful shapes and forms”.
The term was invented as a name for the 19th-century optical instrument that transforms the world into luminous and symmetrical geometric images through the magic of light and mirrors. This idea of a constantly transforming and rotating image forms the basis of this piece – I wanted to explore how the manipulation of musical “shapes” and “colour” can produce an ever-changing landscape that seamlessly spins, collides, and morphs within itself.
There is a specific moment, when looking through a kaleidoscope, where elements of the image will briefly shift and connect with other parts during its rotation. This idea became a focal point of the piece. There is a feeling of moving in and out of focus, with gestures pulling apart and the snapping back together again.
The entire piece flows through these various ‘rotations’, allowing me to not only play with how different musical elements interact and connect, but also the rate at which these ‘rotations’ occur. At some points, this creates a sense of stasis between ‘rotations’ where musical ideas feel suspended and crystalline. At others points, the ‘rotations’ will occur more quickly, creating a sense of momentum as musical images spin and fluctuate dramatically between one another.
Thomas Joiner Dawn – World Premiere
Joiner’s piece Dawn, composed for the Canadian Music Centre Prairie Region’s Emerging Composers Competition, is about finding hope and happiness in the darkness of the pandemic.