The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra presents this annual festival in the dead of winter in the center of Canada. It is a bold stroke for this visionary group. Currently, the Winnipeg New Music Festival is an incredible undertaking with more than 50 pieces being performed in just 7 days. Since 1992, the Festival has presented 680 works by 266 composers; half of which are Canadian and local composers. It has been the site of 222 world-premieres and continues to challenge the boundaries of all forms of music. Over the past 20 years the attendance has totaled 155,000 averaging 10,300 per year making the New Music Festival one of the highest attended of its kind.
Coming up on Saturday, May 18th I will be conducting the Upstream Orchestra at the International Festival de Musique Actuel in Victoriaville, Quebec. This performance includes two works by the great contemporary jazz orchestra composer Paul Cram, his piece “Convoy” and the world premiere of “The Magic Order”.
This will be the second time I have had the wonderful opportunity to conduct this incredible group of improvising musicians. In January of 2012, I had a chance to conduct the wonderful, vibrant and intense Witch Gong Game 11-10 by the British composer Barry Guy, which will be repeated in the performance on May 18th.
Witch Gong Game is based on a painting of the same name by the British painter Alan Davies. The 20 piece Upstream Orchestra performed at the 2012 Open Water’s Festival. Have a look at the video of the performance – it was an incredible ride! You can also read a review by Bill Shoemaker here.
It will require a special trip right across the continent for us – from the east coast to the west, but I am sure it will be worth the effort! We will be playing music appropriate for pre-Easter contemplation. In the Christian tradition, this is a period of inner reflection. Sanctuary plans on playing some of favourite chant based repertoire for this event. One of the pieces we will play is my composition Creatures of Infinite Grace, based on an 8th century Agnus Dei from the Latin Mass:
This version is for bass clarinet and string orchestra, and in Salem, Oregon it will be for bass clarinet, cello and pipe organ. Nevertheless you get a sense of how suspended and contemplative we expect this concert to be.