Concert Notes

VSO@ISCM: The Vancouver Symphony Performs at ISCM World New Music Days 2017

That Tingling Sensation (2015, rev. 2017)
Jocelyn Morlock
Canada, born December 14, 1969, St. Boniface, MB, Canada

JUNO Award-nominated composer Jocelyn Morlock's music is hailed as "airy but rhythmic, tuneful but complex" and with "uncanny yet toothsome beauty" (Georgia Straight). Her music is recorded on 20 CDs including the newly released Halcyon, and Cobalt, whose title track won the 2015 Western Canadian Music Award for Best Classical Composition. Jocelyn won the 2016 Mayor's Arts Award for Music in Vancouver, and is currently the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's Composer in Residence. Recent premieres include Lucid Dreams, a cello concerto written for Ariel Barnes and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and Hullabaloo, written for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.


The inspiration for this piece stems from the fascinating human experience of being physically thrilled by music. When an experience moves or enthralls you, your hair stands up, and you feel the music viscerally. I think this is likely the great reason why people love music - that inexplicable visceral reaction to beauty, to energy, to lovely or powerful sound. (This reaction is known as an ‘autonomous sensory meridian response’, in case you're planning to Google it.) I’ve named my piece out of love for this ideal, and for the kaleidoscopic and electrifying palette of sounds the orchestra can create. (Jocelyn Morlock)

At the Speed of Stillness (2012) (Canadian Premiere) 
Charlotte Bray
United Kingdom; born May 22, 1982, Oxford, United Kingdom

Charlotte Bray studied under Mark-Anthony Turnage and Joe Cutler. Her associations include the LSO, LPO, and BCMG, and her work has been featured at the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Tanglewood, Aix-en-Provence, and Verbier. 2016 premieres include Stone Dancer for the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Oliver Knussen at Aldeburgh; and Falling in the Fire, a cello concerto for Guy Johnston by the same orchestra under Sakari Oramo. Her many accolades include the RPS Composition Prize, Lili Boulanger Prize, and the Critics’ Circle Award. Charlotte is supported by PRS for Music Foundation’s International Showcase Fund.


Commissioned by the BBC Proms for Sir Mark Elder and the Aldeburgh World Orchestra, At the Speed of Stillness finds part of its inspiration in a surrealist poem by Dora Maar. The energy, sense of endless movement, and exhaustion encapsulated in the poem permeates the music. Important also is the play with paradoxical ideas: the contrary notion that something moving quicker than the human eye detects can appear to be motionless or still. Relentless, with constant shifts in perspective, the piece holds an underlying energy, zinging with immense power and force.

Indigo (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Friedrich Heinrich Kern
USA/Germany; born March 19, 1980, Ludwigshafen, Germany

Friedrich Heinrich Kern is a composer, pianist, and glass harmonica player. Kern began his studies in his home country of Germany where he earned degrees in both piano and composition. He then traveled to Korea where he studied traditional Korean music and earned a PhD in Music Composition and Theory from New York University. FH Kern has composed works for acoustic and electronic instruments, ranging from solo piano to full orchestra. In his solo performances, he combines his contemporary classical background with a refined pop sensibility to create ethereal and peaceful piano melodies with modern electronic vibes.


I composed Indigo for orchestra in 2011 as the result of a commission from BASF, Germany. The occasion was the inauguration of a restored concert hall in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The prerequisites of the commission determined the duration of the work (12 minutes) and the desired festive character. I was primarily interested in utilizing the entire dynamic spectrum of the orchestra and exploring the acoustic spatialization of this new artistic venue. (Friedrich Heinrich Kern)

Pressed for Time (2017) (World Premiere)

Mohamed Assani (محمد آسانی)
Pakistan; born January, 9th, 1967, Karachi, Pakistan

Mohamed Assani is a celebrated sitar player and music creator, known for his creative musical collaborations with artists of diverse genres. He has performed across the globe with orchestras, string quartets, hip hop artists, DJs, world music ensembles, jazz artists, and Indian and Western classical artists—and, of course, solo. According to Georgia Straight, "Assani is both a musician who’s deeply rooted in the artistic traditions of South Asia and a one-of-a-kind innovator who’s bent on ensuring that those age-old forms will survive, and grow, in the modern era. His playing is fierce, resolute, and gripping.” 

John Oliver
Canada; born September 21, 1959, Vancouver, BC, Canada

John Oliver's “wonderfully, creative music” (Fanfare) displays “a delicate yet often complex sense of beauty” (Musicworks). He is the winner of the Classical Composition of the Year Award at the 2013 Western Canadian Music Awards for his orchestral composition Forging Utopia. He has also received high praise for the breadth of his creative output, from orchestral and chamber music to intercultural works, electroacoustic music, and opera. His works have been performed at the ISCM, by the Canadian Opera Company, and major Canadian orchestras and chamber ensembles. His works have been performed in China, the USA, and Europe, and appear on over 20 commercial recordings.


Drawing on, as well as departing, from the conventions of Hindustani classical music (Northern India and Pakistan) and Western contemporary orchestral music, Assani and Oliver collaborate to create Pressed for Time - a sitar concerto. Pushing past the idea of 'setting' the sitar in either a traditional or avant-garde context, instead they merge the best of both, developing the raga in a non-linear way, creating unexpected changes and new ideas that transform the musical materials and form. This new synthetic work plays with the listener's expectations. Thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts and the Hari Sharma Foundation for funding.

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