VSO Plays Nicole Lizée & Vivier: Lonely Child

VSO Plays Nicole Lizée & Vivier: Lonely Child




Claude Vivier

Lonely Child

Nicole Lizée

Perxploitation (World Premiere Commission)

Henri Dutilleux

Symphony No. 2, Le Double

Approx. 90 Minute Performance

1 Intermission



In this concert you will hear music by three unmistakeable composers – the iconoclastic soundworlds of Claude Vivier, Nicole Lizée, and Henri Dutilleux are remarkably distinct. Several threads draw these pieces together – their timbral sophistication, and the significance and distinctive use of percussion in each.  Vivier’s Lonely Child draws from the Balinese gamelan tradition, marking significant points in his work with gong and other percussion. Dutilleux’s Symphony No. 2 – Le Double begins with solo timpani, and contains ghostly echoes of big band jazz within its outer movements. Lizée’s Perxploitation brings together countless references to cinematic percussionists, both real and imagined.



CLAUDE VIVIER – Lonely Child

(b. April 14, 1948, Montréal, Québec, Canada; d. March 7, 1983, Paris, France)


Claude Vivier was known for intensely colourful, extreme, at times delirious music. At a time when many composers’ outputs were austere, even mathematical, Vivier purposely based his music on his own wildly sensual life. The significance of gongs and other percussion, text employing an invented, personal language, and complex homophonic colouration of the vocal melody are hallmarks of his mature style. Despite his tragically premature death, Vivier is arguably the most significant Canadian composer to have ever lived. (JM)

About Lonely Child, Vivier writes, “Lonely Child is a long song of solitude. For the musical construction I wanted to have total power for expression, for musical development on the piece I was composing without using chords, harmony or counterpoint. I wanted to work up to very homophonic music that would be transformed into one single melody, which would be “intervalized.”I had already composed a first melody heard at the beginning of the piece for dancers. I subsequently developed this melody in five “intervalized” melodic fragments that is by adding one note below each note, which creates intervals—thirds, fifths, minor seconds, major seconds etc. If the frequencies of each interval are added, a timbre is created. Thus, there are no longer any chords, and the entire orchestra is then transformed into a timbre. The roughness and the intensity of this timbre depends on the base interval. Musically speaking, there was only one thing I needed to control, which automatically, somehow, would create the rest of the music, that is great beams of color!” (CV) https://www.musiccentre.ca/node/37312/biography


NICOLE LIZÉE – Perxploitation

(b. April 7, 1973, Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan)


Called “a brilliant musical scientist” (CBC) and “breathtakingly inventive” (Sydney Times Herald), award winning composer and video artist Nicole Lizée creates new music and video from an eclectic mix of influences including the earliest MTV videos, turntablism, rave culture, glitch, Hitchcock, Kubrick, and 1960s psychedelia. Her commission list of over 50 works includes the Kronos Quartet, BBC Proms, San Francisco Symphony, Carnegie Hall, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sō Percussion, Bang On A Can, and l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

Nicole’s works are regularly performed worldwide to international acclaim. She has received several awards including the Canada Council for the Arts Jules Léger Prize, the SOCAN Jan. V. Matejcek Award, the Images Festival Award, and the Canada Council Robert Fleming Prize for achievements in composition. She’s received a JUNO nomination for composition of the year. She is a Lucas Artists Fellow (California) and a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow (Italy). In 2016 she was selected by composer Howard Shore to be his protégée as part of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. Nicole is a Korg and Arturia artist.

Perxploitation is an imagined film genre where characters and scenes in cinema become percussion instruments and timekeepers whose sole purpose is to engage with a live percussion soloist. Some of these ghosts and icons are actual percussionists and drummers portrayed in film – but many are moments and beings that unexpectedly transform into instruments and interact with the soloist.

Dedicated to soloist Vern Griffiths, percussionist extraordinaire and friend.



HENRI DUTILLEUX – Symphony No. 2, Le Double

(b. January 22, 1916, Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France, d. May 22, 2013, Paris, France)


Composer Henri Dutilleux was born into a musical family and begain his studies age 8. Though he continued studying music at the Paris Conservatoire and working as a musician during much of World War Two, it was not until the post war years that he heard much modern music and developed his own musical voice. Dutilleux’s music is audibly influenced by Debussy, Roussel and Ravel, by Bartok, by Stravinsky and by big band jazz (notable in the rhythmic language of the outer movements of Le Double.) Though he used some serialist techniques, Dutilleux said that he rejected “the dogma and the authoritarianism which manifested themselves in that period,” and preferred not to be associated with any particular compositional school of thought.

In Symphony No. 2, Le Double, the orchestra is divided into two groups – a small group in front comprised of twelve instruments representing each section of the orchestra, with other members of the orchestra behind. The configuration brings to mind the Concerto Grosso soloists/tutti configuration often found in Baroque large ensemble works. However, Le Double uses the smaller group to create polyrhythms or polytonality rather than as a virtuosic group of soloists accompanied by the larger group. Motives and gestures are transformed through the various movements, so that new ideas in each movement are created by modifying older material; in the final movement of Le Double, various ideas from all three movements come together. (JM)


Come early at 6.30pm for a panel featuring the artists, and join us after the concert for drinks and discussions in the Westcoast Energy Hall, with vibe supplied by DJ Michael Red.

Note: the video component of Nicole Lizée's Perxploitation is inspired by and draws imagery from cult horror films and may not be suitable for young children. There will also be strobe light effects during the concert.