Address: Vancouver, BC Canada

New Music Commissions

Commissioned for the Ottawa event in 2016 on “Rebuilding Our Humanity”, Squamish Elder Wendy Charbonneau's “Women Are Gone” (2016) was inspired by and dedicated to the rape and murder victims of indigenous women and girls in Canada whose lives remain unaccounted for. “Women Are Gone” (2016) gives voice to the need for healing of the victims of the missing women's inquiry, as well as affirms support for those suffering in the aftermath of loss and injustice. Endorsed and acknowledged by Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould writes: “I admire the work of Squamish Elder Wendy Charbonneau in recognizing this important issue.” A new commission for 2018 by Squamish Elder Wendy Charbonneau to be premiered at the upcoming event, not only takes up the theme of migration, referencing the Squamish Nation as the Salmon people, but also speaks of the atrocity of cultural genocide. “Where the Salmon Tumble” (2018) refers not only to the mouth of the Capilano River where the salmon tumble on their annual migration to spawn at the source of the river, but literally captures the idea of genocide of the salmon people, the Squamish Nation dying/tumbling faced with their potential extinction. Both works by Squamish Elder Wendy Charbonneau will be performed as a tribute to the First Nations community on 28 & 29 September.

The first half of the program features new music commissions inspired out of European cultural consciousness. Exploring the idea of “Contemporary Nomads” through the art of eurythmy, Maren Stott will perform three commissions. A new work inspired out of and dedicated to the life of Mary Carmack Whybray (1923-2017), “Air and Dance” (2018) composed by Jinny Shaw for oboe d'amore explores the unknown rites of passage of the soul into the spiritual world at time of death. “Eagle Flight” (2018) by Janet Danielson composed especially for Jinny Shaw on oboe d'amore captures the theme of migration and quest in the First Nations peoples. Commissioned especially for the 2018 event, Evgeny Shcherbakov's new work for solo piano “In Solitude: Midnight Moon” (2018) gives voice to the inner isolation many face in their struggle against the social chaos that impacts their lives when immigrating to Canada. Capturing a need for healing, “In Solitude: Midnight Moon” (2018) presents a yearning for definition of self at the darkest hour. Nigel Osborne's “Unfinished Memoirs” (2012) commissioned for the conference on “Reclaiming Life after Genocide” are six miniatures performed in eurythmy that portray how music can help heal the lives of individuals in the aftermath of trauma.

The second half of the program is a large eclectic tableau of the major migrations in the world, but especially people to Canada. The major feature on tonight's program is a new commission by composers Nigel Osborne, Peter Nelson and Owen Underhill for Fringe Percussion exploring the sounds of world music in contemporary dance choreographed by Henry Daniel. The new music will create one large composition for dance: STONE, METAL, SKIN (2018) by Nigel Osborne; Limology: Swell – Flight – Limbo (2018) by Peter Nelson; and Place – Displacement (2018) by Owen Underhill.

Nigel Osborne describes the unique feature on this evening's program:

This project is intended to generate both a music and a dance piece reflecting the movement of populations, transhumance and lives of people who are forced to move or choose to move because of conflict - including ethnic cleansing - economic circumstances or environmental change.

The idea of the work is to reflect the global situation of human migration, but with a focus on Canada, both its First Nation and the waves of incomers who have arrived since. The piece is conceived as a joint composition between three composers with three different degrees of connection to Canada and the wider world. Owen Underhill is a Canadian composer and conductor active in Vancouver and internationally, Peter Nelson was born in Canada, but is active in the world beyond, and I am not Canadian, but have always had close contacts with Canada - both Canadian English speaking and Francophone.

I suspect I was approached because I am both a musician and an aid worker. I work closely with refugees around the world (currently in Syria/Lebanon and Myanmar/Bangladesh) and I am in daily contact with refugee populations. Among other activities, I use music to help support children who are victims of conflict. So I am also close to the music of refugees and to the sounds that accompany human migration.

My role in the joint composition is to initiate a journey in time and space. In fact I trace two pathways of migration - northwards from Africa and westwards from Asia - following both ancient routes (including the dissemination of palaeolithic and neolithic rock gong cultures) and contemporary migration routes (westwards from SE Asia to the Indian subcontinent, westward from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to Turkey and Europe, and northwards from Central Africa to the Mediterranean). So far it falls into three sections, though this may change – STONE, METAL, SKIN. (Nigel Osborne, 2018)