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PREVIEW | Soundstreams’ New Voices Project Finishes With Waiting For Godot Concert

By Anya Wassenberg on March 24, 2023

Arlan Vries (Photo: Bo Huang); Graphic courtesy of Soundstreams
Arlan Vriens (Photo: Bo Huang); Graphic courtesy of Soundstreams

Soundstreams latest New Voices project will culminate with Waiting For Godot?, a concert that will celebrate “the small, the immediate, and the intently observed”. New Voices is a mentorship program for early- to mid-career music curators.

Music curation is an aspect of the live music industry that’s seldom discussed in the media. Simply put, it’s the process of matching different pieces of music together in order to create a specific experience for concert goers. There is an overarching idea, mood, or even brand when it’s used for marketing purposes, that runs through all the selections.

When it comes to programming for a mid-sized arts organizations like Soundstreams, it involves not only the artistic and aesthetic aspects of production, but also marketing and budgeting. Arlan Vriens, the New Voices candidate, was selected by a jury to work with Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney and others to develop the skills required for Main Stage programming.

“At Soundstreams we’re always looking for new ways to promote new voices and perspectives in our series,” says Lawrence Cherney, Artistic Director. “It’s also a great opportunity for new curators to ‘level-up’ in their careers.”

New Voices: Waiting for Godot?

Arlan Vriens is the guest curator for Waiting for Godot? The concert’s theme reflects the reduction in scope that our lives took during the pandemic, a world that was largely reduced to the immediate neighbourhood. Arlan’s experience led him to a renewed appreciation for the everyday, the trees in the park, and even Toronto’s ubiquitous raccoons. The concert he’s curated features music that is attentive to the small details with the same revelatory perspective.

The program includes Canadian composers whose works come from the time before the pandemic, as a way of re-examining their message from a new point of view. A new commissioned work by Beverley McKiver is the only one written after the pandemic. It reflects a changed world, and a new way forward.

All of the composers are female-identifying, and come from across Canada.

  • Anna Pidgorna’s Obsessive Circularity of Thought (solo harpsichord) — the piece revolves around the repetition and re-examination of short passages;
  • Nicole Lizée’s Urbexploitation (viola, viola, cello, harpsichord, video & soundtrack) takes the harpsichord into new and digital territory;
  • Jocelyn Morlock‘s Petrichor (violin and piano) and Carmen Braden‘s The Seed Knows (violin and piano) both examine the everyday miracle of natural growth;
  • Vivian Fung’s String Quartet 4 “Insects and Machines”, Veronique Vaka’s Flowen, and Dorothy Chang’s Beautiful Things, all string quartets, are characterized by a focus on subtleties of expression;
  • Beverley McKiver’s world premiere Perfect Light (piano trio) was inspired by the composer’s immediate environment during the pandemic.

The artists

The Penderecki String Quartet will perform the works by Vivian Fung, Veronique Vaka, and Dorothy Chang. Founded in 1986, the Penderecki String Quartet has long been a proponent of new music, and has commissioned more than 100 pieces from a variety of composers. Quartet-in-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University since 1991, the Quartet has also toured internationally from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, St. Petersburg to Colombia, as well as across Canada.

Arlan Vriens is a violinist and writer as well as a curator, based in Tkaronto. His focus is on performing new works, as well as rediscovering lost historical performance techniques. He is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the University of Toronto, where he is researching the unusual performance techniques Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, an associate of J.S. Bach. His research took him to Cambridge University as a Visiting Scholar. As an artist, he was recently recognized by his home province of Alberta with the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal.

Other artists performing for Waiting for Godot? include Christine Vlajk; viola, Jeremy Bell; violin, Jerzy Kaplanek; violin, Katie Schlaikjer; cello, Wesley Shen; piano & harpsichord, Erika Raum; violin, Amahl Arulanandam; cello, Aysel Taghi-Zada; viola.

The Waiting for Godot? concert takes place April 22 at Toronto’s Redwood Theatre, with tickets available [HERE].


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