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PREVIEW | The West End Micro Music Festival Aims To Shake Up Your Notions Of Chamber Music

By Anya Wassenberg on November 14, 2023

The Composers (L-R): Nahre Sol (Photo courtesy of the artist); Cassandra Miller (Photo courtesy of the artist); Linda Catlin Smith (Photo courtesy of the artist); Thomas Adès, August 3, 2017 (Photo: Matt Jolly/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)
The Composers (L-R): Nahre Sol (Photo courtesy of the artist); Cassandra Miller (Photo courtesy of the artist); Linda Catlin Smith (Photo courtesy of the artist); Thomas Adès, August 3, 2017 (Photo: Matt Jolly/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

West End Music presents the West End Micro Music Festival, a two-weekend dive into the Western classical canon of chamber music with an experimental edge. The concerts take place over two weekends, November 17, 18, 24 and 25.

Each one takes familiar and new works, synthesizing them into a new musical experience. Here’s a look at what’s on offer.

CHRONOSYNTHESIS | November 17 & 18

Old and new come together as sinfonias by Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith and Antonio Vivaldi. Also on the bill will be the world premiere of a work by Nahre Sol, who will perform simultaneously on a harpsichord and a synthesizer.

Linda Catlin Smith

Composer Linda Catlin Smith is a native of New York, currently based in Toronto. After studying music in NY and at the University of Victoria, she took a position teaching composition at Wilfrid Laurier University for more than a decade.

Her compositions have been commissioned, performed and recorded by artists and ensembles across the country and beyond, including the KW and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras, Thin Edge Collective, Tapestry New Opera, Tafelmusik, artists Eve Egoyan and Elinor Frey, and the Penderecki and Bozzini string quartets, among many others. In 2019, the BBC Proms commissioned a piece that was premiered by the BBC Scottish Orchestra. In the summer of 2023, her work was performed at the Louth Contemporary Music Festival in Ireland.

Dark Flower, an album of her work by Toronto’s Thin Edge New Music Collective, was released on November 10, 2023 on Redshift Records.

Nahre Sol

Korean-American composer, pianist and YouTuber Nahre Sol studied at The Juilliard School and The Glenn Gould School. As a classically trained pianist, she has performed in North America and Europe, including The Kennedy Center and The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. With a Harriet Hale Woolley Grant in 2013, she furthered her studies in Paris with Gabriel Tacchino and Narcis Bonet.

Her music is eclectic stylistically, and draws from the Western classical tradition as well as avant-garde and jazz, and improvisation. Nahre’s compositioins have been performed in Hamburg at the Elbphilharmonie, as well as in New York City, Paris, and Toronto. Along with performing and composing, she has given masterclasses and talks at prominent institutions such as Boston University, M.I.T., Carnegie Mellon University, and others. Her solo album Alice In Wonderland was released in 2020.


Alchemy turns base metals into gold; in this case, it’s probably more accurate to say both old and new components are different types of gold that transform into something new. The theme of ALCHEMICAL PROCESSES is music in a state of transformation, and the programme includes new works, as well as works which add a new dimension and context to pieces from the 16th and 18th centuries.

Thomas Adès’ Alchymia

Thomas Adès’ Alchymia premiered in 2021, it was hailed as one of his most impressive achievements. Scored for clarinet and string quartet, the opening movement references Shakespeare’s The Tempest, titled A Sea-Change.

Throughout the piece, he references the music of previous centuries, transforming the work 16th century British composers William Byrd and John Dowland, Alban Berg’s opera Lulu, and others into a 20-minute chamber work.

The work was originally composed for clarinettist-composer Mark Simpson and Quatuor Diotima.

Cassandra Miller’s About Bach

An excerpt of J.S. Bach’s Chaconne from his Partita no. 2 forms the source material for this explorative work, which won the 2016 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music.

Originally written as a commission for musician Pemi Paull for solo viola, the piece was expanded into a string quartet. Paull’s performance of Bach’s Partita was recorded live in 2009. Miller then used software to transcribe the performance, with all the quirks of live playing.

Miller’s piece begins with this melodic excerpt in a harmonized arrangement which is transformed into a non-developmental piece that the Jules Léger Prize committee described as, “…poignant, warm, disarming, sincere, vulnerable – a rare achievement for music of this stark architectural nature, articulated with a confident, distinctive voice. About Bach is as haunting as it is haunted.”

The Details

The concerts take place at the Redeemer Lutheran Church at 1691 Bloor Street West. More information and tickets available [HERE].

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