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PREVIEW | Esprit Orchestra Ends 2023-24 Season With Sonic Universe

By Anya Wassenberg on April 17, 2024

L-R: Composer R. Murray Schafer (Photo courtesy of Esprit); Conductor Alex Pauk and Esprit Orchestra (Photo courtesy of Esprit); composer John Adams (The original uploader was Macror at English Wikipedia. (Original text: Deborah O'Grady), CC-BY-SA-3.0 ); mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo (Photo courtesy of the artist)
L-R: R. Murray Schafer (Photo courtesy of Esprit); Alex Pauk and Esprit Orchestra (Photo courtesy of Esprit); John Adams (The original uploader was Macror at English Wikipedia. (Original text: Deborah O’Grady), CC-BY-SA-3.0 ); Krisztina Szabo (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Esprit Orchestra will conclude their 41st season with a concert titled Sonic Universe on April 25. The concert will include two pieces that are considered among the foremost compositions of the late 20th century by Canadian R. Murray Schafer, and iconic American composer John Adams.

Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo, a favourite of Toronto audiences, will be the guest performer, with composer Alexina Louie moderating a free pre-concert talk.

R. Murray Schafer’s Adieu Robert Schumann

“Today all sounds belong to a continuous field of possibilities lying within the comprehensive dominion of music. Behold the new orchestra: the sonic universe! And the musicians: anyone and anything that sounds!” – R. Murray Schafer

Robert Schumann’s final days are the subject of Schafer’s musical monodrama, focusing on the beauty of his music even through the tragic circumstances of his life towards its end. The text includes selections from Clara Schumann’s diaries, fragments of Schumann’s lieder and piano works, particularly “Dein Angesicht so lieb und schön”, which was composed just as he began to be plagued by hallucinations.

It will be the third time the piece has been performed by Esprit Orchestra. Schafer composed the piece for Maureen Forrester, and she premiered it in 1990. Esprit later brought the piece back in 2016, with Schafer present.

John Adams’ Harmonielehre

John Adams’ masterwork Harmonielehre is named for Schoenberg’s definitive treatise on musical harmony. The work is both sophisticated an imaginative, and unfolds over three movements. It’s written in Adams’ signature minimalist technique, with elements of late Romanticism, and references to Sibelius and Mahler, along with echoes of Impressionism. In essence, it encapsulates the past and future of contemporary music in one piece.

Adams named the third movement Meister Eckhardt and Quackie, after his daughter’s nickname of Quackie. He said, “In the dream, she rides perched on the shoulder of the Medieval mystic, Meister Eckhardt, as they hover among the heavenly bodies like figures painted on the high ceilings of old cathedrals”.

  • Find out more information about the concert, and tickets, [HERE].

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