O Gamelan

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An exotic evening blending Traditional Indonesian & Modern Western Sounds
Sunday, November 17, 2013 at Koerner Hall

For Immediate Release: October 30, 2013 – Toronto, ON: On Sunday, November 17, Esprit Orchestra returns to Koerner Hall with O GAMELAN, an evening of music influenced by gamelan or combining gamelan and orchestra. Esprit shares the stage with Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan. Toronto’s unique group of eight musicians continues to expand and develop gamelan repertoire by interspersing traditional Indonesian techniques with contemporary Western ones. The colourful program is highlighted by the premiere of José Evangelista’s O Gamelan (commissioned for the occasion), and Chan Ka Nin’s Éveil aux oiseaux. André Ristic’s Projet «Peuple» for gamelan and orchestra, Lou Harrison’s Threnody for Carlos Chavez for viola and gamelan (spotlighting violist Douglas Perry), Scott Good’s arrangement of Claude Vivier’s Pulau Dewata and Alex Pauk’s Echo Spirit Isle round up the evening. Esprit’s 2013/14 season is sponsored by BMO Financial Group.

Hailed as “One of the world’s leading performers of contemporary music for gamelan”, the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan is an ensemble of eight highly skilled Canadian musicians who perform and record using an assortment of bronze and wooden instruments from Indonesia. Collectively these instruments are known as a gamelan – a traditional instrument ensemble that plays an important role in the Indonesian culture. Formed in 1983 and based in Toronto, Evergreen Club is a unique performing ensemble dedicated to the development and expansion of its repertoire through the commissioning of new works from Canadian and International composers, and interpreting traditional and contemporary Indonesian pieces. Visit http://www.evergreenclubgamelan.ca

The concert’s title evokes José Evangelista’s work, O Gamelan. “Gamelan comes from Javanese gamel, hammer. It designs a variety of Indonesian ensembles where tuned percussion instruments predominate,” he explains. “The gamelans of Java and Bali are the best known and probably the most sophisticated. Traditionally, Javanese music is slow and meditative, Balinese music is noisy and strongly rhythmic. Since I became acquainted with gamelan music I thought of it as an ideal in music: the textures are refined and complex still the music is often direct and catchy.”

Chan Ka Nin’s Éveil aux oiseaux is written for 11 western instruments and 9 Gamelan instruments. The sound worlds of East and West are pitched against each other at the beginning and later combined to a uniquely transformed sound. This signifies the “awaking of the birds”, a childhood experience the composer had when he was growing up in Hong Kong. He remembered that every morning he was wakened by hundreds of sparrows dwelling in a big mango tree next to his home.

Lou Harrison’s gamelan compositions always bear a personal stamp. The American musician (1917-2003) began composing for traditional Javanese and Sundanese gamelan instruments in 1976, soon using the gamelan as a backup orchestra for Western solo instruments. Among the earliest pieces to call for this type of cross-cultural mixture was the 1978 Threnody for Carlos Chávez for viola and Sundanese gamelan. This Esprit performance spotlights Toronto violist Douglas Perry.

A stay in Bali in 1976 marked a turning point in Claude Vivier’s career.  Most of the subsequent works were to show the influence of the atmosphere of this Pacific island, whose inhabitants call it the “Island of the Gods,” or Pulau Dewata. This is the title given by Vivier to a work specially dedicated to the people of Bali.  “I wanted to write a piece imbued with the spirit of Bali: its dances, its rhythms and, above all, an explosion of life, simple and candid”, wrote Vivier.

André Ristic’s work, Projet «Peuple» for solo doublebass, small wind orchestra and gamelan ensemble was written in 2005. The young Quebec composer describes his music as «a kind of rhythmical shuffle-zapping of elements taken from a collection of instrumental phantasms, often times resulting in self-cannibalism of the music itself, one of the musical ideas ending up devouring all the others».

“I made an in depth study of Javanese gamelan music and had become fascinated by the vitality and richness of the genre”, says Alex Pauk, stating that Echo Spirit Isle “is not intended as an imitation of the gamelan, but rather is designed to transform the essential qualities of that music into an orchestral experience with its own unique frame of references.”

Sunday, November 17, 2013
8:00 p.m. Concert / 7:15 p.m.  Pre-concert Talk
Koerner Hall / Royal Conservatory of Music TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning

273 Bloor Street West, TorontoFor tickets
(Regular: $55/Seniors: $50/Under 30: $20),
Please call (416) 408 0208 or visit
For more details: www.espritorchestra.com

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