A Golden Age of New Music in BC?

A Golden Age of New Music in BC?

Jubilate Vocal Ensemble conducted by Dr. Larry Nickel
Jubilate Vocal Ensemble conducted by Dr. Larry Nickel

The richness of new music offerings in Vancouver is staggering and the quality of performance outstanding!

In nine concerts over the past two weeks, I’ve been amazed at the variety of organizations and ensembles and genres and approaches, and the quality of performance that continues to astound.

Turning Point Ensemble and Standing Wave are amazing! As are the Vancouver Chamber Choir and Kokoro Dance and many others – too many to name all here.

More recently I was at Muzewest’s presentation of two concerts, one featuring the premiere of Iman Habibi’s evocative new Persian Folk Song, and the next night a brilliantly talented young American pianist – Michael Noble – performed Jared Miller’s beautiful, playful and syncopated Two Preludes. Also on Thursday night, Erato Ensemble performed David K. MacIntyre’s gorgeous, fun, retro-modern Radio Songs.

Last Saturday, Jubilate Vocal Ensemble’s Winter Light concert featured a plethora of premieres, four of them by members of the choir.

Victoria Conservatory's Canada Music Week concert curated by Cathy Fern Lewis
Victoria Conservatory’s Canada Music Week concert curated by Cathy Fern Lewis

Completing the picture, the weekend before, I attended a concert for Canada Music Week in Victoria sponsored by the Victoria Conservatory, curated by Cathy Fern Lewis, remarkable for the diversity of compositional styles, instruments and unique international movements represented. Rodney Sharman’s setting of Lord Byron’s famous poem, She Walks in Beauty, was both seductively light and disturbingly dark. Nicholas Fairbank’s Suite for Harpsichord offered a contemporary take on a traditional suite of baroque dance movements, including a Sarabande of transcendent beauty.

And all this is in addition to the larger, more established presenting and performing organizations such as the Vancouver Symphony, which under Maestro Bramwell Tovey has been a champion of Canadian music and artists, the Victoria Symphony, the Vancouver Opera and Music on Main, all of whom are doing great work in this field.

Vancouver Chamber Choir conducted by Jon Washburn
Vancouver Chamber Choir conducted by Jon Washburn

This golden era of new music in BC is thanks to the largely unsung efforts of many composers, patrons, musicians, ensembles, orchestras, conductors, donors, volunteers, board members and granting agencies, as well as the efforts of my predecessors Bob Baker and Colin Miles, all of them working in often daunting circumstances.

It truly does take an entire village to bring new music to life, and I’m looking forward with great enthusiasm to help tell some of those stories and celebrate some of the remarkable successes over the next year.