Please note: due to the restrictions on event spaces recently announced by the Province of Ontario in response to the spread of the Omicron variant, and for the safety of our audiences, musicians, composers and staff, the format of this event has been changed from livestream+studio audience to prerecorded webcast.
ARRAY ENSEMBLE CONCERT 2
(prerecorded webcast | runtime 60 minutes)
FEBRUARY 19, 2022 @ 8PM ET
SUGGESTED $25 or PAY WHAT YOU WANT
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: DAVID SCHOTZKO
Since its beginnings in 1972, the Array Ensemble has created and presented hundreds of new Canadian and international compositions to audiences in Toronto, across Canada, and beyond. A flexible ensemble featuring a core instrumentation of five of Toronto’s most dedicated new music performers, each Array Ensemble season balances world premieres with performances of seldom heard and classic works by established and new generation composers from a wide range of artistic and cultural perspectives.
Arraymusic’s annual Premieres concert returns after a COVID-enforced hiatus! This year’s event features an exciting set of World and Canadian premieres by acclaimed composers from Ontario and abroad.
Ontario composer Julia Mermelstein’s Capsule for bass clarinet and electronics explores the sonic intimacy of small spaces, while John Mark Sherlock (ON) transforms the hubcaps and brake drums from his trusty 1988 Chevrolet G10 van into a metal instrument constellation for his solo percussion work Ne jetez pas de corps étrangers dans les étoiles (Do not throw foreign bodies into the stars).
Bruce A. Russell contributes a yet-unheard work for solo piano, while Sheila Jaffe performs the Canadian premiere of a solo viola work by internationally acclaimed composer Oscar Bettison. Lastly, Seung Won Oh’s solo percussion piece Circle receives its overdue Canadian premiere, and Toronto’s own Amahl Arulanandam performs his own most recent work for cello and electronics.
Julia Mermelstein (ON) – Capsule (2020) for for solo bass clarinet and electronics *WORLD PREMIERE
– Colleen Cook, clarinets
John Sherlock (ON) – ne jetez pas de corps étrangers dans les étoiles (2017) for solo percussion *WORLD PREMIERE
– David Schotzko, percussion
Amahl Arulanandam (ON) – NEW WORK (2022) for solo cello and electronics *WORLD PREMIERE
– Amahl Arulanandam, cello
Bruce A. Russell (ON) – Dream of a Blue Elf for solo piano *WORLD PREMIERE
– Stephen Clarke, piano
Seung-Won Oh (Korea/USA) – Circle (2004) for solo percussion *CANADIAN PREMIERE
-Tyler Cunningham, percussion
Oscar Bettison (UK/USA) – Threaded Madrigals (2014) for solo viola *CANADIAN PREMIERE
– Sheila Jaffe, viola
EQUILIBRIUM | SEUNG WON OH
A native of South Korea, Seung-Won Oh is an acclaimed composer who was described as “a name to remember” in the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant. Her music has been performed throughout Europe, North America and Asia, and transcends traditional boundaries. As critic Mirjam Zegers writes, “Oh connects East and West, vibrant motion and stillness, pure sound and ritual theatre, stratified structures and transparency.”
The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation at the Bellagio Center, the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship through the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Barlow Endowment for music composition, Oh is celebrated both in her home country and abroad: at the 3rd Seoul International Competition for Composers she received both first prize and the audience prize; in 2007 the third prize of the Lutoslawski Award in Poland; a winner of Toonzetters award given to the best Dutch composition of the year.
Percussion often occupies a special place in her works, with prominent percussion parts clearly marking the structure of the compositions. Oh’s formal ideas, as well as her affinity for traditional Korean philosophy in music, are well represented in the versatility of her percussion writing.
In music theater works, a unique category within her output, Oh searches for non-western topics while seeking to optimize the balance between western techniques and non-western concepts. Her special interest in theater, space, movement and interaction with the audience has been generating projects that require close collaboration with the performers, and striving for the audience’s active engagement.
Oh’s background is as varied as her accolades. She began her studies at Korea’s Ewha Women’s University. She went on to earn her Ph.D in the United States, at Brandeis University, before her studies led to Louis Andrissen’s tutelage at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. It was during her time in the Netherlands that she began to explore the rich musical traditions of her own heritage.
Seung-Won Oh has taught at Brandeis University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Florida at Gainesville, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, DePaul University in Chicago and Royal Conservatory of the Hague.
CAPSULE | JULIA MERMELSTEIN
“Capsule” explores the intimacy and closeness to sounds within a small space and how it begins to define and confine us. What’s just out of reach begins to seem distant, opening up a new field of perspective that can be hard to grasp but conjure up distinct rememberings and longings of place. While writing the piece, I became more sensitive to the small place where I live and work. I started to feel considerable contrasts in how sounds from outside my window or sounds from the “outside” would become such large other worlds that distance in a space was refreshing to experience.”
– Julia Mermelstein
“As a composer, I’m interested in how music can express subtle moments that we experience to uncover patterns and connections we might not have been fully aware of. My music focuses on detailed tone colour, introspective soundscapes, and gestural movement. I extensively work with electronics, whether field recordings or synthesized sounds, blending acoustic and electronic sound worlds. I take a lot of inspiration from Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and dance, influencing my approach to musical form and sense of space. Dance has played an essential role in my life, and that world has carried over to the way I approach composing. Whether choreography is explored with musicians or informing my creative process, I question how music can take on a physical form to connect the body to sounds being produced. I’m involved in composing different mediums like chamber music, orchestral, electroacoustic, music for dance, and multi-disciplinary works.” — Julia Mermelstein
Composer and interdisciplinary artist, Julia Mermelstein blends electronic soundscapes and choreography into performances that create a space for introspection and the surreal. Her music has been performed across Canada and in the USA by distinguished ensembles and musicians such as Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, North/South Chamber Ensemble, Barbara Pritchard, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Blue Rider Ensemble.
Recent projects include commissions from Arraymusic, Esprit Orchestra, Ilana Waniuk, and interdisciplinary collaborations with Leslie Ting, Din of Shadows, and Angela Blumberg Dance. Julia’s music has also been featured at Vancouver New Music, NottNOISE New Music Festival (UK), The Music Gallery, Open Waters Experimental Music Festival (Halifax), CEMIcircles Intermedia Festival (Texas), OUA Electronic Music Festival (Osaka, Japan), and Festival of Original Theatre (Toronto). She was recently awarded the Trudi Le Caine Award in GroundSwell’s 2020 Emerging Composers Competition and awarded third-place in Musicworks’ 2017 International Electronic Music Competition.
Originally from Halifax, Julia currently lives and works in Toronto as a freelance composer and designer at Human Collective. She studied with Georges Dimitrov earning her BFA from Concordia University and independent post-graduate studies with Linda Catlin Smith, Brian Harman, and Juliet Palmer.
IG – @juliamermelstein
Twitter – @juliamerms
Ne jetez pas de corps étranger dans les étoiles | JOHN SHERLOCK
“After listening to Prog and Jazz growing up I studied classical guitar and composition in university. Upon finding a 1969 Fender Rhodes put out for the trash, and rescuing it, I became interested in electro-mechanical keyboards such as Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric piano, Hohner Clavinet, Pianet and Cembalet as well as the Hammond organ. Also, the Mustel Celesta. I believe my work is informed by colour-field painting and brutalist architecture. My primary interests derived from these concerns are timbral detail and harmonic stasis. This work features, in part, sounds created from some components from my now departed 1988 Chevrolet G10 van.”
– John Sherlock
John Mark Sherlock studied composition at the University of Western Ontario with Jack Behrens. His works have been played by many of Canada’s finest performers and ensembles including Arraymusic, the Burdocks, Critical Band, The Ergo Ensemble, Eve Egoyan, Linda Catlin Smith, the NUMUS Ensemble featuring the Penderecki String Quartet, Richard Sacks , Stephen Clarke and Ensemble KORE.. Also, he has written original music for dance or had works used for choreography by Marie-Josée Chartier, Heidi Strauss, Shannon Cooney for Dancemakers, amongst many others. He co-founded the composers collective/ensemble, neither/nor. John has, at various times, received the kind support of the Toronto Arts Council, Laidlaw Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and the Chalmers Foundation and thanks them all, sincerely.
Sherlock’s work is remarkable for its use of electro-mechanical keyboards dating from the ’60s and ’70s. He is likely one of few composers of his aesthetic to use so extensively Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos, Hohner Clavinet and Pianet and Hammond organ, particularly in ensemble.
NEW WORK | BRUCE RUSSELL
“I was gratified to have David ask for this piece and that it will be played now on the – hopefully – other side of what we have all been experiencing, collectively. Ask me about the title!”
– Bruce Russell
Bruce A. Russell aka Ibrahim El Mahboob (he/him, b. 1968) is a composer and self-taught pianist living and working in Toronto (Tkarón:to, the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat). He studied at York University with James Tenney and Phillip Werren. His early years were spent playing in bands and releasing DIY cassettes of art pop and experimental music, as well as composing predominantly electronic scores for dance, theatre and interdisciplinary productions. Frustrated by systemic racism, personal struggles and a lack of interest in his work, he stopped seeking a career in music. He continued composing in private, sometimes sharing his work through social media. Interest in his work increased in 2020, resulting in performances by Second Note Duo, Prism Percussion, San Juan Symphony, Idaho Falls Symphony and the Grant Park Orchestra. Arraymusic presented the first full concert of his music in November 2020. He has composed new works for Gryphon Trio and the Madawaska String Quartet. He was host of Radio Music Gallery and has written for Musicworks and I Care If You Listen. His interests are in 20th and 21st century concert music especially postminimalism, and music of the African diaspora.
THREADED MADRIGALS | OSCAR BETTISON
Oscar Bettison’s music lives, thrillingly, on a razor’s edge between unpredictability and a groove wrought of full-bodied play.
Born on the United Kingdom’s Channel Islands to Spanish and British parents, Bettison was fascinated from an early age by the interplay between the “weird, hazy, tenuous aural image” in his imagination and the wild effort to wrestle it onto the page. After studying in Amsterdam with Louis Andriessen and Martijn Padding, he learned to embrace this creative discomfort, crashing through challenges with fantastic, imaginative twists. As Bettison has said: “It’s not that refinement is a bad thing. But there are times when it can get in the way.”
Watershed ensemble works like O Death and B&E (with aggravated assault) drew attention from press and audiences for their free-spirited play and integration of popular musical styles. Bettison was recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017.
Bettison continues to find inspiration in experimenting with different forms of music, composing more for orchestra in recent years: Remaking a Forest for Oregon Symphony premiered in 2019, Pale Icons of Night—his first violin concerto—for Courtney Orlando and Alarm Will Sound debuted in 2018, and Lights in Ashes (an orchestral reimagination of a movement from O Death) was premiered by the New World Symphony in 2017. Bettison’s first opera, The Light of Lesser Days premiered in September 2021 in the Netherlands with the Asko|Schönberg ensemble.
Bettison currently lives in New Jersey and is chair of the Composition department of John Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute.
NEW WORK | AMAHL ARULANANDAM
With interests from baroque to metal, Toronto cellist Amahl Arulanandam is known for his musical versatility and ability to adapt to many genres. At home in studios, clubs, and halls, Amahl hopes to convey that musical expression is beyond labels.
Passionate about the music of our time, Amahl has performed with ensembles such as Soundstreams, New Music Concerts, Caution Tape Sound Collective, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Music in the Barns and Esprit Orchestra. He has had the opportunity to work with leading composers such as Salvatore Sciarrino, Ana Sokolovic, Luna Pearl Woolf, and Brian Current.
Amahl has wholly embraced the bizarre sounds the cello has to offer and takes special pleasure in playing on areas of the instrument other than the strings.