New Music Festival Comes to BU

Entrance to the Lorne Watson Recital Hall. (Credit: Logan Praznik/The Quill)

Brandon University’s annual New Music Festival, a showcase of newly composed works performed by “established, accomplished interpreters of contemporary music”, came to BU’s campus on March 26th to March 28th.

The 2017 New Music Festival, titled “CANADA150: Mosaic of VISIONS,” had a programme encompassing three evenings of performances, the first featuring Toronto-based violinist Parmela Attariwala and Montreal-based tabla performer Shawn Mativetsky in a performance blending together Asian and Western musical traditions, at the Lorne Watson Recital Hall on Sunday, March 26th.

Mativesky also delivered a tabla and rhythm workshop to students and faculty, followed by a solo tabla concert, Rivers, billed as “a rhythmic journey to Varanasi, India” and including a guest performance by Attariwala on violin the same evening, on Friday, March 24th.

The next evening, BU professor, pianist, and festival director Megumi Masaki together with the Brandon University New Music Ensemble (BUNME), composer Douglas Finch, video artist Sigi Torinus, and the BU Orchestra performed from a program titled “MUSIC 4 EYES & EARS: VISIONS” at the Evans Theatre.

The same day, BUNME also performed Canadian composer and cellist Fjóla Evans’ Hollywood, Juno-nominated composer Jordan Nobles’ Simulacrum, and Luis Ramirez’ The Endlings, a piece composed specifically for BUNME, featuring the song of the extinct Hawaiian Kaua’i o’o bird. The BU Orchestra, meanwhile, performed another Jordan Nobles piece, Ostinati.

The final concert featured Montreal-based electric guitar quartet Instruments of Happiness, with a lineup of compositions from composers across Canada, and took place on Tuesday, March 28th in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall.

Tim Brady, leader of Instruments of Happiness, said in a March 27th press release, “According to my favourite guitar manufacturer, the legendary Robert Godin, you can never be sad with a guitar in your hands. Absolutely, the guitar is an ‘instrument of happiness,’ hence the name for this ensemble.”

BU Dean of Music Greg Gatien called the festival “one of the highlights of our academic and performing year” in a March 22nd press release, going further to state, “It’s so exciting to hear these beautifully-composed works take to the stage, and among the works this year are some very accessible ones, with innovative fusions of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic elements.”

Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 28, April 4th, 2017.