Trumpets are sounding and dancers are leaping for the arrival of one of Canada’s most renowned composers as part of the opening of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra’s new season.
The symphony takes the stage for an uplifting performance of The Falcon’s Trumpet by R. Murray Schafer, who is in the Okanagan this week to catch the creative collaboration as it premieres in Kelowna and Vernon.
“This is a cultural happening in the Okanagan that is singular in the world,” said OSO manager Scott Wilson.
Schafer is acknowledged worldwide as the pioneer of sound ecology, incorporating the quixotic and captivating sounds of nature into his music, which has resulted in compositions that are quintessentially Canadian, but universally appealing, said OSO music director Rosemary Thomson, who will conduct the orchestra through The Falcon’s Trumpet.
A piece for orchestra that plays with the relationship of sound and space, The Falcon’s Trumpet is inspired by birds of prey in flight.
“Schafer places the orchestra in unusual configurations with a semicircle of players on stage and small groups of players backstage and throughout the audience,” said Thomson.
“I love the surround sound quality of this piece. The sense of space that Murray creates makes it a perfect piece for dance and I was thrilled when David (LaHay) agreed to this exciting collaboration.”
Accompanying the OSO’s performance of The Falcon’s Trumpet will be one of Canada’s 10 professional ballet companies, Ballet Kelowna, which is making the world premiere of its choreography, created by artistic director LaHay, to the composition.
LaHay has previously danced to Schafer’s music and says he is particularly inspired by the opportunities for physical expression.
Also joining the symphony will be acclaimed Canadian musician Guy Few, who last visited Vernon when he performed with bassoonist Nadina Mackie Jackson for the North Okanagan Community Concert Association last season.
In demand as a trumpeter, cornist and pianist, Few is renowned for his virtuosity, musicianship and outstanding talent. Acclaimed as “outrageously gifted” and “quite simply phenomenal” by Montreal’s Le Devoir, Few has appeared with prestigious orchestras including the Toronto Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony, the Quebec Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony, the Santa Rosa Symphony, and the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra to name a few.
As a chamber musician, he performs on a regular basis with Mackie Jackson as a duo, in the Bellows and Brass trio with Alain Trudel and Joseph Petric, as well as with pianist Stephanie Mara.
Last season, he was the recipient of the 2010 Touring Artist of the Year Award, and he continues his busy touring schedule with dozens of recitals across the country this season.
Few and Schafer will be in attendance for the week of rehearsals, community outreach events and performances, and will lead educational workshops for teachers and the wider community and take part in panel discussions.
Two of those open to the public will take place at the UBC Okanagan campus in Kelowna where Schafer and Few, along with LaHay and Thomson, will discuss their collaboration on The Falcon’s Trumpet, and how theory and practice are intertwined in the artistic process.
Born in Sarnia, Ont. in 1933, Schafer has won national and international acclaim not only for his achievements as a composer, opening truly new directions in music, but also as an educator, environmentalist, literary scholar, visual artist and provocateur.
After receiving a licentiate in piano through England’s Royal Schools of Music in 1952, he pursued further studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto, followed by periods of study in Austria and England, which encompassed literature, philosophy, music and journalism.
A prolific composer, he has written works ranging from orchestral compositions to choral music as well as musical theatre and multi-media performances.
Schafer’s talk at UBC Okanagan takes place Monday at 7 p.m. in the administration building, room 026, and a conversation on creativity and collaboration happens Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in the Arts and Sciences building, room 103. Both events are open to the public and admission is free.
Besides The Falcon’s Trumpet, the OSO will perform Cantus Arcticus by Rautavaara, Quiet City by Copland and Gli Uccelli (The Birds) by Respighi at its performance in Vernon.
The concert happens Oct. 23 at the Performing Arts Centre starting at 7 p.m. A pre-concert chat will take place at 6 p.m. Tickets are at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.