Slowind in Canada – Kitchener

Thurday, 1st December, 2016 at 7.00 p.m.
Numus Concerts
Kitchener Public Library Theatre, 85 Queen Street N., Kitchener

Slowind Wind Quintet
Niels Rosing-Schow (b. 1954): Five Studies (1979–2012)
Ivan Fedele (b. 1953): Flamen (2000)
Nina Šenk (b. 1982): Silhouettes and Shadows (2016)
Elliott Carter (1908–2012): Retracing (2002) for bassoon
Toshio Hosokawa (b. 1955): Ancient Voices (2013)
Robert Aitken (b. 1939): Folia (1981)


Niels Rosing-Schow
5 Studies for Wind Quintet (2012)

The musical material in my 5 Studies for Wind Quintet dates back to 1984, where four of the movements appear as a piece with the title 4 Studies. The additional second movement Quasi lontano, has roots even further back, that is in my first attempt to compose a wind quintet in 1973. The material from these earlier compositions has been substantially reviewed in this ‘updated’ version, but still the music is characterized by a time of fresh inspirations from György Ligeti and the Danish variety of ‘new simplicity’.

Despite the neutral title ‘studies’, these five short movements are more than just etudes exploring the wind quintet’s diverse tonal possibilities; it contains five contrasting musical situations, each encompassing a tapered musical point.

—Niels Rosing-Schow

Ivan Fedele (b. 1953)
Flamen (1994)
for wind quintet

Even when writing for the more intimate domain of the wind quintet, Fedele continues to pursue the idea of sound as a representation of space. In Flamen (in Latin “breath”), the five instruments are set quite far apart from each other and on raised platforms of differing heights, so that they form a type of arch made up, from left to right, of the flute, oboe, horn (in the centre, at the innermost and highest point), bassoon and clarinet. As in Richiamo, the geometry of the sound sources is conceived not only to obtain effects of resonance and reverberation, but more especially so that the figures that underpin the composition follow different routes in space in accordance with the principles of attraction, symmetry and stratification that govern the interaction between the five instruments. These figures are not melodic or thematic patterns, but rather thread-like arabesques that derive from the historical repertory of embellishments (turns, rapid repeated notes, quivering arpeggios, appoggiaturas, acciaccaturas, trills) and define a sonic and physical space that is changeable and ephemeral.

The whole of the first part follows this modality with systematic obstinacy and dazzling virtuosity. The second, which starts with a long held note on the horn, presents various segments characterised by quieter and more reflexive material; each time, however, they are attacked, at first timidly and then more openly, until being finally overwhelmed by the return of the opening figures in continuous and frenetic transformation.

—Claudio Proietti

Young Slovenian composer Nina Šenk (born 1982) graduated in composition from the Ljubljana Music Academy in the class of Pavel Mihelčič in 2005. She then undertook postgraduate studies at the Dresden University of Music under Lothar Voigtländer from 2005 to 2007, and at the Munich University for Music and Performing Arts under Matthias Pintscher (2007-2008).

While studying, she received several awards, including the European Award for best composition at the festival Young Euro Classic for her Violin Concerto (2004), the Prešeren Award of the Ljubljana Academy of Music, and first prize in the Festival of Contemporary Music in Weimar, Germany for the composition Movimento fluido (2008).

Her compositions have been performed at important festivals both in Slovenia and abroad (the Biennale of the New York Philharmonic, the Salzburg Festival, the Young Euro Classic Music Days in Kasseler, Musica Viva in Munich, Positionen in Frankfurt, the Weimar Spring Days, Heidelberg Spring, the Ljubljana Festival, the Slowind Festival, the Slovenian Music Days, the World Saxophone Congress, etc.) and in concerts around the world with various orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the State Theatre of Cottbus, the Festival Orchestra Young Euro Classic, the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Slovenian Philharmonic String Chamber Orchestra, the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, and by renowned ensembles such as Ensemble InterContemporain, Ensemble Modern, the Scharoun Ensemble, Ensemble Mosaik, the London Sinfonietta, the United Berlin Wind Quintet, Ensemble Aleph, Altera Veritas, MD7, the Concorde Ensemble and the Berlin Chamber Orchestra.

In the seasons 2008/2009 and 2009/2010, Nina Šenk was the resident composer of the Orchestra of the State Theatre of Cottbus, Germany.

The first idea while thinking about Silhouettes and Shadows was a line that flows in various ways from one instrument to another, from a solo line all the way to homophony. From the quintet, I have tried to create one single source of line (silhouette), sometimes colouring it with shade (chips of line). I deliberately avoided too broad an ambit of notes, because I wanted to achieve a narrowness, a collective density, a single density of sonority, from which no one colour stands out.

The composition is demanding due to the compact range of dynamics, from soft to as soft as possible, realised in fast and faster tempi, and due to the sensitive transitions of the line from one instrument to another, which must always flow from one to the next. Due to the diversity of the instruments, this was an interesting and demanding challenge while composing, and I have no doubt that this challenge will open up ever new performance possibilities for the performers.

The composition is dedicated to the wind quintet Slowind and was first performed on 24 October 2016 at 18th Festival Slowind 2016 in Ljubljana.”

—Nina Šenk

Toshio Hosokawa, born 1955 in Hiroshima, is a fisher of multiple ponds. On the one hand, he carries the torch of European modernism, having studied in Germany under Isang Yun and Klaus Huber. On the other, he professes a deep affinity for traditional Japanese music and Zen Buddhism.

The work Ancient Voices was written for and commissioned by Ensemble Wien-Berlin for their 30th anniversary. I received the obituary of Wolfgang Schultz who was the core member of this ensemble while working on the structure of this. I dedicate this work to him.

My music always has ritualistic essence that music could contain. Music could calm the human soul, and could have the role of giving life to the invisible area of the heart. My music is not meant to have an influence on human intelligence but rather to a human body and “chi.” I would like to express “chi,” the source of energy of life that propels human and nature.

This music shows the characteristic of my music, where the melodic line of each note has a curved form, like those in Eastern writings. Those lines tangle with each other like plants, and form the universe of Yin and Yang (light and shadow, male and female, high and low, strong and weak), while creating ritualistic music.

—Toshio Hosokawa

World renowned Canadian flutist, composer and conductor Robert Aitken has been honoured with the Order of Canada and is a Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). In 1970, having previously served as principal flute for both the Vancouver and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Aitken embarked on a solo career that continues to take him to virtually every corner of the globe. Such notables as John Cage, George Crumb, Elliott Carter, Toru Takemitsu, Gilles Tremblay, John Beckwith and Bruce Mather have dedicated works to him. In 2003 he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Flute Association (USA). In 2004, he retired as Professor für Flöte at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany, a position he had held for 16 years. In 2009 Aitken was the recipient of Canada’s largest arts award, the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

As a composer, he holds Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of Toronto and all of his works are published by Universal Edition, Salabert, Ricordi and Peer Music. Robert Aitken has been the artistic director of Toronto’s New Music Concerts since its inception in 1971.

Aitken’s “Scherzo for Woodwind Quintet” Folia was commissioned by the York Winds with the assistance of the Canada Council in 1981 and was composed in the fall of that year at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. Both the time and place of the work’s creation are commemorated in the title of this work, which reveals the composer’s intention to “reflect the random order and rich colours of nature as exhibited by tree and ‘foliage’ while maintaining a high lever of intensity throughout. Even the few sustained passages offer the musicians extra technical challenges such as trills of variable speed, flutter tonguing and simultaneous singing and playing.” The dense forest of notes that evolve from the wooden instruments that send forth the first roots of the work may indeed strike certain listeners as ‘random’, yet they are in fact derived from the subtle change ringing of a carefully chosen series of notes and durations: “The music follows an idea of all things relating and flowing into each other and, while there are certain random aspects, it is not at all a ‘free piece’.” Towards the conclusion of the composition a measured degree of rhythmic freedom is introduced, before giving way to a single, sustained harmony that sounds the intervallic ‘seed’ of the work: “The melodic and harmonic material is entirely based on a major/minor ninth chord in all its inversions which, coloured with unusual overtones, slips in and out of focus, much like the variety of autumn foliage. Hints of relaxation and timbral changes are achieved by varying the density of the texture, suggestive of the wildness of nature.”

—Daniel Foley