Owen Underhill - Looking Back, Looking Forward
NOVO Ensemble was pleased to present a concert celebrating one of Vancouver’s most highly acclaimed and accomplished composers, Owen Underhill on his birthday last Sunday at Pyatt Hall in the VSO School of Music.
They were joined by Cordei (Janna Sailor, violin and Albertina Chan, harp), Daniel Tones, percussionist and Clare Yuan, piano.
It was an eclectic program of small chamber works written by Underhill during the last thirty years. NOVO also gave the world premiere of Ten Miniatures, a piece commissioned by them especially for the occasion! Inspired by the colourful Indian Miniature painting tradition of the Mughal period, this piece conjured up images of royal processions and ladies hunting tigers!
The composer even took to the stage himself and performed with Daniel Tones in Two Songs without Words.
The musicians and audience alike were rewarded with birthday cake at the reception following the concert!
A recent winner of the Vancouver Women’s Musical Society Bursary competition, pianist Chia-Hui Clare Yuan is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of British Columbia under the guidance of world famous Canadian pianist, Professor Jane Coop. Upon winning numerous awards and scholarships, Clare received her Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music, New York, where she studied with Russian pianist Dr. Arkady Aronov. Clare was invited as a soloist to perform with the Metropolitan Philharmonic of New York Orchestra in 2009. She has been a frequent guest on FairChild Radio, as well as an adjudicator at local competitions. She is actively involved in music, and was recently invited as a guest conductor to Vancouver Orchestra Club’s winter season concert.
Owen Underhill lives in Vancouver where he is active as a composer, conductor, artistic director and faculty member in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University.
As a composer, Underhill writes for diverse combinations including orchestra, voice and choir, and a wide variety of chamber music ranging from traditional ensembles to groupings of unusual instrumentation. He has a special interest in large-scale interdisciplinary collaborations, having composed a number of works for dance as well as his 1994 opera The Star Catalogues. Among his most recent compositions are String Quartet #4: The Night written for the Quatuor Bozzini, Three Sitka Songs commissioned by the Vancouver Bach Choir with poetry of Robert Davis Hoffmann, and Slender Gold for an ensemble comprising Chinese and western instruments. In addition to the Ten Miniatures performed this evening, his work Curio Box will be premiered in April by Vancouver New Music and a new piece for the clarinet and piano duo of François Houle and Jane Hayes will be premiered in May. His music has many different expressions and has been described as dense and interesting, colourful, lyrical in inspiration, exuberant and witty, subtle, and thoughtful. His music has been included on several recordings including his recently released disc Still Image including music for string quartet, clarinet and trombone.
As a conductor, Underhill is a member of the Turning Point Ensemble, one of Canada’s most distinctive and accomplished large-size chamber ensembles. In addition, he has made conducting appearances with orchestras and ensembles including the Vancouver Symphony, CBC Radio Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Vancouver New Music Ensemble, and musica intima. He has conducted well over 150 premieres by Canadian composers and has worked in collaboration with several prominent international composers including Louis Andriessen, Gavin Bryars, Sofia Gubaidulina, Giya Kancheli, James MacMillan, Steve Reich, Toru Takemitsu, and Judith Weir. Underhill’s discography as a conductor includes recordings on ATMA, Centrediscs, CBC Records and Artifact.
Active as a programmer and promoter of contemporary music, Underhill was Artistic Director of Vancouver New Music from 1987 to 2000. He is currently Artistic Co-Director of the Turning Point Ensemble, a large chamber ensemble of outstanding Vancouver musicians dedicated to the celebration of twentieth century music and new music. He has been active as an arts advocate and supporter of Canadian music organizations, and has been active for many years with the Canadian Music Centre, serving as the President since 2010.
Underhill has been an SFU faculty member since 1981, serving as Director of the School for the Contemporary Arts, and as Director of the SFU Woodward’s Cultural Unit. He was recently named a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Daniel Tones is an award-winning percussionist equally committed to fostering creative development in aspiring musicians. He earned a doctorate in performance and ethnomusicology from the University of British Columbia and studied with Salvador Ferreras, Russell Hartenberger, and John Rudolph. He has performed with internationally recognized percussionists Bob Becker, Aiyun Huang, Morris Palter, and Steve Schick, has appeared at music festivals on three continents, and has been broadcast nationally on radio and television.
A love of global percussion led him to study frame drumming, West African drumming and dance, Balinese gamelan, and Cuban percussion with master musicians. Equally at home with orchestral music, he is the Principal Percussionist of the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Toronto, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and Victoria symphonies, the CBC Vancouver Radio Orchestra, and the Vancouver Opera. Daniel is best known for his work as a contemporary percussionist, however, and in addition to performing internationally as a soloist he works regularly with Vancouver New Music and Fringe Percussion.
Daniel is on the faculties of Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Community College, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He is a Yamaha artist-educator and a SABIAN endorser, and provides workshops regularly to students throughout Metro Vancouver. In recent years he was the Percussion Coach for the Canadian Wind Orchestra and the National Youth Band of Canada.
Dr. Tones is the recipient of fellowships from the University of Toronto, the Government of Ontario, and the University of British Columbia and individual awards from the British Columbia Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Vancouver Foundation
CORDEI Contemporary Harp and Violin Duo, formed by harpist Albertina Chan and violinist Janna Sailor, is committed to performing contemporary music and promoting the works of Canadian composers. In September 2012, the duo premiered Park Bench Play by Kathleen Allan, a chamber opera written for CORDEI, soprano and tenor, as part of the Tom Cone Opera Project 2012. In addition to traditional recitals, recent projects include recording an original score written for CORDEI by Iman Habibi in association with the Vancouver Film School for a silent dance film, creating the soundscapes for “Saturated Phenomenon” in conjunction with visual artist Erica Grimm, and collaborating with other ensembles for Redshift Music Society’s ChamberCon. For more information, please visit www.cordei.ca
NOVO had a wonderful time performing at Redshift Music Society’s chamber music extravaganza ChamberCon. NOVO gave the world premiere of the piece Doublespeak by Canadian composer Colin MacDonald commissioned by the ensemble especially for the event as well as the Canadian premiere of Chaconne and Toccata, written by American composer Ethan Wickman. Check out the video here
As part of this project, NOVO collaborated with many wonderful new music groups, such us Duo Verdejo, Cordei, Ethos Collective, Redshift Tutti, Vancouver New Music Panorama and the Vancouver Electronic Ensemble.
NOVO Ensemble and friends Dominic Woo and Tawnya Popoff perform Evocations by Michael Conway Baker for flute, violin, viola, cello and orchestra.
Date: Friday, March 14th, 2014 at 8pm
Tickets: By donatation. Available at the door. Doors open 30 minutes before the concert.
More Info: West Coast Symphony