November 22, 2010

National Broadcast Orchestra

We attended the second in our Community Concert series last Thursday, featuring the National Broadcast Orchestra (formerly the CBC Orchestra) and violinist Jonathan Crow. Both were fantastic. Crow grew up in Prince George, had a music degree from McGill by 19, and now teaches music at McGill and performs around the world.

The orchestra played a Haydn symphony and then Crow joined them for some Mozart and Beethoven. The second half of the program was modern Canadian music, with the world premieres of two Galaxy prize-winning compositions. The Galaxy prize is for young Canadian composers and the Grand Prize Work was very complex and beautiful while the second prize was just way out there in left field, a piece without rhythm or melody but just a series of "sound structures" which then disintegrated for the next structure to be built up. I was pretty tired, so the conductor's careful explanation of what to listen for didn't help me much, but Gerald said he could follow.

The highlight of the program for me was Cameron Wilson's "Canadian Seasons for Violin and Orchestra." It was also a premiere, and an amazing showcase for Crow's talents. The composer was a young violinist in the orchestra who spoke briefly before the music was played, saying he really liked this piece and felt it was one of the first times his musical "voice" had really been heard. Knowing a little of what Jeremy went through this summer composing his "Summerland Suite" made this young composer's journey feel very personal to me.


  1. This sounds like a real winner -- an evening of challenging and beautiful music. I think it's significant that the composer (Wilson) felt his voice was being heard for the first time, even though this wasn't his first major piece. My songs for string quartet have short passages that feel like me, and my goal will be to tease those out and expand them in future compositions. Probably just takes practice like any other skill.

  2. Yes, how can we learn what our voice is unless we say a few things and then a few more things. A voice is tentative at first, right? like my blog, and then it starts to hear itself and make itself heard.

  3. Yes, exactly. And then a few *more* things...again and again. I think some of my current excitement about this photo show is that it feels like my artistic "voice" is shining through with more clarity. The ice show was good, but it was one-dimensional, only hinting at the way my eye and skill was developing.