Brent Straughan socan
- The Umbria Ensemble -
Appassionati Canadese: The magic of the concerts is over, but there are several audio highlights below:
-The Umbria Ensemble toured Italy with my music, and came to Canada to play it for us, in the delightful company of several friends from the Victoria Symphony. The audio samples were recorded, engineered, and edited by David Conrad.
The Da Vinci Italian cultural centre hosted a reception on Canada Day, featuring Umbrian desserts and wine.
We're not saints & I didn't shy away from looking at Canadian mistakes - the hanging of innocent native men depicted in my string quartet "Song of Innocents", and the internment of Japanese Canadians in World War II, are musically referenced in my string serenade "Island Arioso". Island Arioso looks at micro cultures in the Gulf Islands from the perspective of "paddle songs". Paddle songs were used in the 19th century as "Qui vive?" signals. If you paddled your canoe past a village, and didn't sing the right paddle song, the entire village paddled out, and attacked you!
Ticketing was a bit different: local artists could trade a sample of their work for tickets! I received a book of 16 piano son-atas, poems, watercolours, & sketches! It was wonderful to have the feeling of sharing this music with others who struggle against silence, and their own empty pages. I created a "Canadashare ticket" so that people who wanted to donate to the project could buy extra tickets normally, then have those tickets posted on a bulletin board at the concert for anyone to use.
Programme: I wrote, or arranged the following:
Danny Boy -Soprano (Andrea Rodall), String Nonet
My Irish grandmother ploughed with a sulky plough and team, she usually placed the latest of her brood of eleven in a basket, ploughed up and back, then checked on the baby: if it fussed, she sang it 'Danny Boy'. The tune was written 500 years ago by a blind Irish Clan chief Rory O’Cahan. During the first world war, Englishman Fred Weatherly added the words we know today, after his sister wrote to him about a tune she heard Irishmen singing in a pub in Idaho! Australian composer Percy Grainger created a string version of the piece in the twenties. I couldn't resist tinkering with it, while trying to find a way to my own version.
Abendsegen- String Nonet -The prayer theme from Englebert Humperdinck’s ‘Hansel & Gretel’.
My mother taught me my first childrens' prayer to this tune.
Motherless Child-Spiritual- Soprano, String Octet
A beautiful 18th century spiritual response to slavery in America, author known but to God.
Log Driver’s Waltz -Soprano, String Nonet
This favourite Canadian folk-like tune, is not actually a folksong, but the creation of Wade Hemsworth, in 1956.
Spoleto Largo- String Nonet plus triangle
In February, in Spoleto, as my mother’s first leap year birthday approached, without her; I took a break from my opera, "Precari", and wrote this simple tune in her memory -“slow, fast, slow” themes based on long intervals that resolve gently.
It was in Spoleto that we met the 'Umbria Ensemble' at a concert in Perugia. The quartet "loved" my music: they thought I must be "VERY famous"? I gently explained, that "Canadians don't do famous...."
Saturna- String Nonet
A few years ago the Victoria Chamber Orchestra (conductor Yariv Aloni) commissioned a string serenade from me which tries to musically represent micro cultures of five Gulf Islands. I imagined approaching Saturna island by canoe in the earliest breath of morning. Suddenly, the island looms out of its shroud of mists...played by the Victoria Chamber Orchestra.
Mayne- Nonet, Percussion, Alto Flute
Mayne island was the early social centre of the Gulf Islands - happened upon by captain George Vancouver in 1794-, gateway to the gold rush dreams of 1858, and sporting the oldest continuously flourishing hotel in B.C.. Japanese Canadians had a major impact on Mayne, creating large greenhouse farms, and agricultural operations - until 1941 when the government interned them. Thankfully, we have grown past our fears, to renew and revitalize this beautiful old friendship. Several Japanese percussion instruments played by Masako Hockey are featured in the work; a première performance.
Galiano- Nonet, Percussion, Alto Flute
Spanish explorer Dionisio Alcaláho Galiano explored Galiano Island in 1792. I could not resist the chance to imagine a Spanish dance taking place on the island, within sight of a stately Spanish galleon at ease in the harbour....
Salt spring- Nonet, Percussion, Alto Flute/Flute
Imagine a young girl attending a street dance at Moby's restaurant, on Saltspring Island. She opens her case, fiddles like the wind, dances like a dervish, and through sheer force of nature, compels her audience to listen ! A première performance.
Encore: Purple Haze-String Octet -following humbly in the path of the Kronos quartet version.
Song of Innocents-Soprano, String Quartet
This quartet depicts the plight of John Anietsachist and Kahtkayna - hanged in 1869 for alleged murder of shipwreck survivors (see the John Bright incident, attached).
Mov. I "Cradle Song" Mov. II "Sparrowhawk" hunts
Mov. III "Hangman's Noose" Mov. IV "Spiritual journey"
Encore: Bad Romance-String Quartet - Lady Gaga in a "Bachish" mood....