TENMC at Array Space: great music in a wonderful place – what’s not to like?

What do you get when you put together a group of wonderfully talented musicians, great and receptive audience and a venue brimming with creativity?

Thin Edge New Music Collective‘s second concert for the 2013/2014 season under the title Unusual Spectrum III. 

First things first. The concert opened with a set of pieces and improvisations by Kathryn Ladano, bass clarinet player par excellence and a captivating improviser.  The set took us on a journey of soundscapes, wonderful array (how fitting) of techniques and all of that submitted to clear thought and inner poise. The audience was even treated to a world première of one of Ms. Ladano’s compositions: Avoiding the Answers. Kathryn’s playing is full of energy, excitement and she proved that she is capable of immense diversity of colours. Apart from the two free improvisations, she played two more of her composed works – Open Strain (2007) and I Told You So (2012). My two favourites were her loop improvisation and I Told You So.

After the intermission there was time for the eclectic program of the evening to try and charm us with a mix of pieces, instrumentations and composers. Mysterium Coniunctionis for Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, and Piano (1980) by Toronto based composer Gary Kulesha provided a smooth transition into the second half of the evening. Marked by clear thought and a certain convincing transparency, the work veers through familiar and not-so-familiar landscapes but with a constant presence. Cheryl Duval (Piano), Anthony Thompson (Clarinet) and Kathryn Ladano (bass clarinet) navigated expertly through this interesting work, inspired by a Karl Jung’s book on the Art of Alchemy and its allusion to self-discovery and search for truth. Ms. Duval sounded both inspired and comfortable at the piano – a sort of anchor of the group.

Strata (2012) for solo tenor saxophone by Edmontonian Colin Labadie led me to one of my personal discoveries of the evening: Saxophonist Chelsea Shanoff. The piece calls for 8 minutes of circular breathing and two constant layers of sounds interspersed with each other. Ms. Shanoff rose admirably to the challenge and managed to convey the immediacy and sometimes raucousness of the piece. It seems that Strata could be a great choice for serious saxophone players as part of their contemporary repertoire although at some moments would be difficult for the soloist to escape the sense that it is a mere exercise in technical difficulty. Ms. Shanoff sailed through those prolonged and difficult sections with admirable stamina and dedication and delivered a coherent and engaging performance. Which is a joy to every composer.

Thin Edge New Music Collective combined forces, talents and sounds to finish the evening with George Crumb‘s Dream Sequence {Images II} (1976). A master of wonderful colours and dreamy sounds, the unforgettable voice of Crumb reminded us what a wonderful sound-smith he is. The piece is scored for Piano, Percussion, Violin, Cello and off-stage Glass Harmonica. The range of sounds, not surprisingly for anyone familiar with Crumb’s style, is immense. The piano and the percussion work together as a kind of sub-group, the same could be said for the violin and cello. It is worth here to list all the musicians involved in this “finale feast”: Cheryl Duval, piano; Ilana Waniuk, violin; Bryan Holt, cello; Nathan Petitpas, percussion; Stacie Dunlop and Chelsea Shanoff, glass harmonica. Well done!

You might as well guess by reading this far, what I am going to say next: find out where and when the next concert of the TENMC will be and go listen and see it. This wonderful group of musicians seem to be a well fused collective of like-minded, very talented individually musicians. This is hard to come by these days despite the multitude of ensembles devoted to contemporary repertoire.

Sound Convincer

The next event in Thin Edge Music Collective’s 2013/2014 season is a concert titled Through Closed DoorsThe date is Friday, February 21st, 2014 at 8pm,  Gallery 345 in Toronto.

You don’t want to miss that. I know I won’t.

Kathryn Ladano website TENMC website