We know Frank Zappa as a daring innovator, synonymous with audacity, virtuosity and crazy inventiveness. But as a youth he cut his teeth on Edgard Varèse, one of the twentieth century’s great composers. In this musical spectacular, the Turning Point Ensemble and arguably Canada’s boldest composer, John Oswald, pay tribute to both masters. Excerpts from Frank Zappa’s The Yellow Shark, completed just before his passing, will be performed. It includes some of his most beloved and outré works, such as “The Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat ” and “The Girl in the Magnesium Dress .” Varèse gets a stunning tribute as well; the ensemble will play two works from the mid-twenties that show just how revolutionary he was.
Zappa and Varèse are two of the most striking musical figures of the last century, and Oswald and the 30-piece ensemble are just the artists to give them their musical due. There’s a paradox here: this is a look back at the musical past in which the works themselves were futuristic. Zappa and Varèse remain ahead of their time even in death, and in this performance their mad innovations get the honour they deserve.
The Turning Point Ensemble players, under Owen Underhill’s direction, are magnificent.
—The Georgia Straight