Turning Point Ensemble: Colourful World – Curatorial Statement
January 24, 2012
By Owen Underhill, Co-Artistic Director, Turning Point Ensemble
In 2008, the Turning Point Ensemble made application to Arts Partners in Creative Development for a large-scale commissioning and development project called CHAMBER SYMPHONY 2010. At that time, we proposed the commissioning of three major chamber symphonies from three of Vancouver’s most respected and internationally recognized composers – Dorothy Chang, John Oliver and Rodney Sharman. We were delighted when this project received funding. Given the scale of the project, the creation and development components have been multi-year. With the premiere of Rodney Sharman’s Chamber Symphony on the Colourful World program, all three commissions will now have received their first performance.
Part of the philosophy of the Turning Point Ensemble is to enter into meaningful relationships with leading composers (locally, nationally, internationally) and to have them work with us to develop music of significant scale and ambition. We wish to give composers opportunity to do their best work, thus contributing to the creation of a lasting repertoire for large-size chamber ensemble. In working together, we schedule reading sessions well in advance of the premieres so that there can be the opportunity for experimentation, feedback and revision.
The first stage of this project was the commission and performance of John Oliver’s Five-Ring Concerto. This virtuosic chamber concerto was premiered as part of the 2010 Cultural Olympiad on a program that also included Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony and John Adam’s Son of Chamber Symphony. The second stage was the unveiling in November 2011 of Dorothy Chang’s brilliant Three Windows. Her piece was inspired by a small corner of Vancouver, specifically the westernmost tip of Point Grey where, as Dorothy articulated, “one’s eye might catch in a single glance the striking juxtaposition of nature, man and machine.
We are delighted to present the third ‘chamber symphony’ commission by Rodney Sharman. In programming the concert, we entered into a dialogue with Rodney, selecting works by some of his favorite composers: Morton Feldman, with whom he studied; Toru Takemitsu, one of the most subtle and expert orchestrators of the last fifty years; and the master Claude Debussy who was a direct influence on so many composers including Takemitsu, who said “I consider Debussy my teacher – the most important elements are colour, light and shadow.”
Taken together, I hope you will agree that the assembled works reveal a rare and sumptuous Colourful World.