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modisti

Toca Loca . SHED


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This piece was written for Waka Hasegawa and Joseph Tong, a happily married piano duo. The composer was inspired by their sharing – a piano, a life.

“I wanted those four hands to be as close as possible…holding the keys silently so that when the other notes are played, suddenly those silent keys start ringing…if another duo wanted to play this piece, they wouldn’t necessarily need to be married but it would be great to imagine other pianists getting it on after playing…”

Simon and I have conspicuously resisted its siren song. During passages where our fingers strain to interlock like a sadistic jigsaw puzzle, our hands bearing numerous cuts and scratches, the result of furiously rapid hand position leaps and shifts, we wonder if Dai wasn’t unconsciously describing other, less celebrated aspects of matrimony. Dai also imagined the rapid-fire style of an MTV video depicting the overstimulated life he experienced growing up in Osaka: 6-day school week, 3 days of evening study class, piano, acting, swimming, no days off.

Ma’Mounia (Heinz Holliger)
This is the commissioned work from the 2002 Geneva International Music Competition, which our percussionist, Aiyun Huang, went on to win. The title comes from the Moroccan restaurant in Geneva where the commission was finalized. Rife with extended techniques, the percussionist finds herself at one point screaming at the top of her lungs, trapped in a massive setup played with superballs, rosined bows and metal rods, while the pianist throws cymbals onto the bass strings and the horn player shuns his mouthpiece for an oboe reed – Holliger is not exploring his instruments, but rather demanding of them specific and meticulously selected sounds. Ma’Mounia is a wonderland where timbres and sonorities exchange and merge, back and forth, and instruments describe a dream, and then dream about each other.

[stream]http://modisti.org/releases/2010/12427.mp3[/stream]

Adventuremusic: Love her madly (Andrew Staniland)
This is one of our favourite works to play. Scored for 2 pianos, 5 pieces of wood and 5 temple bowls, this piece also has a tape part which incorporates three elements: recordings of myself speaking (heavily processed), the sound of ice sheets breaking apart in Baffin Island and samples of Aiyun’s temple bowls. There is a sort of ironic juxtaposition, as the latter, often representing meditation and introspection finds itself in counterpoint with one of the more identifiable symbols of climate change. Incidentally, each of the pianos has 5 prepared strings – Simon used masking tape, and I used screws.

Bring Them Home! (Frederic Rzewski)
Like Rzewski’s “The People United”, this work is a set of variations on a theme – in this case, a 17th-century Irish anti-war song, “Siuil A Run”, about a woman whose lover has left her to go to war. Incorporating whistling, leg slaps, and the thumping of chests, pianos frames and boxes, Rzewski creates a militaristic framework, interspersed with variations that conjure different affects – some obviously lamentations, others more abstract, but always returning to some variant of martial regularity. The piece also contains episodic solos, where the players are invited to improvise if so desired. The piece ends quietly, elegiac or perhaps hopeful. Like many of Rzewski’s other works, it speaks of the past, but turns our eyes to the present.

Simon Docking, piano
Aiyun Huang, percussion
Gregory Oh, piano, conductor

Producer: David Jaeger
Artistic Director: Gregory Oh
Executive Producer: Bonnie Wright

Track 1 was recorded by Nick Squire in the McGIll MMR, Montreal.
Tracks 2 and 4 were recorded by Peter Olsen in Walter Hall, Toronto.
Track 3 was recorded by David Quinney in the Music Gallery, Toronto.

Mastering: David Jaeger

Photos: Ian Brown
Graphic Design: Leah Roschke

Thanks Our families, Mary-Ann Griffin and the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, McGill University Schulich School of Music, The Music Gallery, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Peter Olsen, David Jaeger and CBC Two New Hours.

Bios:
Simon Docking
Australian-born pianist Simon Docking has performed both as a soloist and chamber musician throughout North America, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Europe. He studied piano in Australia with Ransford Elsley, and holds a doctorate in piano performance from SUNY Stony Brook, where he worked with Gilbert Kalish, and upon graduation was awarded New York State’s Thayer Fellowship for the Arts. “Since 2001, he has maintained a varied freelance and teaching career based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he has also curated the new music series, Kumquat”

Aiyun Huang
Born in Taiwan, Aiyun Huang immigrated to Canada when she was seventeen where she pursued her studies in percussion with members of Nexus. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of Toronto, a Premier Prix from Conservatoire Nationale de Region de Rueil-Malmaison in France. and a Doctor of the Music Arts degree from the University of California at San Diego. She is an assistant professor and Chair of the Percussion area at McGill University. Huang was winner of the First Prize as well as the Audience Award at the 2002 Geneva International Music Competition; the first prize in percussion has been awarded only three times in the competition’s 57-year history.

Gregory Oh
Canadian pianist and conductor Gregory Oh holds graduate degrees from the University of Toronto, where he completed his studies with Marietta Orlov as the top graduating pianist, and the University of Michigan, where he worked with Martin Katz. He has served as music director of the San Diego Opera Ensemble, and has also worked with Florida State Opera, the University of Michigan Opera Program, Michigan Opera Works and Lyric Opera San Diego. He has held faculty positions at the Banff Centre for the Arts, both in Music and Sound, and Theatre Arts, where he worked with the Contemporary Opera and Song Training Program. He recently joined the music staff of the Canadian Opera Company.

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