Standing Wave Society


Date and Venue 31 March 2009 @ 8pm | Western Front, 303 E. 8th Ave.

Rebecca Whitling violin, Peggy Lee cello, Allen Stiles piano, Vern Griffiths percussion, with guests Cris Ingruant clarinet, Christie Reside flute

Standing Wave is an ensemble of five excellent musicians (except for A-K Coope who's going to have a baby soon and couldn't play her clarinet) who performed last Tuesday. They play contemporary music and are equally comfortable performing complex chamber compositions.

In this concert, the ensemble played musique actuelle by mostly contemporary Canadian composers. In fact, one of them, Ford Pier, was in the audience hearing his latest composition Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb? (2008) being delivered by these musicians.

One composition (the last one) by Linda Bouchard, Liquid States (2004) was unique in its use of electro-acoustics. It was exciting seeing the musicians play with out- of -the- ordinary instruments. Part of the equipment used for percussin were coffee cans in different sizes producing different sounds; piano wasn't only played with keyboards but with the strings inside the piano; the clarinet's sounds came from sound effects pressing the keys. This piece was apparently meant for more than five musicians so that the violinist and the clarinetist had to help out playing the piano strings.

Jocelyn Morlock's latest composition, Writing in the Margins (2008, arr, 2009) started with panache and ended softly. There were pregnant pauses between movements. This was another interesting piece, marginal, so to speak, as the title implies. Morlock has won a number of international music competition awards.

French composer Tristan Murail (b.1947), as did many contemporry composers in the past 20 years, experimented with computer technology using electro-acoustics. Feuiles a travers les cloches (1996) was a take-off from Debussy's Cloches a travers les feuilles where the composer not only inverts Debussy's title but also reverses the musical intent. From the classical Debussy, we have an anti-classical, almost dadaistic approach in Murail's creation.

Kaija Saariaho's 5-movement Serenatas (2008) was actually "anti-serenata", more disturbing than serene, but quite a demanind composition; and Kati Agocs' Immutable Dreams (2007 ) is a piece that sounded more like nightmares than dreams (I guess that was the intention), and I thought that this kind of score would perhaps go well in Stepehen King films.

It was a unique experience listening to an ensemble playing this type of music. The group has been together since 1991 and is a resident ensemble of the Vancouver East Cultural Centre and UBC's School of Music. They welcome and invite new composers to approach them with their works .

2009 Ed Farolan