Turning Point Ensemble’s Firebird 2011 - Part IIWednesday, March 02, 2011
|Left: Alison Denham, Jocelyn Morlock, standing Alan Storey, Jeremy Berkman|
On September 25, 2008 my granddaughter Rebecca and I went to a performance of the National Ballet of Canada. We were interested in particular to see what was going to be dancer Rex Harrington’s swan song. The program featured Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird. The latter Rebecca and I did not consider important. We had found the music interesting (we had listened to it at home) but it was nothing we could understand.
The evening proved to be an extremely pleasant surprise as Stravinsky’s music made all the sense in the world when we saw it danced it was exciting. There is a moment in the ballet where the music gets very loud and I purposely did not warn Rebecca how on cue jumped from her seat during that moment. Once we had seen this performance we considered that the Firebird was something we would see again and again if we could.
In some way our hopes are to be fulfilled this week with the performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird orchestrated for an ensemble of 16 musicians arranged by composer Michael Bushnell and played by our very own Turning Point Ensemble. In the second part of the program the ensemble will accompany a dance performance of choreographer Simone Orlando’s new ballet Luft with music composed especially for the piece by Vancouver composer Jocelyn Morlock.
|Laura McPheeters & Jocelyn Morlock|
Turning Point Ensemble Artistic co-director and trombonist Jeremy Berkman explains:
Turning Point Ensemble's Firebird 2011 is actually two discreet presentations. - The first half of our show will be a very special concert presentation - no dance - music alone. It is an arrangement of some of Stravinsky's Firebird ballet music. We had to obtain the rights to engage Michael Bushnell to create this arrangement, and it was really because of the prestige of the Rio Tinto Alcan Award, I think, that we were successful. But, also, maybe because Michael eloquently described to the publishers and rights owners exactly which music he was interested in (some of the popular "tunes", but also some of the interesting less well known stuff!). Jocelyn Morlock and Simone Orlando also began with Stravinsky's Firebird - but really more the story that Stravinsky musically described. Then they took the "essence" of that to create their own story, and Jocelyn her own entirely original composition - the collaboration which will be danced and played as the second half of our presentation. We wouldn't have space to dance unless Alan Storey came up with an ingenious multi-floor set-design, and Simone and Conor (lighting) worked to utilize every inch of our stage!
What this means is that we are going to get some Firebird and, then some, as Luft is choreographed by Simone Orlando who happened to have choreographed the dance section Turning Point Ensemble’s February 2009 production of Erik Satie’s Relâche at the Vancouver Playhouse.
My granddaughter Rebecca has a special relationship with Simone Orlando. Some years ago after a performance of Ballet BC where Orlando was a featured member of the troupe, we went back stage. Orlando invited Rebecca into her room and presented her with a pair of her pointe shoes. I know for a fact that Rebecca slept with them under her pillow that night.
Rebecca and I went to the Cultch on October 19, 2007, to see the Wen Wei Dance Company perform Three Sixty Five. The special recorded music had one lone musician on stage, one of Turning Point Ensemble’s cellists Peggy Lee. But there was a dancer that suddenly appeared and my granddaughter whispered in my ear, “Look at those abs!” Rebecca and I subsequently have seen a few performances with this strong dancer who has a body to kill for.
I first ran into Turning Point Ensemble conductor Owen Underhill some years ago when he was involved with Ballet BC’s production of Boy Wonder. It was then that I took one of my most favourite photographs of him playing the piano while receiving inspiration from muse/dancer Lauri Stallings. Since then in many a performance by the Turning Point Ensemble I try to sit as close to him so I can watch him smile as he conducts.
|Ballet BC's Boy Wonder, Lauri Stallings, Owen Underhill|
I cannot not mention, that I often think on how culture-free our city used to be. Yet in 2009 Turning Point Ensemble’s production of Erik Satie’s Relâche was the sort of production one could wait for years to ever see in New York City, surely one of the world’s cultural capitals. Within 6 months the The Turning Point Ensemble had then brought us a concert of new music that also included Oliver Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time It was performed by cellist Peggy Lee, pianist Jane Hayes, clarinetist François Houle and violinist Marc Destrubé. It was the kind of performance that made me feel proud to be a Vancouverite.
|Quartet for the End of Time, Peggy Lee, Jane Hayes, François Houle, Marc Destrubé |
I'm sad to be missing the Turning Point event (I'm in Washington playing Haydn, Mozart, and Smetana's intensely romantic quartet 'From My Life' (which was not a particularly easy one because he suffered, like Beethoven, from increasing deafness).
I don't think Vancouver is at all 'devoid of culture'. As you have pointed out in the past, what Vancouver is devoid of is a public (and media) awareness of the extraordinary cultural riches it contains, especially in the area of contemporary, experimental, adventurous and creative activity in pretty much all the artistic disciplines, and an appropriate measure of financial support from the different levels of government.
The Turning Point Ensemble is one of a thrilling number of what could be described as 'niche' ensembles in town (although I suppose any and every ensemble is in a way a 'niche' ensemble), exploring a particular area of music and music-making, and of creative expression more generally, and doing it at a high level and in a way that stimulates a wide spectrum of creative activity. The TPE not only gives me a chance to make music with some of the best and most interesting musicians in the city and the country, but also to expand my own artistic horizons through its collaborations with creators and artists in other disciplines in the community.
It was Marc Destrubé, as former musical director of Vancouver’s Pacific Baroque Orquestra who commissioned Jocelyn Morlock to compose a work that would incorporate baroque instruments and voice. I was present at the performance of Golden in 2001 with soprano Phoebe MacRae. Morlock’s accessible and gentle composition incorporated a sort of glass harmonica that made Rebecca and I smile.
As for Alan Storey and his sets I still remember his set for the February 2008 Ballet BC performance of The Four Seasons (with the active on stage painting with Tiko Kerr). In included an infrared transmitter attached to dancer Makaila Wallace that somehow interacted with a robotic drawing machine that hovered over the Queen Elizabeth Stage. Anything that Storey does will always be as interestingly wild as his own wild hair.
All in all I feel glad for all those who will have managed to have secured tickets for Firebird 2011 which is sold out. I feel sorry for those who will be left out and ever so glad that Heather Redfern and her Vancouver East Cultural Centre take so many chances in the direction of the avant garde and innovative works. Our city is better for it.
I conversed with you in a dream Simone Orlando and Jocelyn Morlock
Josh Beamish move:thecompany