Honouring Estonian-Canadian composer Udo Kasemets
Sunday, December 13 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, in Toronto
Toronto, November 10, 2009: New Music Concerts celebrates Udo Kasemets’ 90th birthday - and more than half a century of dedication to Toronto’s contemporary music scene - by presenting Happy Birthday, Udo! The evening features the Canadian premiere of fraCtal fibONaCciERTO. This astonishing, extended work for piano and mixed ensemble demonstrates a number of distinct aspects of Kasemets’ approach to composition. Dedicatee Stephen Clarke, who first performed this work with the S.E.M. Ensemble in New York, shares the stage with the NMC Ensemble, conducted by NMC artistic director Robert Aitken at the Betty Oliphant Theatre on Sunday, December 13 at 8PM.
Udo Kasemets was born November 16, 1919 in Tallinn, Estonia. He immigrated to Canada in 1951 and has been a mover and shaker in Canadian contemporary arts ever since. An accomplished conductor, pianist, teacher, lecturer and writer, Kasemets is better known as a composer. He began writing in conventional styles, first strictly tonally, then using more dissonant attitudes and finally adopting the dodecaphonic system, working within it throughout the 1950's. Around 1960 he totally abandoned these concepts and moved toward open forms, special notations, mixed media, audio-visual interactions, sound texts and electroacoustics.
For Kasemets, the most significant influences came from diverse sources which include composers, writers, thinkers, inventors and visual artists, such as Erik Satie, Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce, John Cage, James Tenney, Morton Feldman, Merce Cunningham and Buckminster Fuller. The I Ching (ancient Chinese classic text), fractal geometry and other mathematical phenomena are also major influences, especially in his recent works.
In 1962-63 Kasemets organized Toronto's first new music series: ‘Men, Minds and Music’. He also established the Isaacs Gallery Mixed Media Concerts. Kasemets planned and directed the first Toronto Festival of Arts and Technology entitled SightSoundSystems. He founded and edited a new music publication series, Canavangard, while travelling, performing and lecturing in Canada and the United States. In 1971, Kasemets joined the Faculty of the Department of Experimental Art at the Ontario College of Art where he taught until retiring in 1987. Tirelessly, he continued to organize such celebrations and festivals as John Cage's 65th and 75th birthday, Marcel Duchamp's centennial as well as Counterbomb Renga, a continent-wide chain of poetry and music writing against nuclear weaponry.
fraCtal fibONaCciERTO is an extended work which demonstrates a number of distinct aspects of Kasemets’ approach to composition. It is in five interlocked sections, each based on a specific mathematical concept:
KOCH curve; CANTOR’s devil’s staircase; FIBONACCI series; MANDELBROT set; and FEIGENBAUM cascades. While the piano is the featured solo instrument, all players participate in the “concerto” aspect of the piece, not just by playing solo passages, but also making creative preparations for the realization of the score. The pianist makes choices about playing modes and dynamics; the percussionists must select appropriate arrays of instruments, the strings are involved in an interactive invention/imitation process and all the players participate in a programmed improvisation in the FIBONACCI cadenza.
Stephen Clarke has performed in festivals in Europe, Canada and the U.S., among these the Donaueschinger Musiktage and the Berliner Festwochen. He has appeared as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. He also plays in a duo with violinist Marc Sabat, is the pianist of Arraymusic and has worked with a number of other ensembles. Solo recordings include works by Giacinto Scelsi (Mode Records) and Udo Kasemets (hatHut), and James Tenney’s Music for Violin and Piano with Marc Sabat (hatHut). Mr. Clarke studied composition at the University of Toronto and has written works for various ensembles.
Happy Birthday, Udo!
Sunday December 13, 2009
7:15 PM Illuminating Introduction; 8:00 PM performance with birthday cake reception to follow.
Betty Oliphant Theatre: 404 Jarvis Street, Toronto
Stephen Clarke; New Music Concerts Ensemble; Robert Aitken;
Udo Kasemets (Estonia/Canada, 1919) – fraCtal fibONaCciERTO (1996) for piano and mixed ensemble
Individual Tickets: - $30 (reg)/$20 (seniors/arts workers)/$10 (students)
Box Office: 416 961-9594
New Music Concerts
157 Carlton Street, Suite 203 Toronto ON M5A 2K3
416.961.9594 / fax 416.961.9508
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UDO!