The unique combination of cello and harp will take the spotlight for the sacred melodies of Murphy’s En el Escuro, es Todo Uno, performed by the duo Couloir. The enchanting Fourth Symphony by Gustav Mahler will warm up the Capital Auto Theatre with the serene sounds of soprano Mariya Krywaniuk.
November 26, 2022
Presented with the support of the Azrieli Music Prizes Performance Fund
Gordon Gerrard, conductor
Couloir - Ariel Barnes, cello & Heidi Krutzen, harp
Mariya Krywaniuk, soprano
MURPHY: En el Escuro, es Todo Uno
MAHLER: Symphony No.4
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Couloir - Ariel Barnes, cello & Heidi Krutzen, harp
Known for being ”…deeply connected to the moment of creation both with their own instruments and each other” Ariel Barnes, 1st Solo Cellist of the Nürnberg Symphony, and Heidi Krutzen, Principal Harp of the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, form the duo COULOIR. Dedicated to 21st Century Art Music, COULOIR’s passion lies in creating fresh music with today’s leading composers through the magical, kaleidoscopic sound world of cello and harp. Both Barnes and Krutzen have developed international presence as soloists, chamber musicians and orchestral leaders, concertizing regularly in Europe, North America and Asia to critical acclaim. Described as “Music’s new rare pair…” and “de facto Ambassadors of Canadian Music” (The Georgia Straight) COULOIR’s work in the realm of contemporary music is a distillation of their artistic personalities, providing a “corridor” for what they love most about music making; story telling.
With a focus on developing original repertoire through collaboration and commissioning, COULOIR has thus far had ten duo works and two double concerti written for them by composers Kelly-Marie Murphy, James Maxwell, Baljinder Sekhon II, Jocelyn Morlock, Jeffrey Ryan, Ana Sokolovic, Andrew Staniland, Glenn Buhr, Caroline Lizotte, Brad Turner and Richard Birchall. Passionate about sharing this music, the Duo has programmed many of these works while touring extensively throughout North America, including appearances at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Music on Main’s “Modulus Festival” and world premiers featured in live broadcasts for CBC Radio. COULOIR have appeared as concerto soloists with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia (Warsaw), Czech National Symphony Orchestra (Prague), and most recently given the world premiere of James Maxwell’s new double concerto “The Razor Hiss of a Whisper “ with Canada’s Turning Point Ensemble. Having released two studio recordings on PARMA/Ravello Records; "Wine Dark Sea" (2013) and prize winning "MAXWELL, MUHLY & COULOIR" (2016), COULOIR’s newest recording of Kelly-Marie Murphy’s double concerto with Orchestre Classiques de Montrèal was released in the fall of 2019 on Analekta.
Mariya Krywaniuk, soprano
Mariya Krywaniuk is a native of Vancouver, Canada and graduated with a Masters in Music from the Manhattan School of Music. While in New York, Mariya was a prize-winner in the prestigious Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition and a New York district winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Mariya has sung on the opera stage and concert platform in the US, Canada, Italy, Czech Republic, Israel and the UK. Past performance highlights include singing the role of Mamousha for American Opera Projects world première of Jan Hamer’s opera The Lost Childhood in Tel Aviv. Mariya made her Carnegie Hall solo recital début in 2008 at Weill Hall.
Mariya has performed the roles of Mimi (La bohème) and First Lady (The Magic Flute) with Co-Opera Co on tour throughout the UK. She has sung the role of Cio-Cio-San (Madam Butterfly) with Opera Up Close, New Devon Opera and Opera Holland Park's Christine Collins Young Artist Programme. In 2012, Mariya sang the role of Gerhilde (Die Walküre) at Royal Festival Hall for the Wagner 200 Anniversary Concert with Sir Andrew Davis conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. Continuing to enjoy Wagner’s operas, Mariya has now sung or covered the roles of Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), Third Norn, Gutrune, Woglinde (Das Rheingold and Götterdammerung), all soprano Valkyries and Flower Maidens from Parsifal for Longborough Festival Opera, Saffron Opera Group and Edinburgh Players Opera Group in the UK .
Recent role highlights include the role of Lulu (cover) in English National Opera’s production of Lulu, the role of Step-mother in the UK premiere of Philip Glass and Robert Moran's The Juniper Tree in London. In September of 2018, Mariya made her debut in the role of Salome in Strauss’ opera with the Edinburgh Players Opera Group.
Mariya sang the title role in Donizetti's Rita in March 2019 in Oborne, Dorset as part of the Opera Cameratina Festival. Most recently, Mariya performed Berg’s Lulu Symphonic Suite and Mahler's 4th Symphony with the Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra in London in March 2022.
MURPHY, KELLY-MARIE (b. 1964)
En el Escuro, es Todo Uno (2018)
Murphy’s wide-ranging catalogue includes concerted works for harp and orchestra (And Then at Night I Paint the Stars, 2002) and for cello and orchestra (This the Color of My Dreams, 1997). Now she combines these two solo instruments in a single composition, her double concerto for harp and cello entitled En el Escuro es Todo Uno (In the Darkness All Is One). There may not be another concerto like it, but there does exist a duo of these two instruments by the name of Couloir, consisting of harpist Heidi Krutzen and cellist Ariel Barnes. Tonight’s performance marks the twenty-minute concerto’s world premiere.
The title, En el Escuro es Todo Uno (In the Darkness All Is One), comes from a Sephardic proverb that, in Murphy’s words, “encourages us to understand that we are all equal; once you remove the trappings of society and economy, we are more similar than we are different. Each of the four movements uses music from the Sephardic tradition as its source; specifically, Ladino folk songs. I chose songs that were somehow related to women’s lives and the importance of ‘mother.’ The concept can be as literal as mother to children, or as broad as Israel as the mother of the faith.
The first movement uses a Lamenta from Bulgaria. It is “for the most part slow and lyrical, says the composer. “The lyricism is often interrupted by a loud, rhythmic, jagged,
line. We register these interruptions but carry on with the progression of events. This illustrates how we are able to acknowledge and turn away from brutality and sadness in our own lives and history.” The opening words are “Mother, mother, rain falls from the heavens. Tears fall from my eyes.”
“Si veriash a la rana is a Ladino children’s song found in Turkey and the Balkans,” continues Murphy. “It is a fast, rhythmic, and humorous, teaching song that instructs girls how to enjoy the chores of the kitchen, reminding them that they share those chores with their
sisters. Following a soloistic opening based on prayer modes, the music launches into a dance- like section that presents the folk song.”
The third movement (Yigdal No. 2) is a cadenza for the two solo instruments plus vibraphone. It is modal, but incorporates threads of the Yigdal as sung in Constantinople.
The final movement is based on two songs: Noches, noches, buenos noches (a romance, most likely from Sarajevo) and Ven Chicka Nazlia (most likely from Turkey). The movement arrives without pause, immediately following the cadenza. The first part, slow and atmospheric, consists of a canonic presentation of the theme from Noches, noches. The remainder of the movement is built on the fast and uplifting melody from Ven Chicka Nazlia.
Program Notes by Kelly-Marie Murphy, composer
MAHLER, GUSTAV (1860-1911)
Written in 1901, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 occupies an unusual place in the composer’s symphonic oeuvre due to its shorter length and smaller orchestration. For a listener who is new to Mahler’s musical palette, Symphony No. 4 is an ideal gateway symphony. The musical symbolism is abundantly clear, although thematically dark; the final movement is a charming orchestral song for solo soprano voice presenting a child’s view of what heaven is like, and the overall structure is cyclic, meaning there are references to the same musical elements in multiple movements, baking in coherence, unification, and relatability.
Mahler is a storyteller in the sense that there is a narrative associated with his works that underpins the musical images, metaphors, and influences, including of folklore and spirituality, and Symphony No. 4, despite its strong associations of youth, depicts the journey from the world of the living to the great beyond. The first movement “Bedächtig, nicht eilen” (deliberate, unhurried), Neoclassical in structure, and Romantic in aesthetic, is evocative of pastorale works by Schubert and Beethoven, both early Romantic composers. The second movement, “In gemächlicher Bewegung, ohne Hast” (in measured tempo, without haste), is a Scherzo and Trio that references a Ländler folk dance featuring a scordatura, or deliberately mistuned violin, which is representative of the Grim Reaper, grotesquely playing his fiddle. The third movement, “Ruhevoll, poco adagio” (calm, somewhat slowly), was composed while Mahler meditated on "a vision of a tombstone on which was carved an image of the departed, with folded arms, in eternal sleep”. The final movement, “Sehr behaglich” (at ease), featuring the 1892 orchestral song "Das himmlische Leben” (heavenly life), a joyful yet elusive movement that ties Symphony No. 4 to its original plan of having six movements, including two orchestral songs. Symphony No. 4 is also reminiscent of Symphony No. 2 and Symphony No. 3, the other Wunderhorn Symphonies. All three include thematic material from Mahler’s orchestral song cycle, Das Knaben Wunderhorn (The Boy’s Magic Horn). Further, there are numerous musical devices in Symphony No. 3 that preface Symphony No. 4, evidence that writing this work was personally meaningful to Maher, and in completing it, felt a real loss of purpose.
With this in mind, it is unfortunate that Munich premiere in 1901 was met with hostility and condemnation from both the audience and the critics, one describing Symphony No. 4 as a "succession of disjointed and heterogeneous atmospheres and expressions mixed with instrumental quirks and affectations", that only intensified in every other city on its German tour, including Vienna and Berlin. Only the audiences in Stuttgart appreciated Symphony No. 4. Mahler persisted in conducting the work, and it went through three revisions until the composer’s death in 1911.
Mahler’s music went through a period of relative obscurity for nearly forty years, including a ban on his works while the Nazis were in power, undoubtedly a response to his Jewish heritage. Although Leonard Bernstein claims credit for single-handedly reviving interest in Mahler’s work in 1960, many conductors of his era were already programming Mahler for enthusiastic audiences in regions where his music had never before been heard.
Program Notes by Tamsin Lorraine Johnston