BU ‘New Music Festival’ launches with cross-cultural collaboration

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This Sunday evening, March 26, Toronto-based Parmela Attariwala will launch the 2017 New Music Festival at Brandon University with her unique take on music creation and production. Attariwala, a composer, ethnomusicologist, violist and violinist, bends traditional rules of Western music as she incorporates the essence of dance and rhythms from Asia in an ongoing approach called The Attar Project.

“We are thrilled to welcome several of Canada’s major artistic innovators, like Parmela Attariwala, to the 2017 edition of BU New Music Festival,” said Megumi Masaki, the director of the New Music Festival. “What excites me is that these guest artists’ work represents Canada’s multicultural mosaic, and reflects how music creation and performance is evolving in Canada by challenging-blowing apart boundaries between genres and traditions.”

Canadian multicultural expression is an important part of this year’s festival, which is themed “CANADA150: Mosaic of VISIONS.”

Joining Attariwala on the Lorne Watson Recital Hall stage on Sunday evening will be Montreal tabla player Shawn Mativetsky.

A tabla is South Asian percussion instrument that is among the most popular percussion instruments in India. Mativetsky blends a traditional approach to tabla with Western classical contemporary percussion and has been a frequent collaborator with Attariwala since 2005.

“We will be playing some of the pieces that I have commissioned for violin and tabla, including the first (one) – La by Robert Rosen,” said Attariwal, who is this year’s Stanley Knowles Distinguished Visiting Professor at BU. “(It) remains the most integrated and challenging work for the two instruments that I have commissioned.”

Also on the programme are other commissions for violin and tabla, including a composition by St. John’s-based Andrew Staniland entitled “Sudoku for violin, tabla and electronics”, from the Attariwala-Mativetsky duo’s recording The Road Ahead …

“For four years, Andrew and I played together weekly in an improv band while we were working on our doctoral degrees – he in composition, and I in ethnomusicology,” Attariwala said. “Some of the sounds Andrew has ‘composed’ for me come directly from sounds that I made in the band; and I’m always tickled to see these gestures in violin parts of Andrew’s orchestral works.”

A piece inspired by movement, created by bharatanatyam choreographer Gitanjali Kolanad, is also in the programme. This leading classical Indian dance form, uniquely for women, is underscored in a solo piece that shines the spotlight on Attariwala.

“Over a 10-year period, Kolanad and I created a number of integrated duets for which she conceived the choreography and I created the music,” Attariwala said. “Kolanad developed a movement-based vocabulary that allows me to simultaneously move and play violin; and the music and physical gestures are deeply intertwined. Frank is the only work we created as a solo for me.”

As well, the Brandon University New Music Ensemble, a student-musician group will join her during the evening for an improvisational interplay.

“I look forward to performing music that represents, in an audible (and visual) form, some of the ideas I have been talking about in my Stanley Knowles lectures and to students in my Ethnomusicology and the Canadian Musician class,” said Attariwala, whose semester-long visit at BU included three public lectures.

Attariwal’s concert begins at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall.

The following evening also at 8 p.m., in the Evans Theatre (located in the George T. Richardson Centre), New Music Festival director and pianist Megumi Masaki gives a performance, along with composer-pianist Douglas Finch and Sigi Torinus, BUNME, as well as the BU Orchestra under the direction of Leanne Zacharias. The third and final New Music Festival offering will feature Instruments of Happiness, a touring quartet of electric guitarists from Montreal — Jonathan Barriault, Simon Duschene, Marc-Olivier Lamontagne, led by Tim Brady. That performance will be held Tuesday, March 28, at 8 p.m., in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall. Admission to all New Music Festival events is free.

The School of Music gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of Manitoba, through a Consolidated Arts Programming Grant through Culture, Heritage and Tourism.

Please note that seating in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall is limited and that programmes are subject to change. For up-to-date listing of pro series and student performances, please visit BrandonU.ca/Music/Events.


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