Sound of Migration | Penderecki String Quartet 24 September

Penderecki String Quartet
Penderecki String Quartet


Oki, and welcome to New Music LAB’s presentation of The Sound of Migration. This concert is taking place on the traditional lands of the Blackfoot people of the Canadian Plains and we would like to pay respect to the Blackfoot people past, present and future while recognizing and respecting their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship to the land. The City of Lethbridge is also home to the Metis Nation of Alberta, Region III.

The Penderecki String Quartet

7:30 to 9:30PM
Saturday, 24 September
University of Lethbridge, Recital Hall

Music from Canada

An introduction to the music
Smoke (2013) – Jessie Montgomery
Plight of Small Wonders (2022) – Alice Ho
Telluric Ache (Blood Prayer) for String Quartet (2020)
– Sonny-Ray Day Rider
String Quartet No.4 (2016)
I. Andante
II. Vivo
– Krzysztof Penderecki
String Quartet No. 1, Other Names for Birds (2022)
– Lavinia Kell Parker
String Quartet No. 2, …the earth is a desert…my tears are the rain…(2021)
I. Cortege for the Gray World
II. Deplorations: Lamentations and Tears
III. I Dance with Death…My Enemy…My Friend
IV. Keriah
V. …ich höre ein fernes Lied…es ruf mich heim an…
– Arlan N. Schultz


This concert celebrates diverse experiences of migration and the sound worlds inspired by it. We have invited Canada’s renowned Penderecki String Quartet to present a program of new works by composers from our own city and around the world! Each piece has a relevant relationship with the essential meaning of migration, which is the “movement from one part of something to another”. Some works engage with animal and bird migration, some with human migratory patterns and others with the migration of the human spirit from one state to another. In all cases the composers are representative of a diverse and vibrant cross-section of our world and hope to give you an evening to reflect on our ever changing landscape.

The Music

Smoke by Jesse Montgomery
Smoke from the string quartet Break Away, was written for PUBLIQuartet (PQ) in 2013. It received its premiere at the Music of Now festival at Symphony Space in New York City, USA. The piece as a whole was born out of a series of improvisations that PQ was working on while in residency at the Banff Centre. We formed a suite of short pieces riffing on several different styles of music from hip-hop to electronica to twentieth-century modern. Woven among some of my own chosen imagery, I adapted some of the techniques from that suite into this five-movement work. The score calls on the quartet to “play with” and “break away from” the score at various points, thereby attempting a seamless dialogue between the written score and the whims of the quartet. The piece takes on further transformation at each performance. The third movement, Smoke, presented here is loosely based on the form of a jazz tune of my own design.
Plight of Small Wonders by Alice Ho
This eight-minute, single-movement string quartet is based on my personal fascination with the epic migration journey of the world’s beloved Monarch Butterflies. From eggs to caterpillars to butterflies, multiple generations of Monarchs travel thousands of miles from the northern part of Canada to their overwintering spots in Mexico. Their remarkable life cycle traversing oceans and forests year after year is a sign of strength and endurance. In this composition, coloristic string writing is used in a spirited and dramatic approach to capture the butterflies’ metamorphosis and their heroic voyages, signifying various stages of transformation and rebirth. The recurring uplifting 32nd note rhythmic motives are imaginings of the Monarchs’ challenges with climate change and deforestation, also symbolizing hope and resilience. Another aspect in this musical journey is the nostalgic reference to Mexican folk culture. Among the forest communities of central Mexico, Monarchs are believed to be the souls of their ancestors. The enigmatic, lively, and stylized music fragments are used throughout, evoking the sounds of the festive parades that celebrate the souls of ancestors, their temporary visit, and the comfort they bring to their loved ones. This work is commissioned by the Toronto Harbourfront Centre for the 2022 Toronto Summer Music Garden, and was written especially for the Penderecki String Quartet.
Telluric Ache (Blood Prayer) by Sonny-Ray Day Rider
Telluric Ache takes its inspiration from my deep connection to the land and how I have looked to it as a source of comfort throughout my life. “Place” has deep meaning to me, and my life has been shaped and guided by the power of the land of my family. The word “telluric” literally means “of the earth as a planet.” It struck me that the migration of my life through the stages of grief is iconically connected to my relationship with our land. Indeed, this piece explores my relationship with grief and its painful traversal through the emotional landscapes of my soul. It was inspired by a visceral longing to find peace and reprieve in the Earth itself and presents a lament from my spirit. It is an expression of a deep longing to be cradled by the land and to be granted divine peace from intense emotional pain. Each string part is intended to be an autonomous voice that prays and sings for comfort.
String Quartet No. 4 (I. Andante, II. Vivo) by Krzysztof Penderecki
The Fourth Quartet was one of Penderecki’s last compositions, written in 2016 for the Belcea Quartet, which gave the world premiere at Wigmore Hall in London on December 11, 2016. Though only the third of Penderecki’s four quartets lasts more than a few minutes, the Fourth is the only one separated into distinct movements, leading one to wonder if perhaps the composer really considered it complete as it stands. The Andante movement—barely two minutes in length—led by the viola, serves a kind of introduction. The viola also sets in motion the Vivo movement, which evinces the driving momentum and fierce intensity of some of the more impassioned movements from the Shostakovich quartets. Near the end, the second violin introduces a new idea modeled on folk song material. The Quartet does not so much end as dissolve into scattered fragments, the last wisps of sound going to the instrument that opened the work, the viola. (notes by Robert Markow)
String Quartet No. 1, Other Names for Birds by Lavinia Kell Parker
Each spring Southern Alberta sees the arrival of the migratory Thick-Billed Longspur. This distinctive songbird is at the centre of an ongoing controversy and has become a symbol for change. Previously known as McCown’s Longspur, it honored a confederate general and a perpetrator of indigenous genocide. Renaming this species to the Thick-Billed Longspur prompted a proposal to reclassify exclusionary and harmful bird names. As a former resident of South Carolina, I witnessed the removal of the confederate flag on statehouse grounds, and the withdrawal of other long-standing symbols of the confederacy. When I returned to Canada, however, the controversy surrounding this threatened species caused me to question if any of my own long-held convictions might be unknowingly detrimental to others. As statues topple, buildings are renamed and scientific common terms lose their honorific titles, what culpability do I have as a musician?

In the West, we so easily assumed the primacy of the classical canon, notably the “Three B’s” (Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms). This was largely due to antiquated music scholarship that limited inclusion and diversity. My work, Other Names for Birds, invites the listener on a personal pilgrimage to re-examine musical hierarchy. The opening motive, woven throughout this string quartet, captures bird-like imagery, and evokes Beethoven’s pastoral symphony. The entirety of the piece explores classical influence syncretised with my own “Three B’s”: Barndance, Bluegrass, and Baptist hymnody. Central to the work are moments of silent reflection for those musics which remain unheard. Familiar melodic lines, driving rhythm, and ample opportunity to “showboat” create a compelling energy eliciting hope for the future. My backyard bird, the Thick-Billed Longspur, can inspire us to create new ways for inclusivity in our teaching, music making, and all that we do.

String Quartet No. 2, …the earth is a desert…my tears are the rain… by Arlan N. Schultz
This work was commissioned by the Penderecki String Quartet and was completed in 2021. It is a personal response to profound loss. It is a sonic ritual that helped me accept the inevitable migration of a soul from this life to whatever awaits us beyond. The work is stripped of pretense and any carapace of surface complexity and instead presents a raw, and exposed background structure. It is preoccupied with intervallic quality and motivic transformation over the course of five movements and is performed slowly and relentlessly.
Movement I – Cortege for the Gray World
This first movement was written after I viewed the beautiful Northern British Columbia Mountains from my father’s final resting place. It was all gray outside, overcast…October…the skies were filled with heavy clouds. This was the sound of that place, and the heavy drum beat of my broken heart. The violin part is very narrow in range and sometimes buried in the texture – like a folk fiddle, it plays its part in a larger, slow cortege toward that beautiful spot. (2’44”)
Movement II – Deplorations: Lamentations and Tears
This movement is an exposition of the cantus firmus, which forms one of the main structural materials of the entire work. After its chant-like statement in the ‘cello, a ponderous, relentless quasi-canon creates simple, free variations on this thematic material. Some of the motivic developments are traditional renderings of “tear motives”(descending half-note scale fragments) in the contrapuntal web. This movement is mostly 1st and 2nd species counterpoint throughout and is devoid of any pretense of complexity. It is a virtual simplicity whose surface belies its latent emotional complexity. (6’24”)
Movement III – I Dance with Death…My Enemy…My Friend
The only “fast” movement in the entire quartet, this folk-inspired dance music is a fictitious accompaniment to our every-day dance with whatever-one-has-come-to-view as death. Most cultures anthropomorphize death, and in my mind, it is a dance partner I do not want, but must spend some time with as my days run their course. One day, we will embrace as friends, but for now, this partner is my sworn enemy. The violoncello is a relentless drum and the melody is almost pagan in origin – primal to my mind. Even now, as we spin around, I have just barely survived this latest tangle with my dancing partner. (5’25”)
Movement IV – Keriah
This movement was inspired by the traditional Jewish act or ceremony of rending one’s garment at the funeral of a near relative as a symbol of mourning. It is a very visceral and iconic image for loss and sorrow and this movement is a musical exploration of this ceremony. It is an emotional tearing away of the self with only a pure soul remaining, exposed and vulnerable. A gift of transcendence through pain and loss. (5’12”)
Movement V – …ich höre ein fernes Lied…es ruf mich heim an…
The final section of the piece (…I hear a distant song…it calls me home…) incorporates a short quotation from Brian Cherney’s String Trio as a distant melody which invades the delicate structure of the quartet (about two and a half minutes into the movement and then again near the very end), calling to us from a distance – outside the piece. This movement is once again based on the cantus firmus first heard in movement II and it is developed through multiple iterations and re-combinations to generate its melodic and harmonic contents. The violoncello is the heartbeat of the piece and it returns here from the first movement, gradually stilling as the quartet concludes. I have always loved Brian Cherney’s work, and this is the most fitting way I can think to honor him. In his String Trio this musical fragment is associated with the insistence of memory, of remembrance, and the longing for a past that can never be; a past that will always remain beautiful, but irrevocably gone forever. (7’24”)

The Artists Performing this evening

Jeremy Bell, violin
Jerzy Kapłanek, violin
Christine Vlajk, viola
Katie Schlaikjer, violincello

The Penderecki String Quartet, approaching the third decade of an extraordinary career, has become one of the most celebrated chamber ensembles of their generation. These four musicians from Poland, Canada, and the USA bring their varied yet collective experience to create performances that demonstrate their “remarkable range of technical excellence and emotional sweep” (Toronto, Globe and Mail). Their recent schedule has included concerts in New York (Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall), Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Los Angeles (REDCAT at Disney Hall), St. Petersburg, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Rome, Belgrade, Zagreb, Atlanta, as well as appearances at international festivals in Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Venezuela, Brazil, and China. The PSQ champions music of our time, performing a wide range of repertoire from Haydn to Zappa as well as premiering over 100 new works to date. Described by Fanfare Magazine as “an ensemble of formidable power and keen musical sensitivity”, the PSQ’s diverse discography includes the chamber music of Brahms and Shostakovich (Eclectra and Marquis labels) and their recently released Bartok cycle. They enter their 20th year as Quartet-in-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

For more information:

Music composers

Jessie Montgomery

An acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator, Jesse Montgomery the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, poetry, and social consciousness, making her an acute interpreter of 21st century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life” (The Washington Post).

Her growing body of work includes solo, chamber, vocal, and orchestral works. Some recent highlights include Shift, Change, Turn (2019) commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Coincident Dances (2018) for the Chicago Sinfonietta, and Banner (2014)—written to mark the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner”—for The Sphinx Organization and the Joyce Foundation, which was presented in its UK premiere at the BBC Proms on 7 August 2021.

Summer 2021 brought a varied slate of premiere performances, including Five Freedom Songs, a song cycle conceived with and written for Soprano Julia Bullock, for Sun Valley and Grand Teton Music Festivals, San Francisco and Kansas City Symphonies, Boston and New Haven Symphony Orchestras, and the Virginia Arts Festival (7 August); a site-specific collaboration with Bard SummerScape Festival and Pam Tanowitz Dance, I was waiting for the echo of a better day (8 July); and Passacaglia, a flute quartet for The National Flute Association’s 49th annual convention (13 August).

Since 1999, Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African American and Latinx string players and has served as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the Organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble.

A founding member of PUBLIQuartet and a former member of the Catalyst Quartet, Jessie holds degrees from the Juilliard School and New York University and is currently a PhD Candidate in Music Composition at Princeton University. She is Professor of violin and composition at The New School. In May 2021, she began her three-year appointment as the Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Alice Ho

One of the most acclaimed composers writing in Canada today, Hong Kong-born Alice Ping Yee Ho has written in many musical genres and received numerous national and international awards, including the 2022 Nova Scotia Symphony’s Maria Anna Mozart Award, 2022 Barlow General Commissioning Award, 2019 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize, 2016 Louis Applebaum Composers Award, 2014 Prince Edward Island Symphony Composers Competition, 2014 Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Friendship Orchestral Composition Competition, 2013 Dora Mavor Moore Award “Outstanding Original Opera” for her opera The Lesson of Da Ji, 2013 Boston Metro Opera International Composition Competition, K.M. Hunter Artist Award, du Maurier Arts Ltd. Canadian Composers Competition, MACRO International Composition Competition, Luxembourg Sinfonietta International Composition Prize, and International League of Women Composers Competition.

Often featured at national and international new music festivals such as ISCM World Music Days, Ottawa Chamberfest, Denmark’s CRUSH New Music Festival, and Asian Music Week in Japan, etc. Her works have also been performed by major ensembles and soloists including Finnish Lapland Chamber Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, the Florida Orchestra, China National Symphony, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Polish Radio Choir, Estonia’s Ellerhein Girls’ Choir, the Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Victoria, Nova Scotia, Hamilton, Kitchener Waterloo, and Windsor Symphonies, the Luxembourg Sinfonietta, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, New Music Concerts, Penderecki String Quartet, TorQ percussion quartet, Duo Concertante, violist Rivka Golani, pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, percussionists Sumire Yoshihara, Evelyn Glennie, and Beverley Johnston, flutist Robert Aitken, Patrick Gallois, and Susan Hoeppner.

Ms. Ho holds a Bachelor of Music degree in composition with high distinction from Indiana University and a Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Toronto. Her teachers have included John Eaton (USA), Brian Ferneyhough(Germany), and John Beckwith (Canada). She now makes her home in Toronto.

Sonny-Ray Day Rider

Sonny-Ray Day Rider (B.A., Music, M.Mus, cand.) is a Blackfoot composer, pianist, and researcher from the Kainai Blood Tribe. Sonny- Ray draws musical inspiration from his Indigenous cultural background by integrating Blackfoot musical idioms with Western art music practices. Sonny-Ray has a broad musical palate working with many genres of music and is always exploring new sound- worlds that stem from his Indigenous heritage.

Sonny-Ray is pursuing advanced studies in music composition at the University of Lethbridge. He shows great promise in the field, having accumulated a large breadth of significant creative projects as an emerging Kainai (Blackfoot) artist in an impressively short time span. Sonny was a featured participant in the 2019 Indigenous Classical Music Gathering at the Banff Centre. He has been recently commissioned to compose a new work, Napi and Rock, for the 2020 Education Series of the Calgary Philharmonic Symphony. In addition, Sonny-Ray will have a leading role as a faculty member in the Intercultural Indigenous Choreography Creation Lab at the Banff Centre, summer, 2020.

Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki was born in Debiça, district of Kraków, Poland, November 23, 1933 and died in Kraków, March 29, 2020

Until his death two years ago, Krzysztof Penderecki ranked as Poland’s most renowned living composer. He rose to prominence during the late 1950s and early ’60s with works like Anaklasis and Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. Millions of people have unknowingly heard Penderecki’s music via the medium of film: The Exorcist (1980), The Shining (1980), Fearless (1993), Shutter Island (2010) and Twin Peaks (2017) are just some of the films that incorporate his scores. There is even an asteroid named after him (No. 21059)!

Penderecki’s catalogue leans heavily toward the orchestral (including eight symphonies) and the sacred choral repertories. His chamber music catalogue includes four string quartets spread over more than half a century, each written for a different prominent string quartet ensemble. The first two date from the 1960s, the latter two from the twenty-first century. There also exists a two-minute quartet composition entitled Der unterbrochene Gedank (The Interrupted Thought) from 1988.

Lavinia Kell Parker

Lavinia Kell Parker’s use of improvisation with traditional compositional elements has garnered her the New Genre Award from the International Alliance of Women in Music, and top prizes in choral composition including the New York Treble Singers, Vancouver Bach Choir, Choral Canada, and the Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Composition. Her choral works have been performed by elite choirs internationally and over the airwaves with CBC music and PBS television. Her music is published through, ECS Publishing Group, Galaxy Music and Cypress Music Publishing. An educator of over 20 years, she has focused on bringing the joy of music to children and is the founder of Coulee Composers, a composition club for children in southern Alberta. Her own teachers have included Glenn Buhr, Peter Hatch, Linda Caitlin Smith, and she continued studies with lengthy residencies in France and the United States. Lavinia is an Alberta Registered Music Teacher, an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre and an Instructor at the University of Lethbridge Conservatory of Music.

Arlan N. Schultz

Arlan N. Schultz was born in St. Boniface, Manitoba. He entered the University of Manitoba’s School of Music and completed his Bachelor’s degree in Composition (1988) under Michael Matthews. He completed his Master’s degree in Composition with Brian Cherney at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec in 1995. In 1992 he was the recipient of a Canada Arts Council Grant for composition study in San Diego, California with Brian Ferneyhough. His composition teachers have also included Bruce Mather, Bengt Hambraeus, Harvey Sollberger, Chinary Ung and Roger Reynolds. In 2004 he completed his Ph.D. in composition at the University of California, San Diego, under Brian Ferneyhough and Chinary Ung, where he held the Kurt Weill Fellowship.

Dr. Schultz’s works have received several awards including the BMI (1990) and Godfrey Ridout Awards (SOCAN, 1991) for Quartet Opus 10 and Edifice respectively. He was also awarded a commission from the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada in June of 1994. In September of 1995 the Canada Arts Council awarded Dr. Schultz the Robert Fleming Prize for composition. In November of 1997 he was awarded 2nd Prize in the International Mozart Competition, Salzburg for PLI which was subsequently published by Universal Edition, Vienna. He has also received numerous grants from the Canada Arts Council, the Quebec Arts Council, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the University of Lethbridge (CREDO, ULRF, ORIS).

Dr. Schultz’s music has been broadcast on Radio Canada and has received performances in Canada, and around the world. He has been commissioned by the Penderecki String Quartet, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Stuttgart Wind Quintet with Canadian pianist Louise Besette, Hungarian violinist János Négyesy, Canadian pianist Sandra Brown, Ensemble Resonance, Calgary, and New Works Calgary among others. Dr. Schultz is chair of music at the University of Lethbridge in Southern Alberta where he is also head of the composition area.

Arlan Schultz makes his home in Lethbridge, Alberta Canada and is married to American /Canadian soprano Martha Renner.

Concert produced by New Music LAB

New Music LAB is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting diverse forms of contemporary art music, which includes modes of expression based on classical thought and aesthetics, present-day interactive media and live electronic music techniques and concepts, as well as new forms of digital lutherie – instrument design and construction. We hope to provide the Lethbridge and Southern Alberta communities with a regular outlet for experiencing contemporary, long-form, concert music by living Canadian composers and to produce unique art music experiences and cross-disciplinary art shows in Southern Alberta, where contemporary art music is rarely showcased.

For more information: Founding members:

D. Andrew Stewart, President
Lavinia Kell Parker, Secretary
Shaun Bellamy, Treasurer
Rolf Boon, Board member
Sonny-Ray Day Rider, Board Member
Jordan Berg, Board Member
Scott Edward Godin, Board Member
Arlan N. Schultz, Board Member

with Support

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