Last night saw the launch of the first triennial Maureen Forrester Memorial Prize tour. Sponsored by Jeunesses Musicales Canada, soprano Simone Osborne and pianist Anne Larlee will tour some forty cities across Canada over the next two years performing material on the theme “Songs of Life and Love”. Each recital will include a new work; Birefringence, by Brian Current, commissioned by the Canadian Art Song Project.
Last night’s festivities at Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu included a short performance by Simone and Anne featuring works by Schumann and Strauss as well as an extract from the new work. On this showing the recitals will be well worth getting to. They were both on top form and I like what I heard of Birefringence. It’s inspired by the physics of light which translates into a piece that has a very difficult vocal line and a truly virtuoso piano part, especially for the right hand which produces a sort of shimmering effect. I really look forward to hearing the whole thing in surroundings where it’s easy to concentrate and be analytical!
This is a great initiative as most of the tour venues are in smaller centres where art music performances of this calibre are exceedingly rare. The itinerary published so far is mostly Quebec with a sprinkling of smaller towns in Ontario but Toronto people can catch the show in a free lunchtime performance at the Four Seasons Centre on November 12th. It’s also great to see CASP getting involved. I believe that they have now been responsible for something like six new works in the two years or so they have been going.