Tan Dun’s Water Passion After St. Matthew, given last night by Soundstreams at Trinity St. Paul’s is very Tan Dun. The work is in nine movements and scored for chorus, soprano and bass-baritone soloists, violin, cello, electronics and lots of percussion. And bowls of water and rocks. The texts broadly follow the Passion story finishing with a final Resurrection movement in which water is the symbol of rebirth, recycling and spiritual completeness. There are also ritual elements. Bowls of water laid out in a cruciform pattern are lit from beneath. The musicians change position and the players, especially the percussionists, perform hieratic gestures with the water bowls and their contents. It also involves a complex and dramatic lighting plot.
Last night’s Soundstreams concert at Trinity St. Paul’s was devoted to works by John Tavener and people who were close to him. The principal performers were soprano Patricia Rozario, Choir 21 and the Toronto Children’s Chorus joined, as needed by Christopher Dawes on piano and organ and Erica Goodman on harp. Conducting duties were split between Elise Bradley and David Fallis. There was plenty of explanatory material from artistic director Lawrence Cherney plus some from Ms. Rozario as well as taped comments from Tavener to set up the pieces.