“Le piano parlant” is not for the faint-hearted. Full of beautiful poetry, this concert has the pianist reciting, acting, singing, and last, but not least, playing the piano [May 5, 7:30pm, Banff, Canada].
The works I will be performing at my upcoming concert “le piano parlant” (May 5 at 7:30pm at Banff, Canada) arose through my recent collaborations with a diverse group of extraordinary composers. Each piece taught me something new — and this is what fascinates me the most about contemporary classical music. I am a curious, always-ready-to learn-new-stuff kind of person. In the creation of this program I learned:
- the latin word for forget-me-not, and how to transport oneself to a beautiful Summer hike in the Rocky Mountains through the words of Monica Meneghetti and the music of Nova Pon.
- some ancient French language in the collaboration with Maria Eduarda Martins, and about the intense and practically unknown poetry by Noémia de Souza, from Mozambique, in the collaboration with Antonio Celso Ribeiro.
- that I could quickly switch between two languages I am fluent in — Portuguese and English — in the middle of phrases, while playing quite complex rhythms, in the music of Brian Griffeath-Loeb.
I also had the chance to meet a shaman healer in Northern Brazil, and listen to her approach to life, cures, and music, which I converse with during my performance of Ramos, a piece by Paulo Rios Filho.
My work is not about music created centuries ago, from a distant reality. Instead, my music, and the music of my collaborators, make lively current statements about our time and place. It is about self-expression. It is about learning from each other, and together, in this far too individualistic 21st century. It is about diversity, about our inner selves, about our own culture as well as places we have never been. Each work invites us to create a unique path, space to develop our own ideas about differing aspects of our society through the exquisite sounds of a piece of music.
At “Le piano parlant” you may find some familiar sounds here and there, or none at all. Each experience is a discovery. It is about exploring new sonic, creative spaces.
For the adventurous types out there: imagine you go canoeing everyday at Lake Louise. One day, despite the scenic splendour of that sight, wouldn’t you want to try a different lake, or even, God forbid, a river?
That is a pretty accurate description of my feelings towards traditional repertoire. I love listening to and playing Chopin and Debussy, but I am totally hooked on trying new adventures. These are created every day by composers of our times. When attending a concert such as “Le piano parlant” you are invited to create your own path, experience your own adventure. Program notes are just a teaser (by the way, they are below). You can also discuss your ideas with the composers present at the concert (some will be coming to Banff for this performance on May 5)! There is no pre-knowledge required, just an open-mind, so your own creativity can be set free.
The words for “Le piano parlant” come from poets Monica Meneghetti (Banff/Vancouver), Sue Sinclair (Toronto), Noemia de Souza (Mozambique), and Carlos Drummond de Andrade (Brazil), but we can also hear voices from worlds as distant as 14th Century France (Guillaume de Machaut) and as far away as a healing ritual in Northern Brazil. An incredibly diverse program of music, poetry, sounds, places, languages, art.
I would like to thank all composers I collaborated with for this project — for your trust, kindness and creative minds, thank you. I would also like to acknowledge the financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts through their New Music Program.
Le piano parlant
Friday, May 5, 2017 at 7:30pm
Rolston Recital Hall — The Banff Centre
Tickets: $15 at Gingko and Ink Atelier (Harmony Lane — Banff) or at door
Nova Pon Myosotis (2012) for vocal pianist
Emilie LeBel Longing (2011) piano
Antonio Celso Ribeiro 3 Baladas do Amor Amargo (2013) I. Noemia
Maria Eduarda Martins Douce Dame Jolie (2017) **
Brian Griffeath-Loeb Vergence II: No Meio do Caminho (2010–12) **
Paulo Rios Filho Ramos (2016) for piano (+voice) and electronics
Program Notes (+ poems)
Myosotis (2012) for vocal pianist
Monica Meneghetti’s poem Myosotis captured the sense of wondrous aliveness I have felt while trekking through the Rocky Mountains, and inspired me with how a poem, or even a forget-me-not flower, can recall such a feeling. In response, I sought to create a musical invocation, and convey my sense of the poem through sound integrated with text. Through the course of the work, a short musical motive is developed to evoke both the outer surroundings and inner mental states, and incorporated with extended use of the piano strings, in striving for the unique, heightened intensity of mountain experiences.
Listen to Myosotis here.
Longing (2011) for piano
Longing is part of a cycle of songs entitled On faith, work, leisure & sleep. It is the final work of the six pieces in the cycle, that are for various combinations of piano, pianist’s voice, text, electronics, and video. The project was written in close collaboration with pianist Luciane Cardassi. The works employ the poetry by Canadian Sue Sinclair as the source material for the content of the work, such as structure, pacing, and thematic content.
A complete recording of the cycle can be found here.
Antonio Celso Ribeiro
3 Baladas do Amor Amargo (2013) for piano and recitation I. Noemia
The piece is a mini-opera for piano and pianist’s voice. It is a tribute to three of the most important female poets of African-Galician-Portuguese origin: Noémia de Souza, from Mozambique, Rosalía de Castro, from Galícia e Florbela Espanca, from Portugal. The poems deal with the unpredictable changes in life, focusing on resentment, melancholia, solitude, abandonment and bitterness, caused by love or its absence. The piece is organized in the form of short “scenes” — like a mini-opera — in 3 continuous movements (I — Noémia; II — Rosalía; III — Florbela). The first movement has 3 scenes, the second movement has only one, and the third movement is again in 3 scenes, in A-B-A form. The scenes explore the virtuosity and dramatic capabilities of the performer. The piano works not as accompaniment but as the “medium” through which the various characters are embodied by the pianist. The piece makes great use of the resonance of the piano, as well as of some extended techniques such as when the performer strikes the strings with her hands. On the emotional level, the work transits between extremes: from the discomfort culminating with a shout, to the sweetness of some short musical gestures on the piano, and ending with an intense feminine lucidity about a failed love affair.
Listen to the piece on my soundcloud.
Maria Eduarda Martins
Douce Dame Jolie (2016–17)
Douce Dame Jolie is a rendition of a 14th century song of same name, composed by Guillaume de Machaut. With composing this piece, Maria was interested in exploring many sonic possibilities of the combination of piano, electronics, and voice, in relation to the ancient song structure which Douce Dame Jolie obeyed — the Virelai.’
Vergence II: No Meio do Caminho (2010–12)
“No meio do caminho…”, for speaking pianist, takes Drummond’s famous poem as an organizing metaphor as well its source of text. The second stanza suggests a man looking back on his life, and in particular one crucial event. Something (“a stone”) happened along the way (“the road”) that he will never forget. Over a 50-minute span, the piece undergoes several transformations mirroring the notion of a road: (1) gradual descent from the upper- to lower-most register of the piano; (2) bilingual crossfade from Elizabeth Bishop’s English translation to the original Brazilian Portuguese; (3) disappearance and reemergence of semantic meaning, as vowels are first stripped away — reducing language to punctuated nonsense — and then restored. In the middle of the piece exists a structural “stone,” whose dwelling nature interrupts, stands in opposition to, the various trajectories underway.
The version programmed here is an excerpt of the larger piece, beginning just after the stone section. So as you might imagine, we arrive halfway down the piano, with roughly equal parts English and Brazilian Portuguese, though text is mostly unintelligible due to the lack of vowels. The version extends through to the return of vowels and emergence of Brazilian Portuguese as dominant. It also includes an outlier section absent vocals — a Sisyphusian attempt to return to the piece’s upper register, to youth, before giving way to inevitable decline, a violent crash to the bottom, the terminus of our road.
Paulo Rios Filho
Ramos (2016) for piano (+voice) and electronics
Ramos is a piece for piano (with voice) and electroacoustic sounds written in collaboration with pianist Luciane Cardassi. The work unfolds through the life fragments, histories and wisdom of Dona (Mrs.) Lúcia, a healer from the Delta of Parnaíba River, Northern Brazil. The composition builds upon threads and moments of friendship between Mrs. Lucia and the composer, and between the composer and the performer. Ramos is a tribute to the figure of healer; an expressive effort of gratitude for Dona Lúcia’s strength and generosity, reflecting the powers of nature to cure, with faith and invocation.