• Sarah Kwok

En El Escuro Es Todo Uno - October 12

Jane Hayes and Anna Levy

En El Escuro Es Todo Uno , presented by Yarilo Music on October 12, features the works of Kelly-Marie Murphy and Alexander Raskatov, connected by the use of Sephardic music in the compositions. Read on as Anna Levy speaks more about the concert, including the world premiere of a new commission, the personal connection she has to the music, and how she hopes this concert will help us recognize our shared humanity and connection.

So, tell me about the performance and how you chose the pieces for the program

During the preparation for our Tehillim concert in 2018, I saw that Kelly-Marie Murphy received the $50,000 Azrieli Foundation prize for En el Escuro, es Todo Uno and I contacted her with a request to include part of the piece in our Tehillim concert. At that time she was still under contract commitments and couldn't do that. However, she suggested we can do it later. This is how this piece appears in our program!

Alexander Raskatov’s piece, Gens Extorris, has different story: 2 years ago I contacted him with a request to do a reduce version for piano and string quartet and he agreed (at first) but then when he opened the score he saw the divisi and stopped the performance at the last moment! I just love this piece and find in it deep connection to our human nature - struggles, suffering, and drama - qualities that little by little are getting away from us with the era of a computerized world where all the human functions are substituted by machines!

I love Kelly-Marie Murphy’s piano intensive, energetic music, and after searching in her repertoire that she never wrote for 2 pianos, I asked her if she would be interested to write for us! And, so, everything started!

Our commission, Course Planned, Steps Taken, Outcome Unexpected is quite short, about 5 minutes, because it is very fast - beginning to end! With one word I can describe it as "breathless"!

Now, the program kept changing because only after she sent the two pieces I realized they are very short and we needed more in the program. So, Jane Hayes, the other pianist, together with Julia Nolan, will add up one more piece for piano and saxophone, Dynamic Sequences, in addition to Departures and Deviations (the trio for violin, piano and French horn which will be substituted with sax with the permission of Kelly-Marie Murphy).

By the way, Kelly-Marie Murphy is coming for the concert!

Can you talk more about Kelly Marie Murphy's work En el Escuro, es Todo Uno (In the Darkness, All is One)? How does it explore Sephardic music?

I wish she gave us more of it! I did hear the original performance (not yet available on YouTube, but she sent me link) and it is 25-30 minutes, maybe longer, and it is a very traditional, beautiful piece, but for our concert we only have 4 minutes of it!

Another interesting personal connection – Kelly-Marie Murphy used exactly the Sephardic Jewish tradition where my family roots come from. She contacted Vox Bulgarica (my family business publishing Bulgarian Folk music) to ask for a particular Bulgarian Jewish version of the song she choose, arranged by the great Bulgarian scholar academic Nikolai Kaufman.

This is the song that is used in the piece - there are many versions, obviously it is a popular song in the Ladino/Sephardic traditions, I just like this one!

There are many layers to this program - the most obvious is the connection to the Sephardic Jews after their expulsion from Spain in the late fifteenth century, but, correct me if I'm wrong, there also seems to be an overarching theme that relates to humans and their various relationships. Gens Extorris deals with the relationships between different people, although these may be filled with sorrow, wrath and suffering, while En el Escuro, es Todo Uno explores how these relationships can have a cultural impact. Departures and Deviations is filled with cadenzas, which are essentially monologues, as well as dialogues with the quick exchange of ideas between the instruments. These are relationships that many of us can relate to, and Kelly Marie Murphy has said "What is my job if not to interpret our experience as Canadians?" What do you want the audience to experience or come away with during this performance?

Well, maybe it is too much to ask for, but I wish people see that "WE ARE ALL ONE" - in darkness, or in light; crossing different cultures, or different historic times; being modern or traditional, etc.

Just to say why do I wish this - during the preparation of Tehillim, a concert dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Salvation of Bulgarian Jews during WWII, I read stories and saw archival documents of disturbing facts and unbelievable human reactions, and that only confirmed this: we are all ONE, in spite of our differences!

Intrigued? Experience this one-ness yourself at En El Escuro Es Todo Uno, presented by Yarilo Music at 3pm on October 12 at the Annex. And Kelly-Marie Murphy will be there!

More information: https://yarilomusic.com/

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