• Sarah Kwok

Musical Innovators: TPE and Couloir - November 9 & 11

Musical Innovators: TPE and Couloir is the first concert of the season for Turning Point Ensemble and features Couloir, the harp and cello duo of Heidi Krutzen and Ariel Barnes. The program features two premiere works, The Razor Hiss of a Whisper by James Maxwell for TPE, Couloir and electronics soundscape and And/Or by Anthony Tan for TPE and electronics, as well as pieces by Ruth Crawford Seeger and Sabrina Schroeder.

Couloir was formed in Vancouver and Heidi and Ariel are both currently living in Europe, with Heidi in London where she plays with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Ariel in Germany where he plays with the Nuernberger Symphoniker. I'm thrilled to have conversed with Heidi and Ariel ahead of the performances, read on as they talk about the new work that will be premiered, innovation in music, and what's happening next for Couloir.

You were both members of Turning Point Ensemble and formed Couloir in Vancouver before moving to Europe for other opportunities - what do you look forward to in being back here to perform with TPE?

Premiering a new double concerto with great colleagues for our beloved home city audience, of course! We’ve had many rewarding musical experiences with TPE, and we’re looking forward to adding one more to that list of memories.

Not many pieces were written for harp and cello before you started Couloir, but you have greatly increased the literature with your commissions and you'll soon be adding another with The Razor Hiss of a Whisper by James Maxwell. Can you talk more about the piece and the process of its creation, especially since you've worked with James before?

It’s challenging to talk about a work of art before it’s complete; explaining what you are going to create before the process of creation, which needs to be allowed to unfold as a process. What we have is an idea of what it could be, what we want it to be, based on our understanding of what James’ language is like. How it turns out still contains so many unknowns, and largely depends on our audience on those performance evenings. We love James’ motoric, hypnotic expressions, his ability to mesmerize the performer and listener alike with driving rhythmic energy, wondrous harmonies and wistfully free melodic writing. In this work we are hearing these elements bound together with an exploration of what sound means in different contexts: within the silent reverence of the concert hall, or nature against the cityscape, for example.

The overarching theme of this concert is innovation, so I'm curious to hear your thoughts on what innovation in music looks/sounds like today?

It’s certainly a constantly evolving process, which is always looking backwards and forwards at the same time. It seems to have always been this way, from Monteverdi to Bach, to Brahms, to Stravinsky, to Maxwell. The subconscious power of influence and inspiration is unavoidable, and the ability to find new ways to express the human experience through music is seemingly endless. Perhaps the most key elements in today’s innovation are the absence of all rules and the incredible access to information. One can listen to anything they like at any time, create what they like, how they like, and find an audience for it.

What's next for Couloir?

We’re looking forward to recording two new records in England, for which sessions are planned during June 2020, and delving into new works written for us by Canadians Jeffrey Ryan and Ana Sokolovic. We also have some new pieces on the horizon from composers in England, the US and New Zealand. Although we will always be dedicated to creating Canadian music, we’re excited to begin our work with composers around the globe.

It's great to have Couloir back in town, and it's going to be a fantastic show! Catch them while you can in Musical Innovators: TPE and Couloir on November 9 and 11, 7:30pm at the Annex.

More information: https://www.turningpointensemble.ca/

Couloir: http://couloirduo.com/

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