University of Alberta Madrigal Singers present: John Burge's "Flight 752 Elegies"

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Adult | $20

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University of Alberta Madrigal Singers present:
John Burge's "Flight 752 Elegies"

February 11, 2023
7:30 PM | Convocation Hall

The University of Alberta Madrigal Singers with special guests Mehdi Rezania, Santur and Miriam Khalil, Soprano perform John Burge's "Flight 752 Elegies" composed in 2021 and first performed in virtual format. This is the first live performance of the 30 minute cantata composed in 2021 in collaboration with Santur player Sadaf Amini in Kingston, Ontario and the Kingston Chamber Choir. Composer John Burge will be in attendance. The concert will also feature solo selections by Miriam Khalil and Mehdi Rezania a selection of choral motets by Bruckner, Duruflé and Stanford performed by the Madrigal Singers.

John Burge writes of the work, "The unifying element of this composition is that the choir sings the same music for movements 1, 3, 5 and 7 which serves a consoling chorale or refrain. The choir part is wordless for these odd-numbered movements with the texture thickening to over-lapping sonorities of 8-part choral divisi with one central climax. Each of these refrains ends with a slightly different cadence and is sung at a a slower tempo with each repetition. In these movements, the santur plays independently of the choir, beginning in the first movement (the “First Refrain”) with rhythmic groups of 7 notes, then 5 notes, then 2. For movement three (the “Second Refrain”), the santur is reduced to 5- and 2-note groups. Movement five (the “Third Refrain”), has the santur part is reduced to just 2-note groups, spaced far apart. In movement 7 (the “Fourth Refrain”), the santur does not play at all. Although perhaps not a particularly subtle metaphor, the arc of hearing the same wordless refrain sung by the choir with diminishing contributions from the santur, can be visually and aurally seen as a real-time symbol of loss.

The even-numbered movements have much more active music for the santur and the choir and are sung to English translations of three poems by the 13th-century Islamic mystical poet known as Rumi and whose full name was Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207-1273 AD). To give these movements a more distinctive focus, a simple percussion part is added for variety (tambourine in the second movement, crotales or bells in the fourth movement, and a hand drum in the sixth movement). The fourth movement, being the central movement around which the entire composition pivots, is given further prominence by having a solo soprano part."

Dr. John Burge was born in Dryden Ontario in 1961 and grew up in Calgary studying the piano with Dorothy Hare. He holds three degrees in Composition and Theory from the Universities of Toronto and British Columbia and since 1987, has been teaching at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where he is a full professor. For his outstanding work as a composer over the years, in 2013 he was awarded a Queen's University Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship. He has composed a large body of instrumental and vocal music in all genres and his work, Flanders Fields Reflections, for string orchestra, received the 2009 Juno Award for the Best Canadian Classical Composition. Burge loves working with young musicians and is in high demand as a music festival adjudicator. In recent years he has joined the Red Leaf Pianoworks collective and has been performing solo piano recitals of his own compositions. A passionate advocate for Canadian music and the arts, he was an executive member of the Canadian League of Composers from 1993-2007 (President from 1998-2006), founding board member of Cantabile Choirs of Kingston in 1995, Chair and board member for the Port Milford Summer Music School and Festival from 2012-2018 and has been on the board of the SOCAN Foundation since 2009.

This concert is a part of the Department of Music's 2022-2023 "Tribach" Series.

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