Internationally recognized as an ambitious contemporary saxophonist, Allison Balcetis has studied and collaborated with artists from around the world. Her international performance career includes concerts throughout North America, Europe, Brazil, Thailand, and Taiwan. Recent projects include partnering with André Mestre to create Curto-Circuito, a yearly workshop for young Brazilian composers, which has seen the creation of over 30 new pieces for saxophone and piano since 2014. Other creative partnerships include Colin Labadie, Ian Crutchley, Nicolás Arnáez, Thierry Alla, Rodrigo Bussad, and André Ribeiro. Her work as a soloist and chamber musician has produced over 70 world premieres.
As a faculty member of the University of Alberta since 2009, Allison trains the next generation of thoughtful, artistic musicians, teaching saxophone, chamber music, woodwind techniques, and aural skills. Outside of the university, Allison helps develop the contemporary arts community as co-curator of SubArctic Improv and Experimental Arts, a monthly concert series pairing dancers, musicians, text, and visual artists in a totally improvised context. Co-curating with dancer Jen Mesch, the first season welcomed over 50 artists to the stage in 2015/2016. She has also been an Executive Board Member of New Music Edmonton, Alberta’s premiere new music concert presenters, since 2010.
Allison's recent chamber activities include performing with pianist Sandra Joy Friesen as the Bent Note duo, the Edmonton Saxophone Quartet, improvisation ensemble Damn Magpies, New Music Edmonton's in-house ensemble Violet Collective, and work with Edmontonian musicians and dance companies such as the Jen Mesch Dance Conspiracy and Mile Zero Dance.
In 2007 Allison co-founded Anubis Quartet, a Chicago-based ensemble with more than 30 commissions and premieres of provocative new music, performing with them until 2014. During her undergraduate degree, Allison won first place in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2005.
While earning her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Alberta under the direction of Dr. William Street, Allison produced her first solo recording, Zeniths and Nadirs. She also holds degrees from Bowling Green State University where she studied with Dr. John Sampen, and is the first – and only – saxophonist to earn a joint degree from the Université de Bordeaux and the Conservatoire National de Région de Bordeaux where she studied with Marie-Bernadette Charrier.
Canadian pianist Roger Admiral performs solo and chamber music repertoire spanning the 18th through the 21st century. Known for his dedication to contemporary music, Roger has commissioned and premiered many new compositions. He works regularly for New Music Edmonton, and also performs as part of Kovalis Duo with Montreal percussionist, Philip Hornsey.
Roger studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), University of Western Ontario, and the University of Alberta (where he graduated with a Doctor of Music degree.) His main teachers were Virginia Blaha, Peter Smith, Arthur Rowe, and Helmut Brauss.
Performances include the complete piano works of Iannis Xenakis for Vancouver New Music, Gyorgy Ligeti's Piano Concerto with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tania Miller, and recitals for Curto-Circuito de Música Contemporânea Brazil / Canada. Roger is nominated for Classical Artist of the Year at the upcoming 2016 Western Canadian Music Awards.
Tonight's concert stems from the Curto-Circuito de Música Contemporânea Brasil / Canada of 2014 and 2015, where the performers played concerts of Canadian music in the Brazilian cities of Poços de Caldas, São Paulo, Campinas, Tatuí, and Sorocaba. Included in this circuit of cities were student composer workshops and a general exchange of new music ideas with composers on tonight's program. The University of Alberta President’s Fund for Creative and Performing Arts, and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Cultural Exchange Fund provided partial funding for this project. In appreciation of their music and their hospitality, we present a program featuring contemporary music from Brazilian composers.
The project Do livro dos seres imaginários was started in 2010 and is comprised of piano solos which dialogue with some texts by Jorge Luis Borges included in The book of imaginary beings. The connection between the pieces and each one of the beings that were chosen is not built upon a process of description. The beings spread over the sonorous material: they trigger, involve and modulate each gesture. On the CD Imaginário, from the pianist Lidia Bazarian, there are the first four pieces written for the project, which are related to the following beings: Kami, a supernatural being who lies under the earth; Odradek, originally conceived by Kafka in the short story The cares of a family man; Shang Yang, the rain bird; and Haokah, the god of thunder. The pieces are homogeneous, short and “timeless”: they encompass some type of restricted sonority during a short period of time, and aim, therefore, at the construction of an image that does not dislocate.
The project is dedicated to Daniela Bonafé, an imaginative being. (VB)
Written over the course of a few hours in an August day, Mind Under Matter seems to combine the lightness of Paul Klee's maxim ("drawing is taking a line for a walk") and the introspective character that is inherent to the sound world the work exists in. It moves from moment to moment, each one sufficiently different and sufficiently the same. Bridging the two instruments is a relationship of resonance, punctuation, ornamentation and frames.
This work is dedicated to Allison Balcetis and Roger Admiral (AM)
Forge was written while the composer was at the Paris Conservatory studying electroacoustic music and musical research. His objective was to build a musical narrative flow based on the idea of energy contained in a sound and its motion. He recorded musical sequences with extra-musical sound bodies and phrases of the speech, which were the product of energy and movement of the sound image. At times the tempo is elastic because it is related to the performer's drawing out of sonic objects. Some gestures appear to cut and interrupt, some arpeggios have a softness to their shape. Listening to this piece is listening to the movements of sounds. The approach is similar to sound energy performance in Baroque and Renaissance music. It is a ballet of sounds. (JAM/RA)
The atmosphere of Joseph Conrad’s story, Shadow-Line, inspired Linha da Sombra. Something that I felt while reading this text full of originality, because it was a true account from the author, moved me, and made me imagine a moving landscape. An image prevailed over all: the story's unfolding of what is happening between two images: the calm and the storm, and their transition states. Formally, the piece is structured in three writing processes: a line that oscillates, an intermittent breath, and a plunge foreshadowing the darkness. All around this passage from the book:
At once an uneasiness possessed me, as if some support had been withdrawn. I moved forward, too, outside the circle of light, into the darkness that stood in front of me like a wall. In one stride I penetrated it. Such must have been the darkness before creation. It had closed behind me. I knew I was invisible to the man at the helm.
- (Joseph Conrad, Shadow-Line, Chapter VI)
This excerpt served as a starting point for defining the emotional atmosphere, the closing of the compositional environment, in which it has a unique creative strategy: support beginning-to-end a musical line in a continuous transition process in view of both the technical and emotional character. The main issue for me was how to keep the same emotional energy from the beginning to the end of the piece, an energy that is also the sound. So at first I tried to deploy this unique idea: to lead a musical line that gradually modulates its form of writing, for example, a scale becoming an arpeggio, arpeggio becoming a breath, a breath turning into noise a noise becoming light. Controlling the lines' energy was my main concern because I realized that each line, in flow, carries something of the previous one, a kind of driving force, kinetic energy, a figure that places it in connection with the others, through seamless transitions. However, to enforce this idea - of line and image in continuous transformation - I had to segment it in order to create tension and thus an internal contrast, as ideas come and go and turn into one another.
The beginning of Nuvens is exactly the end of Linha de Sombra. These two pieces are connected because of their 'poetic background'. Nuvens (in English, clouds) was created after discussion with the performers about technical actions that they enjoyed on their respective instruments. This was to create some form of a split between the different worlds, a world that is close to us, completely within us, in contrast to the other which is external, foreign and out of our comfort zone.
In torus the saxophone, piano right hand, and piano left hand form a unified trio. Their mechanical, almost parallel melodic movements create the aural dimension of a slowly rotating curve. All three parts seem to lie on the same plane, but never intersect. (RA)
Breathe in (...) Breathe out (...)
And again, as long as you can.
H1N1 is inspired by a text by the French semiotician Jacques Fontanille where the author describes, by means of its inner codes and signs, the characteristic life of the asthmatic subject. The text also projects the various speeds and intensities inherent to episodes, creating a meeting point between language and condition. My piece puts the breath--with its sound and drama--in the centre of the stage and musical material is kept simple, confined, circular. H1N1 was written for Curto-Circuito and premiered by Allison Balcetis in São Paulo, 2015. (GB)
In tátil I thought my timing over. I tried to create a sound ambient composed by sparse events, seeking more of a spatial than a temporal type of listening. The rarefied atmosphere and the extended time make everything transparent. Nothing hides. Each detail requires an intensive, localized listening. The pedal connects the dots and creates harmonic chambers. Intervals are few and some notes are gradually fixed as axes. The piece feels flexible, moldable. I pictured a liquid piano.
The piece is dedicated to Daniel Abuassi. (VB)
Written in the form of three interconnected, circumscribed circles, The Crowning with Thorns is only a finished composition insofar as it presents an interpreter with a limited field of possibilities. A performance of the piece can start anywhere, in any direction, and move freely through the intricate arteries of the work. With that comes tremendous technical challenge and creative responsibilities, making a successful performance of The Crowning with Thorns a constant unfolding that never loosens its hold on the listener. This work is dedicated to Allison Balcetis.
In Caminho Anacoluto III the sense of how time passes is "perforated" and this feeling is created by a sequence of "present moments", with no "past and future", and no history. Throughout the piece, that is non-linear and fragmented, there are sudden discontinuities and breaks in the musical discourse. There is a dichotomous musical discourse in which the saxophone plays one type of music while the piano plays the other. These two worlds of natural sound seem to preclude the material come together during the work. However, at one point the two instruments are in a common place, timbre and harmony in common, with common rhythms -a final margin- to later return to the initial distance, but with inverted musical materials, the piano playing what the saxophone was playing and vice versa. (MO)