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Sometimes the most breathtaking moments in music are the intimate ones. If chamber music is a musical conversation, then the Portmantô ensemble is straying to one extreme of chamber music: this concert consists only of monologues and dialogues, solos and duets. The audience is invited to reflect on schizophrenia, terror, eroticism, meditation, joy, and other musical commentary on the human experience.
Solitude & Monogamy offers a truly international program with pieces from great 20th century composers Heitor Villa-Lobos (Brazil) and Andrž Jolivet (France) as well as a number of contemporary composers Michael Finnissy (United Kingdom), Casey Hale (United States), Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (Finland), and Martin Matalon (Argentina).
The program will also feature Vocalise by Canadian composer Taylor Brook. Vocalise refers both to the long lyrical sections performed on a single violin string, as in the famous Vocalise of Rachmoninov, as well as the singing style of Hindustani music with its long sweeping lines and heavy use of glissandi. Vocalise consists of a single movement with several internal sections, each focusing on different strings of the violin. Each section has a faster pulse than the previous one, giving the work a sense of large-scale acceleration. The entire work is accompanied by a slightly flat F# drone, to which the fourth string of the violin is also tuned. This drone functions as the tonal centre throughout the composition as the solo violin plays in a just intonation mode in relation to it.
Brook has received the “coup de coeur” prize from le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne for his chamber orchestra work, Murder Ballad, as well as three SOCAN young composers awards, including a first prize for his solo violin work, Vocalise. Brook’s music has been performed in North America and Italy by ensembles and soloists such as le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Quatour Bozzini, L’orchestre de la francophonie canadienne, Danielle Cumming and Mira Benjamin.