Arctic Symphony & The Shaman
In 2008, Arctic researcher Dr. David Barber of the University of Manitoba invited me to be part of an Artist-On-Board program sponsored by the Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study. I was taken on board a state-of-the-art research vessel, The CCGS Amundsen, where I was introduced to the studies conducted by many of the world’s leading climate change scientists. I was also taken to many indigenous communities to learn about their culture and how the current state of the environment has impacted their way of life. The trip was a life-changing experience that left a profound impact on me and inspired the creation of my own symphonic portrait of the region.
The premiere of Arctic Symphony on February 6, 2010, opening night of the WSO’s Winnipeg New Music Festival, was an amazing experience. Thanks to the support of Dr. Barber and his team, the Inuit youth singers, the Nunavut Sivuniksavut Performers, were flown in from Ottawa to be part of the event. Their performance added a special dimension that intensified the experience for all of us there that night. Together with the WSO, conducted Alexander Mickelthwate, they delivered a terrific performance that was broadcast nationwide by CBC Radio. (You can read more about my Arctic adventure here: www.vinceho.com/project/arctic-symphony/)
Soon after, Dame Evelyn Glennie, one of the world’s most acclaimed percussionists, asked me to write a new concerto for her. This was a dream come true for me, as it would be for any composer.
To me, Ms. Glennie is more than a musician – she is the musical equivalent of a “shaman.” She has the uncanny ability to draw the audience into a magical world and take them on wondrous journeys that are beyond material existence. I wanted to create a work that highlighted these abilities.
The premiere of The Shaman was another memorable event. It was the opening night of the WSO’s New Music Festival, the 20th anniversary edition, and I was seated next to Oscar-winning composer John Corigliano, whose Symphony No.1 was on the same program. The WSO, Evelyn Glennie, and conductor Alexander Mickelthwate delivered a spectacular performance that I will never forget. This was the beginning of what would become an ongoing and rewarding collaborative relationship between Ms. Glennie and me – since the premiere of The Shaman, I have written four more works for her and we continue to find new and exciting projects to pursue. Mr. Corigliano, by the way, generously provided a special “Forward” for this CD release (Thanks John!).
I am very honoured by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s CD release of these two works that I wrote especially for them during my time as their composer-in-residence (2007-14). Now digitally re-mastered, these premiere performances are now being released for global distribution, thanks to the generous support of Marten Duhoux, Joanne DeFehr, and FT3 Architecture. I thank everyone involved in making this release happen. I hope you enjoy it!
You can pre-order Vince Ho’s THE SHAMAN – ARCTIC SYMPHONY by visiting: naxosdirect.com/items/ho-the-shaman-arctic-symphony-417950
This recording project was made possible by the generous support of Marten Duhoux and Joanne DeFehr, and FT3 Architecture.