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Passion Plays | Winnipeg Sun

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New Music Festival has WSO in a state of Extase !

By DARRYL STERDAN

Other highlights of the festival — which consists of more than 50 pieces performed over seven nights — include a performance by Vancouver percussion ensemble Scrap Arts Music, the WSO’s performance of a recently penned score to the silent-film classic The Passion of Joan of Arc, an event that will see members of the symphony spread throughout Centennial Concert Hall, and another that features an eerie, obscure instrument called the Ondes Martenot.

"We have seven nights of events — and each night is an event on its own," says Ho, adding local artists and Canadian composers are also prominently showcased throughout the week-long event. "It’s really a win-win for all concerned."

And even though he acknowledges times are tough for many arts groups, he’s optimistic about the New Music Festival’s prospects.

"When times are bad, events like these generally do well because it gives people a means to escape from the realities of the world. I believe that as long as the program is strong, we’ll be fine."

Here’s the full New Music Festival lineup.

Saturday

Rebellion Orchestrale

Revolution meets evolution on Day 1 of the NMF. First up is renowned contemporary British composer Thomas Ades’ six-minute Asyla : Ecstasio, which Ho describes as "the orchestral realization of a rave. Seriously. He takes all the sounds — the hoots and the hollers — and puts it to a backbeat." Equally innovative, but slightly older, is the evening’s main event and one of the festival’s three musical pillars : French maverick Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila-symphonie, a 10-movement romance epic inspired by Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. "It’s one of the most groundbreaking works that came out of France," says Ho. "It influenced generations of French composers." And perhaps a few British rockers : The piece features Jean Laurendeau on the seldom-heard Ondes Martenot, an eerie Theremin-like keyboard that has recently been rediscovered by the likes of Radiohead and Damon Albarn.