Program note for MASQUES DE SCHUMANN, 4 Dec 2014, Montreal
I am so thrilled to present this programme. Robert Schumann is a deeply meaningful composer to my development as a musician, and to embody the contemporary re-embodiments of his work enriches my continued musical growth. In this programme, “Masques de Schumann,” there are masks abound, such as they are in the written word and notated music of Schumann’s oeuvre. Schumann’s narrative language features, both literally and figuratively, both musically and poeta-musically, the scene of a masquerade ball, where identity parades past in grand number as nothing more than brief vignette.
Of the 5 works on the programme, the audience is offered a grand total of 55 individual sections of music, clearly marked as individual character pieces in each score, yet linked and ultimately presented as a larger whole. Have you ever been introduced to 55 different people within an hour and a half? What kind of message could a population of that size deliver? It’s hard to say. But I hope, with the help of Schumannian magic, that the program will hold together with unity among variety.
In preparing such a project, I feel closer to the dynamic, multi-faceted inspiration of Schumann. I deeply admire his poetic immediacy in projecting characters in rapid fire. Multiplicity and ephemeral emotional states becomes the norm in such a diverse group of music. And, for the world premiere of Jimmie Leblanc’s …au seuil de l’instant…, excerpts from John Rea’s Las Meninas, and Chris Paul Harman’s After Schumann, we further complicate the masquerade scene with contemporary takes on Schumann. The final complication is me, the performer, who will yet again re-interpret and re-construct. As the interpreter of this marvelous poetry, I feel that this burden has brought me closer to Schumann and his influence on living colleagues and friends, and ultimately, closer to myself and the multiple selves of my own creation, and the projection of those onto others.
Many thanks to the Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur for inviting me, to Jimmie Leblanc for his brilliant new work …au seuil de l’instant…, to Chris Paul Harman and John Rea for letting me perform their wonderful music, and to Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for the generous support. And of course, thanks to the city of Montréal, which will always have a special place in my heart.