21c music festival



21C Music Festival 2017 marks Canada 150
with a panoply of our country’s most innovative composers and musicians

Canadian Opera Company Orchestra
Johannes Debus
Bang on a Can All-Stars
Emily D’Angelo
Unsuk Chin
Samy Moussa
Cecilia String Quartet
Alexina Louie
John Oswald
Angèle Dubeau
La Pietà
Canadian Art Song Project
Matthew Aucoin
Ana Sokolović
Gabriel Prokofiev
Richard Reed Parry
Steve Reich
Ludovico Einaudi
Andrew Staniland
Nicole Lizée
Chris Paul Harman
Brian Current
Elmer Iseler Singers




21C Music Festival – five days of newly-minted music during which audiences have an opportunity to experience fresh new sounds and ideas from the greatest musical minds of today – returns for a fourth year to The Royal Conservatory of Music from May 24 to May 28, 2017. This year’s festival marks Canada 150 with an array of our country’s most innovative and daring composers and musicians, and it will consist of nine concerts and 31 premieres.

“Our nation’s birthday gives us an opportunity to delve even deeper into the rich soil that is Canadian music. This year’s festival shines a light on the musical and compositional talent from across the country and is, perhaps, the most diverse 21C Music Festival to date,” said Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts at The Royal Conservatory. “In addition, we are thrilled to welcome the Canadian Opera Company, the Canadian Art Song Project, and Soundstreams as our artistic collaborators and to have Unsuk Chin, a composer of international stature, in residence.”

Highlights of the sesquicentennial celebration include the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus in a program that will include works by two Canadian composers, Brian Current and Samy Moussa; the Canadian Art Song Project with an all-Canadian program and musicians; Cecilia String Quartet presenting four works commissioned to celebrate compositions by Canadian women; Montreal-based violinist Angèle Dubeau and her all-female string ensemble, La Pietà; and the 30th anniversary of Bang on a Can All-Stars with a special “Bang on a Canada” concert, including works by Canadian composers Richard Reed Parry and René Lussier, anchored by a world premiere from John Oswald, commissioned by The Royal Conservatory/Koerner Hall. In partnership with Soundstreams, the festival closes with The Music of Unsuk Chin, which will include a world premiere by Chris Paul Harman co-commissioned by Soundstreams and The Royal Conservatory/Koerner Hall. Unsuk Chin’s works will also appear on the program by the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra as well as Cinq à Sept, and she and Chris Paul Harman will lead a workshop for six emerging composers, whose works will receive world premieres during the festival. This year’s edition of the festival also has a strong focus on women, with singers Emily D’Angelo, Danika Lorèn, and Carla Huhtanen; violinist Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà; the Cecilia String Quartet; pianists Morgan-Paige Melbourne, Claudia Chan, Mélisande Sinsoulier, Liz Upchurch, and Vicky Chow; and composers Unsuk Chin, Nicole Lizée, Emilie LeBel, Katarina Curcin, Kati Agócs, Ana Sokolović, Kotoka Suzuki, Alexina Louie, Julia Wolfe, Allison Cameron, Anna Clyne, and Michelle Agnes Magalhaes.

Festival benefactor, Michael Koerner, remarked during the inaugural year: “Charles Ives, the American composer- iconoclast wrote outrageously courageous music about 100 years ago and when asked what he was up to, he would say ‘I want to stretch your ears.’ The 21C Music Festival is just about that: ear stretching.”

The “Canadian edition” of the 21C Music Festival kicks off on May 24 with Johannes Debus conducting the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, soprano Emily D’Angelo, tenor Andrew Haji, and the Elmer Iseler Singers, with Lydia Adams, conductor and Artistic Director. The program will include two pieces by the festival’s Artistic Advisor, Brian Current: his The Seven Heavenly Halls will receive its Ontario premiere and Nàaka (Northern Lights) its world premiere. The two works are part of a massive six-movement work, entitled River of Light, which traces creation myths from six different cultures.

The Seven Heavenly Halls is centred on Judaic traditions and Nàaka on Dene traditions from the Northwest Territories. Also on the program are South Korean composer Unsuk Chin’s snagS&Snarls and Canadian composer Samy Moussa’s Kammerkonzert, plus the Canadian premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s The Orphic Moment. Nàaka is commissioned by The Royal Conservatory/Koerner Hall and generously supported by Kris Vikmanis & Denny Creighton. The Seven Heavenly Halls was commissioned by The Azrieli Foundation.

The following night, on May 25, the Canadian Art Song Project (CASP) brings works by three Canadian composers: Andrew Staniland’s Peter Quince at the Clavier (Ontario premiere), Lloyd Burritt’s Moth Poem (Ontario premiere), and Ana Sokolović’s Dawn Always Begins in the Bones, CASP’s new commission to celebrate Canada 150. The all-Canadian cast is comprised of COC Ensemble Studio members Danika Lorèn (soprano), Emily D’Angelo (mezzo-soprano), Aaron Sheppard (tenor), Bruno Roy (baritone), Iain MacNeil (baritone), and Mélisande Sinsoulier (piano), as well as the Head of the Ensemble, pianist Liz Upchurch.

Hailed for their “powerful” (Chicago Sun-Times) and “dauntingly perfect” (Berliner Zeitung) performances, Toronto’s own Cecilia String Quartet is now entering its second decade. On May 25, the Quartet gives the first performance of all four works they commissioned to celebrate Canadian women in music: Nicole Lizée’s Isabella Blow at Somerset House, Emilie LeBel’s Taxonomy of Paper Wing, Katarina Curcin’s String Quartet No. 3, and Kati Agócs’s Tantric Variations.

On May 26, Quebec takes center stage. Called “exciting [and] dynamic” by the Los Angeles Times, Montreal-based violinist and Officer of the Order of Canada, Angèle Dubeau, and her all-female string ensemble La Pietà, comprised of some of Canada’s best musicians, perform a genre-smashing concert of works by Ludovico Einaudi, Jonny Greenwood, Michael Nyman, Max Richter, Arvo Pärt, and Mike Oldfield, as well as Philip Glass’s music written for the film The Hours. Two works by Canadian composers are also featured: Maxime Goulet’s Présentation concertante and Marjan Mozetich’s Postcards from the Sky.

Also on May 26, after the mainstage concert with Angèle Dubeau, 21C After Hours presents the Soundstreams Emerging Composers Workshop, in which six emerging composers give world premieres of pieces developed under the guidance of composers Unsuk Chin and Chris Paul Harman. A cash bar will be open at this casual late-night concert.

On the afternoon of May 27, the annual Cinq à Sept features a world premiere by Japanese-Canadian Kotoka Suzuki along with the Canadian premiere of her Shimmer, Tree for piano and electronics; pianist Morgan-Paige Melbourne performing “Warrior” and “Memories of an Ancient Garden” from Scenes From a Jade Terrace by Toronto-based composer Alexina Louie; pianist Geoffrey Conquer, Rebanks Fellow at The Royal Conservatory, playing Piano Etudes by Korean composer Unsuk Chin, one of contemporary music’s most sought-after creators; the Canadian premiere of Aaron Parker’s fun minimalist work warehouse for ensemble and electronics featuring students of The Glenn Gould School; as well as the VC2 cello duo (Amahl Arulanandam and Bryan Holt) performing Raphael Weinroth-Browne’s Triumvirate.

The mainstage concert on May 27 celebrates the 30th anniversary of the epoch-making NYC group, Bang on a Can All-Stars. Their specially devised Koerner Hall program “Bang on a Canada” will include selections from a multi- media project called Field Recordings, most of which will be Canadian premieres. Works by Canadian composers Richard Reed Parry and René Lussier will be anchored by a world premiere from John Oswald, commissioned by The Royal Conservatory/Koerner Hall. The concert opens with Vicky Chow performing a solo piano piece by Eliot Britton and also features works by BOAC co-founders Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, as well as Steve Reich, Christian Marclay, Allison Cameron, and Anna Clyne.

Pianist Claudia Chan, alumna of The Royal Conservatory and rising star in the contemporary piano world, teams up with violinist Benjamin Bowman, member of the ARC Ensemble (Artists of The Royal Conservatory) and Concertmaster of the American Ballet Orchestra in New York, on the afternoon of May 28. They will perform works by John Corigliano, Isang Yun, Gabriel Prokofiev, and Michelle Agnes Magalhaes, as well as the world premiere of a piece by Christopher Goddard, commissioned by The Royal Conservatory/Koerner Hall.

21C Music Festival partner, Soundstreams, closes the Festival with The Music of Unsuk Chin. Chin renders in sound the “visions of immense light” she sees in her dreams, and the program on May 28 will include her Cantatrix Sopranica, a playful exploration of the act of singing for two sopranos, countertenor, and ensemble featuring singer Carla Huhtanen, and “The Caterpillar,” an excerpt from her dazzling opera, Alice in Wonderland. It’s All Forgotten Now (world premiere) and Love Locked Out, two works by Canada’s Chris Paul Harman, who shares Chin’s affinity for transforming familiar source materials with musical language that is fresh, vivid, and thrillingly modern, are also on the program. Both pieces are inspired by the 1930s popular songs of Al Bowlly. Guillaume Bourgogne conducts a virtuoso ensemble. It’s All Forgotten Now by Chris Paul Harman is co-commissioned by Soundstreams and The Royal Conservatory/Koerner Hall.

Several pre- or post-concert chats will feature composers and performers in discussion offering further insight into the works being presented. Additionally, The Royal Conservatory School will offer Explore 21C with Brian Current, a special Music Appreciation Event on May 17. Current, Artistic Advisor of the Festival, will give a talk on the upcoming performances in this year’s edition of the Festival, and the evening will include a live performance and a reception. Visit www.rcmusic.ca/musicappreciation for more information.

Tune in to 21C Music Festival livestreams from anywhere in the world
and watch select concerts from past editions of the Festival!
Select 21C Music Festival concerts will be web streamed from the “Live at Koerner Hall” livestream page at www.performance.rcmusic.ca/livestream


416.408.0208 www.performance.rcmusic.ca


21C Music Festival
The Royal Conservatory of Music

Explore 21C with Brian Current Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 6:30pm | TT; $21

Canadian Opera Company Orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 8pm | KH; $21-$115

Canadian Art Song Project Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 7:30pm | TT; $21

Cecilia String Quartet Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 8pm | MCH; $21

Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà: “A Minimalist Signature” Friday, May 26, 2017 at 8pm | KH; $21-$90

21C After Hours: Soundstreams Emerging Composers Workshop
Friday, May 26, 2017 at 10:30pm | TT; $21 ($10 with the purchase of a ticket to the Friday evening concert)

Cinq à Sept
Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 5pm | TT; $21 ($10 with the purchase of a ticket to the Saturday evening concert)

Bang on a Can All-Stars
Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 8pm | KH; $21-$85

Claudia Chan with Benjamin Bowman
Sunday, May 29, 2017 at 1pm | MCH; $21

Soundstreams Presents: The Music of Unsuk Chin
Sunday, May 29, 2017 at 3pm | KH; $21-$67.50

Venue Legend: KH Koerner Hall; MCH Mazzoleni Concert Hall in historic Ihnatowycz Hall; TT Temerty Theatre

All concerts take place at The Royal Conservatory
TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Tickets are available online at www.performance.rcmusic.ca, by calling 416.408.0208, or in person at the Weston Family Box Office

All advertised prices include service charge and 13% HST

A limited number of $10 BMO Rush Tickets
are available starting 90 minutes before all performances presented by The Royal Conservatory

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The 21C Music Festival is made possible through the generous support of Michael and Sonja Koerner

21C Music Festival Supporters

Kris Vikmanis and Denny Creighton

21C Music Festival Presenting Partners

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Government Supporters

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These events have been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

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Download full Media Kit here

Media Contact:
Barbora Kršek, Concert Publicity Manager and Publications Editor
416.408.2824 ext.265; barbora.krsek@rcmusic.ca