Aleksandar Simić has written works for solo instruments, chamber and choral music, works for string and symphony orchestras, concertos and vocal-instrumental songs. He has composed music for the theatre, film, television and international sports competitions. addition to his music, Aleksandar Simić is well known for his social involvement. For many years he has been the spokesperson for the humanitarian fund Svetlost, which led campaigns in Serbia such as the Safe Women's House and the National Campaign to Help the Blind, and initiated the Notes from the Heart project for free cultural content for seniors, needy and disabled persons with concerts to focus attention on action to support vulnerable groups. He contributes to the interreligious dialogue at the global level: he is a board member of the New York-based Pave the Way Foundation and the organization East West Bridge based in Belgrade. Since 2007 he has worked with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Office of the Prosecutor for War Crimes in the Republic of Serbia as part of Operation Last Chance. Since 2010 his cooperation with the UN has included dozens of initiatives in culture, human rights, interreligious dialogue, environmental protection and peace activism, through the office of the Secretary General, the General Assembly, UNESCO, WHO, and UN projects such as the Alliance of Civilizations and Rio+20.
Recalling an entire season titled “Playing for Peace” during the orchestra’s first decade, Sinfonia Toronto is honoured to have Mr. Simić compose music to celebrate its 25th Anniversary.
The subject of Donas de Fuera comes from Sicilian folklore. ‘Women from the outside’ are beautiful, tidy and dedicated to caring for their families, but at night they have the power to cast spells on people. Luisa Sello was a featured soloist with Sinfonia Toronto during a concert when we premiered Chan Ka Nin’s Harp Concerto with soloist Teresa Suen-Campbell. Luisa loved Chan Ka Nin’s music and asked him to write a piece for flute and string orchestra; and in turn Ka Nin seized the opportunity to delve into Italian tradition.
Born in Hong Kong, Chan immigrated with his family to Canada in 1965. After completing high school in Vancouver he studied composition with Jean Coulthard while pursuing degrees in both music and electrical engineering at the University of British Colombia. He earned Master and Doctor of Music degrees at Indiana University and then carried out further studies in composition at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse. In 1982 he joined the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. His works have been performed by many Canadian orchestras, and he has received two JUNO Awards for Best Classical Composition.
Rugiada - Elegy for Flute, ‘Dew’ Enzo Monti (1929-2007)
Enzo Monti pursued early music training, then at the famed Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. In 1953 he moved to Milan and started working as a composer, becoming interested in electronic music, which was just opening new vistas at that time. Throughout his career he explored the possibilities of both electronic and acoustic instruments and collaborated with poets and painters. He was a professor of composition and theory at the conservatories of Venice, Milan, and Palermo and lectured in Europe and the US on electronic music and Italian music more generally. He was recognized with numerous awards including the Prix Italia in 1980.
Monti’s music has been performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and Chicago by this evening’s soloist, Luisa Sello, many European countries, England, Argentina, Ukraine, China, India, Japan and Russia.
Rugiada - Elegy for Flute is a hauntingly beautiful piece from Monti’s collection Sogni Lucidi, ‘Lucid Dreams.’ The title Rugiada, ‘Dew’ is intended to make us think of nature and renewal. The piece starts with the solo flute’s tones in the lower register, smooth and mesmerizing. Peaceful and serene, this piece invites the listener to meditate.
The orchestral version of Pictures at an Exhibition was originally a ten-movement piano suite Mussorgsky wrote in 1874 “in remembrance of Viktor Hartmann,” an architect and artist who was his close friend. They met in 1862 and bonded through their passionate Russian nationalism.
After Hartmann’s sudden death at age 39, the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg presented a memorial exhibition of his work with 400 of his drawings, watercolours, architectural designs and sketches for decorative objects.
Six weeks after visiting the exhibition, Mussorgsky completed his musical tour and wrote to the organizer, “My dear generalissimie, Hartmann is seething… sounds and ideas land in my head and I can barely manage to scribble them on paper…. The transitions are good on the Promenade… I want to work more quickly and reliably… so far, I think it is well tuned.”
Mussorgsky never orchestrated his piano score, leaving the work simply as an “album series.” But the vivid depictions and textural variety of his piano score caught the attention of conductor Serge Koussevitsky, who commissioned Maurice Ravel to write an orchestral version. It was premiered at the Paris Opera in October 1922 to great acclaim. The audience and critics were thrilled equally by Mussorsky’s fascinating story-structure and striking musical pictures and by Ravel’s magnificent orchestration. “Pictures” has remained highly popular, re-set in dozens of other versions from solo piano to chamber orchestra, concert band, brass ensemble, jazz band and many other combinations.