Ives Ensemble with Continuum Contemporary Music

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Thursday, November 20, 2008 @ 20:30
Muziekgebouw Grote Zaal

An excavation of the origins of Shift reveals the idea of a joint Continuum/Ives Ensemble concert. Approached about presenting the joint concert, Jan Wolff, creator and at that time director of the Muziekgebouw, thought that more was called for, and so Shift, the multi-disciplinary festival was created. But the Ives/Continuum principle remains at its core.

Through a months-long process of feeding each other recordings and discussing reactions, Ives Ensemble artistic director John Snijders and Continuum artistic director Jennifer Waring arrived at a programme of four new works. In a programming structure that maximized building cross-national relationships, each ensemble chose a composer from the other country for new pieces for the combined ensembles, and also for a work for their ensemble alone. The result: a joint work by Guus Janssen (NL) where the ensembles play virtually independently; a joint work by Linda Bouchard (Can) for amplified solo violin and ensemble of doubled instruments (funded by the Canada Council for the Arts); a work by Mayke Nas (NL) for Continuum alone, ensemble members all playing on one piano; and a work by Gyula Csapo (Can) for the Ives Ensemble. In Amsterdam Continuum will also perform raW (2003), winner of the 2006 Jules Léger Prize, by James Rolfe; in Toronto the Ives Ensemble will perform a work from its touring repertoire. Pre-concert talk with Thea Derks 19:30.

The November 20 Ives/Continuum concert at the Muziekgebouw will be broadcast live on VPRORadio.

Linda BouchardJoint Venture (Ives and Continuum combined)
Guus JanssenEx Tempore (Ives and Continuum combined)
Gyula CsapoParmi les Blancs et Noirs... at...Intervals...from the Cabin (Ives Ensemble)
Mayke NasDouze mains (Continuum)
James RolferaW (Continuum)


Photo of Ives EnsembleThe Ives Ensemble was founded in 1986 by the Dutch pianist John Snijders and consists of a steady pool of 14 musicians. The ensemble concentrates on performances of non-conducted 20th and 21st century chamber music, in which, ever since the founding of the ensemble, the music of Charles Ives, John Cage, Morton Feldman and Stefan Wolpe has been serving as its base. A variety of composers have written especially for the Ives Ensemble including John Cage, Aldo Clementi, Walter Zimmermann, Gerald Barry, James Rolfe, Allison Cameron, Richard Ayres, Michel van der Aa and Gerhard Stäbler; the ensemble has performed at international festivals such as the Gaudeamus Music Week, the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, the Darmstädter Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, the Biennale Zagreb, the Aterforum Festival Ferrara, Evenings of New Music (Bratislava), Klang-Aktionen '95 (München) and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and has presented programmes in Prague, Gütersloh, Köln, Essen, Berlin, Paris (IRCAM), Granada, Sevilla, Duisburg and Barcelona. The Ives Ensemble's major productions have included For Philip Guston by Morton Feldman (1993), a one-movement piece for flute, percussion and piano lasting 4 1/2 hours; the music theatre production Cahier du Soir by Luc Ferrari (1995); a Morton Feldman retrospective by the Ives Ensemble (1997) with the first Dutch spoken performance of Words and Music by Samuel Beckett/Morton Feldman; and John Cage, Pure Coincidence: a festival in Ten Thunderclaps (2003) during which 10 works by Cage were presented in three days on six different venues.

For more information on the Ives Ensemble please visit

Photo of Continuum Contemporary MusicContinuum Contemporary Music presents the work of emerging Canadian composers alongside works by established national and international composers in its concert series, at festivals, on tour, over the air waves and through recordings. The Chalmers Award-winning group has generated interdisciplinary projects with celebrated Vancouver choreographer Conrad Alexandrowicz; Montreal video artist Ramona Ramlochand; and John Oswald. For l'Oreille Fine, Continuum combined new music and philosophy in concerts and a symposium wherein philosophers, poets and critics dealt with the subject of new music.

Formed in 1985, Continuum has a core ensemble of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion which is often varied and combined with electronics. The organization has commissioned and premiered over 100 new works from emerging and established Canadian composers; increasingly it commissions international composers. Continuum is active in developing new audiences, promoting art in the community, and developing the next generation of composers through public art projects, workshops across Canada and Europe, and through its Biennial International Call for Scores.

Continuum toured Canada in 1999 and Europe in 2003, and will be on tour again in the fall of 2008, with performances in Aberdeen, 's-Hertogenbosch, Amsterdam and Huddersfield. It has released two CD's on its own label, recorded one for Centrediscs and has two CD projects in the works.

Continuum is supported through grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the city of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council; the Metcalf Foundation's Strategic Initiatives programme; the SOCAN, Emerald and McLean foundations; by patrons Aurora Tewksbury Reford, Ann Southam and Christopher Des Brisay; by the accounting firm Newman & Sversky; and as well, through the generosity of many private donors.

For more information on Continuum please visit

Photo of Guus JanssenThe music of Guus Janssen (b. 1951) is difficult to categorize. It can be a composed improvisation (Brake for solo piano) or an improvised composition (parts from his Violin Concerto or his opera Noach). Music is like life itself – sometimes it asks for fast decisions and sometimes it needs to be thought over a lot. As a pianist and harpsichordist Janssen performed in various groupings with musicians from John Zorn to Gidon Kremer; since the early 1980's he has led his own ensembles, ranging from piano trios to an 11-piece band and opera orchestra. His compositions range from piano music and string quartet to symphonic work; they have been widely played by prominent Dutch and international orchestras and ensembles. Two of his operas have been premiered by the Dutch Opera.

Ex Tempore

"Ex Tempore is an early music description for a score without barlines. The player was supposed to play the written notes in a very free manner. In my piece there are some barlines but very often they don't correspond with the barlines in other (groups of) instruments. There are only some vague cues where the instruments come together. The reason for all this is that I wanted to work without a conductor. My experience as an improvising musician inspired me to compose a piece in which the musicians come together as in improvised music: the main subject of composed music, playing perfectly together, is avoided. On the contrary, the musicians play very well when they don't play together. The advantage of all this is that the score can generate complex music while looking quite simple. The piece consists of three parts, the first I would call a choral kind of Ballad, the second an untidy Habanera and the third chaotic Dixieland music. Ex Tempore is composed on request by the Canadian ensemble Continuum Contemporary Music and the Dutch Ives Ensemble with financial support from the Nederlands Fonds voor de Podiumkunsten NFPK+. "

Photo of Linda BouchardLinda Bouchard has composed over 70 works in a variety of genres, from orchestral and chamber works to dance scores, concerti, and vocal pieces. Her works have been heard on both sides of the Atlantic and have been recorded by the CBC and Analekta in Canada, ECM in Germany, and CRI in the US. A full compact disc of her orchestral works, Exquisite Fires, was released in 1998 on the Canadian label Marquis Classics. She has won awards in Canada and in the US including a Prix Opus from Quebec for Best Composer of the Year and a Fromm Foundation Award. Bouchard studied with Henry Brant at Bennington College and then moved to New York City where she lived from 1979 to 1990. In 1990, she returned to Canada for the premiere of her first orchestral work Elan; in the fall of 1992 she accepted a three-year position as the first composer-in-residence for the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. She has lived in San Francisco since the spring of 1997. Bouchard has been active as a freelance musician, composing, conducting and orchestrating since graduating from school in 1982. After 25 years of composing strictly acoustic music she has become increasingly interested in how artistic traditions are evolving through the integration of electronic and digital tools, and she pursues this exploration through her own projects, integrating multimedia into her work. Linda is the founder and artistic director of NEXMAP, a non-profit arts organization based in San Francisco, which produces international events in all media.

Joint Venture

"Joint Venture is commissioned by and dedicated to the Ives Ensemble in Amsterdam and Continuum in Toronto who are joining forces and performing this work together. Frequently my pieces start abruptly as if the music has been going on for a while; there is no introduction, no development, just the most condensed version of the untransformed material. There is a dramatic quality to this approach. Whether the shifts from section to section are spare or complex, I am looking to evoke something that is in its own right complete: the reconstruction of an imagined emotional event that unfolds in a compressed time frame. In Joint Venture all the instruments – including the piano which is played by 2 pianists – are used as percussion instruments. There is very little melodic activity here – most of the action is taking place in the variations in the textures, colors and superimposition of rhythmic patterns that shifts the pulse. It is the live instrumentalists that create the alchemy. We are grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts for its support with a Commission Award and for the Travel Assistance Program, which allowed me to rehearse with the musicians and to be here tonight."

For more information on Linda Bouchard please visit For a video clip of Linda Bouchard's work please visit

Photo of Mayke NasMayke Nas (The Netherlands, 1972) studied piano and composition in Amsterdam, Tilburg, The Hague and Melbourne. She received commissions from the Dutch Fund for the Creation of Music, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Nieuw Ensemble, Ives Ensemble, Schönberg Ensemble and others. For her piece (w)here - written for the ASKO ensemble - she was awarded the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize of Encouragement 2003. For La Chocolatière Brûlée - written for the Nieuw Ensemble - she received the Anjer Muziekprijs 2005. Theatre, video, text and choreography are often an integrated part of her compositions. In 2005 she adapted I Delayed People's Flights By Walking Slowly In Narrow Hallways from Peter Handke's play 'Self-Accusation' for four players, four chairs and four amplified chalkboards with live electronics in collaboration with Wouter Snoei, commissioned by Percussion Group The Hague. More recently, in 2006, she revived the concept of audience-participation in the fluxus-inspired performance piece Anyone can do it for six unprepared players not necessarily gifted with any musical talent.

Douze mains

Two great joys in my life are first of all the simple do-it-yourself fun of playing quatre-mains (especially with my grandfather) and secondly letting myself be surprised again and again by some of the most creative, quirky, and contagious music of the twentieth century: The White Album by the Beatles. This is my ode to both of them.

For more information on Mayke Nas please visit

Photo of James RolfeToronto composer James Rolfe has been commissioned and performed by ensembles, orchestras, choirs, and opera companies in Canada, the USA, Europe, and New Zealand. He has been funded through The Canada Council, The Ontario Arts Council, The Toronto Arts Council, The Laidlaw Foundation, Opera.Ca, and CBC Radio. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2003 K. M. Hunter Music Award, the 2005 Louis Applebaum Composers Award, and the 2006 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music.

Rolfe is one of Canada's leading opera composers. His first opera, Beatrice Chancy (with librettist George Elliott Clarke), received an extraordinary reception from audiences and critics alike during productions by The Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company between 1998 and 2001 in Toronto, Dartmouth, and Edmonton. His masques Orpheus and Eurydice and Aeneas and Dido (librettist André Alexis) were premiered by The Toronto Masque Theatre in 2004 and 2007. Elijah's Kite, an opera for children, was premiered in New York in April 2006 by Tapestry New Opera Works with the Manhattan School of Music, and given its Canadian premiere for the Governor-General at Rideau Hall in October 2006. Swoon was premiered in December 2006 by the Canadian Opera Company, which has since commissioned a new opera to be premiered on their main stage in 2012. Other new works include the opera Inês (librettist Paul Bentley), to be produced by the Queen of Puddings in 2009, as well as pieces for the Netherlands' ASKO Ensemble, Norway's Trio Mediaeval with The Toronto Consort, and marimbist Nancy Zeltsman.

raW (2003)

raW was written by filtering J. S. Bach's Second Brandenburg Concerto through Bob Marley's War (Bach's first movement), Burning Spear's The Invasion (second movement), and John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever (third movement). The constant running sixteenths of the Bach are by turns syncopated or silenced, leaving fleeting and usually unrecognizable echoes of reggae or march. MIDI files downloaded from the internet coupled with music software (Sibelius in this case) contributed to early drafts of this work. With their help I made templates, which I then edited over the course of many drafts, as might an artist who takes a photograph and alters it by hand – drawing, scratching, colouring, erasing.

raW was written during the buildup to the American invasion of Iraq, but it was only afterwards that I noticed the connection to the 'filtering' pieces' titles.

raW was commissioned and premiered by Ergo Concerts (Barbara Croall, Artistic Director) and written with the assistance of a grant from The Toronto Arts Council. It received the 2006 Jules Léger Prize for Chamber Music.

For more information on James Rolfe please visit fuseaction=composer.FA_dsp_biography&authpeopleid=10852.