Percussionist Victoria SparksPercussionist Victoria Sparks

On Tuesday, April 40th at 7:30pm at the Franco Manitoba Cultural Centre in the Pauline-Boutal Room, Winnipeg’s GroundSwell will be presenting their 4th concert of their 2023-24 season.

Called Plasma Waves and Fireflies, this concert will feature music for brass quintet and percussion, as performed by the Northern Brass Works Quintet and percussionist Victoria Sparks.

This concert will feature music of Sid Robinovitch, Andrew Balfour, and Sarah Scott Turner. It will also put on display four world premiere performances of music by Jim Hiscott, David Braid, Tetyana Haraschuk and Richard Gillis.

Jim Hiscott is the curator for this concert. This concert came out of a conversation that was initiated two years by Gillis ago as he explains, “A lot of this concert is inspired by the work of Richard…with the brass quintet Northern Brass Works. Richard called me up a couple of years ago and asked me if I would write a new piece because he was looking for new music by Manitoba composers for brass. He had already been doing that for several years. The pieces that are premiers [on this concert] are ones he has commissioned… all this is due to Richard’s dedication to brass playing in Manitoba.”

Hiscott goes on to say, “It’s exciting,  and the idea of what you can do with different mutes and how you can re-balance things…there is a lot of different colors in a brass quintet already but with mutes there’s even more colors and so I guess I’m trying to explore that too.”

The pieces on the program are influenced by a variety subjects. Hiscott’s piece called Lucioles is motivated by nature. As Hiscott states, “There’s insects, there’s water reflection, there’s storms…there’s all kinds of different sounds expressed metaphorically through the brass instruments.”

Gillis’ piece “Plasma Waves” was inspired originally by duo music that he had in mind to play with trumpet and percussion, and from there the piece evolved, drawing on satellites as stimulus as he states, “The Voyager [satellite] just flies past planets right out of the solar system and is doing experiments as it goes and sending information back. The Galileo Project will spend a lot more time within the Jupiter system…and take a little more time doing more long term investigation…..that’s how it’s related in that sense”

European and Middle Eastern music is the muse for David Braid’s piece Three Imaginary Persian Dances. Braid has toured Eastern Europe and visited countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, and has incorporated some of the sounds he heard there into his recent compositions.

Tetyana Haraschuk piece is partially be inspired by jazz. Gillis has asked her to write music for The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra that he directs, and he had this to say about Haraschuk ”She’s really creative…she kind of just thinks differently… Tetyana is such a talented musician and I wanted to have her write something. She brings influences from a number of sources such as jazz, percussion and the overall curiosity that she has.”

One of the other components that will add to the textural colors of the concert will be the use of percussion. The Northern Brass Works will be joined by Victoria Sparks. She will be playing marimba, vibraphone, small percussion, gongs, to name just a few. These sounds will add to the spectrum of sound for the concert.

In addition to their concerts, GroundSwell is very active in fulfilling one of their mandates which is to encourage young student composers. On this next concert they will be showcasing a work written by the students at College Pierre Elliot-Trudeau.  This is an initiative that has been facilitated by established Manitoba composer Kenley Kristofferson and band director Brady Gill. The piece is written for band and will be performed by College Pierre Elliot-Trudeau’s High School band.

Plasma Waves and Fireflies as presented by GroundSwell is going to be a truly singular event. The immense color and textural palette of sounds that can be created with brass and percussion is vast and will be on full display on Tuesday, April 30th at 7:30 at the Franco Manitoban Cultural Centre in the Pauline-Boutal Room. Five of Winnipeg’s finest brass players, collaborating with the marvelous percussionist Victoria Sparks is sure to make for a very special concert. And the opportunity to hear a work written by student composers and performed by students is sure to be something wonderful.

For more details on GroundSwell’s fourth concert of the season Plasma Waves and Fireflies visit GroundSwell’s website.