On Wednesday, May 22nd at 7:30pm at Canadian Mennonite University’s Laudamus Auditorium, Winnipeg’s GroundSwell presents their fifth and final concert for this 2023-24 season.

Called Strings Attached, the concert will feature five string players from our Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; violinists, Karl Stobbe, and Elation Pauls, violists, Elise Lavallee, and Dimi Kreshchenski, and cellist Ethan Allers. Additionally, GroundSwell will be welcoming cellist Paul Marleyn to the stage. Marleyn is Professor of Cello at The University of Ottawa, and before that he was Professor of Cello at the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music. He will be performing a number of pieces for solo cello as part of the concert.

The curator for this concert is composer Michael Matthews. He was for many years, the head of the composition department at the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music, and was one of the founding members of GroundSwell. This is an organization that has become one of the wonderful beacons of contemporary music in the country.

In regards to putting the concert together this was a collaborative effort between Matthews and his dear friend cellist Paul Marleyn. “We started talking about the concert a couple of years ago, and have been gradually putting it together. Paul has played the solo cello pieces on the program before…we had several solo pieces that we considered and ended up deciding on these…we thought they all fit together well. I’ve known Paul for many, many years, and we work really well on this kind of thing.”

The resulting program consists of a diverse spectrum of the possibilities of what string instruments are capable of. There will be two world premiere performances on the program. Michael Matthews will have his String Sextet premiered and Canadian-Turkish composer Ilkim Tongur will see her String Sextet premiered as well. Tongur is currently based in Calgary, but she was a graduate student at the U of M when Matthews was teaching there. As he says “I’ve known her [Ilkim] a very long time. I think she is a really fine composer, and it was my idea to commission her for this concert.”

There is also music by the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Rhiannon Giddens. Her piece At the Purchaser’s Garden will be performed. Giddens is a founding member of the country, blues, old-time music band The Carolina Chocolate Drops. At the Purchasers’ Garden reflects these Americana influences and creates a piece that is engaging and enjoyable.

Cellist Paul Marleyn will be performing music that will showcase the virtuosity and the vast world of sound possibilities that the cello is capable of. He will be performing Witold Lutoslawski’s thrilling Sacher Variations, Canadian composer Chan Ka Nin’s gorgeously exquisite piece Soulmate, and Ana Sokolovic’s piece Vez, which is heavily influenced by her Serbian background.

One of the real virtuosic tour-de-forces on the program that Marleyn will be playing will be Italian composer Giovanni Sollima’s piece Lamentatio. The piece is full of driving and exciting double and triple stops for the cello. The piece also requires the cellist to sing and play at the same time, creating some really sonically fascinating timbres.

Rounding out the program will be Webern’s String trio. When describing Webern’s music Matthews says, “I find Webern’s music really crystalline. I find it so beautiful and transparent…Stravinsky called Webern’s pieces ‘Dazzling Diamonds,’ and I think that is a really wonderful description of his music.”

GroundSwell’s Strings Attached concert on Wednesday, May 22nd at 7:30pm at Canadian Mennonite University’s Laudamus Auditorium, promises to be full of dazzling diamonds, that will immerse the listener is the vast soundscape of music for strings.

For more details on GroundSwell’s Strings Attached concert visit their website.