THE SCOOP | Toronto’s West End Micro Music Festival Combines Chamber Music With Electronics & Visual Arts

WEMMF Composer-in-Residence Nahre Sol & co-founders Sebastian Ostertag and Brad Cherwin (Images courtesy of WEMMF)

The West End Micro Music Festival, or WEMMF, returns to Toronto for a second iteration starting on November 18. Four widely varying programs explore the drama of juxtaposing minimalism and maximalism, featuring 14 diverse artists. Concert dates are November 18, November 25, and November 26 and December 2, 2022.

WEMMF is co-produced by clarinetist and visual artist Brad Cherwin and cellist Sebastian Ostertag, who have put together imaginative programming that showcases the future of chamber music. Last year’s inaugural WEMMF was a sold out event.

The works in the four concerts incorporate electronics, theatre and visual arts along with the music. This year’s Composer-in-Residence is Korean-American composer, pianist, and YouTuber Nahre Sol, who will be presenting both new and old works.

“With this year’s festival theme of minMAX, we take things in an exciting new direction,” says Cherwin in a media release. “Electric violin, Laurie Anderson, kick drums, improv; we’re bringing a bunch of rock n’ roll minimalism to the stage, and pushing against the very concept of a ‘chamber music festival.’ We aren’t throwing the baby out with the bathwater, there is still some incredible Brahms, and brilliant classical artists, but we play with identity this year. Each of the four programs takes a different high contrast perspective on live instrumental music.”

Details

The venue for WEMMF is the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Toronto’s West End. Concerts start at 7:30 p.m., with run times of approximately 75 minutes each.

I. INTERRUPTION (November 18)

Minimalism and maximalism in scale and density are explored by composers Nahre Sol, Nico Muhly, and Gyorgy Kurtag with a view to disrupting and bisecting the monumental Romantic structures of Johannes Brahms’ Quintet op. 115.

  • Nico Muhly: Long Drones, from Four Studies
  • Johannes Brahms: Quintet op. 115, for clarinet and string quartet
  • Gyorgy Kurtag: Selected Miniatures
  • Nahre Sol: New Work, for clarinet and strings

II. ONE + 2 (November 25)

The work of Nahre Sol is put under the spotlight as WEMMF’s very first Composer-in-Residence. Sol’s work incorporates both improvised and composed music from electric and acoustic keyboards. She will be jointed by Ben Finley on bass and John Lee, a traditional Korean percussionist, for an evening of solo piano works and collaboratively composed and improvised works by Nahre Sol, Ben Finley, and John Lee

III. ALTROCK (November 26)

Electric violins, kick drums, electronics, keyboards, and a toy piano are on the menu as the program weaves together art rock and chamber music.

  • Julia Wolfe: Blue Dress; East Broadway
  • Steve Reich: New York Counterpoint
  • David Lang: Heroin; Killer
  • Laurie Anderson: Let X = X, arranged by Louis Pino; It Tango, arranged by Louis Pino

IV. QUARTET PLUS PAPER V2 (December 2)

A multimedia concert with diverse artists, genres, and forms that looks towards the future of chamber music. Minimalism is embraced by Americans Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte and Philip Glass, rejected by Jamaican-born Eleanor Alberga, and toyed with in the Sol/Cherwin composition for pianist, clarinetist/visual artist, video projection and electronics

  • Nahre Sol/Brad Cherwin: PAPER V2
  • Philip Glass: Finale from String Quartet no. 3, “Mishima”
  • Caroline Shaw: Entr’Acte
  • Eleanor Alberga: Quartet no. 2

Along with pianist/Composer-in-Residence Nahre Sol, the festival artists include:

  • Voice — Cormac Culkeen
  • Violin — Amy Hillis, Hee-Soo Yoon, Eric Kim-Fujita
  • Viola — Maxime Despax
  • Cello — Sebastian Ostertag
  • Bass — Ben Finley
  • Clarinet — Brad Cherwin
  • Percussion — John Lee, Louis Pino
  • Textile Artist — Esther Imm
  • Lighting Designer — Adam Harris
  • Sound Design/Tech — Dave Grenon

The venue is the Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1691 Bloor St W. More information available here.

Tickets must be reserved in advance online. Single tickets and festival passes are on sale now here.

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