New Music for Old Instruments
January 16 at Christ Church Cathedral
The oldest instrument of all, of course, is the human voice, and there are few finer exponents of unaccompanied singing than the members of New York Polyphony. The “new” aspect in this Early Music Vancouver collaboration is Gregory Brown’s Missa Charles Darwin, a setting of texts from the pioneering evolutionary biologist. And the composer presumably knows a thing or two about reinventing the past: his brother is Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.
January 17 at Christ Church Cathedral
Standing Wave’s chamber concert is an annual highlight of the New Music Festival. Made up of some of the VSO’s finest new-music specialists, here the ensemble will perform works by half a dozen adventurous thinkers, including Jared Miller’s humpback-inspired Leviathan and Hafdís Bjarnadóttir’s rock-inflected Woodstock Revisited.
VSO Plays John Luther Adams
January 19 at the Orpheum
Excellent as all of the New Music Festival’s programming is, the one don’t-miss event is surely the local premiere of John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Become Ocean, in which the American composer represents the coming ecological catastrophe as a musical storm of roiling waves, rising seas, and strange, apocalyptic beauty. It’s been universally hailed as a modern masterpiece since its debut in 2014.