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An evening of luminous music 

for string quartet and voice

Friday, May 4, 2018 | 7:30 PM

Historic Theatre | Vancouver East Cultural Centre



In Person sales: Mon – Fri 12-6pm, Sat 12-4pm


Carla Huhtanen soprano

Colin Browne reader

Nicholas Wright violin

Karen Gerbrecht violin

Andrew Brown viola

Olivia Blander cello

Adrian Muir lighting & production co-ordinator

Brian Chan sound design & recording

Carol Chrisjohn stage manager

Dirk Wright art & book design

Mark McGregor recording & album producer

Performance is 85 minutes and runs without intermission

After a long dark winter, one longs for the scent of

earth and new growth...


MUSIC FOR A NIGHT IN MAY consists of three distinct but thematically related compositions. Each is inspired by ideas of origin: of the earth, the sea, the forest, the night sky, the creatures we’ve evolved from and through. Each score contains something of the elemental within it, something half-remembered, touched with ancient light that should fill a listener with wonder. Our origins live within us. The music and the texts touch on many other themes—memory, reverie, childhood, longing, loss, dispossession, history, politics, astonishment, transformation and joy—with the knowledge that each is but a few degrees from the other.


Night Sonnets

NIGHT SONNETS is a suite of twenty-six short “songs” for soprano, reader and string quartet. Eighteen songs are sung by the soprano, eight are recited by the poet or reader. The suite has an emotional, but not a narrative, arc, and the voices range from declaration to exposition to self-reflection and mystery, concluding with a farewell to the poet’s mother in which she appears in a dream, as if to say goodbye. Like formal, fourteen-line sonnets, many of the NIGHT SONNETS are divided into two parts: statement and response, and this subtle structure informs the performance. As well, each song has been scored for a different combination of instruments. NIGHT SONNETS, while charged with memory, are committed to addressing conditions in the present. They are a burst of mirrored fragments in the night.

1 – for Tom

2 – ear fire

3 – i knew when i rushed in

4 – my knees/pistons

5 – a man pitches head first

6 – my knees/pestles

7 – forget the rubber paddles

8 – honeysuckle

9 – a new them

10 – who are you?

11 – O flat people, rise up

12 – raven is geranium

13 – the story i cling to



ENTR'ACTE is a short work for string quartet, live electronics, and a live recording of night sounds in the forest. It was inspired by an observation by Sir Edmund Grimani Hornby (1825-1896), Chief Judge of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan, during a sojourn at Lake Onuma in Japan. He appears to have experienced a moment of supreme bliss in that location. It was, he wrote, “a spot one would love to retire to, far away from the hum, noise, and busy strife of men, and wait quietly for the only great event in life, the one which terminates it.” 


PETAL follows the journey of the psyche from turmoil to clarity. The journey is told in three movements, and the animating idea is that we relive the journey from our origin to the present every second that we are alive. All that we are and have been is engaged. The first movement establishes a figure named Petal—a combination of vulnerability and endurance—and opens with an inner conversation between the psyche and the flesh. The body claims mastery over all. Petal flees. The second movement carries Petal through a tumultuous evolutionary journey. The third movement explores the role of transformation and spirit, bringing Petal back into harmony with the world again. The soprano will encounter three voices: the self as psyche, the self as body, and the self as observer. They move from bravado to concern to fear to wonder; much of the time these actions and emotions act as narration. It may seem odd, but the shift from one voice into another will feel absolutely natural to anyone born into our polyvocal species.

1 – what does it want?

2 – far, far above me, immensity 

3 – rising, falling

14 – when i turn off my mouth

15 – Citadel Hill

16 – Buffy

17 – at the kitchen table

18 – in the shape of a spoon

19 – men of silage

20 – the streams

21 – in the japonica

22 – Susanna sent a text

23 – all night he lay on the pack ice

24 – the weapon called Canada

25 – what did you do all day in that whale?

26 – May 25th, 2014


Alfredo Santa Ana Composer

Alfredo is a Mexican/Canadian composer writing music in Vancouver since 2003. From 2011 to 2014, Alfredo served as the inaugural Peter Wall Composer In Residence at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC, where he collaborated with legendary choreographer and dancer Margie Gillis to create On Fairness, a work for dancer, flute, violin, and cello that has received multiple performances in Montréal, Vancouver, and New York. His music has been praised as meaningful work, offering substance as well as high style,” and has been performed by a number of renowned artists including Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw and members of the Music on Main All-Star Band, Turning Point Ensemble, Orchestre de la Francophonie, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and most recently the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. 


Colin Browne Poet

Colin Browne's most recent book, Entering Time: The Fungus Man Platters of Charles Edenshaw (Talonbooks), was published last year. In 2016 he curated an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery entitled I Had an Interesting French Artist to See Me This Summer: Emily Carr and Wolfgang Paalen in British Columbia, inspired by the visit of surrealist artist Wolfgang Paalen to Victoria in August 1939. Browne's most recent collection of poetry is The Hatch (Talonbooks, 2015). His essay "Unfinished Business" was recently published online by The Capilano Review. He is currently working on new essays and further exhibitions, and is completing a new book of poetry. He and Alfredo first collaborated during Music on Main’s 2014 production The Orpheus Project.




An introductory essay about the collaboration between composer and poet written by Colin Browne and included in the complimentary chapbook published to commemorate the inaugural performance of MUSIC FOR A NIGHT IN MAY on May 4, 2018.



In Person sales: Mon – Fri 12-6pm, Sat 12-4pm

The Historic Theatre at the Vancouver East Cultural is wheelchair accessible. You can purchase tickets at the lowered counters outside, then enter the main space via wide automatic doors.

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