Co-founded in 2006 by violist Sharon Wei and pianist Angela Park, the Ensemble Made In Canada includes Elissa Lee (violin) and Rachel Mercer (cello). It is now one of Canada’s leading piano quartets and will be performing at the Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques Festival on Feb. 25 as part of a national tour.
For its new Mosaïque Project, EMIC commissioned each of 14 Canadians to write a four-minute piano quartet inspired by a particular region of Canada. Among the composers are Nicolas Gilbert (Quebec), Julie Doiron (New Brunswick), Kevin Lau (Yukon Territory), Nicole Lizée (Saskatchewan), Richard Mascall (Ontario), Samy Moussa (Nunavut) and Ana Sokolović (British Columbia). The quartet chose composers from various musical genres (classical, jazz, singer-songwriter, electronic, and First Nations traditions) to create a unique 60-minute musical quilt that represents multiple layers of Canada’s multifaceted society and artistic culture.
Piano Quartet for Quebec
The piano quartet for Quebec, written by Montreal-born Gilbert, is called Ilôts. He explains: “Something that we hear throughout the piece is actually the flow of the river [i.e. the St. Lawrence]. The water is there from the beginning to the end. It is in the background when we are in what I call ‘urban’ sections of the piece. Water comes to the foreground between those sections and eventually takes the lead, flowing into the sea.”
This is the first time Gilbert has composed for piano quartet. “I have written four or five trios. Here I add an alto voice, which gives a more medium-low texture. It’s a great ensemble with a great repertoire. As a composer, there are still some issues in order to blend both the strings with the piano. But it’s a real pleasure to compose for an ensemble like this one.”
The Mosaïque Project is a tour comprising concerts in all 10 Canadian provinces and three territories between July 2018 and January 2020. A large portion of the tour includes performances in traditional concert halls and as part of festivals such as the MNM Festival organized by the SMCQ. In order to reach a broad audience, special self-produced concerts were held in places like Nunavut’s St. Jude’s Igloo Cathedral, Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick and the Great Hall of Toronto’s Union Station.
Ensemble Made In Canada will continue its tour in the Yukon Territory and Alberta through the month of March. www.ensemblemadeincanada.com