Thursday, 16 January 2014

Frank Zappa vs. Pierre Boulez: Winnipeg’s New Music Festival combines the classical and the contemporary

Courtesy Colin StetsonThe New Music Festival kicks off on January 25 at Centennial Concert Hall.

The New Music Festival — the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s annual celebration of contemporary classical music — prides itself on delivering innovative programming. So what better way to break new ground than with the man who led The Mothers of Invention?
“The idea (for the 2014 festival) started with this whole Frank Zappa, Pierre Boulez kernel,” says Alexander Mickelthwate, WSO music director.

“Zappa, a total rock musician in the ’70s, also composed a little bit for ensembles.
“One of the most famous classical composers ever, Pierre Boulez, I don’t know how he discovered Zappa, but he suddenly conducted him (on 1984’s Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger), which was like, if a Christian went to Mecca or something.” Mickelthwate will conduct Zappa’s G-Spot Tornado and Boulez’s Le Soleil des eaux as part of the NMF’s opening night, Jan. 25 at Centennial Concert Hall.

Also on the program that evening is a Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) reinterpretation of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki and an Owen Pallett (formerly Final Fantasy) re-imagination of Johann Sebastian Bach. From the Mothers of Invention to a real-life inventor, NMF will present Tesla in New York on Jan. 26 at the Concert Hall.

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