Journey through Canadian Music: The Murray Adaskin Concert Series

56° 7' 49.3176" N, 106° 20' 48.3756" W

The Murray Adaskin concert series continues at the Canadian Music Centre BC (CMC BC) on Friday, October 14, to celebrate the renovations at the Vancouver Creative Hub (837 Davie Street).

Undergoing renovations on the stage of a brand new 40-seat black box theatre and salon, this exclusive show features well-known Canadian composers: Murray Adaskin, Barbara Pentland, Jean Coulthard, and Elliot Weisgarber.  Each concert in the inaugural series will be a tribute to a CMC associate composer and will feature a short film for audiences to enjoy.

HCUBC recently had the pleasure to sit down with CMC BC’s director, Sean Bickerton, to talk about his experiences:

HCUBC: Can you describe the creative process of launching these concert series from conceptualisation to the final product, ie. the performance?

SB: I've realize that you can't promote a concert series without promoting the people. People respond to people, stories about people, so we had to come up with a way to tell those stories, these really wonderful, unique, individuals. We came up with this concept, we thought, "This year, we want to develop a concert series". We decided on 4 composers who were what we called 'legacy composers' and we determined and canvassed within the group: who were the composers that had contributed the most in terms of value and the quantity to the body of work and also who had been the forefront of each generation of composers. And it was those two combinations of parameters that gave us our list of 4 composers that we chose, Murray Adaskin, Barbara Pentland, Jean Coulthard and Elliot Weisgarber. We decided to hold 4 celebrations and we commissioned 4 documentaries dedicated to each composer and the program of that composer's music.

One of the things that we are very proud of is that 2 of the composers in that season are women especially when women weren't really supposed to be composers given the era. Yet we have these 2 very prominent champions of new music, Barbara Pentland and Jean Coulthard, who were probably centuries ahead of their time; they were fierce, wonderful, and completely original

HCUBC: What can audiences expect on October 14?

SB: They should expect to have an complete immersion experience, a kind of magical immersion experience. In Murray Adaskin, his film is "Wedding Toast" and it is based on a piece he wrote with the same name. He wrote it for the piano originally but he arranged it as a gift to members of the string quartet who were getting married.  It is a song with these beautiful lyrics: "May our lives be like a street of souls between two banks." Pure poetry...and it is just so beautiful in a very West Coast manner... very evocative. The filmmaker found the two members of the quartet that this piece was written for and they are the centre of this little art piece.  They are filmed, talking about the wedding, talking about Murray being there for the wedding.  It's such a beautiful, sweet 8 1/2 minute film that captures their memories of him.

HCUBC: What are your hopes for the newly-renovated Murray Adaskin Salon, going into the future?

SB: We'd like to see this place full of music from morning to night, seven days a week. That's my hope. It's very much an urban theatre, noise from the street intrudes and it's not a recording studio; we're going to allow people to bring glasses of wine into the theatre and into the concert. It's not going to be a very formal classical concert hall; it's right there on Davie St., in between downtown and Davie Village, we're very comfortable in this environment and we love the street lights.  The lights inside of the Murray Adaskin Salon also reflect onto the sidewalk. We want it to be a fun place, we want it to be full of music and we want a place that is available and affordable for small ensemble groups and organizations that  can provide a uniquely elegant experience for their audience. 

We thank Sean Bickerton, CMC BC’s director, and Canadian Music Centre for this interview. Find more information about the Murray Adaskin Concert Series here, and find season subscriptions here.

As it was prior to renovations, the venue is rentable by local arts groups at reasonable rates.