Canadian Wilderness and Stillness
Symphonic evocation on the Group of Seven

Maya Badian
Composer
Maya Badian
Composition Date: 2005
Duration: 00:14:00
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)

Instrumentation:

Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Full orchestra
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Programme Note:
CANADIAN WILDERNESS AND STILLNESS: Symphonic Evocation on the Group of Seven. “The dimension of freedom artistically seduced me in Maya Badian’s music. Then, a second dimension was the fact that everything she has composed has not settled without coordination in the axis of time; it is not an aleatoric group of works; but there is always a projecting stimulus”. - Fred Popovici “Maya Badian has done much to make us aware of our own heritage...” Dr. Elaine Keillor, Chair: Canadian Musical Heritage Society.

CANADIAN WILDERNESS AND STILLNESS: Symphonic Evocation on the Group of Seven was composed by
Maya Badian in 2005, as a piece within her major works that she dedicated to the Canadian scenery.
At a lecture preceding the world première of Canadian Wilderness and Stillness, given in Kishinev, Moldova, Maya Badian stated, “As a composer, I have always been fascinated with observing connections between visual arts and soundscape, and have previously used this principle in Reflets laurentiens, Double Concerto for Clarinet and Saxophone, inspired by paintings of Laurentian landscape signed by Montréal painter Tibor K. Thomas... “The Canadian painters known as the Group of Seven are historically recognized as having a significant impact on the Canadian Art movement and forever changed its style and spirit. During their development, they used devices of late 19th-century art, at a time when the European avant-garde was dominated by the Fauves, Futurists, Expressionists, Cubists, and so many others. Based on the patriotic statements of the Canadian painters themselves, one might think that they were working in a uniquely Canadian way. However, that was not always the case. Even though the Group was insisting that Canadian artists free themselves from European influences, they were being influenced by the late 19th-century European styles. ‘Each member of the Group, and Jackson most especially, owed a great deal to European styles.’ (Silcox, David P., “The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson”, Firefly Books Ltd., Toronto, p. 30). Lismer and other painters belonging to the Group went through an early Impressionist phase. They tried to capture shifting light and colour with their flickering brushstrokes. But it didn't last very long: Jackson noted that Impressionism ‘was too involved a technique to express the movement and complex character of our northern wild’. They switched over time to the bolder colours and brushstrokes of Post- Impressionism and then Art Nouveau: ‘We had commenced our great adventure. Above all, we loved this country and loved exploring and painting it’ (Lawren Harris)... “Canadian Wilderness and Stillness is based on my thorough research of techniques used by
The Seven painters, reflecting their creative visions into my music. This principle brought up a symbiosis applied to the metamorphosis of 20th-century techniques both in fine arts and music. The visual inspiration blended with the structural rigor of sounds resulted in my symphonic evocation. I do not intend to find an unimagined way of arranging sounds but rather I search through my own manner of compositional thinking. The sections of my composition are linked by a leit-motive as a virtual representation of the vastness of Canada. This link, in its different aspects, suggests that one is walking through the National Gallery of Canada, contemplating the paintings. Each section symbolizes another aspect of the unique nature of each of these Canadian painters. This work is based on using a variety of techniques to satisfy the requirements of my musical ideas. For example, Tom Thomson’s In the Northland generated my opening leit- motive that blends Minimalism and Neo- Romanticism to evoke my contemplation of the vast Canadian landscape. [Minimalism is a genre based mostly on consonant harmony, steady pulse, stasis or gradual transformation, and often reiteration of smaller units such as figures, motifs, and cells]. Arthur Lismer’s impressionistic Sunglow and LeMoine FitzGerald’s Summer Afternoon inspired me to use Pointillism. [Pointillism is a technique derived from the Post- Impressionist style of painting that used distinct dots of pure colour on the canvas, applied in patterns to form an image]. In music, this dappled effect was reached through the use of Klangfarbenmelodie, and the delicate weaving of the contrapuntal lines. This is accomplished by assigning to each note values drawn from scales of pitch, duration, dynamics, and attack characteristics, resulting in a stronger individualizing of separate tones, while maintaining discrete values in all musical parameters. [Klangfarbenmelodie is a term that describes a style of composition that employs several different kinds of tone colors to a single pitch or to multiple pitches]... To reflect in my music the specific atmosphere of Frederick Horsman Varley’s Stormy Weather, and of James Edward Harvey MacDonald’s Mist Fanatsy, Northland, I used a particular combination of timbres - the English horn solo accompanied first by timpani and strings and, respectively, by a solo viola... “And, then, Canada’s participation in the First World War... A huge impact on my musical thoughts was to learn that almost all of The Seven painters were involved in that war. In 1918, Alexander Young Jackson and Frederick Horsman Varley were engaged to paint as part of the Canadian War Memorials program in Europe, where they experienced the horrors of the slaughter of young men and the mutilation of the countryside. In 1915, Lawren Harris joined the army and trained soldiers at Camp Borden. After his only brother, Howard, died in the trenches, he suffered a breakdown. The war aggressively put its stamp on their paintings. For instance, even the trees with their beautiful multicoloured leaves in the former paintings, suggesting the constructive and positive rebirth of Life, became trees without leaves, suggesting broken images, humankind's destructive and negative reflections, after the artists’ shock following the War. Touched by all of these meaningful and profound paintings such as Varley’s For What?, and many others made me decide to use quotation references from my symphony, Holocaust – In Memoriam... “A flavour of Europe is suggested by a blend of rhythms from other cultures, as well as a combination of mirror, inversion, retrograde, and segmentation techniques, inspired by such works as Alfred Joseph Casson’s House Tops in the Ward, Franklin Carmichael’s Northshore, Lawren Harris’s Baffin Islands, Lional LeMoine FitzGerald’s Doc’s Snyder’s House, and Alexander Young Jackson’s Winter, Charlevoix County. FitzGerald’s contemplative painting The Pool inspired me to use chance, choice, and indeterminacy techniques with their respective symbols... “Stratification alludes to the Red Cedar by Emily Carr who, although was not a part of the Group of Seven, was very much influenced by their techniques. I used a blend of new music notations, improvisation, as well as ametric music - a music that seems to reveal no perceivable metric organization. At this point, my music slowly fades away, a serene and almost dreamlike soundscape reaching unusual horizons, towards other creative possible meanings... “In the public performance I would suggest the use of slides of representative works of each of The Seven on the screen viewed by the audience as the music is performed. I do not attempt to create program music through my composition, and neither is my music to become an accompaniment. Instead, I try to emphasize the importance of a better understanding of how creation is shared by painters and composers.” The panorama of Maya Badian’s music defines her distinct style, each of her new compositions being very original as it completes the epic picture of deep, universal, and human themes. Somewhat analogous to the paintings of the Group of Seven, each section involves a special compositional technique approaching, one by one, a different human universe. Sincere congratulations for this creation that delighted our ears and our souls.” - Ghenadie Ciobanu, composer. As with MultiMusic Canada, the Moldova National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gheorghe Mustea again produced a world première, that of Canadian Wilderness and Stillness. This event happened at Ginta Latina Cultural Centre in Kishinev as part of “The Days of New Music” International Festival, XIVth Edition, Kishinev, on June 25, 2005. Once again, The Canada Council for the Arts assisted by funding Badian’s attendance at the world première of her composition. Several Moldavian and Romanian radio stations interviewed the composer about her work, its place within Canadian music, and about its first public performance. - From: Popovici, Fred: The Life and The Music of Maya Badian, A Privilege to Soar, Biography Pro ARS Publications, Canada, 2010, pp. 54-57.

Premiere Information:
25 June 2005, "The Days of New Music" International Festival, Ginta Latina Cultural Centre, Kishinev, Republic of Moldova.
TV Moldova National Symphony Orchestra, Gheorghe Mustea, conductor.

CATALOGUE INFO:

  • Call Number:
  • MI 1100 B136ca
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • July 3, 2007
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (75 p.);
    75 Pages
    Height: 30 cm
    Width: 23 cm
    Parts page count: 94
  • Additional Information:
  • Nine tableaux, the name of which were taken in accordance to the inspiring paintings:
    I. In the Northerland -- II. Sunglow -- III. Red Maple -- IV. For What? -- V. Mist Fantasy -- VI. Baffin Island -- VII. House Tops -- VIII. The Pool -- IX. Red Cedar.

    The CD recording is available through the CMC
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