compositions

compositions

Ancestral Voices

Premiered: June 15, 1996

by Guelph Spring Festival Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Peter Paul Koprowski
Guelph, Canada

Duration: 16 minutes
Written: 1996
  • Strings (minimum 5, 4, 3, 3, 1)
Background
Ancestral Voices was commissioned in 1996 by the Guelph Spring Festival with financial assistance from the Ontario Arts Council. The first performance was given on June 15, 1996 by the Festival’s Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Peter Paul Koprowski. Soon afterwards the work received numerous performances in Canada, USA (Tanglewood), South America (Caracas, conducted by the composer), and Europe. Together with the Epitaph, it became one of his most frequently performed compositions.
The title of the work mirrors the title of and the thought behind the 1996 Guelph Spring Festival.Ancestral Voices pays homage to composers and styles of the past. It echoes the music of the Renaissance and the voices from Poland and Eastern Europe – with driving rhythms of the mazurka, intense lyricism, and the echoes of the Eastern Orthodox chant.
Koprowski remarks that the work “brings into focus individual stylistic characteristics drawn from the past which influenced my thinking. At the same time, the architecture of the work reflects my desire to merge chamber and orchestral writing within one composition”.
Reviewing the premiere performance for the Globe and Mail, Tamara Bernstein noted that the music “was gripping from beginning to end, thanks in part to Koprowski’s dynamic, expressive conducting and to the kaleidoscope of sound colours and textures he presents. The gorgeous opening – a sustained threnody for three cellos – is a knockout. It’s a measure of Koprowski’s artistic personality that the piece never sounds like a pastiche”.
Ancestral Voices was one of the four orchestral compositions (in addition to the JUNO nominated Viola Concerto, as well as Symphony of Nordic Tales and Concert Overture Saga) written within the 1995-96 season, for which the composer received the notable Jean. A. Chalmers NATIONAL MUSIC AWARD. All four compositions have since received repeated performances, while the Viola Concerto is available on CD (SMCD 5206) with Rivka Golani and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Jukka – Pekka Saraste.
Contrasts, driving rhythms, lyricism, humour, drama and instrumental virtuosity all find a place in Koprowski’s Ancestral Voices, a work that in its short life appears headed for repertory status among chamber orchestras.
Press

"In about 16 minutes it traverses an incredible universe of sound."

– David Alan Miller,
Albany Symphony Orchestra
“Ancestral Voices is a most attractive tone poem for strings. It has a frequently sombre sound, but on the whole it is a moving and affirmative piece, eclectic in its antecedents, but individual in identity.”
– The OTTAWA CITIZEN; May 16, 1998
“Ancestral Voices, conducted by the composer, proved the highlight of Saturday’s concert. It pays homage to composers and styles of the past. The gorgeous opening – a sustained threnody for three cellos – is a knockout, its dense lyricism redolent of Shostakovich.
…It was gripping from beginning to end, thanks in part to Koprowski’s dynamic, expressive conducting and to the kaleidoscope of sound colours and textures he presents. It’s a measure of Koprowski’s artistic personality that the piece never sounds like a pastiche.”
– The GLOBE & MAIL; June 17, 1996

"Ancestral Voices strikingly confirms that faith in expressivity within intellligibility..."

– BERKSHIRE EAGLE; September 30, 1996

In rehearsal with Orquesta Sinfonica Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, Caracas; Venezuela (1998)
Press

"In about 16 minutes it traverses an incredible universe of sound."

– David Alan Miller, Conductor;
Albany Symphony Orchestra

"Ancestral Voices strikingly confirms that faith in expressivity within intellligibility..."

– BERKSHIRE EAGLE; September 30, 1996

“Ancestral Voices is a most attractive tone poem for strings. It has a frequently sombre sound, but on the whole it is a moving and affirmative piece, eclectic in its antecedents, but individual in identity.”
– The OTTAWA CITIZEN; May 16, 1998
“Ancestral Voices, conducted by the composer, proved the highlight of Saturday’s concert. It pays homage to composers and styles of the past. The gorgeous opening – a sustained threnody for three cellos – is a knockout, its dense lyricism redolent of Shostakovich.
…It was gripping from beginning to end, thanks in part to Koprowski’s dynamic, expressive conducting and to the kaleidoscope of sound colours and textures he presents. It’s a measure of Koprowski’s artistic personality that the piece never sounds like a pastiche.”
– The GLOBE & MAIL; June 17, 1996
In rehearsal with Orquesta Sinfonica Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, Caracas; Venezuela (1998)
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