A musical treat for the ears

The academic term always ends on a high note in the Department of Music, as student ensembles take centre stage in a series of public performances guaranteed to chase away any thought of the winter blues.

There will be musical treats on offer each day in the coming week. Among the featured groups will be the music department’s two large symphonic ensembles.

This Sunday, Nov. 26, at 3pm, the York University Wind Symphony will set toes tapping with Bandancing, a spirited concert of dance music for band. Directed by William Thomas, the 65-member ensemble will perform works by Jack Stamp, Leonard Bernstein, Kenneth Hesketh and Percy Grainger.

The York University Symphony Orchestra, directed by music Professor Mark Chambers, steps into the spotlight Nov. 30 at 7:30pm with a landmark performance: the world premiere of Ghazal, a new work by David Lidov, professor of music at York.

Right: Professor Mark Chambers will direct the York University Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Ghazal, a new work by York music Professor David Lidov

Lidov composed Ghazal earlier this year especially for the orchestra. Written for a traditional orchestral configuration with strings, doubled woodwinds and brass, the work also features a large battery of contrasting percussion instruments.

The title of the piece refers to a traditional form of verse originating in 10th-century Persia that later spread into India and has influenced the poetry of many languages. Lidov has translated the rules for this poetic genre into musical terms to create a composition with twelve sections or poetic couplets. Each couplet has its own distinctive psychological or dramatic profile.

Ghazal is highly innovative in its use of orchestral colours, melodic gestures and special effects. One such special effect, which occurs in the final couplet, is the recitation of names by the orchestra members. At a certain point in this section, the players simultaneously speak their own names in a loud stage whisper, creating a ghostly effect that leads into the concluding segment of the work.

In addition to Ghazal, the orchestra will also perform two popular symphonic works: the dramatic “Ballet Music” from Charles Gounod’s opera Faust, and Czech composer Antonin DvoÍák’s Symphony No. 8 in G major, a cheerful work that draws its inspiration from Bohemian folk music.

Both concerts take place in York’s new Recital Hall in the Accolade East Building. Admission is $12 and $5 for students. For tickets, call ext. 55888 or visit the Fine Arts Box Office Web site.