York music Professor David Mott will perform the world premiere of his composition Creation – A Jazz Oratorio, the first jazz oratorio ever composed in Canada, at The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga early next month.
The work, which gives a modern interpretation to the themes of Haydn’s 18th century masterpiece The Creation, on which it is based, was commissioned by the Mississauga Choral Society (MCS). There will also be a visual display of photographs shot while in orbit by astronaut Steve MacLean (BSc Spec. Hons. ’77, PhD ’83), now head of the Canadian Space Agency, accompanying the music and shown on a large screen behind the choir.
Creation – A Jazz Oratorio, written and composed by Mott, will be performed Sunday, May 3 at 3pm in The Living Arts Centre’s Hammerson Hall, 4141 Living Arts Dr., Mississauga.
The MCS contacted Mott about three years ago to see if he would be interested in composing a jazz work for them. “When I found out that Hadyn’s Creation was going to be performed this season, I asked to compose a 21st century version to pair with it and they agreed,” says Mott. “The basic structure of the biblical seven days of creation (Hadyn) has informed the structure of Creation. However, in an inspiration, the biblical text was updated as there was a lot in the Bible unaccounted for in the original text (like love for instance).”
The oratorio follows the unfolding of the seven days of creation. It will be performed by four solo voices – Kathryn Domoney, soprano; Adi Braun, mezzo; Martin Houtman, tenor; and Giles Tomkins, baritone – a jazz quartet comprised of CBC Radio 2 personality Andrew Craig (BFA Spec. Hons. ’93) on piano; Mike Downes (MA ’08) on bass; Anthony Michelli (MA ’08), who teaches in York’s Department of Music, on percussion; and Mott on baritone saxophone as well as the MCS. The performance will be conducted by MCS interim conductor Mervin Fick.
“The sound of the choir and soloists is glorious and the jazz quartet supplies the pulse and the instrumental accompaniment,” says Mott.
It was award-winning designers John Cook and Scott Wise (BD Spec. Hons. ’06) who created the interpretive moving imagery, which will include MacLean’s photographs, to complement the performance.
Right: David Mott
The connection with MacLean began when he took Mott’s composition, Regarding Starlight, with him on his flight aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1992. It continued with MacLean taking a recording of Mott’s composition Dark Shadowed Moon, a movement from his piano concerto Eclipse, on the 2006 Space Shuttle Atlantis mission to listen to while in orbit.
A saxophonist and composer, Mott’s work draws on western art music and jazz traditions as well as the musical styles of Asia and eastern Europe. He was a founding member of the contemporary music ensemble Sound Pressure and has performed extensively with the saxophone quartet 40 Fingers and the contemporary jazz ensemble Chelsea Bridge. He has collaborated with York music professor Christina Petrowska-Quilico as well as bassist John Geggie, pianist David Lopato, pianist Marilyn Lerner and bassist Victor Bateman. He also performs with concert accordionist Joseph Petric as the duo Erosonic.
In addition, Paul Winter’s Missa Gaia or Earth Mass, a unique genre of earth music, will be performed by soloist Brian Estabrooks with pianist David Murrell.
Established in 1975, the MCS is a concert chorus of 60-plus auditioned voices, performing a wide spectrum of classical masterworks. It has a long tradition of commissioning and performing new choral works by Canadian composers. Creation – A Jazz Oratorio marks the choir’s first foray into the jazz genre.
Tickets cost $25 or $20 for seniors and $15 for students. To buy tickets, visit The Living Arts Centre Box Office Web site or call 905-306-6000.