Polyphonic Lively

with the NAC Orchestra

2021-04-17 20:00 2021-04-17 21:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Polyphonic Lively


NAC Livestream

The concert opens with the vivacious first movement of UK composer Errollyn Wallen’s Photography (2007). Evoking an energetic dance, the sections of the string orchestra engage in the jubilant exchange of various motives throughout, while pulsating patterns propel the piece forward to its ecstatic conclusion.   A Short Piece for Orchestra (1952) is one of American composer Julia Perry’s best known works. During her lifetime, it received acclaimed performances on both sides of...

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Southam Hall,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
Sat, April 17, 2021

≈ 60 minutes · No intermission

Our programs have gone digital.

Scan the QR code at the venue's entrance to read the program notes before the show begins.


Errollyn Wallen

Photography I.-- (4 mins)


A Short Piece for Orchestra (8 mins)

The House of Life: selections (18 mins)

I. Love - sight

II. Silent Noon

III. Love's Minstrals

IV. Heart's Haven


Polyphonic Lively

Sri Lankan-born Canadian Dinuk Wijeratne has established himself as a multi-award–winning composer, conductor, and pianist, throughout Canada and abroad. Several of his boundary-crossing works have been performed in recent years by the National Arts Centre Orchestra, with which he also made his conducting debut in July 2022. He describes his music as an intersection of cultures, influenced by those of his upbringing—Sri Lanka, India, and the Middle East—and expressed through the genres, compositional techniques, and mediums of Western classical music. “I’m using music to find a cultural balance that one wants to live, and to explore identity that way,” he recently noted in an article for Ottawa Chamberfest.

Wijeratne’s piece Polyphonic Lively was commissioned by Symphony Nova Scotia in 2016, when he was the orchestra’s RBC Composer-in-Residence. It was premiered by the ensemble conducted by Bernhard Gueller on October 13, 2016; in 2017, the piece won the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award, the province’s largest annual award for a work of art. Wijeratne shares the following description about his piece:

Pol·y·phon·ic (adj.) – many-voiced, [music] composed of relatively independent melodic lines or parts.

Live·ly (adj.) – full of life or vigour.

While browsing through a library book of very vibrant artwork by Paul Klee, the 20th century Swiss-German master, I was struck by the title of one of the paintings: ‘Polyphonic Lively’. Though the two adjectives back-to-back suggest that something may have been lost in translation, I felt compelled to turn these very vivid and evocative words into music. They immediately conjured up high-vibration, high-intensity ‘chatter’, and also seemed nicely suited to the celebratory nature of an orchestra’s season opener.

Music, as a communicative medium, offers unique and wonderful opportunities for stacking contrasting ideas—for ‘polyphony’. As a composer I like to explore the possibility that musical voices, each conveying an idea that is either supportive or subversive, can be allowed to coexist in a way that often eludes us in today’s world. The nature of ‘Polyphonic Lively‘ is character-driven and, through sharp turns and decisive action, its ‘journey’ is simply what the characters make of it. Its musical fabric is a multiplicity of voices, lines, and themes that decide—on a whim—when to coalesce and coexist.


  • Featuring NAC Orchestra
  • Conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser
  • allison-joel
    Bass-Baritone Joel Allison
  • Composer Errollyn Wallen
  • julia-amanda-perry-public-domain
    Composer Julia Perry
  • Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Composer Dinuk Wijeratne

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees