Charles Hamann and Frédéric Lacroix – noon hour recital

2022-07-19 12:00 2022-07-19 12:45 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Charles Hamann and Frédéric Lacroix – noon hour recital

In-person event

NACO’s Principal Oboe Charles Hamann has established himself as an enthusiastic champion of new music and over the past decade, he has commissioned many works from leading Canadian composers for solo oboe and oboe with piano. This recital with him and pianist Frédéric Lacroix features three recent commissions by Kevin Lau, Kelly-Marie Murphy, and Ian Cusson. Each work is an expressive response to striking scenic images—be it conjured up in a writer’s imagination,...

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Atrium O’Brien,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa
Tuesday, July 19, 2022

≈ 45 minutes · No intermission


Kevin Lau

In the Garden of Endless Sleep for oboe and piano

Inspired by a fictitious place in Gene Wolfe’s science fiction novel The Book of the New Sun, Kevin Lau (b. 1982) was sparked by an image of “a garden that moves through time, flickering between present, past, and future” to create In the Garden of Endless Sleep for oboe and piano (2020). He notes that the piece explores the “idea of viewing the garden—a cultivated slice of natural beauty—through various stages of growth and decay.” He was also interested in capturing the juxtaposition of “simplicity versus impermeability,” as influenced by Wolfe’s elusive prose. In Lau’s words:

I tried to capture this in part by evoking musical memories from older time periods in a somewhat hazy fashion, and in part through texture—in particular, the use of the piano’s sustained pedal to blur certain harmonies together. The structure of the piece is “fuzzy” as well, invoking not so much rondo form as its afterimage. Although there is an earthy, organic aspect to the piece—the melodious but often asymmetric oboe lines, for example, suggesting the contours of vines and roots and the sprawl of overgrown vegetation—the music is otherwise steeped in a dream-like and uneasy vagueness. 

Program notes by Dr. Hannah Chan-Hartley

Kelly-Marie Murphy

Glacial Ablations

I. Crystalline Elements
II. Ice-Sizzle
III. Runoff

With music described as “breathtaking” (Kitchener-Waterloo Record), “imaginative and expressive” (The National Post), “a pulse-pounding barrage on the senses” (The Globe and Mail), and “Bartok on steroids” (Birmingham News), Kelly-Marie Murphy’s voice is well known on the Canadian music scene. She has created a number of memorable works for some of Canada’s leading performers and ensembles, including the Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras, The Gryphon Trio, James Campbell, Shauna Rolston, the Cecilia and Afiara String Quartets, and Judy Loman. Born in 1964 on a NATO base in Sardegna, Italy, Murphy studied composition at the University of Calgary and later received a PhD in composition at the University of Leeds in England. She is now based in Ottawa, from where she pursues a career as a freelance composer.

Murphy composed Glacial Ablations in 2022 for NACO Principal Oboe Charles “Chip” Hamann, who tonight, with pianist Frédéric Lacroix, performs the work’s world premiere. She describes the piece as follows:

Chip Hamann invited me to create a new piece for oboe and piano for a recital and recording project featuring a number of Canadian composers. The theme for the project was nature in Canada—things to do with our climate or landscapes. As my subject-matter, I chose glaciers, specifically, how we are losing our glacial ice and permafrost due to climate change.

For my piece, I chose three terms from the field of glaciology and tried to create music that responds to them. The title Glacial Ablations refers to the loss of ice and snow in a glacial system. The first movement, Crystalline Elements, is slow, and features not only delicate structures in the piano, but also space and drama, in which translucence and opaqueness mingle with the human response.

The second movement, Ice-Sizzle, is very fast, powerful, and urgent. The term refers to the sound glaciers can make, which is like carbonated water.  The final movement, Runoff, has to do with evaporation and deterioration of the glacier. It begins with cadenza-like moments in the oboe and piano and features upward moving lines. The runoff intensifies as the forces of moving water grow in ferocity and urgency.


Sonata for Oboe and Piano, “The Haywain”

Ian Cusson’s Sonata for Piano and Oboe, “The Haywain” (2020), is the second of three works by the composer (b. 1981) based on images from the late-Medieval painter, Hieronymus Bosch. The sonata unfolds in three movements, titled Dignified, Simply, and Wild, respectively. These are, as Cusson explains, “in dialogue with Bosch’s The Haywain Triptych, painted in 1516, and follow the painting’s three panels as they progress from an Edenic state to Hell with all its absurdities. The image is dominated by a giant bale of hay at the work’s centre around which crowds of people cavort under the benevolent watching eyes in the clouds above them.”


  • charles-hamann-2
    oboe Charles Hamann
  • fred-lacroix-square-william-meekins
    piano Frédéric Lacroix
  • kevin-lau
    composer Kevin Lau
    composer Kelly-Marie Murphy
  • ian-cusson-credit-john-arano
    composer Ian Cusson