October 2020 update on live performances and events at the NAC.
Ian Cusson ©John Arano
NACO Home Delivery

Ian Cusson and Sibelius

This Home Delivery brings concert recordings from February 2017 with John Storgårds and from the musicians’ popular chamber music series, Music for a Sunday Afternoon from 2018. We have prepared a rich, contemplative and contrasting program, with one work sharing themes of identity, and the other of serene optimism.

While Ian Cusson wrote important works about his Métis culture during his time as NAC Carrefour Composer, for his very first commission he chose to write a song cycle based on the poems of celebrated author, Joy Kogawa. Where There’s a Wall, for mezzo-soprano and six instrumentalists, received its world premiere on November 4, 2018. The poems reflect Joy Kogawa’s childhood in an internment camp for Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War, poems to which Ian felt a direct connection: “On the surface they don’t seem to share any common ground with my Métis history, but deep down they do share something with my key interests as a composer: themes of displacement, dislocation, and fear of outsiders – all of which are surprisingly common themes of the Métis experience.”

Of all of Sibelius’ symphonies, his Sixth is considered his most enigmatic. Written between 1918-1922, it premiered in February 1923 with Sibelius conducting, and drew confused, yet appreciative reviews as it was so unlike his previous works. In many ways, it can be considered his most optimistic work, full of sublime, lyrical and tranquil beauty. This Symphony doesn’t include a slow movement; in fact, none of the movements possess a negativity or darkness before triumphant light. It simply peacefully fades away. One could say it is his “Pastoral” symphony. Sibelius himself said “The Sixth Symphony always reminds me of the scent of the first snow”.

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