A standing wave is a pattern of vibration created by the interference of two waves travelling in different directions. Standing Wave is also the name of one of the most dynamic contemporary chamber music groups in Canada. Dedicated to commissioning and performing works by new composers, especially Canadian ones, Standing Wave will bring a galvanizing performance to the Quadra Island Community Centre on Saturday, January 23rd at 8 PM.
Standing Wave was formed in 1991 as an ensemble-in-residence at the University of British Columbia’s School of Music to provide reading sessions for student composition classes. The five members include clarinetist AK Coope, violinist Rebecca Whitling, cellist Peggy Lee, percussionist Vern Griffiths and pianist Allen Stiles. This group of highly accomplished musicians join together such diverse musical backgrounds as classical symphonic, Broadway musical, pop/rock and contemporary/improvisational. Working closely with the composers who write for them has been a key part of their activities, as has playing complex chamber compositions accompanied by electro-acoustics and multimedia.
The centrepiece of their Quadra concert will be Vox Balaenae, or Voice of the Whale, a rarely performed composition by American composer George Crumb. Stunning in its aural and visual beauty, Vox Balaenae was inspired by the singing of the humpback whale. Written for three masked musicians playing electric flute, electric cello and amplified piano, it is performed on a stage bathed in deep-blue light to create an underwater atmosphere. The masks represent the powerful, impersonal forces of nature while the instruments are used in non-traditional ways to create eerie and surreal timbres. Vox Balaenae was premiered in1972 at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC by the New York Camerata to critical acclaim. Andrew Porter, writing in the New Yorker described it as: "…quiet and subtly enchanting, [Vox Balaenae] reveals Crumb's discoveries of new instrumental resources at their most lyrical; …it is not a mere assemblage of sound effects but a sustained and beautiful dream vision of the deep." When this writer saw it, she, along with the mesmerized audience, sat in utter silence for at least 60 seconds before the applause burst forth.
Standing Wave has performed at Vancouver New Music Festivals, Western Front’s Fuse series at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Jazz Festival. They have released two CDs, a self-titled recording in 1991 and Redline, in 2006. They have performed with many different guests and have been heard on CBC’s Two New Hours, West Coast Performance.
To catch this wave, get your advance tickets for $17 at the Music Plant in Campbell River and at Quadra Crafts or Hummingbird Office and Art Supply on Quadra Island. Students 16 and under are welcomed free with an adult. For more information, call 250-285-2580 or visit the group’s website at www.standingwave.ca