Soundstreams announces New Voices: Waiting for Godot?


Soundstreams 2022/23: 40 years of Excellence in Canadian Music

New Voices: Waiting for Godot?

March 21, 2023 // Toronto, ON – New Voices is a unique mentorship program for early to mid-career music curators. Each year, we select an aspiring curator through a juried process to work with the Soundstreams’ team to develop a Main Stage program. The recipient works closely with Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney, as well as other senior staff, to develop practical skills to evaluate the cultural, aesthetic, marketable, and financial aspects of programming in a mid-sized performing arts company. “At Soundstreams we’re always looking for new ways to promote new voices and perspectives in our series,” says Lawrence Cherney, Artistic Director. “It’s also a great opportunity for new curators to ‘level-up’ in their careers.”

Waiting for Godot? is the culmination of this year’s New Voices program, guest curated by Arlan Vriens. This concert celebrates the small, the immediate, and the intently observed. Like many, as the pandemic collapsed our lives, the circumference of Arlan’s daily travels was reduced to more intimate surroundings. What were previously mundane urban and natural environs transfixed his attention as sources of excitement—the textured walls of a room, the native flora in a park, the raccoons outside the window. Arlan’s concert reflects on this altered attentiveness as a revelatory power and hopefully a catalyst for rebuilding artistic practices in a changed and changing world.

The program features recent works by Canadian composers that take on new meaning as reflections of the “before times.” By focusing our attentive gaze on these works from a new perspective, we might uncover timely meanings—hidden or projected features, identities, and stories—like learning the names and habits of long-overlooked birds in the backyard. Conversely, the newly commissioned work Perfect Light by Beverley McKiver, written after the pandemic but intimately entangled with its experiences, leads us on a path into a new future.

Arlan has curated a roster of all female-identifying composers from across Canada whose works engage in an attention to small phenomena in both our literal and metaphorical backyards.

In Anna Pidgorna’s Obsessive Circularity of Thought, as the name suggests, the solo harpsichordist wanders and falters around repeating small ideas, disturbing in their recurrence and fascinating in their iridescence. Nicole Lizée’s Urbexploitation transplants the harpsichord into subterranean and digital exploration. Jocelyn Morlock’s Petrichor and Carmen Braden’s The Seed Knows capture mysterious and strangely familiar natural phenomena. String quartets by Vivian Fung, Veronique Vaka, and Dorothy Chang all explore different fascinations with the small, the subtle, and the surprising. And Beverley McKiver’s new piece for piano trio will have its world premiere at the April 22 performance, exploring the composer’s own natural and personal environment during pandemic lockdowns.

Playing the three string quartets will be the Penderecki String Quartet. The quartet has toured extensively internationally including appearances in many of the world’s major concert halls. A devoted champion of contemporary music, they have commissioned and premiered 100 new works, and since 1991, have been Quartet-in-Residence at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University.

Arlan Vriens is a violinist, curator, and writer based in Tkaronto. His interests lie in bringing new or forgotten sounds to the concert stage through performance of new music and rediscovery of lost historical performance techniques. He performs across the Greater Toronto Area on instruments ranging from the baroque violin to hacked cassette tape recorders. Currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the University of Toronto, his ongoing research into the unusual performance techniques of the Bach associate Friedrich Wilhelm Rust recently brought him to Cambridge University as a Visiting Scholar and across Germany and Belgium conducting archival and performance research, supported by the American Bach Society, SSHRC CGS-D program, and other generous funders. His artistic pursuits have recently been recognized by his home province of Alberta with several awards including the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal.

Waiting for Godot?

Redwood Theatre, 1300 Gerrard St., Toronto

April 22, 2023 @ 8pm


Anna Pidgorna Obsessive Circularity of Thought (solo harpsichord)
Nicole Lizée Urbexploitation (viola, viola, cello, harpsichord, video & soundtrack)
Carmen Braden The Seed Knows (violin and piano)
Vivian Fung String Quartet 4 “Insects and Machines” (string quartet)
Dorothy Chang Beautiful Things (string quartet)
Veronique Vaka Flowen (string quartet)
Jocelyn Morlock Petrichor (violin and piano)
Beverley McKiver Seeking Light (piano trio)


Penderecki String Quartet, string quartet
Christine Vlajk; viola, Jeremy Bell; violin, Jerzy Kaplanek; violin, Katie Schlaikjer; cello
Wesley Shen; piano & harpsichord, Erika Raum; violin, Amahl Arulanandam; cello, Aysel Taghi-Zada; viola

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Contact: Kirk Thomson, [email protected]

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