Soundstreams Announces The Bright Divide


OCTOBER 5, 2023 (TORONTO, ON): Lawrence Cherney, Founding Artistic Director of Soundstreams, today announced program details for The Bright Divide, a riveting new concert experience featuring Rothko Chapel by American composer Morton Feldman, and the world premiere of mark by Canadian composer Cecilia Livingston with original text by Duncan McFarlane.

The concert will run for three performances only, on November 10 at 7:30 p.m. and November 11 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at the new TD Music Hall, 178 Victoria St, Toronto. Tickets are on sale now at

The Bright Divide is inspired by the work of two artistic masters: Mark Rothko, one of the most important painters of the 20th century and one of the finest artists of all time, whose richly colourful works continue to captivate viewers; and Feldman, a contemporary of Rothko, and a major figure in 20th-century classical music. Bringing the vision to life will be internationally celebrated stage director Tim Albery, with David Fallis as conductor and music director.

Steven Dann is the featured soloist in both works on the program. As principal viola of some of the world’s leading orchestras, and a veteran of the string quartet and chamber music world as soloist and recitalist, Dann is a critically acclaimed and internationally recognized virtuoso.

The program also features Soundstreams Choir 21, with vocal soloist Alex Samaras, Ryan Scott on percussion, and Gregory Oh on celesta, with lighting design by Siobhán Sleath and projections by Cameron Davis.

The Bright Divide is vintage Soundstreams: pairing an acknowledged 20th/21st century masterwork with a newly commissioned work on the same theme using similar forces. Morton Feldman’s mesmerising and haunting masterwork Rothko Chapel was inspired by paintings of the iconic Mark Rothko. We’ve chosen Cecilia Livingston to create a companion work – mark – a visceral response to both Rothko and Feldman, offering us a contemporary lens through which to reimagine how we feel, hear, see and interpret the universal themes these artists struggled for a lifetime to capture. The concert is a breathtaking voyage of discovery for all the senses.

Lawrence Cherney

Rothko Chapel (1971) by American composer Morton Feldman was written as a tribute piece for Mark Rothko, and premiered in 1972 at the famed Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, a non-denominational spiritual space containing 14 paintings by the iconic American painter. Feldman’s evocative score features a solo viola, to be performed in The Bright Divide by Steven Dann. The piece is also an homage to The Chapel itself, created “to illuminate our shared humanity, inspiring actions towards treating all with dignity and respect.” mark will be a world premiere by Canadian composer Cecilia Livingston with original text by Canadian author and librettist Duncan McFarlane, responding both to Feldman’s piece and to Rothko’s art itself.

This is Cecilia’s third collaboration with Soundstreams, her most recent commission being Garden of Vanished Pleasures in 2021. “To better understand Feldman’s response to the Rothko Chapel in his own Rothko Chapel — and so where my own response to those two artists and their works might begin — I went to Houston to see those fourteen immense, enigmatic paintings: Rothko’s permanently veiled images,” said Livingston. “Feldman’s piece captures a compelling sense of the strange stillness of that space, hanging uneasily between the canvases. With mark, I want to invite audiences to explore a different perspective: looking out from inside Rothko’s paintings, back into the chapel space and out into the world.”

mark offers a ritual of light and darkness: exploring this ‘Bright Divide’, the spiritual tensions in Rothko’s work, and the tensions between Rothko’s earlier bright colour fields and the sombre refinement of the Chapel paintings. Known for her powerful, dramatic creations for singers – and often inspired by great works of art – Livingston contrasts soloist and ensemble, viola and voice, to evoke what Robert Hughes called the ‘breathing intensity’ of Rothko’s paintings—that sense of awe and contemplation.

The Bright Divide from Soundstreams:
Fri, Nov 10, 2023 – 7:30 p.m.
Sat, Nov 11, 2023 – 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

TD MUSIC HALL: 178 Victoria St, Toronto, ON M5B 1T7
Ticket Link:
Box Office Phone Number: 416-872-4255
Box Office Email: [email protected]
Ticket Prices: PWYC $25 – $75 + taxes & fees

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The Bright Divide is presented in partnership with Pinkhouse Productions.

About Soundstreams
Under the leadership of its Founding Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney, Soundstreams began in 1982 with a tribute to Igor Stravinsky’s 100th birth year, an artist who fundamentally transformed the ways we hear our world. In the intervening years, we’ve probed compelling Canadian themes and stories through new works in music and opera that resonate with our time and place. We aim not only to reflect upon those themes and stories but to inspire new perspectives and approaches to them.

Soundstreams has created a platform for compelling new creations both at home and abroad. Our various Toronto-based concert series, educational and outreach events and professional development programs have showcased nearly 1500 global creators and performers in collaboration with their Canadian counterparts. At the same time, Soundstreams’ productions have toured North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe. In recent seasons, Soundstreams
has received high praise from the international press: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, and The Wall Street Jounal.

For further media information, contact:
Katie Saunoris, KSPR | [email protected]

Images for The Bright Divide, here.