Ornamental by John Oliver
John Oliver (composer/guitar)
John Oliver is a multiple-award-winning composer and performer who writes opera, orchestra, chamber and electroacoustic music. Winner of the Classical Composition of the Year Award at the 2013 Western Canadian Music Awards for his orchestral composition Forging Utopia, he came to international attention early in his career when he won six composition prizes for five compositions ranging from chamber to orchestral to electroacoustic music, including the Grand Prize at the 8th CBC National Young Composers’ Competition for his live electroacoustic work El Reposo del Fuego. Commissions and performances flowed from the likes of the Canadian Opera Company, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, CBC, Vancouver New Music, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Turning Point Ensemble, New Music Concerts, and the SMCQ (Montréal), among others. Oliver has two solo releases to his credit: Time is Dust, and Forging Utopia. http://www.johnolivermusic.com
Composer’s note: I originally wrote Ornamental for erhu and guitar, though the erhu part can be played on any melodic instrument with the same range (lowest note middle-D). The musical material is derived from the movement “Green” from my guitar quartet PRISMOPHONY. The piece begins with a kind of baroque turn and the entire ethos of the work is inspired by the notion of ornamental music. – John Oliver
Lan Tung (erhu)
Lan Tung’s music often experiments with contradictions by taking culturally specific materials outside their context. Her works embody the rhythmic intricacy from Indian influence, the sense of breath from Chinese tradition, and years of experiences interpreting contemporary compositions. Incorporating improvisation and graphic notations, Lan’s compositions are released on numerous CDs, winning multiple nominations. Lan is the artistic director of Sound of Dragon Society, Orchid Ensemble, and Proliferasian. Originally from Taiwan, she has studied graphic score with Barry Guy, improvisation with Mary Oliver, Hindustani music with Kala Ramnath, and Uyghur music with Abdukerim Osman, in addition to her studies of Chinese music since a young age. Lan has appeared as a soloist with Orchestre Metropolitain (Montreal), Symphony Nova Scotia, Upstream Ensemble (Halifax), Atlas Ensemble (Amsterdam & Helsinki), Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Taipei).
About the Instruments
Erhu: a bowed instrument from China with a long neck and two strings between which a horsehair bow is placed. The strings are tuned to a fifth. The sound box may take different shapes – hexagon, octagon, round, or ellipse – and is covered on one side by snakeskin. The erhu performs an essential role in Chinese classical music as well as in the folk music tradition. It is held vertically to play – the left hand plays without a fingerboard, while the right hand holds the bow and plays one string at a time.
Video Production Credits
Director of Photography – Kerry Phillips
Gaffer / B Camera – Yong Jin Kim
Audio Engineer & Mix – Sheldon Zaharko
All additional photography – Kerry Phillips
Filmed and recorded on July 27, 2020 at Pyatt Hall (VSO School of Music) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
For the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra:
Global Soundscapes Festival Producer – Mark Armanini
Senior Project Manager – Farshid Samandari