Gradual by John Oliver

About the Artists

John Oliver (composer / guitar) 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.

Ali Razmi (tar) is a gifted tar and setar player and composer who acquired his MA degree in music from The Art University of Tehran in 2006. He has performed throughout Iran, Azerbaijan, India, turkey, Canada and the US. Ali’s music is used in the Sufi documentary by Amar Shebib in 2012 and he has collaborated with the Musica Intima choir which was distinguished as the best local choir in Vancouver in 2011 and 2012 by the great Canadian composer, Ed Henderson. Ali has been a roster member of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural orchestra (VICO) since 2008. He has been involved in several workshops and compositions with VICO to promote Persian music among Western and Eastern musicians.

Joy Yeh (harp), a Taiwanese-Canadian harpist, is one of only a few harpists in Canada to successfully pursued a doctoral degree in harp. After graduating from UBC with a bachelor degree, she continued her master degree at Yale University with full scholarship, and became the assistant instructor at Indiana University, one of the world’s best music graduate institutes, while obtained her doctoral degree. Alongside her her busy teaching schedule, Dr. Joy Yeh insists on having an active performing career. She has been featured numerous times as a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, Prince George Symphony Orchestra, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and the UBC Symphony Orchestra. She has played at Carnegie Hall, Kozertberlin, World Harp Congress (Canada and Hong Kong) and Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany.

Tai-Lin Hsieh (zheng): A graduate of the National Tainan University of the Arts, with a Master’s Degree in Ethnomusicology from Taiwan’s National Normal University, Tai-Lin Hsieh has toured in China, Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium. Her achievements include a nomination by Taiwan’s 22nd Golden Records Awards and winning such titles as the Star of Traditional Taiwanese Music & Culture Ambassador of Tainan and the National Concert Hall’s Traditional Music Star, as well as winning the Second Prize and Best Performance in Taipei Chinese Orchestra’s 2007 Zheng Competition. Tai-Lin has premiered numerous ground-breaking works. Some are released on her solo CD Zheng Image (2014) with critical acclaim. Tai-Lin is the founder of Augmented Sixth Ensemble, a soloist with the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, and she performs regularly with the Taipei Municipal Chinese Orchestra and Wei Yi New Chinese Music.

About the Instruments

Tar: an aft-fretted lute from Persia (Iran), which emerged in its present form in the middle of the eighteenth century. The long fingerboard has twenty-six to twenty-eight adjustable gut frets, and there are three double courses of strings. Its range is about two and one- half octaves, and it is played with a small brass plectrum.

Zheng: a plucked half-tube wood zither from China, with movable bridges over which strings are stretched. The strings were traditionally made of silk, but today they are usually made of steel or metal wound nylon. The modern Zheng usually has 21 strings, tuned to a pentatonic scale. The performer uses the right hand to pluck the strings, and the tone can be modulated by the left hand pressing the string on the non-speaking side of the bridge.

Video Production Credits

Videography – Alistair Eagle, assisted by Don Xaliman & Camillia Frey

Audio Engineer & Mix – Sheldon Zaharko

Filmed and recorded on December 2-3, 2020 at Deep Cove Shaw Theatre in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

For the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra:

Producer – Mark Armanini

Senior Project Manager – Farshid Samandari

View the full programme for The Longest Night: Music for Solstice (Solace).

More Videos

Click on the thumbnails to watch!

View the full programme for The Longest Night: Music for Solstice (Solace)