Hommage à Hafiz by Leslie Uyeda

About the Music


Janna Sailor, conductor

Mark Takeshi McGregor, flute

Kamanches: Marjan Alekhamis, Mohammad Amini, Sina Ettehad
Erhus: Jun Rong, Yun Song, Lan Tung
Violins: Mark Ferris, Elyse Jacobson, Yuel Yawney
Violas: Sarah Kwok, Tawnya Popoff, Isabelle Roland
Celli: Sungyong Lim, Finn Manniche
Contrabass: Mark Haney
Tombak: Bijan Rahmani

Hommage à Hafiz is a concerto for flute and string orchestra. The orchestration also includes the Chinese erhu and the Persian kamanche. The concerto was composed especially for the marvellous Canadian flutist Mark Takeshi McGregor. There are two sections in Hommage à Hafiz. In the first part, I imagined the Persian poet Hafiz sitting or walking in a beautiful garden, dreaming his poetry. Perhaps some followers were gathered to listen. The music is contemplative, with the flute speaking the lines of the poem, experimenting with this or that thought. Hafiz believed in life and living, in dancing and loving, and in giving praise and thanks to the Creator for all that we have. The second section gives way to a dance, with the flute flying over and around the orchestra as they join in the celebration together.

Composing Hommage à Hafiz was pure joy for me, and VICO’s philosophy of having eastern and western instruments playing together expanded my mind and my musical vocabulary. I thank Mark McGregor, conductor Janna Sailor and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra for bringing this new work to life. ~ Leslie Uyeda

About the Artists

Leslie Uyeda (composer) was born in Montréal and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Leslie has been coach/pianist/conductor/chorus director with opera companies across Canada, and in addition to conducting mainstage productions of traditional répertoire, has conducted her own operas Game Misconduct and When the Sun Comes Out. Leslie has composed four song cycles to the exquisite and poignant poetry of Japanese-Canadian poet Joy Kogawa, and over fifty songs to the gorgeous poetry of Lorna Crozier, including cycles The First Woman, White Cat Blues, and The Sex Lives of Vegetables. Your Breath, My Breath: Dialogue for a Mother and Daughter – an astonishing extended poem in the form of a dialogue for two women, written expressly for Uyeda by Lorna Crozier, premièred in 2019 at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words. Three of Uyeda’s Crozier song cycles will be commercially recorded in 2021 – Plato’s Angel, with baritone Tyler Duncan and pianist Erika Switzer, and The First Woman and The Sex Lives of Vegetables, with Heather Pawsey, soprano, AK Coope, clarinet, and Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, piano. Recent commissions/world premières include Empress Jitō Dances for the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO); two song cycles for soprano and piano – Midnight Watch and A Quiet Place; three songs for young voices and piano for Regent Park School in Toronto; Three Lorca Songs for soprano, harp and percussion, and A Dance for All of Us, for Little Chamber Music. In January 2022, When the Sun Comes Out will be produced and given six performances by Portland Opera. Leslie Uyeda’s music has been published by the Avondale Press, now held within the Canadian Music Centre. Leslie is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre, a member of the Canadian League of Composers, the Association of Canadian Women Composers, and SOCAN. Leslie would like to thank VICO for the opportunity to compose Hommage à Hafiz for flutist Mark Takeshi McGregor and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural String Orchestra this year. https://leslieuyeda.com


Mark Takeshi McGregor (flute) is a soloist, chamber musician, and improvisor based on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh People — also known as Vancouver, Canada. As the principal flutist of Aventa Ensemble, Sound of Dragon, and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Mark has performed extensively across five continents. Recent engagements include Innovations en Concert (Montreal), Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival (Singapore), Museo Leonora Carrington (San Luis Potosí, Mexico), Powell Street Festival (Vancouver), Melos-Ethos International Festival of Contemporary Music (Bratislava), GroundSwell (Winnipeg), Núcleo Música Nova International Symposium of New Music (Curitiba, Brazil), and the ISCM World New Music Days in Vancouver. 

McGregor has performed as concerto soloist with the Victoria Symphony, Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Taiwan), Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, and Aventa Ensemble, and has worked with some of the world’s leading composers, including Michael Finnissy, Heiner Goebbels, Philippe Leroux, Nicole Lizée, Natalia Solomonoff, Simon Steen-Andersen, Gilles Tremblay, Barry Truax, and Rolf Wallin. Mark is particularly passionate about expanding the Canadian flute repertoire, and has worked with a wide array of Canadian composers, resulting in new works for solo flute, chamber music, and concertos.  

A prolific recording artist, Mark Takeshi McGregor has appeared on the Centrediscs and Redshift record labels; in 2020 Mark was the winner of the Western Canadian Music Award “Classical Artist/Ensemble of the Year” for his album, Lutalica, which features the solo flute music of Pacific Rim composers. Dr. McGregor teaches at Vancouver Community College, the Vancouver Academy of Music, and the VSO School of Music. In addition to his career as a musician, Mark likes to paint and draw, sip rosé, and tell slightly exaggerated stories, like a true Sagittarius.


Janna Sailor (conductor) is a conductor, violinist, and musical innovator of extraordinary scope and versatility.  Originally from rural Saskatchewan, she began her musical studies at the age of three and began performing with professional orchestras at the age of thirteen. In June 2016, Janna founded the Vancouver-based Allegra Chamber Orchestra, one of the only all-female classical orchestras in the world; an ensemble dedicated to creating opportunities for women and minorities in the music industry, with a mandate of social action through music. The orchestra has been featured on CBC Radio, German Public Radio, Radio ICI, the Strad magazine, The Violin Channel, The Walrus, The Hub magazine, as well as other publications and media outlets across North America and Europe. Janna has conducted major orchestras and ensembles including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Vancouver Bach Choir, and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, among others. Janna has held conducting positions with the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, and the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra. In addition to conducting, Janna enjoys a diverse career as violinist, delving into contemporary, world and early music, jazz, and classical crossover, in addition to chamber and solo engagements. Ensembles she has performed with include the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Tafelmusik.  Janna has served as concertmaster with both the Montreal based l’Orchestre de la Francophonie (2011) and the National Academy Orchestra of Canada (2014). http://www.jannasailor.com

The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, founded in 2001, was one of the first professional concert orchestras devoted specifically to performing new intercultural music on a grand scale. It is currently the only ensemble of its kind in Canada, and one of a only a handful that exist in the world. The VICO brings together musicians and composers from many cultural and artistic communities in the Greater Vancouver area, including Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Indian, Persian (Iranian), Latin and South American, Vietnamese, African, North American and European. The ensemble includes Western strings and winds (violin, viola, cello, contrabass, oboe, flute, clarinet) alongside Chinese erhu, sanxian, zheng, and sheng/suona; Persian kamanche, tar/setar, and tombak; Vietnamese dan bau; percussion from many world music traditions; and a variety of other instruments as required.

Since repertoire for the VICO’s unusual and diverse instrumentation does not already exist, creating new work is an integral component of all our programming. Developing new commissions (over 50 new Canadian works since 2001, and counting!) provides a necessary framework for bringing musicians and composers together to learn from each other, in a uniquely collaborative process. We create and perform music that transcends borders and breaks down barriers, modeling a pathway for integrating non-Western traditional instruments, sounds and techniques into contemporary Canadian classical music. http://www.vi-co.org

Video Production Credits

Videography – Alistair Eagle

Audio Engineer & Mix – Sheldon Zaharko

Filmed and recorded on November 2, 2021 at the Orpheum Annex in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

For the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra:

Artistic Director & Producer – Mark Armanini

Composer-in-Residence & Senior Project Manager – Farshid Samandari

Production Manager & Communications – Melanie Thompson

Marketing & Production Assistant – Gina Hernandez Sanchez

Operations Manager – Devni De Silva


View the whole programme for The Longest Night: Music for Solstice (Solace) 2021.

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Overview of The Longest Night 2021 series