The concert Retrouvailles intimistes is the ensemble’s first public performance since the pandemic. The ensemble Kô welcomes you to its home, St James’s Church, where it has been in residence since 2021. The programme is inspired by the distance to the other. The works deal in turn with different views on solitude, separation and reunion.
The concert is divided into four sections.
The first, Absence, is about what once was but is no longer or will no longer be, separation. Two of the works are lullabies, and all share an intimate, simple, and comforting character, as if to soften the pain caused by absence.
The second, Promises, a four-movement instrumental work, is inspired by a traditional Polish song whose lyrics suggest the exchange of promises between lovers, but also adversity and complexity, in the rich imagery of folklore.
The third, Solitude, explores different relationships to isolation; the lyrics of some of the works celebrate its calm and peace or explore the richness of introspection, or note the fear of loneliness leading to a search for companionship devoid of any real desire for connection.
The fourth section, Reunion, opens with Arcadelt’s work about the protagonist falling in love with a nymph and celebrating the fiery and eternal love he feels for her. The concert concludes with a very tender work that is also about love, whether it be love, family or friendship, but this time with the shadow of separation hanging over it once again. This work comes full circle with the very first work of the concert, Remember Me, both of which deal very delicately with the coming and going of encounters, the preparation for mourning, and tenderness.
Remember Me, Stephen Chatman (1950-)
Remember, Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) Remember me when I am gone away, Gone far away into the silent land; When you can no more hold me by the hand, Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. Remember me when no more day by day You tell me of our future that you plann'd: Only remember me; you understand It will be late to counsel then or pray. Yet if you should forget me for a while And afterwards remember, do not grieve: For if the darkness and corruption leave A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad.
Let It Be Forgotten, Stephen Chatman
In Chatman’s own words: I am strongly attracted to the poetry of Sara Teasdale. Particularly inspiring are her symbolic imagery, direct vocabulary and open vowels. In common with many of Teasdale’s poems, Let It Be Forgotten embraces the theme of love - memories of love and forgotten or lost love.
Let It Be Forgotten, Sara Teasdale (1884–1933) Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten, Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold, Let it be forgotten for ever and ever, Time is a kind friend, he will make us old. If anyone asks, say it was forgotten Long and long ago, As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall In a long forgotten snow.
Ukolébavka (Wiegenlied), Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Katarzyna Fraj, violin Matthew C. Lane, piano Kolysanka means lullaby in Polish. The piece is also known as Wiegenlied, meaning lullaby in German. The work for violin and piano was composed in 1894 towards the end of the composer's years in the United States, and published after his death in 1911 in Berlin. The work was, however, composed during a summer holiday in his native Bohemia, prior to his last year of teaching at the National Conservatory of Music in America (in New York). The end of her years in the United States was marked by many difficulties brought on by the economic crisis of April 1893, which had taken a heavy toll on the benefactress who subsidised most of her salary, as well as an increase in her homesickness.
Petite Berceuse, Danaë Ménard-Bélanger (1997-)
Petite berceuse, Danaë Ménard-Bélanger Puisse mon absence veiller sur toi, Que l’existence revête un sens, Si je ne peux pas te prendre [serrer]* dans mes bras, T’envelopper de mon silence, Toute parole est vaine, je chante pour moi Les mots n’ont pas droit de chasser la peine [les mots ne sont pas la peine]* Mais dans ton silence, souviens-toi de moi. Souviens moi de toi. *The words in square brackets are the version sung by the violas. In the words of the composer: Singing a lullaby can be used to soothe another person for whom it is intended, to put a child to sleep, for example. But it can also be sung to seek one's own comfort, or to create a connection between two people. The lullaby sung to an absent person creates a great emptiness where that person should have been to receive the lullaby. The words of this work are like a very tender lament, full of benevolence like a prayer, but a prayer devoid of the hope of surrendering to the other, which only makes the solid more vivid. The lullaby oscillates between the impulse towards the other "remember me", and simultaneously the awareness that one sings the lullaby to console oneself, that this impulse is lost in the great emptiness of solitude and the echo that returns is a cruel reminder that one is alone with oneself; "remember me of you".
Sketches on Czerwone Jabłuszko, Matthew C. Lane (1985-)
Katarzyna Fraj, violon Matthew C. Lane, piano Matthew C. Lane, Kô's artistic director since 2019, is a Montreal-based composer known for his versatility; a multi-instrumentalist, organist, teacher, and choral conductor, his works have diverse inspirations and make as much use of technology and algorithms as they do of traditional writing methods, and of course, an inspiration and desire to share. His four-movement piece Sketches on Czerwone Jabuszko is inspired by the traditional Polish song Czerwone Jabuszko, the title of which means 'red apple'. Words from the inspiration play, free translation 1. The red apple is rolling on the ground, I love a girl with black eyes. Ref. Geese for water, ducks for water, Run away, girl, or you'll be beaten. I'll give you a kiss, you give me a kiss, I won't give you away, you won't give me away 2. A red apple, sliced crosswise, Why do you look at me the wrong way, girl? Ref. Geese for water, ducks for water, Run away, boy, or you'll be beaten. I'll give you a kiss, you give me a kiss, I won't give you away, you won't give me away. 3. You said, girl, that I stole your garland, It's under the bench, the dog's lying on it. Ref. Geese for water, ducks for water, Run away, girl, or you'll be beaten. I'll give you a kiss, you give me a kiss, I won't give you away, you won't give me away.
Moon Waltz, Katarzyna Fraj (1978-)
Nadine Bourgeois, mezzo-soprano Katarzyna Fraj, violon Matthew C. Lane, piano The piece was originally composed for piano and violin, for a student of the composer named Kinneret. The composer later composed the lyrics. These are based on a story, A Grain of a Star, about a young boy whose stepfather, who had become his mentor, has died. He misses his guidance and their unique bond. Then, one night, he magically gets the chance to see him again. This story was in turn inspired by an encounter the composer had with a mysterious itinerant with wisdom. Lyrics A Moon Waltz for Kinneret Katarzyna Fraj In darkest nights On the velvet blue sky Our dreams and hopes May find their home Through the Moonlight Tender and mild Their true nature may be But through the storms And hardship first We must take thee. Glitters of Glory Shine al most like the real Love So magical seem Grains of a Star... Under the Moonlight Lets dance and hear the sounds That move the strings of wounded yet Kind hearts. Strong taste of Power Feels almost like a real One So magical seem Grains of a Star... Under the Moonlight Lets dance and hear the sounds That move the strings of wounded yet Kind hearts. Under the Moonlight We dance if only once I’ll be the voice That moves the strings in your heart.
The Moon, Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) Art thou pale for weariness Par Percy Bysshe Shelley Art thou pale for weariness Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth, Wandering companionless Among the stars that have a different birth, And ever changing, like a joyless eye That finds no object worth its constancy?
Promiscuity – Hermit Songs, Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Avery Gietz, soprano Matthew C. Lane, piano Lyrics Anon. , translated by Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson I do not know with whom Edan will sleep, but I do know that fair Edan will not sleep alone.
The Monk and His Cat – Hermit Songs, Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Lyrics Pangur, white Pangur How happy we are Alone together, Scholar and cat Each has his own work to do daily; For you it is hunting, for me, study Your shining eye watches the wall; My feeble eye is fixed on a book You rejoice when your claws entrap a mouse; I rejoice when my mind fathoms a problem Pleased with his own art Neither hinders the other; Thus we live ever Without tedium and envy Pangur, white Pangur How happy we are Alone togethеr, Scholar and cat
The Desire for Hermitage – Hermit Songs, Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Lyrics The Desire for Hermitage Anon. , translated by Seán Ó Faoláin Ah! To be all alone in a little cell with nobody near me; beloved that pilgrimage before the last pilgrimage to Death. Singing the passing hours to cloudy Heaven; feeding upon dry bread and water from the cold spring. That will be an end to evil when I am alone in a lovely little corner among tombs Far from the houses of the great. Ah! To be all alone in a little cell, to be alone, all alone: Alone I came into the world, Alone I shall go from it.
Dormendo un giorno, Jacques Arcadelt (1507-1568)
Dormend'un giorn'a Baia'll ombr'Amore, dov'il murmur de fonti più gli piacque cor sen le Nymph'a vendicar l'ardore e la face gli ascosen sotto l'acque, ch'il crederebbe drent'a quel liquore subitament'eterno foco nacque onde a quei bagni sempr'il caldo dura, che la fiamma d'amor acqua non cura. Sleeping, one day in the bay, in the shade of love Where the murmur of springs most pleased him With heart the Nymph's to avenge the ardour And face ascended him beneath the waters, That he would believe in that liquor Immediately eternal fire was born Whence to those baths everlasting heat lasts, Which the flame of love water does not cure.
Arioso, Jeno Hubay (1858-1937)
Katarzyna Fraj, violon Matthew C. Lane, piano
All Right Now, Avery Gietz (1970-)
In the words of the composer: All Right Now is a lullaby sung by two people who know and love each other deeply - friends, spouses, siblings - one of whom is dying. Each, in turn, comforts and reassures the other as they come to terms with the end of their relationship, and face the final moments of life together. Lyrics Avery Gietz Everything’s all right now We’re gonna make it through somehow The life we built is beautiful, so rest and I will bide Everything is all right now