Sonic Boom Festival presents emerging local talent

Often times classical music is thought of as being stagnant and unchanging -- a picture of a time past. However, Vancouver Pro Musica’s Sonic Boom Festival will see newly composed contemporary classical music performed by Vancouver musicians.

The festival is returning for its 28th year of new music, composed and performed by local ensembles and musicians. Ensemble-in-residence Turning Point Ensemble will play 11 new compositions at their concert on March 29, and featured artist, the Piano and Erhu Project (PEP), will perform songs composed specifically for their new sound on March 28.

“There will be lots of different styles represented so [audiences] would get an excellent cross section of emerging creative talent in Vancouver,” said Owen Underhill, artistic director and conductor for Turning Point Ensemble.

PEP comprises of pianist and UBC professor Corey Hamm and erhuist Nicole Ge Li. When the duo originally formed the project, they noticed a lack of progressive musical styling for piano and erhu. Since their formation, they have reached out to 43 different composers and asked them to write new and stylistically different pieces for piano and erhu in hopes of increasing the repertoire for the combination.

“We deliberately set the path to not just have one type of style but to have as many different styles as we could to see what people would come up with,” said Hamm. “And we’ve really been overjoyed that the composers have been so excited to write for this unusual combination.”

The Piano and Erhu Project will play three new pieces composed specifically for the project and one older piece, “Who Made the Inch of Grass,” written for the duo by the Sonic Boom Festival’s composer-in-residence Aaron Gervais.

“It’s a beautiful piece,” said Hamm.

Similarly, the Turning Point Ensemble intends to present audiences with 11 new and stylistically varying pieces in their performance.

“What's fun is that there's a mix of everything from young composers -- there's one composer who's not out of high school yet -- to composers who are in their 70s, not to date anyone necessarily, but it’s from really young to retired people even, and they’ve all written in different styles,” said Underhill.

“So it’s quite a range from some things are kind of cross over with jazz, some are more avant garde idiom some are in a more popular idiom so the concert will represent 11 different pieces.”

The Sonic Boom Festival will be taking place on March 25-29 at Pyatt Hall and the Orpheum Annex. Tickets are available online.