Curating 'The Road Not Travelled' - Notes from the Director
When the collective met last winter to talk about the structure of this season, we decided that we wanted to showcase our concerts this year in an overarching series. Almost immediately, we were enraptured by the idea of Jungian archetypes, as each provokes a powerful image with many unique avenues to explore through music.
When we think of a 'sage', we're drawn to figures of distinguished philosophers like Socrates or Immanuel Kant, or perhaps we think of popular storybook characters such as Gandalf or Dumbledore. The concept behind 'The Road Not Travelled' is to deconstruct this concept of the sage by examining the quintessential attribute of the archetype: wisdom; and look at this in terms of the individual. What does wisdom look like in everyday life? And at what point do we distinguish ourselves as wise?
In short, my feeling is wisdom resides in all of us and manifests itself when we look back on our life choices. Maybe we see ourselves down a road we hadn't imagined - whether this be for better or for worse. A compelling image that stayed with me as I reflected on this was the individual at a fork in the road, depicted in Robert Frost's poem 'The Road Not Taken':
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The poem is strikingly melancholy. It beautifully illustrates leaving behind a potentially different life, and with it the feeling of infinite possibility. Who might you have become had you pursued a different career, moved to a different city, or even left the house a minute earlier? It's a question of "what if?" and it is both haunting and full of promise.
Working closely with Artistic Producer, Graham Campbell, we liked the idea of having a smaller, acoustic ensemble to effectively set the stage for this intimate exploration of promises unfulfilled to blessings in disguise. We're excited to feature a double duo (2 flutes x 2 guitars) for the first time. I was also curious to see how the composers would play with this idea.
I had the pleasure of getting to know international flutists Alhelí Pimienta and Izabella Budai of Flautas del Fuego through my studies at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, and I'm thrilled to have such talented performers be a part of this project. They bring with them experience playing in various genres from classical to world music. We're also involving classical guitarists - another first for Spectrum - which is an exciting endeavour for the Spectrum composers. It served as a challenge for the Spectrum composers to learn to write effectively for a new instrument. Guitarists Daniel Ramjattan and James Lowrie are alumni of U of T as well, and each are phenomenal performers in their own right.
One of my favourite parts about Spectrum is seeing - or more accurately, hearing - how each Spectrum composer interprets the theme differently. This concert definitely doesn't disappoint. Some have taken direction directly from Robert Frost's poem, others have produced a piece with personal reflection, and some took a broader perspective looking at ideas of chance, regret, and reality. On Friday, November 2nd, we present world premieres written specifically for 'The Road Not Travelled' by Spectrum composers Graham Campbell, Chelsea McBride, Mason Victoria, Tiffany Hanus, Suzy Wilde, and guest composer James Lowrie.
Join us at the Pierre Léon Gallery at the Alliance française de Toronto (24 Spadina Rd) to hear the decisions we make turned into new pieces of music! You'll get a chance to meet each composer and learn about their unique compositional process and inspiration. Doors will open at 7:30pm. Make sure to take advantage of our advance tickets to save an extra $5 at the door. Tickets are available here.
See you there!
- Zoe Brown, Managing Artistic Director