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VSO: New Music Festival. Rachel Barton Pine set to premiere Marcus Goddard's Violin Concerto / The Georgia Straight

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The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival takes place at various venues from Thursday to Monday (January 18 to 22), but not all of the music in this year's edition is entirely new. One whole night, the New Music for Old Instruments: After Bach collaboration with Early Music Vancouver on Friday (January 19), is devoted to contemporary compositions that reference the music of the Baroque era. Other works, such as Jocelyn Morlock's Night, herself, draw from global traditions that are even older. And at least one world premiere touches on motifs-glissandos, slides, and passages of frenetic virtuosity-that have been developed over the 50-year history of a style that might be surprising to some: heavy metal. 

Evidence that classical music is moving into a more inclusive phase will be found in Marcus Goddard's Violin Concerto, which-in a significant coup for the VSO trumpeter and composer-will be premiered by American soloist Rachel Barton Pine as part of Dawn to Dusk. Pine reports that she knew she wanted to perform Goddard's music the moment she heard his string quartet Allaqi-and that if the concerto's first movement is at least in part derived from metal, it's the perfect fit for her abilities and interests. "It's not that an audience member is going to sit there and hear some kind of crossover-rock piece, 'cause that's not what it's about," says the violinist, who has already performed astute and convincing chamber-music arrangements of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" and Metallica's "One". "But just as Bartók or Dvořák would take eastern European folk music and incorporate it into their ‘high art', in a similar way the more serious genres of heavy metal are ripe for inclusion in our language of classical music. It's really come full circle, because a lot of those subgenres have been inspired by classical all along."

Pine will also join VSO concertmaster Nicholas Wright in performing Anna Clyne's Grammy Award–winning Prince of Clouds and Morlock's evergreen Cobalt as part of Cobalt Clouds and Clear Blue Seas on Saturday (January 20). What links all three pieces, she says, is that they offer accessible pleasure to the listener while also giving the performers a chance to find their own personal voice, without the pressure of playing pieces already defined by past generations of virtuosos. photo: LISA-MARIE MAZZUCCO