These four works were commissioned in 2020 by the Lafayette String Quartet as a series of 5 commissioned works through the BK Weigel Fund. The premiers of each quartet took place in the fall of 2022 and the spring of 2023. For more information or to order a cd, please email [email protected]
Below are some program notes (by the composers) and the composers’ biographies.
“For Fragile Personalities in Anxious Times”
With music described as “breathtaking” (Kitchener-Waterloo Record), “imaginative and expressive” (The National Post), “a pulse-pounding barrage on the senses” (The Globe and Mail), and “Bartok on steroids” (Birmingham News), Kelly-Marie Murphy’s voice is well known on the Canadian music scene. She has created a number of memorable works for some of Canada’s leading performers and ensembles, including the Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras, The Gryphon Trio, James Campbell, Shauna Rolston, the Lafayette, Cecilia and Afiara String Quartets, and Judy Loman.
In addition to many academic scholarships awarded in Canada and England, Dr. Murphy has also won prizes for her music, dating back to 1992. Her career was launched when she won first prize and the People’s Choice Award at the CBC Young Composer’s Competition in 1994 (string quartet category). Since then, Dr. Murphy’s music has been performed around the world by outstanding soloists and ensembles, and has had radio broadcasts in over 22 countries. Her music has been interpreted by renowned conductors such as Sir Andrew Davis, David Brophy, Bramwell Tovey, Mikko Franck, and Mario Bernardi, and has been heard in iconic concert halls, such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Auditorium Radio France in Paris, and The Mozarteum in Salzburg.
Kelly-Marie Murphy was born on a NATO base in Sardegna, Italy, and grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases all across Canada. She began her studies in composition at the University of Calgary with William Jordan and Allan Bell, and later received a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Leeds, England, where she studied with Philip Wilby. After living and working for many years in the Washington D.C. area where she was designated “an alien of extraordinary ability” by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, she is now based in Ottawa. Dr. Murphy is a recipient of the Jules Léger Prize, and the Azrieli Music Prize.
“All for One” (2021)
III. All for One
IV. And One for All
“The four playful, high-energy souls that make up the all-female Lafayette String Quartet just love what they do, no less after 35 years together in the profession without even a player change. All for One celebrates a unique ensemble that has delighted so many fellow Canadians in countless cross-country tours.
A light-hearted opening movement, Amuse-bouche, plays to the unique, boisterous sense of fun they bring to their rehearsals.
The second movement, Bloom, is a reference to their home base of Victoria, B.C., with its renowned gardens, and in reflection of these players growing in relation to each other throughout the seasons of a career they have charted together.
The third movement, All for One, is about giving center stage in turn to each of the four characters. The players bring their unique bearing to the conversation. Lastly, versions of the same tune until their ideas fuse to a single voice they express together.
Lastly, in And One for All, the discussion leads to questions of a path forward for them and a uniting in strength, optimism and solidarity.
-Abigail Righardson Schulte (2021)
Composer Abigail Richardson-Schulte was born in Oxford, England, and moved to Canada as a child. Ironically, she was diagnosed incurably deaf at 5, but, upon moving to Canada her hearing was fully intact within months. Her music has been commissioned and performed by major orchestras, presenters, music festivals and broadcasters including the Festival Présences of Paris. Abigail won first at the prestigious UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers and had her music broadcast in 35 countries. She won the CBC Karen Kieser Prize, the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Opera, the Quenten Doolittle Award from New Works Calgary, the City of Hamilton Arts Award and the Prairie Region Emerging Composer Award. Abigail has been Affiliate Composer with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and curated for their New Creations Festival. In 2012, she wrote a piece on the classic Canadian story, “The Hockey Sweater” by Roch Carrier, in the country’s first triple co-commission by the TSO, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. This orchestral “hit” has had over 160 performances in Canada, frequent repeat performances, and a dozen performances in France. A recording of the work has been released on the Centrediscs label in both French and English with Roch Carrier and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Other notable orchestral works include: a WWI memorial piece, “Song of the Poets”, with choir and orchestra for NACO’s UK tour, co-commissioned by the NACO, The World Remembers, CPO, and TBSO; multiple works for the HPO; and a complete children’s orchestra concert for the CPO and the TSO using Dennis Lee’s “Alligator Pie”. Abigail has a busy schedule as a composer, teaches composition at the University of Toronto, and is in her tenth year as Composer-in-Residence with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Recent commissions include the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Russell Braun with the Magisterra Soloists, and the Lafayette String Quartet.
String Quartet No. 5 “Spiraling”
JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung has a unique talent for combining idiosyncratic textures and styles into large-scale works, reflecting her multicultural background. NPR calls her “one of today’s most eclectic composers.”
Highlights of upcoming performances include the world premiere of Vivian Fung’s fifth String Quartet by Canada’s Lafayette String Quartet and a new piece for Houston’s ROCO; international performances of her critically-acclaimed elegy for the pandemic, Prayer; and the European premieres of A Child’s Dream of Toys and Baroque Melting. Mary Elizabeth Bowden tours her Trumpet Concerto to Philharmonia Northwest, Waynesboro Symphony, San José Chamber Orchestra. Fung is the 2023 Composer-in-Residence at Alba Music Festival Composition Program in Italy.
Fung is currently at work on a new project with soprano Andrea Nunez and Royce Vavrek, percussion works for Network for New Music and Ensemble for These Times, a piano work for the “Ligeti Etudes meets 18 Composers” commissioning project, and a commission by Cape Cod Chamber Music Society. A portrait album featuring the Jasper Quartet in Fung’s first four string quartets will be released on Sono Luminus in 2023, and Elizabeth Bowden has recorded her Trumpet Concerto with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras for future release on Çedille Records.
Fung has a deep interest in exploring cultures through travel and research. As a composer whose trips often inspire her music, Fung has also explored diverse cultures in China, North Vietnam, Spain, and Indonesia. With a grant from the Canada Council, she and Royce Vavrek will travel to Cambodia in 2023 to continue research for a new opera based on her family’s experience surviving the Cambodian genocide.
In 2012, Naxos Canadian Classics released a recording of Fung’s Violin Concerto [No.1], commissioned by the Metropolis Ensemble, which earned Fung the 2013 JUNO Award for “Classical Composition of the Year.” Several of Fung’s other works have also been released commercially on the Telarc, Çedille, Innova, and Signpost labels.
Fung is a passionate mentor for young composers, is an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre, and served on the board of the American Composers Forum. Born in Canada, Fung received her doctorate from The Juilliard School. She currently lives in California. Learn more at www.vivianfung.ca.
Fifth String Quartet
“My fifth string quartet was composed in early 2022 and is dedicated to the Lafayette String Quartet, who commissioned it through the B K Weigel Fund.
It is in one continuous span, underpinned by a traditional structure of’fast/slow/fast’ tempi, concluded by a gentle coda. It lasts about 15 minutes.
When I began composing it, I had in mind the metaphor of a journey, single-minded in its direction. However, it didn’t turn out like that. What emerged was a restless, volatile music, the flow interrupted by questions or challenges. Moments of affirmation may be followed by reflection or hesitation. Part way through, microtones begin to creep into the music: the harmony now has shadows.
The four players are equal partners, each seeking the way forward in their own characteristic timbre. They ‘sing’ as individual, lyric voices and they share in unfolding the music’s path. The quiet opening of the piece glimpses a possible destination, a safe haven at which the music does finally arrive in its coda and cadence. Perhaps, since I was composing in a still-continuing pandemic and in the onset of a European war, I should have anticipated that my music’s journey could not be a simple one.
-Nicola LeFanu, 2022
Nicola LeFanu has composed over a hundred works which have been widely played, broadcast and recorded; her music is published by Novello and by Edition Peters.
She has been commissioned by the BBC, by festivals in UK and beyond, and by leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists.
Her catalogue includes a number of works for string ensemble, and chamber music for a wide variety of mediums, often including voice. She has a particular affinity for vocal music and has composed eight operas which have been staged in the UK, Ireland and the US.
She is active in many aspects of the musical profession, as composer, teacher, director etc. From 1994–2008 she was Professor of Music at the University of York. Recent premieres include The Crimson Bird (2017, BBCSO/Ilan Volkov with Rachel Nicholls, soprano; text John Fuller), Triptych (2021,WCO/Anthony Hose with Jeremy Huw Williams, baritone; text Rowan Williams), Quintet for strings (2021, Sacconi quartet with Tim Lowe, cello) and several works for solo instruments, for voice and for chamber ensemble.
She was born in England in 1947: her mother was the composer Elizabeth Maconchy. LeFanu studied at Oxford, RCM and, as a Harkness Fellow, at Harvard. She is married to the Australian composer David Lumsdaine.