Staying Positive While Remaining Negative

Following the event formerly known as the “coolest thing we’ve done”, a.k.a. our. debut album recording, we dove into learning Kelly-Marie Murphy’s new double concerto Machines, Mannequins and Monsters! We will be premiering it with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on January 26th, 2022.

We have been deep in the woodshed the past few weeks, grinding out what is undoubtably one of the most intense pieces we have ever had the opportunity to learn.

Machines, Mannequins, and Monsters is a taut and driving showcase for piano/percussion duo and orchestra and is inspired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibition of the same name:

“In the first decades of the 20th century artists in Europe and the Americas brought to life of legion of unsettling figures shaped by shared experiences of sweeping technological change… Machines promised a bright, efficient future, but they also enabled a devastating warfare that mutilated soldiers’ bodies, which were then remade with prosthetics… increasingly lifelike mannequins filled shop windows [and now digitally on screens everywhere], uncanny doubles of the consumers passing by… on the silver screen, vampires, golems, hunchbacks, and other anthropomorphic monsters reflected a pervasive racism and aversion to difference”. (MoMA)

100 years later and humanity is still grappling with the same issues.

It is a peculiar feeling spending hours a day rehearsing a piece, which due to increased restrictions in response to the new COVID-19 variant, may be indefinitely postponed. Over the past eighteen months our duo has been able to weather the COVID storm through a combination of lucky timing, constant applications, and virtual pivots. For the moment we are still going forward with the double concerto, though the potential for a cancellation is forcing us to reexamine what drives us to create art.

Throughout the Murphy Double Concerto there are many special moments: big, open spaces punctuated by franticly accelerating and fractured scales in the first movement; blooms of resonance, echoes, and wisps of memory permeate the second movement; and, in the third, a relentless gallop towards oblivion.

The last few weeks have been very productive and, dare I say, enjoyable as we continue to hone this incredible new piece. No matter when the premiere takes place, it is always a pleasure to spend time with such brilliant music.

SHHH!! Ensemble wishes you a safe holiday season and try to stay positive while remaining (COVID) negative! 😉