Esprit Orchestra presents: CIRCLE MAPS

October 25, 2023 Download this release in PDF format

TORONTO, ON – Esprit Orchestra continues its 41st season with CIRCLE MAPS, taking place on November 30th, 2023 at Koerner Hall. In a kaleidoscopic musical journey comprising diverse music by composers from Eastern-European and Baltic countries, Music Director Alex Pauk will lead Esprit Orchestra through music by Vito Žuraj (Slovenia), Žibuoklė Martinaitytė (Lithuania), Valentin Silvestrov (Ukraine) and Kaija Saariaho (Finland). The outstanding Canadian pianist Kevin Ahfat will appear as a soloist in his debut performance with Esprit Orchestra. Composer Alexina Louie will moderate a free pre-concert talk beginning at 7:15PM.

Please be advised that the planned performance of Alex Pauk’s “Concerto for Harp and Orchestra” has unfortunately had to be postponed. Esprit Orchestra  is working to present this work, with harpist Erica Goodman, during an upcoming season.  

Api-danza macabra by Vito Žuraj, in recalling both Rimsky-Korsakov’s famed “Flight of the Bumblebee” and the liturgical Dies Irae, employs charming wit and audacious orchestral writing to lament the tragic, yet still reversible, looming extinction of bees – a devastating ecological loss. In imitating the sound of bees, Žuraj has expanded the expressive possibility of orchestra, utilizing the buzzing of reeds and mouthpieces, jarring multiphonics and pencils drawn over strings to transport the audience to a musical apiary. Api-danza macabra, by one of Europe’s most inventive musical voices, receives its North American Premiere on this program. 

Žibuoklė Martinaitytė, a composer known for works of intense beauty and spirituality, creates a sonic garden in her work Millefleur, which receives its Canadian Premiere on this program. Depicting an ornate tapestry of one thousand intricate flowers, Martinaitytė’s music shimmers and unfurls with enchanting radiance, richly enveloping the listener in aural beauty and luminosity. 

Ukraine’s most esteemed composer, Valentin Silvestrov, now living in exile in Germany due to war, is represented with a performance of Postludium, a “symphonic poem” for piano and orchestra. Esprit will be joined by Toronto-based pianist Kevin Ahfat, in his debut appearance with the orchestra. A transcendant work of sublime beauty and deep introspection, this performance is dedicated to all those in our world suffering under war and conflict. 

The late Kaija Saariaho, a singular trailblazer in both acoustic and electronic music, features prominently in this program with a performance of Circle Map; a series of evocative settings of poetry by the Persian mystic Rumi, for large orchestra and electronics. Comprising six movements, in which each has a distinct colour, orchestration and electronic treatment of the vivid Persian text, Circle Map reflects the very best of Saariaho’s bold and exceptionally beautiful musical output. Esprit will present the Canadian Premiere performance of this modern masterwork in honour of the late composer.


Vito Žuraj (Slovenia)Api-danza macabra (2021)
Žibuoklė Martinaitytė (Lithuania)Millefleur (2018)
Valentin Silvestrov (Ukraine)Postludium (1984)
Kaija Saariaho (Finland)Circle Map (2012)