Plug In

January 11, 2018 Download this release in PDF format

For Immediate Release January 11, 2018 – Toronto, ON


Esprit Orchestra’s 35th Anniversary Season Continues
with ‘Phone-Friendly’ Concert

Esprit Orchestra’s 35th Anniversary Season continues in 2018 with Plug In on February 11th at 8:00pm in Koerner Hall. This exciting, ‘phone friendly’ concert will allow the audience to experience the technological progression of the telephone through music, with an interactive component using their own smartphones. The program features music by composers José Evangelisa, Eugene Astapov, and Matthew Ricketts, as well as Canadian Premieres of works by leading Asian composers Tan Dun and Unsuk Chin. Audiences can expect an engaging concert of wide-ranging musical interest.

Hear My Voice by Eugene Astapov, was commissioned and premiered by Esprit in spring 2017, as part of Creative Sparks, Esprit’s annual mentoring/education program. Astapov, who will be conducting his piece, was a participant of Esprit’s Creative Sparks Mentoring program as a young high school student. He went on to study composition at the Julliard and Eastman schools of music. Now a professional composer based in Toronto, Astapov has come full circle as a Creative Sparks mentor to students at his alma mater, the Claude Watson Arts Program at Earl Haig Secondary School. Hear My Voice has embedded in its musical texture, an early voice recording of Alexander Graham Bell, shortly after his invention of the telephone out of Brantford, Ontario in 1876.

From the historic origin of the telephone to the multi-purpose capabilities of the modern-day smartphone, Chinese composer Tan Dun’s Passacaglia: Secret of Wind and Birds will include audience participation in creating a ‘poetic forest of birds’ via downloadable sounds on their phones. The piece reflects on the age-old notion of using music to communicate with and understand the secrets of nature – fittingly, using communication devices as instruments. The piece begins with the recorded sounds of ancient Chinese instruments such as the guzheng, suona, erhu, pipa, dizi and sheng, played back on smartphones by the audience and orchestra. The complex variations in this piece reflect the ancient myths of beauty and nature, and a dream of the future.

Korean composer Unsuk Chin’s Mannequin straddles the line between fantasy and reality, taking inspiration from E.T.A. Hoffman’s novella, The Sandman. Equally sinister and whimsical, the character of the Sandman is woven into the first two movements as a cautionary tale to misbehaving children. Movement three, Dance of the Clockwork Girl, explores the superficial mess of first love as the protagonist, Nathaniel, falls for a female automaton named Olimpia. “From the first icy touch of the celesta,” as was stated in The Times, “to the speakeasy muted trumpets and the last oily gurgle of the contrabassoon, the story grips… Chin is a gourmet, using vast resources with delicacy and discipline”.

Montreal-based José Evangelista returns to the Esprit stage for the second season in a row, with his 1994 piece Symphonie minute, a symphony in miniature form. This short four movement work contrasts with the traditional symphony, typically grandiose in both duration and instrumentation.

Guest artist, choreographer and dancer Jennifer Nichols, will perform a new dance to be premiered in conjunction with the World Premiere of Matthew Ricketts’ newly commissioned work, Lilt. Nichols is the founder of the elite ballet fitness program, The Extension Method; she is also co-Artistic Director of Hit and Run Dance Productions Inc., producing works across Canada and internationally. The dance-inspired Lilt was commissioned as a companion piece to Mannequin, Chin’s score for an imaginary dance, when Esprit’s Music Director Alex Pauk discovered that Ricketts was thinking about an imagined choreography as the background of a piece as well. Pauk took the project a step further by offering Ricketts the opportunity for a collaboration with Nichols to have an actual dance piece created for his musical premiere.



Sunday February, 11, 2018 | Esprit Orchestra Presents: Plug In
Pre-Concert chat moderated by composer Alexina Louie.

Alex Pauk – conductor

José Evangelista (Canada)Symphonie minute (1994)
Eugene Astapov (Canada)Hear My Voice (2017)***
Matthew Ricketts (Canada)Lilt (2018)**
Unsuk Chin (Korea)Mannequin (2015)*
Tan Dun (China)Passacaglia: Secret of Wind and Birds (2015)*

* Canadian Premiere
** World Premiere commissioned with generous support from Canada Council for the Arts
*** Previously commissioned and premiered by Esprit

Royal Conservatory of Music TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning
273 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Individual concert tickets start at: Adult $40; Senior 65+ $40; Under 30 $22; Student $20
Please call (416) 408 0208 or visit

Esprit Orchestra is Canada’s only full-sized orchestra devoted exclusively to performing and promoting new orchestral music. Esprit Orchestra gratefully acknowledges Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario 150, Ontario Arts Foundation, SOCAN Foundation, The Koerner Foundation, The Hal Jackman Foundation, The Mary-Margaret Webb Foundation, Timothy & Frances Price, The Max Clarkson Family Foundation, and The Judy & Wilmot Matthews Foundation for their generous support.

Media Contact:
Amber Melhado / Marketing & Outreach Coordinator
(416) 815-7887