AN ELEMENTAL EXPEDITION
A multidisciplinary Canada 150 project
celebrating Canadian music, visual, and media arts
In the summer of 2015, we began planning to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation with an original sweeping, multidisciplinary creation of Canadian music and art that would celebrate the diversity and richness of Canada’s artistic and geographical landscapes. Hoping to engage the next generation of audiences by pushing the boundaries of traditional concert presentations, we envisioned a dynamic, multi-sensory experience in a live performance setting. We set an ambitious work plan: contacting contemporary classical composers and commissioning five works for cello and piano; spending hours, days and weeks — including poring over the collection at the National Gallery of Canada — to select visual source material; meeting with a production studio in Montreal and tasking them to create an immersive stage set; and of course, rehearsing the new musical creations.
An Elemental Expedition explores the catalytic relationship between music and the visual arts and had its world premiere on June 22, 2017 at the National Gallery of Canada Auditorium. Canada’s five main regions — Atlantic, Central, Prairies, West, and North — are each represented by a contemporary classical composer, taking as his or her inspiration that area’s landscape and natural elements. The stage set by the production studio Normal features imagery by Canadian painters, media artists, photographers, and filmmakers.
With appreciation to the visual and media artists and filmmakers, past and present, and other collaborative partners who kindly granted permission for the use of their artwork in the creation of the visual component of An Elemental Expedition:
Allan Harding Mackay
Frederick M. Bell-Smith
Lawren S. Harris and estate
Lucius R. O’Brien
Jay Bulckaert & Pablo Saravanja of/de
Artless Collective Inc.
Jennifer Baichwal & Nick de Pencier of/de Mercury Films Inc.
National Gallery of Canada
With gratitude to the following patrons for their generous support of this project:
David Van Dine & Louise Mortimer
Jacqueline M. Newton
Dasha Shenkman OBE, Hon RCM