ON THE SURFACE OF WATER
Music by: Andrew Staniland
Text by: Leonardo Da Vinci
Performed by: the massed choirs of …float…
On the surface of water was written for an assembly of five choirs from across Canada for the finale of Choral Canada’s …float… at Podium 2018. The work is a setting of text from Da Vinci’s treatise “On Water”, featuring the titles of each of the 15 chapters. The work is in an ABA format: The A sections are conceived as large canons designed to move in a spiral motion. The canons lead to the B section, marked Maestoso, which marks the work’s climatic point in a homogenous chorale, returning to the final canons and coda. The coda features Tibetan singing bowls held in reality by the choir, and virtually in the audience via a new singing bowl app developed especially for this work. This work is inspired by the following quote: By the ancients man has been called the world in miniature; and certainly this name is well bestowed, because, inasmuch as man is composed of earth, water, air and fire, his body resembles that of the earth; and as man has in him bones the supports and framework of his flesh, the world has its rocks the supports of the earth; as man has in him a pool of blood in which the lungs rise and fall in breathing, so the body of the earth has its ocean tide which likewise rises and falls every six hours, as if the world breathed; as in that pool of blood veins have their origin, which ramify all over the human body, so likewise the ocean sea fills the body of the earth with infinite springs of water. The body of the earth lacks sinews and this is, because the sinews are made expressly for movements and, the world being perpetually stable, no movement takes place, and no movement taking place, muscles are not necessary. –But in all other points they are much alike.
Described as a “new music visionary” (National Arts Centre), composer Andrew Staniland has established himself as one of Canada’s most important and innovative musical voices.
His music is performed and broadcast internationally and has been described by Alex Ross in the New Yorker Magazine as “alternately beautiful and terrifying”. Important accolades include 3 Juno nominations, the 2016 Terra Nova Young Innovators Award, the National Grand Prize winner of EVOLUTION (presented in 2009 by CBC Radio 2/Espace Musique and The Banff Centre), and was the recipient of the Karen Keiser Prize in Canadian Music in 2004.
As a leading composer of his generation, Andrew has been recognized by election to the Inaugural Cohort of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists Royal Society of Canada. Andrew was an Affiliate Composer to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (2006-09) and the National Arts Centre Orchestra (2002–04), and has also been in residence at the Centre du création musicale Iannis Xenakis (Paris, 2005).
Recent commissioners include the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Brooklyn Art Song Society, cellist Frances-Marie Uitti, and Les Percussions de Strasbourg. Andrew also performs as a guitarist and with new media (computers and electronics). Andrew is currently on faculty at Memorial University in St John’s Newfoundland, where he founded MEARL (Memorial ElectroAcoustic Research Lab). At MEARL, Andrew leads a crossdisciplinary research team that has produced the innovative Mune digital instrument: www.munemusic.com