Out of the Night, Birdsong

Alexina Louie (CAN)
When choosing from the various themes that the Glenbow Museum identified in its 2019 exhibition Sybil Andrews: Art and Life for a composition project involving composers Allan Gordon Bell, Jocelyn Morlock, and myself, the most prevalent images from the show depicted manual labour, action, machinery, dynamism and to me implied mechanistic sounds. However, with further research, I became attracted to a different theme. I thought of Andrews’ life in England during World War I, where she laboured as a welder in an airplane factory. During World War II she again took up the welding torch and went to work building warships. After the Second World War, she and her husband, Walter Morgan, decided to flee post-war England with its poor economy, rigid lifestyle, and harsh grittiness, to establish a new life in Campbell River, Canada where they found inspiring natural beauty and a home by the ocean. The idea of responding to the gentler beauty of her more pastoral images appealed to me. The darkness and the swirling activity of Storm as well as the gnarled roots of Douglas Firs set the tone for the mysterious opening of my trio. Through these images I imagined the harshness of her life during those difficult war years. However, just as her life moved from darkness into a realm of light and natural beauty, so too does my piece. I chose the more subtle colours and contours of Fall of the Leaf and the graceful motion in Swans (1935) as my inspiration for the end of my trio. It concludes with the gentle, serene flight of the swans and the beautiful sounds of bird calls echoing through the mist of Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Alexina Louie

Alexina Louie, Bio

“The music of Alexina Louie bears a personal stamp derived from a unique blend of her Chinese
background, an exotic instrumental palette, both traditional and non-traditional elements of
western music, poetic images, nature, historical studies and a fascination with heavenly
phenomena.” – National Arts Centre, Canada

Acclaimed composer Alexina Louie has collaborated with leading soloists, ensembles and orchestras. Her orchestral works, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, Kent Nagano, and Leonard Slatkin, have been performed by the San Francisco, Montreal, BBC, St. Louis, and Toronto symphony orchestras, as well as China’s NCPA Orchestra, Beijing, among others. Soprano Barbara Hannigan, violinist James Ehnes, and pianist Jon Kimura Parker are among the many celebrated soloists who have performed her compositions. Of Ehnes’ performance of the work he commissioned, in April, 2014 the Edmonton Journal wrote “Beyond Time confirms, if one needed any confirmation, that Alexina Louie, with her kind of 21st century impressionism, is one of the finest composers in Canada today.”

Louie’s work spans a wide range of eclectic styles and technical demands from her much loved pedagogical piano pieces to main stage opera (The Scarlet Princess, Canadian Opera Company commission), virtuosic chamber and solo compositions, as well as works for dance (National Ballet of Canada), film, and television. Her TV projects include the groundbreaking made-for-TV comedic mini-opera Toothpaste and the international award-winning collection of mini-operas, Burnt Toast.

For Louie, composing music is an act of communication and self-expression. She freely
explores various styles and differing inspirations to create music that reveals truths about the
artistic spirit and the times in which we live.

An Officer of the Order of Canada, Alexina Louie has received numerous awards for her lifetime of music creation including two JUNO Awards, The Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, and The Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.

Her complete catalogue of works may be found on her website at www.alexinalouie.ca

Out of the Night, Birdsong

Alexina Louie (CAN)

(piano trio; 2019)

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