Land's End Ensemble Presents: EKPHRASIS

Rozsa Centre
April 6, 2024

Message from Vincent Ho, Land’s End Ensemble’s Artistic Director

As part of our annual Student Composers’ Workshop and the University of Calgary’s annual “Alchemy Festival”, we are thrilled to present four new works composed by students of the U of C’s composition program. Throughout the season, we have had the pleasure of collaborating with select student composers during the creation of their works that will now culminate to their premiere performances. The participants of this season’s Student Composers’ Program are Katie Levinson, Liezel Kruger, Peter Stambene, and Jon Halverson. 

In addition, in collaboration with Glenbow, we present a special performance of A Sybil Andrews Portrait – three works composed by Juno Award- winning composers Jocelyn Morlock, Alexina Louie, and Allan Gordon Bell, inspired by Ms. Andrews’s paintings. Also featured on the program is Vincent Ho’s Gryphonsong inspired by the gryphon mythology.

Thank you to Walt and Irene DeBoni for their generous support of this event and helping Glenbow commission A Sybil Andrews Portrait.

Special thanks to the University of Calgary’s SCPA for their support and to Glenbow Museum for their collaboration on this event.

Pre-Concert Chat


Dr. Jocelyn Anderson, Director, JR Shaw Institute for Art in Canada 

Allan Gordon Bell, Music Professor, University of Calgary, composer

Concert Program


Modes of Eternity (world premiere)
Liezel Kruger

Yonder (world premiere)
Jon Halvorson

On Track (world premiere)
Peter Stambene

Volatile Logic (world premiere)
Katie Levinson

Vincent Ho

A Sybil Andrews Portrait

I. Speedway
Jocelyn Morlock

II. Out of the Night, Birdsong
Alexina Louie

III. 29/39 SA in motoric verticular cubistic cuts
Allan Gordon Bell

Accompanying images of Sybil Andrews paintings are used with permission from Glenbow.


Maria van der Sloot (violin)

Beth Root Sandvoss (cello)

Susanne Ruberg-Gordon (piano)

Biographies and Program Notes

Originally from South Africa, Liezel started her first attempts at composing soon after arriving in Canada in late 2017. She is now enrolled, and in her third year of a Bachelor’s of Music degree, majoring in Composition. Along with composing, she has also been playing flute since she was 8 years old, but also has some experience playing other instruments. Thus far she has written for primarily flute and piano, but also a variety of works for other winds-, strings- and brass ensembles.

Modes of Eternity

The concept of “Life after Death” is one that has been discussed for thousands of years. Modes of Eternity is my interpretation of three reactions or beliefs surrounding this topic: Introduction to Eternity, Jubilation after Death, Tranquility after Death, and the Terror of Eternity. As a Christian I personally believe in an eternity of jubilation in heaven with God, and “Tranquility after Death” is based on a short story by JRR Tolkien; “Leaf By Niggle” discusses his Catholic based belief in a tranquil afterlife, with strong ties to nature. The introduction and conclusion covers what I have perceived most people’s idea of eternity to be: something that is almost incomprehensible and largely terrifying to even think about.

From a young age I’ve always been surrounded by music and video games, which eventually lead to my dream of wanting to become a composer. In my university years, I’ve been learning what it means to truly be a “composer” and how to bridge my love for video game music with a more refined contemporary touch.


On Track 

“On Track” is a piece inspired by Japanese rhythm games and the various kinds of rhythmic gestures that be found within this style of music. I’ve always felt drawn to this music as it carries a unique sense of “groove” that I don’t normally hear outside of this bubble, and I wanted to try and encapsulate that feeling within this piece. 

Jon Halvorson is an Alberta based composer, and guitarist from SmithersBC. He studied composition with Dr. Emilie Lebel, and Kent Sangster at MacEwan University, and received his BMus in 2021. A recipient of the MacEwan Ayrshire Composition Award, his music has been performed by the MacEwan Guitar Band, and the MacEwan Generations Big Band. He is currently working towards his Master of Music in Composition, studying with Allan Gordon Bell, and Laurie Radford.



When I started writing this piece, I had the image in my mind of gentle rain droplets gathering into a violent storm. The first section of this piece is my attempt at depicting this, which is followed by an uneasy calm in the eye of the storm, before a final chaotic trip through the storm into an unfamiliar, transformed landscape.

Katie is a classical vocalist and emerging composer studying for a Combined Degree (BA Music, BFA Visual Studies) at the University of Calgary. She has studied solo voice under Rachel Hop for 14 years, and sings in Mount Royal Kantorei Choir. Katie is passionate about creating contemporary compositions and electroacoustic music. She would like to thank Land’s End Ensemble and Dr. Vincent Ho for premiering her first major composition for piano trio. Katie is also grateful to Professor Allan Gordon Bell for helping her to grow as a young composer, and to her parents, Danny Levinson and Tamara Lee, for their unconditional love and support.


Volatile Logic 

My piece explores the place where words end and strong emotions threaten. Unease to frustration, resentment, rage, and a hint of delusional giddiness intensify into an overwhelming fear that all will unravel if you let go. A metaphor for fraying nerves and fighting for focus, Volatile Logic is a musical expression of accumulated chaos and high anxiety on the edge.

The form is a five part rondo, loosely based on classical rondo form. It begins with a short violin solo, and has a dance-ish feel, although not strictly in dance form. The cyclical main motif is like an inescapable whirlpool. Each section goes round and round, adding more cyclical elements until they fit together like matryoshka dolls. The repetition is uncomfortable, and gradually more chaotic, like a frog in boiling water. I think of it as a ‘Frankenstein’s motif’, one that returns over and over, getting more distorted and deteriorated each time, until the climax is unleashed. My inspiration includes work by Camille Saint-Saëns, Son Lux, and Natalie Holt.

Vincent Ho is a multi-award winning composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and theatre music. His works have been described as “brilliant and compelling” by The New York Times and hailed for their profound expressiveness and textural beauty, leaving audiences talking about them with great enthusiasm. His many awards and recognitions have included five Juno Award nominations, Western Canadian Music Award’s “Composer of the Year”, Harvard University’s Fromm Music Commission, The Canada Council for the Arts’ “Robert Fleming Prize”, ASCAP’s “Morton Gould Young Composer Award”, four SOCAN Young Composers Awards, and CBC Radio’s Audience Choice Award (2009 Young Composers’ Competition).

Born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1975, Vincent Ho began his musical training through Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music where he earned his Associate Diploma in Piano Performance. He gained his Bachelor of Music from the University of Calgary, his Master of Music from the University of Toronto, and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California. His mentors have included Allan Bell, David Eagle, Christos Hatzis, Walter Buczynski, and Stephen Hartke. In 1997, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Schola Cantorum Summer Composition Program in Paris, where he received further training in analysis, composition, counterpoint, and harmony, supervised by David Diamond, Philip Lasser, and Narcis Bonet.



 “Gryphonsong” is the second movement of the trio Gryphon Realms, a three-movement work inspired by the gryphon mythology that explores the colouristic, virtuosic, and expressive possibilities of the piano trio while highlighting my more personal musical language. This movement is a musical portrait of two gryphons singing to one another (as represented by the violinist and cellist) during a moment of courtship. During the middle of the work, a brief pseudo-improvisatory moment is played by the pianist that is soon followed by an elegiac chorale, played by the violinist and cellist, that drifts in and out like a distant memory. 

Jocelyn Morlock came to classical music in late adolescence – as with many of her generation, by way of the film Amadeus – and felt like she’d passed through a magic portal. Since then, she’s been inviting herself into the musical worlds of great western art music composers of the past, and making herself at home. Her music is inspired by birds, insomnia, nature, fear, other people’s music, nocturnal wandering thoughts, lucid dreaming, or a peculiar combination thereof.

Jocelyn Morlock won the 2018 Juno for Classical Composition of the Year for My Name is Amanda Todd, an orchestral piece written as part of the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s multi-media work celebrating four remarkable Canadian women, “Life Reflected.” My Name is Amanda Todd is an elegy for and celebration of the life of Amanda Todd, a young woman whose message of hope, empathy, and tolerance has since caused a worldwide groundswell of support and awareness of bullying, cyber abuse and internet safety. Morlock believes in the proliferation of positive energy that a large group of people can create together through many small actions.


A Sybil Andrews Portrait: Speedway (2020)           

From the moment I saw it, I immediately fell in love with the fast mechanistic energy of Sybil Andrews’ Speedway, the linocut that inspired my work by the same name. Andrews’ work is dazzling and visceral. Viewers feel the dangerous thrill of the riders as they race around a curve, nearly horizontal. It’s precarious and exciting, evoking a feeling of being almost out of control – but not quite. The music is similarly dangerous for the performers – speedy, aggressive, with lots of twists and turns; occasionally it has to make a brief stop, but it races back to life as soon as humanly possible. Many thanks to Land’s End Ensemble and Vince Ho for the chance to write this piece, and for their brilliant performances.

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.

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.


A Sybil Andrews Portrait: Out Of The Night, Birdson

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 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.

Allan Gordon Bell has created works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, orchestra, band, and electroacoustic media as well as scores for contemporary dance productions and an opera. He received the 2014 JUNO award for the Classical Composition of the Year. His music has been performed many orchestras across Canada including the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as many other professional and amateur organizations in North America, Europe and Asia. Mr. Bell is Professor of Music at the University of Calgary. 


A Sybil Andrews Portrait: 29/39 SA in motoric vorticular cubistic cuts 

The piece is a response to many of the linocuts created by Sybil Andrews between 1929 and 1939.  Through her teachers, she was profoundly influenced by the Futurists, the Vorticists, and the Cubists.  Her work is suffused with swirling energy and multiple perspectives on the same image.  Her forms are always informed by her medium – images that emerge from myriad cuts.  

This piece does not respond to a single print, instead it responds to the energy and to the forms that thematically link all of the images during this inter-war period while she was in London.

Printmakers put series numbers on their works. Hence the title: 29/39 SA in motor, vorticular, cubistic cuts.