Friday, December 3, 2021 | 7:30 pm
Pacific Spirit United Church (formerly Ryerson Church)
Constantinople partners with the seminal Corsican polyphonic singing group A Filetta, to create an enchanting sonic tableau where light and shadow meet, through sacred and secular songs from the rich Corsican musical tradition. Polyphony by the prodigious vocalists of A Filetta, as well as songs and music orchestrated by Kiya Tabassian, will come together in a deeply moving concert.
This concert is generously supported by Fran Watters & Paul Devine and Anona Thorne & Takao Tanabe
- Tickets for this in-person concert will go on sale September 8
- Tickets for a livestreamed version of this concert happening December 11 from Montreal’s Salle Bourgie will become available at a later date
II. Letterella / Bi tô…
III. U furore / Saram khoshast
IV. Ilahi / Noi no
V. Parvaz / Meditate
VI. U sipolcru / Bad-e Zaman
VII. Minetta / À l’aube d’une forêt
VIII. Rex / Malaek
IX. Lame Pigeon
X. U Lamentu à Ghesù / Folia
XI. E strache ceche
Between sea and mountains, between eastern modes and polyphony — Clair-obscur is born of the desire for deeper dialogue on the part both of the musicians of Constantinople and the singers of A Filetta, the preeminent ensemble of Corsican polyphony. They have created a poetic and musical suite, mixing polyphonies and songs rooted in their traditions and repertoires.
This alliance has roots in two lands, two vital sources of contrasting geographies. On the one hand, the insular beauty of Corsica, between land, sky and sea, austere and powerful, embodied in these polyphonic vocals in turn melancholic and festive; on the other, the refinement of the musical and poetic traditions of Persia, which dictated its magical laws to the East.
The common denominator here is certainly their early and modal form of expression, but even more it is their contemporary language that both ensembles wished to see converge. “To avoid the traps of juxtaposition (…), to go elsewhere by listening to and understanding the Other (…), to create a fresco that can be viewed as a unique work” (Kiya Tabassian): such is the goal of these exploratory artists, who share an unquestionable sense of harmony.
The musical understanding they developed over the years has here given rise to magnificently accompanied sacred and profane songs, revived lamentes and folias, as well as new co-creations. Deep and vibrant, the music seems to arise from the bowels of the earth…
Kiya Tabassian, Music Director
Born in 1976 in Tehran, Iran. At age 14, Kiya Tabassian emigrated with his family to Quebec from Iran, bringing with him some initial musical training in Persian music and a fledgling musical career. Determined to become a musician and composer, he continued his self-education in Persian music, meeting frequently with Reza Gassemi and Kayhan Kalhor. At the same time, he studied composition at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal with Gilles Tremblay. In 1998, he co-founded Constantinople with the idea of developing an ensemble for musical creation that draws from the heritage of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, of Europe, and of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Serving as its artistic director, Kiya has developed close to 40 programs with his ensemble, which continues to be met with unparalleled acclaim by audiences around the world.
He has performed on stages throughout the world and collaborated on many eclectic projects as a composer, performer and improviser. These have included regular collaborations with Radio-Canada since 1996; participation in the international MediMuses project as a member of the group researching the history and repertoire of Mediterranean music and as a contributor on several publishing and recording initiatives from 2002 to 2005; musical collaborations with the Atlas Ensemble (Holland) and, as a tutor, with the Atlas Academy, on a dual project aimed at linking contemporary music with oral traditions, since 2009.
Numerous musical groups and institutions have called upon his talents as a composer, including the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and the European Broadcasting Union. He has also composed music for documentary and feature films, including Jabaroot and Voices of the Unheard.
Since the summer of 2017, he is Associate Artist at the prestigious Rencontres musicales de Conques festival (formerly the Conques, la Lumière du Roman music festival), where he presented many recent creations with Constantinople.
Kiya was a member of the Conseil des arts de Montréal for seven years, serving as chair of the music decision-making committee for three years, and he is now a Board member of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. He also received a mandate from the Conseil québécois de la musique to set up a committee that will examine the role of music from around the world within the context of performance music. His desire to be involved and engaged with the musical community and Quebec society led him, in 2017, to co-found the Centre des musiciens du monde in Montreal, for which he will serve as artistic director.
His artistic projects and creations have received the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Conseil des arts de Montréal for years.
Constantinople is a musical ensemble that chose the journey—geographical certainly, but also historical, cultural and inner—as its cornerstone. It draws inspiration from all sources and aims for distant horizons. Inspired by the ancient city illuminating the East and West, Constantinople was founded in 1998 in Montreal by its artistic director, Kiya Tabassian.
Since its founding, the ensemble promotes the creation of new works incorporating musical elements of diverse musical traditions around the world, drawing from medieval manuscripts to a contemporary aesthetic, passing by Mediterranean Europe to Eastern traditions and New World Baroque. Underpinned by a spirit of research and creation, Constantinople has joined forces with leading international artists such as singers Marco Beasley, Françoise Atlan, Savina Yannatou and Suzie Le Blanc; the Mandinka griot Ablaye Cissoko; the Greek ensemble En Chordais, the Belgian duo Belem and the American group The Klezmatics; sarangi virtuoso Dhruba Ghosh, Syrian clarinettist and composer Kinan Azmeh, and Iranian kamancheh master Kayhan Kalhor.
Regularly invited to perform in international festivals and prestigious concert halls, such as the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Berliner Philharmonie, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco, the Rencontres musicales de Conques in France, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the Cervantino Festival in Mexico, the Festival de Carthage in Tunisia, the Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens and the BOZAR in Brussels, Constantinople is acclaimed by the public, music professionals and critics alike. The ensemble has 19 albums to its credit on labels Analekta, Atma, World Village, Buda Musique, MaCase, Glossa, and Dreyer Gaido. Over the past fifteen years, Constantinople has created nearly 50 works and travelled to more than 240 cities in 54 countries.
A Filetta’s music is a journey… It could be said that it is a polyphonic and vocal proposal that is challenging, audacious and contemporary, even though coming from a powerful oral tradition.
It is in 1978 that very young people — among whom teenagers, driven by a strong willingness to contribute to the protection of a declining oral heritage — started their journey… and their journey has been long, sometimes sinuous but always punctuated by discoveries and wonderful encounters. Therefore, the singers gladly confess that « the encounter » is written in their musical DNA.
The repertoire produced today by this vocal sextet is a faithful reflection of what is, since the beginning of the 1980s’, its « forward walk » : a trajectory outlining a movement initiated in a secular orality and asserting itself in the twists and turns of writing without complex, freed from any filial obligation. Sacred music stands alongside profane songs with multiple influences, films scores with Bruno Coulais, creations for Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s choreographies, choruses for an antique tragedy or pieces from a requiem requested by the Saint-Denis Festival.
A Filetta’s music is dedicated to a vision of the world rejecting without any ambiguity identitarian closure and the vocal ensemble’s philosophy is encapsulated in this beautiful aphorism by René Char : « The purest harvests are sowed in a ground that does not exist; they get rid of gratitude and only owe to spring.