WNMF 2015 opens with a bang, oscillating between stasis and ecstasy. The Arditti Quartet, leaders of the musical avant-garde for the last 40 years, amaze in Wolfgang Rihm’s hedonistic Dithyrambe for string quartet and orchestra. Andrew Norman’s cathartic Unstuck will bring the stage alive with symphonic fireworks. George Friedrich Haas’s Traum in des Sommers Nacht will warp and stretch time as it breaks down sonic space, while Sarah Neufeld of Arcade Fire grounds it all with Breathing Black Ground (arr. Owen Pallet).


The string quartet is often the crucible in which composers define their voices. Join the Arditti Quartet as they explore modern masterworks of four unique voices. Composer and MacArthur Fellow John Zorn is a true American iconoclast and a music scene unto himself. Alfred Schnittke leapt onto the international stage in the 80’s as a leading voice of the new Russian school. Haas is a crafter of microtonal jewels. And James Tenney, who subsumed all manners of style into his own musical language, left his final work in the form of a string quartet.


An evening of virtuosic new choral music at times distinguished as much for what is not heard as what is. Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winners Caroline Shaw and John Luther Adams are featured alongside Winnipeg mavericks Lubomyr Melnyk and Andrew Balfour in a program whose beauty obscures a powerful dialectic between the natural world, the physical body and the human mind.


The Canadian symphonic landscape continues to evolve rapidly. This evening takes the temperature of this landscape with works by two of Canada’s most influential women composers – Ann Southam and Violet Archer – and two modern voices of growing importance – Larysa Kuzmenko and Kati Agocs. Matthew Patton’s rendition of ambient music/ multimedia pioneer Brian Eno’s Music from Apollo and Winnipegger Orjan Sandred delivers a new commission from the WSO to complete the program.


James Tenney – a composer’s composer – has had enormous influence in the 20th century yet is little known outside his own circle. This evening explores the music of Tenney through his acolytes – his student Matthew Patton, Georg Friedrich Haas on whom head a major influence, John Luther Adams who also studied with Tenney. Lineage by rising young Canadian Zosha Di Castri and Pulitzer Prize winner Christopher Rouse’s 3rd Symphony complete the evening with video art by Viewing Method Group.


Light and sound come together in an eclectic program featuring the Quay Brother’s original film collaboration with Karlheinz Stockhausen, In Absentia, and grand-dame of modern piano Ursula Oppens’ heroic performance of Rzewski’s monumental tribute to the Chilean struggle against an oppressive dictator. Canada’s own “brilliant musical scientist” Nicole Lizée contributes a multimedia work that entwines electronic and acoustic sound with live video performance.


The final orchestra concert of the festival closes with John Luther Adams monumental Become Ocean, a work whose sheer scope cannot help but transform the listener. Partnered with Giya Kanchelli’s massive Dixi for choir and orchestra and Mason Bates hypnotically upbeat The B-Sides, this evening will take the audience on a beautiful symphonic adventure.

Pop Nuit

The first night of Pop Nuit was a unique sound experience curated by Robert G. Menard back in 2005. The Adventures of Prince Achmed is a German animated fairytale from 1926 with a “chamber punk” score with one foot in the world of Opera and another in the dirty punk rock bars of Winnipeg. Two unforgettable experiences that could only be brought to you by Pop Nuit.