The Dark Patterns and Fiery Power of New Classical Music
How an ominous and powerful performance will bring the Winspear to life
By Liam Newbigging | May 18, 2023
It’s smoky here in Alberta. The whole province is like an ember spitting up heavy dry ash as firefighters attempt to douse its scalding wounds. While the fires rage on, I’m speaking with the award-winning composer Samy Moussa, who says he’s determined to spend the next day in the river valley, smoke or not.
“It doesn’t bother me. I’ll go anyways,” says Moussa, who is in the city as a guest conductor for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
While he lives in Berlin now, Moussa is originally from Montreal and is currently an important player in the rising developments of new classical music. After conducting at Carnegie Hall, Montreal, and all over Europe, Moussa now brings his dark and powerful music to Edmonton’s Winspear Centre for the very first time.
The performance is called Dark Patterns, and will showcase the latest and greatest in recent orchestral music, including Moussa’s own compositions and a piece from Timos Andres, whose composition gives this show its name. “I think we share a common ground on still believing in the art form,” Moussa says about Andres. “It’s very sincere music. And that’s something of tremendous value. Very rare nowadays.”
Dark Patterns just sounds ominous, mysterious, and powerful. And Moussa’s own music fits right with it.
Listening to Moussa’s “Concerto for Violin & Orchestra ‘Adrano,'” I feel like I’m in a deep villainous drama. The violin soloist dances and flickers maddeningly, sometimes squealing and squelching with tension. It’s a piece befitting of its name, “Adrano,” whom Moussa says is named after a god of fire who slumbers under a mountain in Sicily. “The subtitle came after I took a trip to Mount Etna,” says Moussa. “I had started the piece, and I went to Sicily, and I spent a lot of time there. It inspired me tremendously.” As the movements rise and fall, I imagine a great fire with flickering flames that match the quick vibrance of that scorching violin.
Which is your go-to Christmas movie?
17%Miracle on 34th Street
22%A Nightmare Before Christmas
0%Jingle All the Way
But now Moussa is in Edmonton, where we have some very real fires burning. Still, he remains excited and serious about his performance and is impressed with the ESO. “They have a beautiful sonority which I really did not expect. I’m still quite shocked by it. It’s a very beautiful sound they have. They’re serious people, extremely professional,” he says.
Even after years of living away from home and rising through the complicated world of orchestras, he says his favourite performances are when he’s home in Canada. “I realized very early that it’s more emotional for me when it’s home, when it happens in Canada.”
In addition to the orchestra, Moussa makes his ESO debut alongside violinist Kerson Leong, and is accompanied by ESO veterans Laura Veeze, Keith Hamm and Julie Hereish.
Paths for People is hosting Bike to the Symphony to this performance. This group ride is open to people on bikes, scooters and other similar transportation as a way to mingle and enjoy fresh air on the way to the symphony. The ride start ride starts promptly at 6pm at Sugared and Spiced off Whyte, and quickly tours through Garneau, over the High Level Bridge to the Winspear.
Feel the fiery power May 19 at the Winspear Centre.