Ensemble workshop gathers up-and-coming composers

Well-travelled Aventa Ensemble members join future stars in spotlight at UVic

The Aventa Ensemble performs a concert at the Athelas Festival in Denmark in May.

The Aventa Ensemble performs a concert at the Athelas Festival in Denmark in May.

Victoria-based Aventa ensemble is preparing for a big weekend. The group, dedicated to performing new music by B.C. and other Canadian composers, is bringing in celebrated British composer-pianist Michael Finnissy for its annual emerging composers workshop Sept. 10.

Finnissy will sit down at the piano to perform with Aventa in a special Sunday evening concert the next night, also at the University of Victoria’s Philip T. Young recital hall.

“I think it’s really important for any new music ensemble to be working with the real biggies in the industry,” says Aventa artistic director Bill Linwood.

The Ignite! workshop features juried compositions by four participants – including three UVic alumni – plus one by Finnissy, who will share some wisdom with the up-and-coming musicians.

“Michael is a really renowned educator,” says Linwood. Having someone of Finnissy’s calibre be part of the event is great for younger musicians, he adds. “It helps mentor and guide them and helps in that transition from emerging composer to someone who is making their living at music.”

Aventa, which performs locally and internationally with between eight and 15 players, is a sinfonietta – larger than a chamber ensemble, but smaller than an orchestra. Its makeup generally includes individual wind and brass instruments, a percussionist, a pianist and a string quintet.

More than half of Aventa musicians live in Greater Victoria – the rest come from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. They share a love for fresh, contemporary music, Linwood says, as well as 20th-century works by such composers as Stravinsky and Bartok.

For their Sept. 11 concert they’ll add a guitarist, plus Canadian soprano Helen Pridmore will be featured in a presentation of Finnissy’s dark, irreverent composition “Mr. Punch.”

The workshop, free for spectators, gets underway at 2 p.m. The Sunday concert happens at 8 p.m. with a pre-concert talk by Finnissy at 7:15. Tickets are $20, or $18 for students and seniors.

More details about the ensemble can be found online at www.aventa.ca.