Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra has commissioned a new orchestral work, Earworms, from internationally renowned, JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung. Earworms receives its world premiere performances by the National Arts Centre Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Alexander Shelley on Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23, 2018 at 8:00PM at National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall. The program also features Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Russian-born Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg. On Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 8:00PM, the program travels to Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, presented by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Of her new piece, Vivian Fung explains, “Earworms” is a feisty and whimsical orchestral piece that provides a commentary on the world we live in today – it musically depicts our diverted attention spans, our constant barrage of music and other media, and our multi-tasking lives. Since having my son almost three years ago, I have found my life to be more complicated and chaotic, but also all the richer and more meaningful. I find myself at the end of the day humming tunes that have gotten into my head and that I cannot seem to escape no matter how hard I try – hence the title Earworms.”
Earworms features snippets of some of the best, most insistent, and most annoying of these tunes and combines them into a playful and quirky arrangement. These include phrases of Ravel’s La Valse and Fung’s son’s favorite, “Wheels on the Bus,” to which he has listened every day ad nauseam for the past six months. Fung worked fragments of these tunes into the piece in the way she would hear them at night – incomplete, sometimes looping, sometimes simultaneously. The piece culminates in a chaotic mash-up, with the orchestra building its force and repeating musical gestures with different, often conflicting rhythms. It ends loud and strong, as the earworms take hold of the psyche.
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