They say that inspiration, for some artists, can come from the most unlikely places.
For composer Vivian Fung, whose latest composition makes its world premiere Thursday night at the National Arts Centre, it came at bedtime for her almost-three-year-old son Julian.
“Starting from around six months, he insisted on playing the song Wheels on the Bus over and over again. And to this day he needs to sleep with it,” said Fung, who’s in Ottawa on Thursday to watch the NAC Orchestra bring her composition, Earworms, to life.
Songs that stay with us for long periods of time are often referred to as earworms.
Fung’s composition takes inspiration from other tunes that could get stuck in your head such as Ravel’s La Valse, and her own recently completed Clarinet Quintet: Frenetic Memories.
We are so saturated with information every day. With social media, with what’s going on around us, it’s just non-stop information.– Composer Vivian Fung
“Tunes would go in through my head and it would just not stop. So I decided to put this into the piece. It started with that idea of having these tunes nagging at me in my head and it became this whole piece,” said Fung.
According to Fung, the earworms stayed with her as she dealt with insomnia but then she became more aware of the music and media that follow us throughout our waking lives as well.
“We are so saturated with information every day. With social media, with what’s going on around us, it’s just non-stop information. So I think it’s very relevant to everyone today. It’s, for me, just as much social commentary as it is a musical work.”
Earworms is the first of the NAC’s five Southam Commissions named for the centre’s founder, and first director general, Hamilton Southam.
The Orchestra concerts on March 22 and 23 will also feature Boris Giltburg performing Piano Concerto No. 2 by Shostakovich, as well as Symphony No. 2 by Brahms.
The NAC Orchestra, led by conductor and NAC music director Alexander Shelley, will then travel to Toronto to perform this program at Roy Thomson Hall on March 24.
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