Sarah Slean & Symphony Nova Scotia

“New, creative music that transcends any stylistic boundaries.” – CBC

Available January 24 on Centrediscs

Eight years in the making, Canadian songstress Sarah Slean’s electrifying performances with composer Christos Hatzis and Symphony Nova Scotia are now available for the first time on one album from Centrediscs. This ground-breaking collaboration began in 2012 with the premiere of Hatzis’ Lamento, broadcast nationwide by CBC and praised as “marvellously colourful and dramatic” (Chronicle Herald, Halifax). Six years later, Symphony Nova Scotia and conductor Bernhard Gueller – then celebrating his final season as Music Director – jumped at the chance to work with Sarah Slean again. The new work, with texts by Slean and music by Hatzis was Ecstasy, a counterpoint to Lamento. Audience reviews called the project “magical” and “a match made in heaven.”

“Christos Hatzis is one of the most brilliant and prolific musical creators alive today,” comments Slean, “I deeply admire his creative curiosity and openness to different kinds of music, his seemingly endless well of ideas, and the passionate intelligence that informs his work.” The evocative songs combine a pop sensibility with a rich orchestral palette. As CBC Music said, in advance of the 2020 release, “If you’re looking for music that successfully crosses over between classical and popular styles, this is it.” 

Hatzis’s three-song cycle Lamento is a musical meditation on the loss of loved ones, mental illness, and suicide. It is based on the well-known aria “When I Am Laid in Earth” from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Hatzis explains that, musically, it is an exploration of the “lamento bass,” a stepwise descending bass line used by composers of the Baroque era to express despondency. Slean herself wrote the texts for Hatzis’s Ecstasy, the dramatic musical antidote to Lamento. This cycle of three songs explores the more luminous regions of the human mind in both its intellectual and mystical expressions. Slean describes angels “in whose clear and shining blood teems the transparent heritage of light,” calling for an accompanying musical language which captures the blissful journey from darkness to light.

Sarah Slean performs with orchestras in London, Ottawa, and Quebec City this spring. For tour dates click here

Signed to Atlantic/Warner Records at the age of 19, Sarah Slean has since been nominated for three JUNO Awards and has released 11 albums in over 10 countries worldwide. Over her 25-year career, Sarah has toured internationally, published two volumes of poetry, starred in short films and a movie musical (spawning one of two Gemini Award nominations), composed chamber music commissions, held numerous exhibitions of her paintings, and shared the stage with 10 of the country’s professional orchestras. Classically trained from the age of five, she routinely collaborates with cutting-edge contemporary classical ensembles and has been invited to sing world premieres by Canada’s leading living composers.

Born in Greece, educated in the United States, a Canadian citizen since 1985, and a Professor at the University of Toronto since 1995, Christos Hatzis is one of Canada’s most important composers. Christos’ eclectic and powerful music captivates audiences internationally, and has been awarded several coveted Canadian and international awards, including two JUNO Awards. He has received commissions from some of the world’s best-known soloists and ensembles, such as violinist Hilary Hahn, percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, the Gryphon Trio, the New Orford and St. Lawrence quartets, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Music Director Laureate of Symphony Nova Scotia (Music Director, 2002-2018) and Principal Guest Conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernhard Gueller is acclaimed for the interpretations and excitement he brings to the podium. Bernhard has collaborated with many of Canada’s foremost musicians, such as James Ehnes, Jan Lisiecki, Janina Fialkowska, Anton Kuerti, Jon Kimura Parker, and Marc-André Hamelin, along with other international stars such as Joshua Bell, Metropolitan Opera singers such as Pretty Yende and Johan Botha, and the Vienna Boys Choir.

Symphony Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s most versatile and dynamic orchestras. Founded in 1983, the 37-member orchestra proudly performs music that reflects Nova Scotia’s diverse musical interests and history, combining classical masterworks, historically informed baroque, new compositions, and ground breaking collaborations featuring artists from Nova Scotia’s rich pop, indie, and Celtic music scene. With a home base in Halifax and performances across the province, Symphony Nova Scotia reaches more than 80,000 Nova Scotians of all ages each year with its diverse mix of concerts, free community programs, and educational outreach.

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