The Aventa Ensemble (Canada) in Auckland
Sarah Ballard | 6 March 2015 | The Listener

A visit from Canadian new music ensemble, Aventa was a rare occurrence and opportunity for the hosting University of Auckland and greater community. Not often is it that we are treated to a concert by an international new music ensemble. Headed by the infectiously warm director, Bill Linwood, the ensemble presented a greatly varied lineup of Canadian and New Zealand music that worked well in its symmetries.

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In Daily – Adelaide Independent News
David Washington | 2 March 2015

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL REVIEW | Marilyn Monroe died an enigma in 1962 and this dreamy, drifting chamber opera does little to part the shroud of mystery.

Performed in the orchestral studio attached to the ABC headquarters at Collinswood, the simple set gives the immediate impression of a Hollywood sound stage.

The Aventa Ensemble – a small chamber orchestra – performs discreetly in the shadows, while a jazz trio featuring the opera’s composer (and Adelaide Festival composer-in-residence) Gavin Bryars, on double bass, is on-stage.

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Bryars’ intimate, operatic look at Marilyn is steeped in beautiful melancholia.
Australian premiere | ABC Studios, Adelaide | February 27, 2015

Gordon Forester, Limelight (Australia’s Classical Music Magazine) | 1 March 2015

KNOWN for his minimalist works such as Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, Gavin Bryars has come up with a shadowy, dreamlike piece in his chamber opera, Marilyn Forever. It is not about Marilyn Monroe in any biographical sense but rather a sequence of loosely connected scenes that describe the film star from within her own mind in the hours or days before she died.

Throbbing bass drum, bass clarinet, bassoon and two double basses, among the 11 musicians of Canada’s Aventa Ensemble, contribute to a uniquely dark colour. Aventa played with wonderful fluidity, ease and naturalness.

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Bryars’ intimate, operatic look at Marilyn is steeped in beautiful melancholia.
Australian premiere | ABC Studios, Adelaide | February 27, 2015

Gordon Forester, Limelight (Australia’s Classical Music Magazine) | 1 March 2015

Marilyn Forever is an intimate piece steeped in beautiful melancholia. Jealousy, fame and the search for love collide making this soulful opera with a perfect ending an Adelaide Festival highlight.

Conducting the tight production is Bill Linwood who ably steers the wonderful score filled with charms of the era interspersed with fabulous smoky jazz. The rhythm of this opera is only part of its magnetism; the juxtaposing genres contained within leave no room for thoughts of sameness. Listen out for AK Coope’s stellar bass clarinet lines and some frankly awesome improv by Julien Wilson on tenor saxophone (Wilson’s “character” is so cool he took to reading a newspaper like he was genuinely disinterested in the stage action).

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The Barefoot Review – Australia
Kym Clayton | 2 March 2015

Adelaide Festival. Gavin Bryars. Studio 520, ABC Collinswood Centre. 27 Feb 2015

Production director Joel Ivany sets the action in front of a large curving white backdrop that gently arcs its way to the floor and forms the acting surface as well. This works a treat, and simple props become prominent under the well-executed moody lighting.

A jazz trio (with the composer himself on bass) takes stage right, and an eight-piece ensemble fabulously conducted by Bill Linwood provides the main musical backing from stage left.

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A message of hope from the horror of war
Kevin Bazzana – Time Colonist, Victoria BC

The Aventa Ensemble, the local chamber symphony devoted to modern music, performs Strange News, a 40-minute multimedia work with music by Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin.

According to Bill Linwood, Aventa’s co-founder, artistic director and conductor, Sunday’s performance will be “the biggest project in our history” — this from an ensemble that has staged two operas. Aventa has performed three other works by Wallin, but Strange News is in a different league because of its size and complexity and the ripped-from-the-headlines urgency of its subject: the tragic, intractable problem of Africa’s child soldiers.

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As If

Aventa Ensemble
Bill Linwood, conductor
Phillip T Young Recital Hall
November 17, 2013

By Deryk Barker – Music in Victoria
What comes after post-modernism? What, come to that, is post-modernism?

According the Stanford University’s online dictionary of philosophy, post-modernism “can be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning”.  read more

Das Ewig Weibliche

Marilyn Forever

McPherson Playhouse
September 13, 2013

By Deryk Barker

“It was wonderful to be around her, she was simply overwhelming. She had so much promise. It seemed to me that she could really be a great kind of phenomenon, a terrific artist. She was endlessly fascinating, full of original observations…there wasn’t a conventional bone in her body.” Arthur Miller, whose words those are, was Marilyn Monroe’s third and last husband – their marriage, which lasted five years, was also Monroe’s longest; Miller also wrote the screenplay of her final movie, The Misfits.  Marilyn Forever, which premiered on Friday night, is an exploration of the myth that is Marilyn.

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Protests inspired sinfonietta’s cantata

By Kevin Bazzana, Times Colonist – February 23, 2013

The Aventa Ensemble, a local sinfonietta (or small symphony) specializing in modern music, is now in its 11th season and enjoys an international reputation. This week, it was scheduled to make the first of four appearances in new-music series in Montreal, New York, Winnipeg and Calgary — its seventh tour since 2007. Next Tuesday, Aventa will be back in Victoria to give its final concert of the season, its 13 instrumentalists joined by three vocalists from different provinces (among them local soprano Anne Grimm) and conducted by percussionist Bill Linwood, its co-founder and artistic director.

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Aventa to perform ‘masterpiece’ “in vain”

By Kevin Bazzana, Times Colonist – November 4th, 2012

On Saturday evening, the Aventa Ensemble’s 10th-anniversary season will continue with a program devoted to a single hour-long work: Georg Friedrich Haas’s in vain, a radically original, technically challenging instrumental piece that has been performed often around the world since its première in 2000 and has been widely hailed as a masterpiece.

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Aventa Ensemble marks milestone
By Kevin Bazzana, Times Colonist – Sept. 2012

The 2012-13 season will be the 10th for the Aventa Ensemble, the local sinfonietta specializing in modern music, and this momentous anniversary offers a convenient excuse to reflect on the group’s considerable achievements…A decade later, it still is. Indeed, it is one of very few such groups anywhere in Canada, though its adventurousness and high musical standards have earned it an international reputation.

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Living Toys
By Deryk Barker  Music in Victoria – Feb. 3, 2012

Arnold Schoenberg once famously remarked that there will always be plenty of music to be written in C major.  The first part of Friday evening’s concert, third in the Victoria Symphony’s New Music Festival, might have been designed to demonstrate the truth of Schoenberg’s dictum, with two works composed in the 21st century which, if not actually in C major, were certainly unabashedly tonal.

It is difficult to imagine any of this music being performed better…As usual, a fascinating evening.

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Aventa Ensemble
Bill Linwood, conductor
Darnell Linwood, horn/John Lowry, violin/Miranda Wong, piano
Nov. 1 , 2011 Victoria, BC
By Deryk Barker, Music in Victoria

It is a truth not entirely universally acknowledged, that one attends a programme of contemporary music expecting the sense and the intellect – although not necessarily the emotions – to be engaged. I was dramatically made aware of this, or rather its converse, during the final work on Tuesday evening’s remarkable programme from the Aventa Ensemble and conductor Bill Linwood.

Stormwatch, Stormfall is an Aventa commission and was receiving its first performance. Written, the composer tells us, during a winter of particularly fierce storms and snows, the music has passages of considerable instrumental virtuosity and others of a lyrical near-tranquility. Darnell Linwood, John Lowry and Miranda Wong played what is clearly at times fearsomely difficult music with panâche and commitment.

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English composer to première latest
Oct. 27 , 2011 Victoria, BC
By Kevin Bazzana, The Victoria Times Colonist

Few contemporary classical musicians have the international standing of Aventa’s latest catch, the British composer and conductor Peter Maxwell Davies, who is scheduled to participate in two events at the University of Victoria. On Monday evening, he will deliver an autobiographical lecture, Life and Work, for the university’s School of Music (he is reputedly an entertaining speaker); on Tuesday evening, he will be present at an Aventa concert that will include the première of his Stormwatch, Stormfall.

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Composed of voracious curiosity
Sept. 7, 2011 Victoria, BC
By Kevin Bazzana
The Victoria Times Colonist

The English composer and pianist Michael Finnissy, making his first visit to Western Canada, recently arrived in Victoria and, over a five-day period beginning Saturday afternoon, will be the subject of a de facto mini-festival at the University of Victoria’s School of Music. He will participate in two concerts of the Aventa Ensemble, offer a recital of his piano music, and give a public lecture, while also working with composition students.

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Aventa Ensemble tackles difficult music with skill and passion
Aventa Ensemble
Bill Linwood, conductor / Mark McGregor, flute
Music Gallery, Toronto ON
January 4 2011

The concert closed with a performance of Pierre Boulez’s Dérive II, in the revised and extended version Boulez completed four years ago. Imagine a Rubik’s cube, constantly changing its surface patterns and constantly expanding, adding new combinations every moment. That gives you an idea of the restless concision and prolixity of this 45-minute piece, drawn from a handful of chords based on six pitches. It was by turns fascinating and exhausting. I sometimes felt I was being held captive inside a giant musical brain; but Boulez is too sensual, and too much a man of the theatre, to let any moment go by without some sensory thrill or dramatic flourish.

I can hardly give enough praise to the 13 players of Victoria’s Aventa Ensemble and conductor Bill Linwood, who tackled all this difficult music with skill, passion and dedication. How lucky for all of us that this band is able to tour the country, for the second time in less than a year.

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October 17, 2010
Deryk Barker, Music in Victoria

One of the great joys of attending an Aventa concert is that one can be sure that not only is one hearing music one is highly unlikely to hear otherwise, but that one is hearing it as well-played as it can be.

For, as I have observed so many times before, Bill Linwood once again directed performances of total conviction, fearsome accuracy and tremendous energy.

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Opera for a sex goddess
by Kevin Bazzana, The Times Colonist, June 12, 2010

The creation of a new opera, a big deal even in a major musical centre, counts as a very big deal in a moderate-sized city like Victoria, especially when the stature of the artists involved, and the subject, guarantee it will attract international attention. Such is the case with Anyone Can See I Love You, an opera in development here. The libretto is by Marilyn Bowering, who lives in Sooke. The music is by Gavin Bryars, who is based in his native England but has spent part of each year in Metchosin since meeting his wife here 12 years ago. And the subject is an imperishable icon of 20th-century popular culture: Marilyn Monroe.

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A 35-minute musical feast
St. Mary’s University Art Gallery, Halifax NS
April 14, 2010
Stephen Pedersen , The Chronicle Herald, Halifax NS

<blockquote>But nothing in all this array of pitches and timbres, every one of which Boulez precisely placed so even the tiniest tones could be heard like tiny birds flitting through the gapped light of a leaf-filled forest, could have prepared us for the first entry of Israeli contralto Noa Frenkel’s voice. Every listener sucked in an astonished breath at the powerful vibrancy, depth, richness and sweet edges of Frenkel’s voice, not to mention the artistry of her interpretation.</blockquote>

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Apr. 14, 2010 – PREVIEW – Stephen Pedersen, The Chronicle Herald, Halifax NS

Composer-conductor Pierre Boulez, at 84, is the acknowledged godfather of contemporary art music. He is, and has been for decades, respected and admired by musicians the world over. But he is uncompromising, and while not stern, a formidable musical intelligence. The New York Philharmonic appointed him music director in 1971-1977 where his exacting fidelity to the composer’s intentions earned him the title of “The French Correction.”

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Life on the (Cutting) Edge
Bill Linwood, conductor / Müge Büyükçelen, violin
November 15, 2009
By Deryk Barker (Music in Victoria)

Büyükçelen has never impressed more than she did here, producing a far more attractive tone than one might have expected from the electronics, displaying a formidable rhtymic vitality in the quicker music and a delicious lyricism (with, at times, a huge vibrato) in the slower.


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Aventa in Copenhagen
Athelas Festival
PLEX, Copenhagen, June 15, 2009
A Ruders celebration!

Aventa took the music of Poul Ruders on tour with concerts in New York City and Copenhagen. No stranger to the music of Poul Ruders, Aventa presented the U.S. premiere of “Abysm” at Scandinavia House in 2006. The 2009 tour featured his “Horn Trio”, a virtuoso tour de force for violin, horn and piano in New York City, and “Abysm” and “Four Dances in One Movement” in Copenhagen.

Paul Ruders’ exaggerated chamber music received a hot reception.

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Aventa opens Munich’s A•DEvantgarde Festival
Aventa Ensemble
Gasteig, Munich, Germany
Sunday June 14, 2009 8:30PM

…it is vital, angular music, which the superb Canadian ensemble Aventa, under the direction of Bill Linwood, implemented with precision” – Sueddeutsche, München

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Poems squeezed from music, and other delight


From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
February 5, 2008
AVENTA at Philip T. Young Recital Hall, Victoria B.C. Sunday Feb. 3

A stranger might deduce from this program that the new music of this part of the world and decade has a recognizable stylistic fingerprint. We know better, but Aventa, directed by Bill Linwood, has a knack for putting complementary compositions together. For those of us who think contrast is overrated, their programs are a treat.

One also imagines spending more time with Aventa.

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First-rate Boulez in the BC capital
OPUS Magazine – WEST NOTES – Elissa Poole
Aventa Ensemble, Bill Linwood, conductor
Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, Victoria
Sunday, November 4

…Dérive II is exuberantly active music. It also explores – with reference to Ligeti and Nancarrow – the idea of overlapping periodic structures on multiple rhythmic levels. Its surface is never still: There are a couple places only – little more than musical blinks – where the piece stops to grab a breath…What does adding another 25 minutes contribute our perception of this music? We could say it offers a more encyclopedic picture of the material’s potential (including much new horn writing, beautifully realized by Darnell Linwood), but it wouldn’t embrace what is most remarkable about the expansion. Dérive II, in the 2002 version, has edges. It feels like a piece, a dazzling display of combinatorial ingeniousness, yes, with Boulez’s trademark virtuosity, sensuous appeal and fabulous abstraction, but, in the end, still “only” a piece. Its more recent incarnation, however, envelops listener (and player) in a highly concentrated conceptual process that is absolutely fluid. We too, are wondrously adrift, and at the risk of sounding New Age, it alters the parameters of the listening experience. Listen to Dérive II, 2007, and you know that there is no limit to “continual expansion.”

You’ve had a glimpse of infinity, and lo and behold, it’s a nice place to be.

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A Significant Premiere
November 4, 2007
By Deryk Barker, The Times Colonist

Sunday evening’s concert concluded with a real coup: the North American premiere of Boulez’s Dérive II. For almost an hour, conductor Bill Linwood directed a performance as dazzling and scintillating as the music itself.

Boulez’s compositional fingerprints are write large on every bar and the music’s constantly shifting kaleidoscope proved absolutely mesmerising.

Even by Aventa’s standards, this was a remarkable performance, a tour-de-force to match the music.

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Not of this World
Anders Nordentoft, On This Planet

Thomas Sandberg, The Male
Heather Pawsy, Mother Earth
Bill Linwood, conductor
MacPherson Playhouse Theatre, May 18/19, 2007
By Deryk Barker

Thomas Sandberg, as The Male, was mesmerising, whether crooning one of the work’s lyrical songs, voicing his paranoia about the amount of sand to an uncaring world, or calmly awaiting the attending medics in their white coats. No doubt one day somebody else will take on this role, but at the moment it is hard to imagine.

In an orchestra pit bristling with microphones and electronics, Bill Linwood directed a performance of tremendous energy and subtlety. As one has come to expect, his musicians cast aside any technical difficulties with aplomb, allowing the music to make its full – and considerable – impact.

On This Planet is a great musical, dramatic and theatrical experience. Friday’s premiere was a magnificent achievement.

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The Music of Ligeti

Who: Aventa
Darnell Linwood, horn
John Lowry, violin
Miranda Wong, piano
Yariv Aloni, viola
Bill Linwood, percussion
Where: Phillip T Young Recital Hall
When: May 20
By Deryk Barker
Times Colonist staff

According to the pianist Alfred Brendel, “you need three or five hands to play Ligeti.”  Brendel was referring to Ligeti’s solo piano music, but I have no doubt that Darnell Linwood, John Lowry and Miranda Wong, who closed Friday’s Aventa concert with a spectacular performance of Ligeti’s Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano, would agree that the composer does not allow mere human limitations to interfere with his compositional process.

It was perhaps the final movement which left the most profound impression. The music is slow and intensely felt, and the composer takes advantage of the difference between the equal-temperament tuning of the piano and the overtone-restricted tuning of the horn – and the violinist’s dilemma at being caught between this particular Scylla and Charybdis. The resulting sonorities were unearthly, strangely beautiful and completely indescribable.

This was undoubtedly an evening for those who believe that they dislike modern music and that it has nothing to say to them; unfortunately, I suspect few actually attended.

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