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Sebastian Currier’s Ongoingness receives its world premiere with harpist Bridget Kibbey and the Calidore String Quartet on January 21, 2024.

Sebastian Currier’s Ongoingness for harp and string quartet debuts with harpist Bridget Kibbey and the Calidore String Quartet on January 21 at Koerner Hall in Toronto. The premiere is part of The Royal Conservatory of Music’s 21C Music Festival, which spotlights contemporary classical music.

Currier states: “It’s with great pleasure that I’ve been able to write this piece for the harpist Bridget Kibbey, who I’ve worked with many times and whose playing never fails to amaze me with its skill, intensity, and expressiveness, and soul.”

Kibbey —who has performed other Currier works such as Broken Minuets—describes Currier’s writing for harp in an exclusive B&H interview: “Sebastian demands that you hear the broadest dynamic range of the harp, and specifically, to expose the roundest sound in the treble of the harp. He understands how it acts as a great colorist in combination with other instruments, and he’s a wonderful orchestrator.”

The composer has written several chamber pieces with harp—including Crossfade for two harps and 15 Minutes for flute, harp, and viola—as well as two harp concertos Broken Minuets and Traces, the latter of which was premiered by Marie-Pierre Langlamet and the Berlin Philharmonic. Currier, who trained as a classical guitarist, views the harp as a “surrogate for the guitar.”

The title of the work, Ongoingness, was inspired by author Sarah Manguso’s memoir of the same name. Although there is no direct connection to the book, the title depicts the theme of perpetual change that the piece embodies.

Currier describes how the 20-minute work “morphs from one idea to another to another, continually changing in intensity, character, and affect. The piece begins with solo harp. At the onset it suggests the harp’s ancient roots, but even as the first phrase expands it changes in character, and by the time the strings enter we have entered a different world. This process of gradual and often overlapping change continues throughout the piece.”

Other Currier highlights this season include performances of his Spark with 12 cellists from the Berlin Philharmonic (Aug 27).

Concert Information
Sunday, January 21 at 3pm ET
Koerner Hall, The Royal Conservatory of Music | Toronto
More info

Calidore String Quartet
Bridget Kibbey, harp
Mervon Mehta, narrator

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 (trans. Kibbey)
CLAUDE DEBUSSY Prélude from Suite Bergamasque, L. 75
GABRIEL FAURÉ Une châtelaine en sa tour, op. 110
SEBASTIAN CURRIER Ongoingness, for harp quintet (World Premiere)
ISAAC ALBÉNIZ Mallorca (trans. Kibbey)
ISAAC ALBÉNIZ Asturias-Leyenda (trans. Kibbey)
EDGAR ALLAN POE Masque of the Red Death, for narrator
ANDRÉ CAPLET Masque of the Red Death, for harp quintet

>  Further information on Work: Ongoingness

Photo: Jennifer Taylor

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