2 flutes (piccolos), oboe, clarinet, bassoon, piano, 2 percussions, violin, viola, cello and double bass

Commission: SMCQ, with support from the CCA

Premiere: October 6, 1983, Concert 145, Salle Pollack — Pavillon Strathcona — Université McGill, Montréal (Québec)

This work, composed in 1983 on commission by the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, was one of the first of Louie to be performed in Quebec and was among her first commissions following her return to Canada after ten years of study in California. For these reasons, Louie explains, “the first movement, ‘The Summoning’, is a call to my creative energies.” During her years in California, Louie, who is of Chinese ancestry, studied the chin (a fretless zither), one of the oldest known Chinese instruments. The first piece she learned was Yearning On the River Shiang and this tune forms the basis of the work’s second movement, ‘Ancient Music’. As Louie tells us, the third movement, ‘Music for a Thousand Autumns’ is “a glimpse into the future and includes an extended cadenza for the piano”. The three movements of Music For a Thousand Autumns represent three time periods in the composer’s life—her present, past, and future. On another, more personal level, the piece was written with the composer Claude Vivier in mind. Louie explains: “I began this piece just after his premature death, and as such the first movement is actually a call to Claude. His death made me think very carefully about the contribution of the artist to the world, and what exists after the artist dies. It became very clear to me through the writing of this piece that it is our music that exists long after you are gone”. Music For a Thousand Autumns was selected to be performed at the International Contemporary Music Days in Hong Kong, in 1988.

  • Recording: available at SMCQ’s office

Performances

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