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TSO Presents The World Premiere Of Zosha Di Castri's IN THE HALF-LIGHT, Performed By Barbara Hannigan

Program also features the World Premiere of Julia Mermelstein's Celebration Prelude and Stravinsky's The Firebird.

TSO Presents The World Premiere Of Zosha Di Castri's IN THE HALF-LIGHT, Performed By Barbara Hannigan

On Thursday, May 19 and Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 8:00pm, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) presents a stunning concert featuring the world premiere of Canadian composer Zosha Di Castri's newest work for soprano and orchestra, In the Half-light, performed by Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan with a libretto by Tash Aw and commissioned by TSO.

The performance, to be held at Roy Thomson Hall, also includes the world premiere of Julia Mermelstein's Celebration Prelude, a TSO commission written for its 100th season, and Stravinsky's The Firebird, all led by TSO Music Director Gustavo Gimeno.

Zosha Di Castri's In the Half-light explores the subjects of displacement, belonging, and home. This seven movement song cycle for soprano and orchestra was born from a close collaboration between the composer, soprano Barbara Hannigan, and author Tash Aw, whose moving libretto evokes not only the experience of human migration (which the current Ukrainian refugee crisis renders all the more relevant), but also a more universal questioning: what happens to our sense of being, and of self, when we move from a place we know, to a place we don't, then back again? Di Castri says, "The music exists on the threshold between darkness and light, the moment before dawn. Hovering on the cusp of change, it opens up a space where everything that has been impossible can suddenly be realized, just for a moment, before we pass into another world." Hannigan states, "It is mystery and love and heimweh (homesickness) and solitude and sehnsucht (wistful longing)."

Interweaving the personal experiences of the contributing artists, In the Half-light hopes to resonate with audiences in this highly unique and shared moment we are living, when so many are grappling with the liminal spaces we all inhabit.

Concert Information
Gimeno + Hannigan
Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 8:00pm
Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 8:00pm
Roy Thomson Hall | 60 Simcoe St | Toronto, ON
Tickets: Starting at $35

JULIA MERMELSTEIN: Celebration Prelude [World Premiere, TSO Commission]
ZOSHA DI CASTRI (text by Tash Aw): In the Half-light for Soprano and Orchestra [World Premiere, TSO Commission]
STRAVINSKY: The Firebird (complete ballet, 1910)

Gustavo Gimeno, conductor
Barbara Hannigan, soprano

Zosha Di Castri, a Canadian "composer of riotously inventive works" (The New Yorker), currently lives in New York. Her music has been performed across Canada, the United States, South America, Asia, and Europe and extends far beyond purely concert music, including projects with electronics, sound arts, and collaborations with video and dance that encourage audiences to feel "compelled to return for repeated doses" (The Arts Desk). She is currently the Francis Goelet Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia University and a 2021 Guggenheim fellow.

Zosha's current projects include a new piece for soprano Barbara Hannigan, with libretto by Tash Aw, to premiere with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2022; a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress for percussionist Steve Schick and International Contemporary Ensemble; a commission for the Grossman Ensemble in Chicago; and a new work for Ekmeles vocal ensemble. She recently completed a commission titled Hunger for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra with improvised drummer, which is designed to accompany Peter Foldes' 1973 silent film by the same name. In July 2019, Long Is the Journey, Short Is the Memory for orchestra and chorus opened the first night of the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall, featuring the BBC Symphony, the BBC Singers, and conductor Karina Canellakis. Other large-scale projects include a 25-min piece for soprano, recorded narrator and orchestra entitled Dear Life, based on a short-story by Alice Munro, and an evening-length new music theater piece, Phonobellow, co-written with David Adamcyk for the International Contemporary Ensemble with performances in New York and Montreal. Phonobellow features five musicians, a large kinetic sound sculpture, electronics, and video in a reflection on the influence of photography and phonography on human perception.

Zosha's orchestral compositions have been commissioned by John Adams, the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, Esprit Orchestra, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the BBC, and have been featured by the Tokyo Symphony, Amazonas Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra among others. She has made appearances with the Chicago Symphony, the LA Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players in their chamber music series and has worked with many leading new music groups including Talea Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, Ekmeles, Yarn/Wire, the NEM, Ensemble Cairn, and JACK Quartet. She was the recipient of the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music for her work Cortège in 2012, and participated in Ircam's Manifeste Festival in Paris, writing an interactive electronic work for Thomas Hauert's dance company, ZOO.

Other recent projects include a string quartet for the Banff International String Quartet Competition, a piece for Yarn/Wire for two pianists, two percussionists, and electronics that premiered at her Miller Theatre Composer Portrait concert, a solo piano work for Julia Den Boer commissioned by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust Fund, a piano/violin duo with violinist Jennifer Koh, and a string octet premiered by JACK Quartet and Parker Quartet at the Banff Centre.

Zosha's debut album Tachitipo was released on New Focus Recordings in November 2019 to critical acclaim and the title track was nominated for The JUNO Awards' 2021 Classical Composition of the Year. Tachitipo was named in the Best of 2019 lists by The New Yorker, I Care if You Listen, AnEarful, Sequenza21, and New York Music Daily, and praised as "a formidable statement. It is so comprehensively realized, institutionally ratified, and sensitive to the creative exigencies of the 21st century that one wants to send a copy of it to the publishers of textbooks for music history survey courses in the hope that it will be included in a last chapter or two." (I Care if You Listen)

Zosha completed her Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance and Composition at McGill University, and has a doctorate from Columbia University in Composition. She was also an inaugural fellow at the Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris in 2018-19. Zosha was born in St. Albert in Alberta, Canada and currently lives with her family in New York City. Learn more at

Embodying music with an unparalleled dramatic sensibility, soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan is an artist at the forefront of creation. Her artistic colleagues include Simon Rattle, Sasha Waltz, Kent Nagano, Vladimir Jurowski, John Zorn, Andreas Kriegenburg, Andris Nelsons, Esa Pekka Salonen, Christoph Marthaler, Antonio Pappano, Katie Mitchell, Kirill Petrenko, and Krszysztof Warlikowski. The late conductor and pianist Reinbert de Leeuw has been an extraordinary influence and inspiration on her development as a musician. The Canadian musician has shown a profound commitment to the music of our time and has given the world première performances of over 85 new creations. Hannigan has collaborated extensively with composers including Boulez, Zorn, Dutilleux, Ligeti, Stockhausen, Sciarrino, Barry, Dusapin, Dean, Benjamin and Abrahamsen. The 21/22 season brings her return to La Monnaie as Lulu in the much-awaited remount of her first Lulu production with Warlikowski from 2012. Her La Voix Humaine production will take her to London Symphony Orchestra and Munich Philharmonic, and she happily returns to Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra as well as to her younger colleagues of The Juilliard School. She will sing the world premiere of a new work by Zosha Di Castri with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and present several concerts with vocal works by John Zorn in Antwerp, Hamburg and Modena. Originally from Nova Scotia, Barbara resides in Finistère, on the northwest coast of France.

Tash Aw was born in Taiwan to Malaysian parents and grew up in Kuala Lumpur. He moved to England in his teens, and studied Law at the Universities of Cambridge and Warwick. He moved to London and undertook various jobs, including working as a lawyer for four years. He then studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. His first novel, The Harmony Silk Factory (2005), won the 2005 Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (South East Asia and South Pacific Region Best First Book). It juxtaposes three accounts of the life of Johnny Lim, a Chinese peasant in rural Malay. His subsequent novels are Map of the Invisible World (2009), set in Indonesia and Malaysia in the mid-1960s, and Five Star Billionaire (2013). In 2019 he published We, the Survivors, with Fourth Estate. His work of short fiction Sail won the O. Henry Prize in 2013 and he has had pieces published in A Public Space and the landmark Granta 100, amongst others. His essays and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, the Magazine littéraire, The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and The New York Times.

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