'Hot Ayres-Cool Moves' inspired by song and dance

Danette Dooley
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Clifford Crawley's work will be performed by the Hot Earth Ensemble Sunday. Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

When the Hot Earth Ensemble takes to the stage at Memorial University's School of Music Petro-Canada Hall Sunday afternoon the instrumentalists will be presenting commissioned work by well-known composer Clifford Crawley.
What's exciting about the song and dance themed concert "Hot Ayres-Cool Moves" says the ensemble's harpsichordist Mary O'Keefe is not only Crawley's new work but also the way the pieces have been weaved into the program.
"Since the program is inspired by song and dance, our artistic directors Michelle Cheramy (flute) and Nathan Cook (cello) thought it would be interesting to create a suite of dances combining 17th and 18th century dance types paired with dances from Clifford Crawley's 'Fairings,'" O'Keefe says.
"Fairings" is a set of five dances named after St. John's streets.
The Hot Earth Ensemble (Cook, Cheramy and O'Keefe) specialize in music from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The trio has chosen dance movements by composers such as Bach and Blavet and have interspersed their work with Crawley's complementary dance music.
O'Keefe, who performs frequently with the NSO Sinfonia, is confident the concert work well artistically.
"The audience will be intrigued by the variety of dance styles, ranging from the stately Sarabande, colourful Tamburinos, the mellow Strawberrymarsh and jazzy LeMarchant," she says in reference to some of the street names.
For the song element of the concert, soprano Caroline Schiller will join the Hot Earth Ensemble to perform a cantata by J.A. Hasse.
An associate professor at Memorial's School of Music, Schiller has performed in opera and musical theatre including performances in the role of Christine in the original Toronto cast of "Phantom of the Opera."
An associate professor of music at Memorial, O'Keefe says Cheramy performing interests embrace solo, chamber and orchestral performance.
She has performed solo with the Edmonton and Newfoundland Symphonies as well as with the Houston Chamber Orchestra.
Cook teaches at Memorial School's of Music.
Crawley, who now lives in St. John's, is professor emeritus at Queen's University, having taught composition and music education at Queen's for two decades.
He has over 80 published compositions.
When asked about his new work, Crawley says the word fairings refers to small, inexpensive trinkets often sold at a fair.
He chose the word for the title of his five dances he says because the pieces are short, lively and light-hearted rather than profound or morbid.
"I didn't want people to take them too seriously," he says.
Crawley says because he's familiar with the Hot Earth Ensemble, creating music for the concert performers was both easy and enjoyable.
Knowing their work is almost like "having the plot for a novel," he says.
"I enjoy having someone asking me to do something for them. And when players come and ask you to write for them, they're often the inspiration. I know these players fairly well and they're terrific," he says.
For more information on Sunday's concert, call 753-4603 or e-mail hotearthensemble@hotmail.com.


Organizations: School of Music Petro-Canada Hall, Houston Chamber Orchestra, Queen's University Queen's

Geographic location: St. John's, Toronto, Edmonton Newfoundland Symphonies

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