Filtering by Category: Chamber

Los Elefantes también Rezan (2019)

10 minutes
short operatic scene for soprano, tenor, and piano
libretto by Sergio Augusto

Written for Bad Penny Opera’s 48-Hour Opera Project, this piece was composed in 30 hours, then performed the next day. The world premiere was performed by Bahareh Pouresalmi, Sergio Augusto, and Nina Horvath at Club Hollywood North, Vancouver, BC, on June 21, 2019.

Synopsis: Lifelong friends and fellow orphans Conchita and Miguel meet unexpectedly when the only toilet in the monastery “mysteriously” stops working.  

The Orpheum Lobby (2017)

6 minutes
Open Instrumentation (3 parts)
Text from Vancouver Civic Theatre's website

A site-specific piece for written for Redshift Music Society and Ecstatic Waves's "Still Life With Echo" concert in the lobby of Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre. The piece integrates the Orpheum's 15-minute intermission recording, which plays chimes and reminders 5, 3, and 1 minute before the performance recommences. The piece creates the ambience of intermission chatter and the the sonic environment leading up to a performance.


The Knitting Club (2017)

The Knitting Club (2017)
a short scene
with text by Michael Park and Sue Hughson
duration: 10 minutes
written for Vancouver's Erato Ensemble:
4 singers (Soprano,  Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Baritone) and chamber ensemble (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Violin, Cello, Guitar, Piano)

As a long-standing member of Vancouver's Erato Ensemble, I wrote this piece specifically for their 10-year anniversary. Essentially a short scene from a not-yet-written opera, the piece puts every singer and instrumentalist in the role of knitting club member. Musicians use knitting needles and speech to set the scene, in which the piece explores many quotations and themes around the darker (and lighter) sides of knitting groups. 

Program Note:
It's rare to have an Erato Ensemble rehearsal where someone isn't knitting something during their downtime. Composer Michael Park (avid knitter and ensemble pianist) took it as a personal challenge to create a work that explores the tradition of knitting groups that is equal parts: fun, evocative, and ridiculous.
The audience is invited to knit along with the piece, or just click their needles along with the ensemble. At this knitting club, everyone's invited!

But, Ma (2016)

for soprano and piano
text by Sajia Sultana
written for Art Song Lab 2016

The 6th instalment of Art Song Lab was a collaboration with Vancouver's Queer Arts Festival. Just weeks after the shootings in Orlando, it became evident during the week just how pertinent some of the pieces were to the queer community, especially those queer people of colour involved.

The text I worked with was by Sajia Sultana, exploring the process of coming out to Indian parents. While Canada is regarded as progressive country, queer people of colour often fear the loss of culture and community in addition to family concerns that are universal in the coming-out process.

One of the experiences Sajia and I shared was a sense of not being really heard within certain family dynamics, and so, miscommunication became a starting point for our collaboration.

Unicorn (2016)

Unicorn (2016) for solo speaking cellist
duration: 4’
written for Marina Hasselberg

As the first piece I'd written after completing my doctorate, this fulfilled my need to write something lighthearted and quirky, to contrast the rigour of academia and the seriousness of writing an opera about diabetes.

When I spent Christmas 2015 in Mexico city, I visited a number of museums and had the pleasure of seeing a number of works of art I recognized as definitive works from art history books. On of those works was Dali's Unicorn. I was inspired by the piece itself, but also the way myself and other visitors engaged with sculptures: hands off, yet oh, so close! The three dimensionality of the experience made me want to musically explore a community sense of the experience, and I also saw a parallel between the wall mounted descriptions and program notes we use in the classical music world. 

Diagnosis: Diabetes (2015)

Diagnosis: Diabetes (2015)
An Interactive Chamber Opera in One Act

duration: 60 minutes, 7 scenes

for 5 singers (Soprano, 2 Mezzo-Sopranos, Tenor, Baritone) and small ensemble (Flute doubling alto, Clarinet doubling Bass, Violin, Cello, Piano)

After the idea for an interactive opera about diabetes was workshopped in 2011, the one-act opera later became my doctoral thesis project, completed in Spring of 2015. In Fall of 2015, the piece was premiered as an un-staged workshop performance by Vancouver's Erato Ensemble.

Much more information is available on the dedicated Diagnosis: Diabetes page.


Program Note:
This is the story of Charlie, a boy like any other. But this story is not an opera like any other.
As Charlie goes through life with diabetes, you too will experience the onslaught of information that comes with diagnosis, the sensation of low blood-sugar, facing your own mortality...
But don't worry. This is a fun opera. And you just might learn something too!


i wana cry with u (2014)

i wana cry with u (2014)

written for
Cor Flammae
with text by
Steve Roggenbuck

i wana cry with u
but we cant
because if we were together we
wouldn't be sad 


Initially, I interpreted the poem through the lens of queer love. While that worked well enough, it soon became clear that the scope of this poem's meaning couldn't be limited by one narrative. I opted for a format that allows each singer to discover their own interpretation as part of singing the piece.

5 Pieces for String Quartet and Guitar (2013)

5 Pieces (2013)
for String Quartet and Guitar
Written for the Lungs and Limbs ensemble

Based on water-focused photos by local Vancouver photographer, Sarah (last name coming soon...), these pieces presented me with a real challenge: working with visual elements. Going beyond the toddler-style of my drawings, visual details have a very weak hold in my brain. Even with the aid of a police sketch artist, I fear that those closest to me would appear like complete strangers, based on my descriptions!

Anecdotes aside, working from an image is not my comfort zone, and wouldn't be the first place I'd go for inspiration. With that said, I took on the challenge and came up with some new ways of thinking. In one piece, I based the shape of the musical gesture on the patten formed by rocks in a pond. Another picture reminded me of a rollicking tide... a perfect excuse to write a sea chanty. Because the whole approach reminded me of some issues I worked though in a recent Composer/Choreographer collaboration, I was even moved to include a theme I wrote during that workshop!

The whole project was organized by Chantal Lemire, violist and music theorist extraordinaire! She asked seven composers to write five one-minute pieces, each based on one of the five photos. In concert, the photos will be presented via video. We were encouraged to write for any subset of the whole ensemble, and I certainly did:

  1. Cello Solo
  2. String Quartet
  3. Viola Solo
  4. 2 Violins and Guitar
  5. String Quartet and Guitar
PDF and Recordings will be made available after the premiere.

Moonless Night (2012)

Moonless Night


for Erhu and Piano

Written for Corey Hamm and Nicole Ge Li.

Pianist Corey Hamm has joined forces with Erhuist, Nicole Ge Li in an exciting project that will see the premiere of twenty new pieces by January 2014. Those pieces will then be recorded and toured across Canada and China in Spring of 2014. I was thrilled to be one of the first composers Corey asked to join this project. Moonless Night was an amazing project to work on, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to work so closely with Nicole. The erhu is a gorgeous instrument, and not one that western classical composers often get to write for. 

When I showed a draft of the piece to Nicole and described the opening section as a sleepless night, she shared with me the importance of the moon in Chinese culture, and a title was born. Reflecting on moon imagery in erhu repertoire, the move to include quotations from Liú Tiānhuá's Moon Night was a welcomed addition.

Here is the program note for the world premiere:

The sun sustains us through the evening, and long after its last rays have dissipated. It keeps us moving forward, looking forward. 
In the hours before slumber, the moon slows our forward momentum. Dulling the stresses of waking hours, the cool light reflects on the day from a different angle. 
But what happens when we go right from daylight to sleep, without the moon's repose.
Lying in bed, tormented by restless ruminations, there is no sleep on a moonless night.

Diabetes: Question Time (2011)

Diabetes: Question Time (2011)

chamber opera for six voices and piano

Commissioned by The University of Manitoba’s Contemporary Opera Lab, under the direction of Mel Braun, this 20-minute chamber opera explores internal conflicts and concerns relating to type-one diabetes.

Following the success of the COL commission, Diagnosis: Diabetes will be developed into a one-act opera which will serve as Michael’s doctoral thesis.  More information about that project can be found here.

Click here for a PDF of the Score.