Nova Pon: Symphonies of Mother and Child

We spoke to Nova Pon about her newest composition which will be premiered on February 27 at the Chan Centre as part of Turning Point Ensemble’s Inhale/Exhale concert.

You have a degree from the University of Calgary and UBC, could you tell us a bit about how these two cities have influenced and inspired your music?

Nova: Musicians and ensembles in each city have inspired me to write for them while I lived there. The two areas are naturally very different, and I was around them at quite different points in my life, and both mean a lot to me.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed anything in your composing process? How are you faring in these weird times?

Nova: Mostly I have been less affected practically than many, as I was already living somewhat remotely and composing somewhat slowly. But the whole situation weighs on the mind and spirit, thinking of all the damage done and how hard it will be to heal.

Tell us about Symphonies of Mother and Child, the piece that will premiered as part of our upcoming concert at the Chan Centre.

Nova: It’s my biggest work yet. It’s very personal, but it’s inspired by themes like love and loss, time and transience, attachment and power that are universal, so I hope it really reaches people. When I was first inspired I was in a very heightened state of dwelling on these things, more than ever before in my life.

What are the challenges and joys of composing for a large ensemble, like TPE? Have you written for this musical group before?

Nova: I’ve written for large chamber ensemble and orchestra before, but this is my first work for TPE. It’s got all the joys and challenges of a chamber ensemble plus an orchestra! It’s got a full spectrum of orchestral color and potential for big togetherness, but it also really suits treating each individual as a soloist and having intimate chamber music conversations. It has been intense to try to embrace it all.

How does it feel to premiere a new work? What about this opportunity are you most excited about?

Nova: Each work lives a long time within your own life, like one of your children. Your relationship with it is the whole process as you go along. But the premiere is a special point in that process, like meeting someone you know for the first time in person. I’ve had such a long involved relationship with this piece that I don’t think I’ve really processed yet that the premiere is
coming up!

What have you been listening to lately?

Nova: My kid has lately been asking for Abigail Washburn and Einojuhani Rautavaara and that has been great.

Are there any upcoming performances (Turning Point Ensemble or otherwise) that you are looking forward to?

Nova: All of the TPE performances are always so fascinating. But what I’m most looking forward to is an end to the pandemic situation and what it has done to our performing arts, and to everything else.

Learn more and get tickets to Inhale/Exhale