Program Note

La chouette enchantée was commissioned by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for a chamber music concert taking place at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The theme for the commission was the interrelation between art and music and I was asked to choose a work from the Canadian exhibit from which to draw inspiration for the piece I was to compose. The work that immediately spoke to me was a stamp from Inuit artist Kenujuak Ashevak depicting the mythological enchanted owl of lore. The legend is that the owl could momentarily chase away the cold and darkness of winter by flaring its wild magical plumage. In Ashevak's stamp the owl has a grin on its face and its feathers are all standing on end. In my work I tried to capture the character and gesture of the owl in Ashevak's piece. The present score for string quartet was adapted from the first version, which was scored for oboe, violin, viola and cello.  This piece also references ideas from "Oracle", a piece I composed for violin and drums.