Literary Landscapes

This concert took place on February 6th, 2016


Healthy escapism for an enchanting and enriching evening of music and literature. Spectrum invites you to step “through the wardrobe” to some of literature’s most beloved and fantastical lands. Enter the gritty dystopian world of Infinite Jest, in a suite composed by Brad Cheeseman in homage to the modern masterwork by David Foster Wallace. Narnia, Middle Earth, Oceania, Wonderland, and Westeros will be stops on the itinerary as the Spectrum composers depict other fictitious realms and -topias from the seminal works of modern literature.

A pre-concert chat by Annette Mocek from the Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection will provide context for the theme of each piece, by exploring our fascination with alternate realities and discussing escapism and realism in literature and music.


Brad Cheeseman – Electric Bass
Nick Fraser – Drums
Thom Gill – Guitar
Tara Davidson – Alto/Soprano Saxophone
Juan Olivares – Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
Shannon Graham – Tenor Saxophone
Aidan Sibley – Trombone

New Works:

Selections from Figurants, Brad Cheeseman

David Foster Wallace’s 1996 novel Infinite Jest explores the effects of America’s addiction to entertainment through themes of anhedonia, choice, communication, infantilization and “the self-destructive consequences of the obsessive pursuit of happiness.” Twenty years later, many aspects of Wallace’s fictional near-future seem strikingly similar to the world around us. The music of Figurants explores several of the book’s characters, chapters and themes, while building on the musical qualities of Wallace’s prose. Featured on this concert are the final four pieces of the suite: “Hillside Rendezvous II,” “The Wraith Himself,” “Hillside Rendezvous III,” and “Scaling Mt. Dilaudid.”

Mr Tumnus, Tyler Emond

In Tyler’s own words: Something I’ve always found compelling about fantasy stories is the idea of another world. A world that runs parallel to our own and with the right state of mind, you might one day see it. This piece represents a journey to a new land as well as the fear, curiosity, and elation of discovering the unknown.

Thought Crimes, Andrew McAnsh

It seems as though at some point in school, everyone reads 1984, but is it still relevant? Does it still ring true today? “ThoughtCrimes” sonically encapsulates Orwells’s prophetic vision of a dystopian surveillance state society. McAnsh utilizes a range of modern classical composition techniques to bring the listener into Orwell’s grim and austere future to which we may be headed.

Reflections on Home, Chelsea McBride

Spectrum composer Chelsea McBride, (with consultation from Hamilton pianist and composer Chris Bruder) draws on key elements of the Lord of the Rings series that were left out of the movies – including Tom Bombadil, second breakfast, the Scouring of the Shire, and the underlying ideas of hope, determination, and mercy. And in true Chelsea fashion, she solemnly swears to return you home at the end of the Journey.

Westeros, Jay Vazquez

Guest composer Jay Vazquez takes us on a musical journey through the fictional continent of Westeros from A Song of Ice and Fire, by George RR Martin, as popularized in the HBO television series Game of Thrones.