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Iris Trio: Project Earth: The Blue Chapter

Iris Trio: Project Earth: The Blue Chapter
Project Earth: The Blue Chapter, is credited to the Iris, a classical group that features Christine Carter, on clarinet, Zoe Martin-Doike on viola and Anna Petrova sitting in the piano chair. Poet Don McCay recites his poetry throughout. The project's theme is humanity's impact on the environment, expressed in three sections: "Bird Island Suite," "Chorus of Wishes" and "Kinds of Blue." It is an ambitious work, with more chapters in the planning stages. Though his name is not included on the album cover, the music comes from the pen of Canadian pianist Florian Hoefner, the artist who released the marvelous, top ten of the year piano trio outing First Spring (Alma Records) in 2019.

Inspired by McCay's poems, Hoefner gave himself the freedom to compose for the chamber trio, drawing from the influences of folk music, minimalism, blues forms and South American rhythms. McCay's poems for the opening, seven-part "Bird Island Suite" grew out of the poet's fascination with birds, especially those endemic to the Newfoundland Coast. He and Hoefner—in preparation for this project—listened to recordings of birdsong. One result of this is Part 3 of "The Bird Island Suite." In "The Bird Island Cacophonic Choir," the Iris Trio backs the poet with an exquisite grace in his reading before taking off on their own with a gentle, lively, lovely and sometimes whimsical extrapolation. Experimenting with space and silence, "The Song for the Great Auk" celebrates the extinct bird, which disappeared in a human-caused demise in 1848. These large flightless birds—sitting ducks for human depredation—nested in the Funk Islands off the coast of Newfoundland. The virtuosic Iris Trio expresses Hoefner's elegiac score with a crispness of expression that speaks to their classical training.

After positive audience response to live shows in which they featured "The Bird Island Suite," the Iris Trio commissioned Hoefner's "A Chorus of Wishes" and "Kinds of Blue," the former delving deeper into minimalism and poetic chant forms, the latter examining the occurrence of the color in nature: blueberries, blue jays, the planet Earth as observed from outer space.

The listening experience displays an enchanting refinement of beauty and expression. A further chapter in Project Earth is likely, and taken as a whole it might prove comparable to Kim Stanley Robinson's four-book eco science fiction series Science in the Capitol, which warns us of our reckless and short-sighted stewardship of this blue planet.

Track Listing

Bird Island Suite, Poem - Audience; I. Audience; II. The Bird Island Cacophonic Choir; Poem - Song for the Song of the Great Auk; III. Song for the Song of the Great Auk; Poem - Song for the Song of the Leach's Storm Petrel; IV. Song for the Song of the Leach's Storm Petrel; Chorus of Wishes, I. Part of It; Poem - Chorus of Wishes; II. Wider Mind; Kinds of Blue, Poem - A Blue in Every Hue; I. A Blue in Every Hue; Poem - Jay; II. Jay; Poem - Iris; III. Iris; Poem - Berries; IV. Berries.


Additional Instrumentation

Florian Hoefner: compositions; Don McCay: poetry composition and recitations.

Album information

Title: Project Earth: The Blue Chapter | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Self Produced

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