The Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra (RMSO) in Balzac has commissioned a pandemic-inspired work, composed by Airdrie musician and RMSO member Dr. Kristin Flores.
Carlos Foggin, the founder and musical director of RMSO, said he approached Flores about a year ago to ask if she would be interested in chronicling her experience through the COVID-19 pandemic in musical form.
“She was very excited about the idea,” Foggin said. “We had just cancelled our upcoming season and were looking to program 2021 and 2022.”
The piece itself, titled The Four Seasons of COVID-19 – a play on Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons – is divided into four movements based on what stage each season corresponded with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The first movement is titled Spring – First Wave, the second movement is Summer – Time to Reflect, the third is Fall – Second Wave is Coming, and the final movement is called Winter – This is Never Going to End…
Flores said she applied for an Alberta Foundation of the Arts grant to write the piece, and that constructing the proposal really gave her the chance to think about what story she wanted to tell.
“I wanted to lay out everything I was thinking about, it was just on my mind – as it was on all our minds this year during the pandemic – I just decided that I might as well write about it and get how I was feeling about it into my music as a way to get through the pandemic,” she said.
The work was written for full orchestra, according to Flores and Foggin, who added the composition will last 12 to 13 minutes when played in its entirety.
In terms of when the piece will be performed for an audience, Foggin said RMSO is still weighing the interest of symphony-goers when it comes to returning to in-person performances – even though all restrictions will lift July 1.
They aren’t in a hurry though, Foggin said, as the summer months are not typically a busy performance time for RMSO.
“We’re working on something – It’s going to be post stampede – we just need more data,” he said.
Foggin hopes Flores’ piece will be relatable for the audience given its subject matter, and that it will perhaps dim the notion that modern classical music is inaccessible and Avant Garde.
“It wasn’t exactly a peaceful time for the world or specifically what she was going through – speaking through her lens – so there are some elements of discord and angst, maybe anxiety in the music, but they do resolve,” Foggin said.
He added the piece will allow the audience to process what Flores was going through in 2020 and how she uses art to express those emotions.
“I hope that [the audience] can kind of hear the stages that we went through with the pandemic, they can relate and hear our experience through my music,” Flores said.
“I hope it's a chance for them to heal from it," she continued. “Music is sometimes more powerful than words.”
Foggin said he hopes Flores’ pandemic piece will be played by a full orchestra for an at-capacity audience sometime in early 2022. He added that although he has yet to hear the piece played, he knows Flores’ talent, expertise and training will translate well as the notes come alive off of the page.
“We were excited to give a local, female composer an opportunity,” he said.
According to RMSO’s website, Flores began her composition studies at the University of Alberta in 1998. She holds a Bachelor of Music in music composition and theory, as well as a Master of Music degree in composition. Flores also has a Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Calgary, which she obtained in 2010.