Kevin Lau: Under A Veil Of Stars
(Halifax/Kipuktuk, NS) The St. John-Mercer-Park Trio is proud to present Kevin Lau: Under A Veil of Stars, an album that seeks to be both intimate and cosmic, to find the universal in the particular, and to celebrate the sacred energy music alone has the power to transmit. Kevin Lau: Under A Veil of Stars sees three outstanding musicians actualizing the themes of escapism, surreality, and temporality. Over nine tracks, Under A Veil of Stars careens through several moods and themes, each offering the listener a chance to interpret the meaning through their unique lens, before culminating in the album’s centerpiece: the three-movement Under a Veil of Stars. This piece chronicles the themes and motifs of life’s overarching three stages – childhood, adulthood, and old age.
Kevin Lau: Under A Veil of Stars is at once intimate and grandiose. Kevin Lau writes: “Intimate. Cosmic. Two words that describe not only my ideal musical vision—music that invites us into an experience with the warm, welcoming touch of the familiar, only to then show us the universe—but also the piano trio ensemble itself, which is somehow both very small (three musicians!) and very grand, symphonic even. I am thrilled to have my four piano trios represented on this album, along with a handful of piano trio subsets that I felt complemented these works.”
One of Canada’s most versatile and sought-after composers, Kevin Lau has been commissioned by some of Canada’s most prominent artists and ensembles, and his work has been performed internationally in the USA, France, Denmark, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. A prolific composer of orchestral, chamber, ballet, opera, and film music, he was appointed Affiliate Composer of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2012; to date, he has produced seven works for the TSO. Shortly after, he was commissioned to write two ballets with choreographer Guillaume Côté: a full-length ballet (Le Petit Prince) for the National Ballet of Canada and a half-hour ballet (Dark Angels) for the National Arts Centre Orchestra. His music is represented on many commercial recordings, including two JUNO Award–winning albums (Mosaïque, Ensemble Made in Canada; Detached, harpist Angela Schwarzkopf). He is currently composer-in-residence of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra; his most recent work, a song cycle for mezzo-soprano Lizzy Hoyt, marks his fourth commission with the MCO. Kevin’s creative output, often inspired by the fantastical and the surreal, is unified by the search for deep connections amidst surface diversity—connections that serve as a metaphor for the reconciliation of seemingly fundamental differences.
Described as a “pure chamber musician” (Globe and Mail) creating “moments of pure magic” (Toronto Star), Canadian cellist Rachel Mercer has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across five continents. Grand prize winner of the 2001 Vriendenkrans Competition in Amsterdam, Rachel is Principal Cello of the NAC Orchestra in Ottawa and Co-Artistic Director of the “5 at the First” Chamber Music Series in Hamilton. She collaborates regularly with her long-time duo partner, pianist Angela Park, and was cellist of the JUNO Award–winning piano quartet Ensemble Made in Canada (2008–2020), the AYR Trio (2010–2020), and the Aviv Quartet (2002–2010). An advocate for new Canadian music, Rachel has commissioned and premiered over thirty works, including solo and chamber work, and cello concerti by Stewart Goodyear and Kevin Lau. Rachel can be heard on the Naxos, Naxos Canadian Classics, Centrediscs, Analekta, ATMA, Dalia Classics, and EnT-T record labels and released a critically acclaimed album of the Bach Suites on Pipistrelle in March 2014, recorded on the 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius Cello from the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank. Rachel plays a seventeenth-century cello from Northern Italy.
Violinist Scott St. John, from London, Ontario, is Concertmaster and Artistic Partner of the innovative ROCO Chamber Orchestra in Houston, Texas, and teaches chamber music at the University of Toronto. He performs frequently with the St. John-Mercer-Park Piano Trio and returns often to the summertime Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont. Early violin success with teacher Richard Lawrence in London, Ontario, gave Scott a path to further studies with David Cerone, Arnold Steinhardt, and Felix Galimir. After playing a Carnegie Hall debut, he lived in NYC and worked for Young Concert Artists. Scott has held the position of Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, and from 2018 to 2021 he was Director of Chamber Music at The Colburn School in Los Angeles. As a member of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, he was Artist-in-Residence at Stanford University. Scott won a JUNO Award for recording Mozart with his sister Lara St. John and founded the Felix Galimir Award for chamber music students at University of Toronto. Scott loves chamber music, Dvorak, new music, music by less-known composers, and a great espresso.
Angela Park has established herself as one of Canada’s most sought-after pianists. Praised for her “stunningly beautiful pianism” (Grace Welsh Prize, Chicago), “beautiful tone and sensitivity” (American Record Guide), and for performing “with such brilliant clarity it took your breath away” (Chapala, Mexico), Angela’s versatility as both soloist and chamber musician has led to performances across Canada, as well as in the United States, Europe, Japan, and Mexico. Angela was a founding member of the JUNO Award–winning Ensemble Made in Canada, a group she performed with from 2006 to 2022. She has a long-standing duo partnership with cellist Rachel Mercer, performing extensively as the Mercer-Park Duo, the St. John-Mercer-Park Trio with violinist Scott St. John, and with Mayumi Seiler (Seiler Trio). They performed with violinist Yehonatan Berick as the AYR Trio from 2010 to 2020. Other important collaborations include duos with violist Sharon Wei, piano duo concerts with Stéphan Sylvestre, collaborations with violist Rivka Golani and flutist Susan Hoeppner, and trio concerts with clarinetist James Campbell and soprano Leslie Fagan. From 2011 to 2014, Angela was Visiting
Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano–Woodwinds at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Angela has been Assistant Professor of Piano and Collaborative Piano at Western University since 2019.
Rachel Mercer & Kevin Lau – Kevin Lau: Under A Veil Of Stars
Release Date: September 15, 2023
For more visit: www.leaf-music.ca/lm273b
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