OWEN UNDERHILL
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Press:

About the Music:

World of Light
“The music, dense and interesting, is sensuous, decidedly lyrical in inspiration, and intensely appealing, while very much in the contemporary idiom. In the Vaughan section, its mystical core, the work soars…The work is one that seduces by understatement and intensity, though it features colour a-plenty.”
J H Stape - reviewVancouver, April, 2008

A Middle English Songbook
“The Songbook pieces are fresh, often exuberant and witty, with well-crafted choral lines, complemented by a kaleidoscope of post-Stravinskyian colours-an impressive yet charming achievement.”
David Duke – The Vancouver Sun, Feb. 24, 2007

The Faerie Queen – score for ballet by John Alleyne
“Michael Bushnell and Owen Underhill’s adaption (for 10-piece orchestra) of Purcell’s 17th-century score is full of grace.”
Deborah Meyers – The Vancouver Sun, Nov. 6, 2004
“The movement is beautifully complemented by the fantastic score, adapted by local composers Owen Underhill and Michael Bushnell from Henry Purcell’s music for his 1692 Baroque opera The Fairy Queen.
Gail Johnson – The Georgia Straight Nov. 9 – 16, 2000

Review of disc Celestial Machine
"On the whole, however, this is a beautiful disc, from one of the most thoughtful and effective of West Coast composers. The performances and recording quality are exemplary.”
Robert Everett-Green – The Globe & Mail, Oct. 12, 2000

The Revealing
“This is a work that blazes with color and excitement.”
Neil Harris – Winnipeg Free Press – Jan. 26, 1996

Lines of Memory
“…a score as subtle and regulated as a Zen sand garden.”
Lloyd Dykk – The Vancouver Sun, May 29, 2000
“Underhill’s piece, Lines of Memory, was a work of great craft, but more importantly this musical sophistication was put to the service of his music. In a week of often powerful and dramatic music, Lines of Memory was a genuinely moving and affecting musical statement.”
Neil Harris – Winnipeg Free Press, Feb. 5, 1994

String Quartet #3 – The Alynne
“The piece, too, is lovely and approachable: mostly tonal, gentle, rocking with lullabies of cross-string-bowing, but not without dynamic contrast.”
Lloyd Dykk – The Vancouver Sun,, June 1, 1998

Hinge
“As its title suggests, Owen Underhill’s Hinge, perhaps the program’s most substantial offering, enterprisingly flipped its musical materials back and forth as if connected by a hinge.”
William Littler – The Toronto Star, January 23, 1997

The Star Catalogues
“The Star Catalogues is the most impressive new work from Vancouver artists in a decade.”
Michael Scott - The Vancouver Sun Oct. 24, 1994
“In its two acts of unremitting intensity, the work was quite overwhelming on initial hearing. Composer/conductor Owen Underhill, whose Vancouver New Music forces did him proud, used a small ensemble of strings, recorders, trombone, baroque organ and percussion and a cast of 12 to range from Brahe’s searing doubts to music from the spheres. The imaginative range in time and space was strongly sustained in the unfalteringly inventive production directed by Richard Armstrong and Penelogpe Stella, with Michael Johnes (Brahe), Marcel Van Neer (Kepler) and Fides Krucker (Sofie Brahe) responding fully to this striking creation.”
Floyd St. Clair – Opera Canada, Spring, 1995

At the Window
“A sequence of lyrical colloquies for combinations of six instruments, it really was like the view from a window, a passing scene of musical events. What held it together was Underhill’s persistent subtlety of tone, his continual admixture of sun and shade.”
Robert Everett Green – The Globe and Mail, October 30, 1990

The Celestial Machine
“Underhill’s machinery seemed to wreak a creative destruction on Baroque models, leaving trails of bent counterpoint and at least one appropriated dance form. A suitably mechanical vamp from harpsichord recurred at intervals, injecting a strange early-industrial feeling into the work. It also knit together the elegiac breaks and grand chordal sequences that otherwise might have seemed merely episodic.”
Robert Everett Green – The Globe and Mail, Dec. 17, 1990

 

Selected Conducting Reviews:

Projections – Cabinet Interdisciplinary Collaborations, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
“All of this music was performed with watchful élan by the Turning point Ensemble, conducted by Owen Underhill.”
Robert Everett-Green – The Globe and Mail, Jan. 20, 2007
“Under the direction of conductor Owen Underhill, the Turning Point Ensemble handled Varèse’s elaborate time shifts and timbral changes with energetic precision; in this and in Mary Lou the band lived up to its mandate of recontextualizing 20th-century art for this still-new millennium.”
Alexander Varty – The Georgia Straight, Jan. 2007

Turning Point Ensemble, about Ligeti Chamber Concerto
“…this legendarily difficult piece seemed almost rollicking under Turning Point conductor Owen Underhill’s direction. The ensemble played it as if engaged in some arduous but joyous sport, in a visceral conclusion to a near-flawless night of music.”
Alexander Varty – The Georgia Straight, May 11 – 18, 2006

Review of Turning Point Ensemble Rudolf Komorous disc – Strange Sphere
“These sensitive performances confirm what beautiful, shimmering music it is…”
Elissa Poole – The Globe and Mail, June 24, 2004

Turning Point Ensemble debut performance
“Under the direction of Owen Underhill, the super-group’s 20th century emphasis had a refreshing confidence and gusto.”
John Keillor – The Georgia Straight, Jan. 30 – Feb. 6, 2003

CBC Radio Orchestra, Music of Gavin Bryars
“Owen Underhill seems more comfortable and vigorous every time he takes the conductor’s podium, and the CBC Radio Orchestra followed his directions with great sensitivity.”
Alexander Varty, The Georgia Straight – July 4 – 11, 2002

Vancouver New Music, The Odd Decades
“There were about 33 composers on VNM’s program, and about 50 musicians on hand to play these brave new (old) waves…Underhill conducted the amazingly varied menu with panache and the whole thing came off, for the most, splendidly.”
Lloyd Dykk – The Vancouver Sun, Feb. 15, 1999

Banff Centre for the Arts – Zurich 1916 – opera by Christopher Butterfield and John Bentley Mays
“The rest of the cast executed their roles with aplomb, and Owen Underhill conducted the orchestra with precision and authority.”
Karyl Lynn Zietz – The Globe & Mail, Aug. 12, 1998

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra – Wingless by Giya Kancheli
“Both desolate and beautiful, it transcended any known circumstances of its composer, which is one test of art. A better performance (it was Underhill conducting the VSO) would have been hard to imagine.”

CBC Radio Orchestra – Oiseaux exotiques by Olivier Messiaen
“The CBC Radio Orchestra, conducted by VNM artistic director, accompanied Bessette with all the riotous orchestral tonal colours Mesasiaen demands, delivered in gritty yet precise ensemble.”
Robert Jordan – The Georgia Straight, Dec. 4-11, 1992

Groundswell, Winnipeg
“Throughout the evening Underhill’s conducting was a model of security, and the players responded in fine fashion.”
James Manishen – Winnipeg Free Press

West Light compact disc review
“The performances on this important disc have been prepared with scrupulous care by Underhill and the ensemble of VNM, of which he is artistic director.
Robert Evertt-Green – The Globe & Mail, May 14, 1990