Sandman’s Castle

The Solo and Duo Works of Vincent Ho

Vincent Ho composer

Dame Evelyn Glennie percussion
Vicky Chow piano
Ben Reimer drum kit
Susanne Ruberg-Gordon piano
Beth Root Sandvoss cello

Release Date: October 14, 2022
Catalog #: NV6462
Format: Digital
21st Century
Chamber
Solo Instrumental
Cello
Percussion
Piano

From natural scenes of beauty to mystical dreamscapes and vivid characters of villainy, a dynamic assortment of music awaits in SANDMAN’S CASTLE from composer Vincent Ho. A compendium of uniquely-orchestrated and masterfully executed solo and duo works are brought to life from a roster of renowned performers: Vicky Chow, Susanne Ruberg-Gordon, Ben Reimer, Beth Root Sandvoss, and Evelyn Glennie, who serves as a listener’s guide on a mystical journey into the world of dreams in the albums titular track. Between explorations of uncharted territories with tam-tam and music boxes and thoughtful juxtapositions of the drumset with mainstays in classical music, Ho pulls out all of the stops with the renowned featured performers, and his dexterous compositional tool-kit throughout.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Nostalgia Vincent Ho Dame Evelyn Glennie, vibraphone 5:34
02 Three Preludes: I. Morning Song Vincent Ho Beth Root Sandvoss, cello 3:49
03 Three Preludes: II. Fleeting Memories Vincent Ho Beth Root Sandvoss, cello 3:56
04 Three Preludes: III. Heist Vincent Ho Beth Root Sandvoss, cello; Ben Reimer, drum kit 2:22
05 Supervillain Études: I. R1ddler Vincent Ho Vicky Chow, piano 2:56
06 Supervillain Études: II. 2-Face Vincent Ho Vicky Chow, piano 3:47
07 Supervillain Études: III. P3nguin Vincent Ho Vicky Chow, piano 1:50
08 Supervillain Études: IV. C4twoman Vincent Ho Vicky Chow, piano 3:52
09 Supervillain Études: V. Poi5on Ivy Vincent Ho Vicky Chow, piano 4:32
10 Supervillain Études: VI. J6ker Vincent Ho Vicky Chow, piano 5:04
11 Sandman’s Castle Vincent Ho Dame Evelyn Glennie, tam-tam 13:17
12 Kickin’ It: I. Twister Vincent Ho Susanne Ruberg-Gordon, piano; Ben Reimer, drum kit 4:30
13 Kickin’ It: II. Filigree Vincent Ho Susanne Ruberg-Gordon, piano; Ben Reimer, drum kit 6:12
14 Kickin’ It: III. Cadenza Vincent Ho Susanne Ruberg-Gordon, piano; Ben Reimer, drum kit 1:43
15 Kickin’ It: IV. Burn Vincent Ho Susanne Ruberg-Gordon, piano; Ben Reimer, drum kit 6:02

Nostalgia, Sandman’s Castle
Recorded May 5-6, 2021 at the Studio of Evelyn Glennie in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Recording Session Producer Vincent Ho
Recording Session Engineer Andrew Cotton

Three Preludes
Recorded August 20, 2020 at Chisel Creek Ranch in Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada
Drum kit track recorded June 24, 2020 at the Studio of Ben Reimer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Recording Sessions Producer Chris Sandvoss
Recording Sessions Engineers Zana Warner, Denis Martin (drum kit track only)

Supervillain Études
Recorded October 17, 2021, May 13 & 15, 2022 at Oktaven Audio LLC in Mt. Vernon NY
Recording Sessions Producer Vincent Ho
Recording Sessions Engineer Ryan Streber

Kickin’ It
Recorded October 17, 2021 at OCL Studios in Chestermere, Alberta, Canada
Recording Session Producer Chris Sandvoss
Recording Session Engineer Zana Warner

Cover Painting “Sandman’s Castle” by Sunita Le Gallou (used by permission)

Cover Design by Scott Mushens

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming, Morgan Hauber
Publicity Patrick Niland, Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Vincent Ho

Composer

Vincent Ho is a multi-award winning composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and theatre music. His works have been described as “brilliant and compelling” by The New York Times and hailed for their profound expressiveness and textural beauty, leaving audiences talking about them with great enthusiasm. His many awards and recognitions have included three Juno Award nominations, Harvard University’s Fromm Music Commission, The Canada Council for the Arts’ “Robert Fleming Prize,” ASCAP’s “Morton Gould Young Composer Award,” four SOCAN Young Composers Awards, and CBC Radio’s Audience Choice Award (2009 Young Composers’ Competition).

Learn More

Dame Evelyn Glennie

percussionist

Dame Evelyn Glennie is the first person in history to create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist, performing worldwide with the greatest orchestras and artists. Glennie paved the way for orchestras globally to feature percussion concerti when she played the first percussion concerto in the history of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in 1992.

A leading commissioner of new works, Glennie has commissioned over 200 works from many of the world’s most eminent composers.

“It’s important that I continue to commission and collaborate with a diverse range of composers whilst recognising the young talent coming through,” Glennie says.

Glennie composes music for film, television, theatre, and music library companies. She is a double GRAMMY award winner and BAFTA nominee. She regularly provides masterclasses and consultations to inspire the next generation of musicians, and runs Dame Evelyn Glennie experience sessions. The film Touch the Sound, her TED Talk, and her book Listen World! are key testimonies to her unique and innovative approach to sound-creation.

Leading 1000 drummers, Glennie had a prominent role in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games which also featured a new instrument, the Glennie Concert Aluphone.

“Playing at an event like that was proof that music really affects all of us, connecting us in ways that the spoken word cannot”.

Glennies solo recordings currently exceed 40 CDs. These range from original improvisations, collaborations, percussion concerti, and ground-breaking modern solo percussion projects.

Glennie was awarded an OBE in 1993 and now has over 100 international awards to date, including the Polar Music Prize and the Companion of Honour. She was recently appointed the first female President of Help Musicians, only the third person to hold the title since Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Since 2021 she has been Chancellor of Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The Evelyn Glennie Podcast was launched in 2020 featuring popular personalities from the world of music, sport, television, and academia. Glennie is curator of The Evelyn Glennie Collection which includes an excess of 3500 percussion instruments. Through her mission statement — Teach the World to Listen, she aims to improve communication and social cohesion by encouraging everyone to discover new ways of listening in order to inspire, to create, to engage, and to empower.

www.evelyn.co.uk
photo by: Jim Callaghan

Vicky Chow

pianist

Hong Kong/Canadian pianist Vicky Chow has been described as “brilliant” (New York Times) and “one of our era’s most brilliant pianists” (Pitchfork). Since joining the Bang on a Can All-Stars in 2009, she has collaborated and worked with composers, artists, ensembles, and orchestras such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, BBC Orchestra, LA Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, The Knights, Tyshawn Sorey, Andy Akiho, John Zorn, Meredith Monk, Gong Linna, Kronos Quartet, Longleash Trio, Trinity Choir, Wet Ink Ensemble, Yarn/Wire, and Momenta Quartet to name a few. She has toured to over 40 countries and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms in London, and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

In light of her recording of Michael Gordon’s Sonatra, The New Yorker wrote, “sonatra is a milestone of composition, and Vicky Chow’s recording of it is a milestone of pianism.” Her album Tristan Perich: Surface Image released in 2013 on New Amsterdam Records was among the top 10 Avant Music albums in Rolling Stone. She recently released Jane Antonia Cornish: Sierra, and will be releasing Philip Glass: Piano Etudes Book 1 on the Cantaloupe Label in 2022. In 2023 she will be releasing another solo album by Michael Gordon titled July, written during the pandemic. Her other recordings can be found on the Nonesuch, New Amsterdam, and Tzadik, among others.

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she is currently based in Brooklyn NY. She serves as a faculty member of the Bang on a Can Summer Institute and has been on faculty at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is on the Board of Advisors for Composers Now, and is also a mentor at The Juilliard School. Chow is a graduate of The Juilliard School (B.M. 2005, M.M. 2007 Piano Performance), The Manhattan School of Music (M.M. Contemporary Performance 2009), and is a Yamaha Artist.

www.vickychow.com
photo by: Kaitlin Jane Photography

Ben Reimer

drum kit

Ben Reimer has been called a “genre-bending wiz” (PuSh) and a performer of “stunning virtuosity” (Ludwig-Van). His debut album Katana of Choice: Music for Drumset Soloist is described as “an exhilarating musical ride” (Wholenote) and “a modern classic” (I Care If You Listen). He has been featured in the Drummer’s Journal and Modern Drummer and is a contributing author to The Cambridge Companion to the Drumkit (2021). Reimer holds a Doctor of Music from McGill University, Schulich School of Music where he also taught percussion from 2015-2021. He currently teaches privately from his home studio in Winnipeg and at the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba.

Reimer’s duo Park Sounds, with violist Jennifer Thiessen, premiered their Root Systems program of Canadian commissions in 2019 (Canada Council for the Arts) and composed a new audio/video work Time Piece, released online by GroundSwell in January 2022. He has performed with other ensembles such as Architek Percussion, Paramirabo, the Australian Art Orchestra, la Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec, Collectif 9, Standing Wave, and the Land’s End Ensemble. He has been a guest soloist in the CBC JUNO Showcase, the Bang on a Can Marathon, Edmonton New Music, Calgary New Music, GroundSwell, Cluster New Music + Integrated Arts Festival, The Little Chamber Music Series That Could, Music on Main, PuSh Festival, Innovations en Concert, Luminato Festival, Tapestry Opera, and Open Ears Festival.

Reimer can be heard on recordings such as Kickin’ It 2.0 by Land’s End Ensemble, The Privacy of Domestic Life by Architek Percussion, Bookburners and This Will Not Be Televised by Nicole Lizée, Pinnacles by Diana McIntosh, and A Menacing Plume by Rand Steiger. Reimer is a proud Sabian Cymbals, Yamaha Canada, and Vic Firth artist.

www.benreimer.com
photo by: Matt Duboff

Susanne Ruberg-Gordon

pianist

Quoted by the Chronicle Herald as “A superb musician,” Swedish-born pianist Susanne Ruberg-Gordon is a highly regarded and sought-after chamber musician and collaborative pianist. She is recognized for her artistry, nuance, interpretation, and curiosity and has performed in Canada, the United States, China, and United Arab Emirates with artists such as Dame Evelyn Glennie, Andras Diaz, Ron Leonard, James Campbell, Desmond Hoebig, John Kimora Parker, Josh Jones, Ian Swensen, Arnold Choi, Nikki Chooi, and Sydney Lee.

She has performed in festivals such as Festival of the Sound, Ottawa Chamberfest, University of Calgary’s Happening Festival of New Music and Media, Alberta Scene, and ISCM World New Music Days in Vancouver.

Ruberg-Gordon is the pianist and core member of the Juno nominated Land’s End Ensemble in Calgary, a piano trio that is dedicated to excellence in performance and recording of Canadian and International new music, and to enriching collaborations with eminent composers and artists. www.landsendensemble.ca

As a passionate educator, Ruberg-Gordon is on faculty at the Mount Royal University Conservatory Academy and APP Programs where she teaches chamber music and is the Artistic Facilitator of Collaborative Pianists. Her students have pursued university degrees and careers in music, and her chamber music coaching has seen her students win regional and provincial level music competitions as well as being recommended to the national level competition for CMC.

Since 2001, she has been a Collaborative Artist for the prestigious and acclaimed Morningside Music Bridge program in Canada, China, Poland, and the United States. MMB embodies the highest international standards of excellence, bringing together outstanding young violin, viola, cello, and piano musicians ages 12-18 from around the globe for a month of intensive music making including extensive solo, chamber music, string orchestra, and performance opportunities. www.mmb.international

photo by: Bo Huang

Beth Root Sandvoss

cellist

Cellist Beth Root Sandvoss is known for her intensely committed performances and interpretations. She has a notably varied career as a recitalist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. Sandvoss lives in Bragg Creek, Alberta, and enjoys an active performance career in Canada and abroad. She has recorded for WERN Madison public radio, RTHK Radio Hong Kong, and CBC Radio. Sandvoss has recorded 10 commercial CDs and has premiered more than 125 new works for solo cello, cello/piano, and chamber ensemble. Sandvoss has an intense interest in new music and is a founding member of the acclaimed Juno nominated Land’s End Ensemble, and is also a member of the UCalgary String Quartet in residence at the University of Calgary. Nominated as Instrumental Group of the Year, the UCalgary String Quartet has completed live recordings of all the Beethoven String Quartets as well as the CD Far Behind I left My Country, which features Klezmer and East European Folk Music.

Sandvoss teaches at Mount Royal University Conservatory where she has been awarded the title: Distinguished Instructor of Cello. Additionally, Sandvoss is an instructor at The University of Calgary, working with cellists in the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

Sandvoss has the great pleasure and privilege to perform on an award-winning cello made by her husband, Christopher Sandvoss.

“The performance brought out its depth of passion…. Beth Root Sandvoss has a beautiful sound, coupled with an excellent sense of harmony”
—Gordon Rumson, Music and Vision

www.landsendensemble.ca
photo by: Bo Huang

Foreword

In 1986, Two Poems from the Song Dynasty for soprano and chamber orchestra was premiered by a wonderful new music group in New York City called “Music Today,” led by a very talented young conductor named Gerard Schwarz. The concert also afforded my first review by the New York Times. The next day, Leonard Bernstein called me, asking me to bring the score and recording to our next lesson. I was a bit elated. After all, not only was this my first commission by a professional music institution since I had come to the United States four years earlier, but I also received my first favorable review.

A few days later, I brought the cassette tape recording of the performance and played for Lenny, expecting praise. Instead, he kept a long silence before asking: “Why did you write this work?”

I was speechless. At the time, the trend was to reply: “I wrote it for myself,” following the fashionable article Who Cares If You Listen. But I knew it wouldn’t be true. Bernstein, seeing my hesitation, drilled further: “Did you write this work for Gerard Schwarz, for the New York Times, for your teacher, for your composer friends, or yourself?” He then took up a pen and wrote it on the cover of the score To Whom Is It Written

I have been pondering the answer ever since. Through time, I realized Bernstein was asking a different question, as he knew that I was struggling to start a career in my newly adopted country: now, as an artist who is supported by professional institutions, what should I do in return?

I think of this story when I listen to Vincent Ho’s music, especially his most recent release which is full of life and energy. We all believe that a civilized society should support art. But not all of us think too much about why, or, more precisely, about the responsibilities of the artists to society.

Perhaps the answer to Bernstein’s question could be inspired by watching movies. Why do we care about the characters in a film, when we know full well it is a made-up story? The characters are hired actors and actresses, and the story has nothing to do with our lives. Why do we invest our emotions so much so that we laugh and cry with these characters?

Like all important art, Ho’s music has the power to draw us in and make us forget our existence for a few seconds, either allowing us to have tremendous fun or, sometimes simultaneously, making us contemplate our own lives. It also keeps a wonderful balance of the new and the familiar, of logic and intuition. Isn’t that what we all strive to achieve?

It is also wonderful to tell that Vincent really enjoys transforming his musical expressions to touch and move the listener. Like Stravinsky, his music style changes and emerges, but his expressiveness and musical personality do not — it always directly touches the listeners’ hearts and brings them into his exciting world.

– Bright Sheng
The Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music
School of Music, Theater and Dance
University of Michigan
www.brightsheng.com

Notes

Nostalgia is a solo vibraphone arrangement of the second movement of The Shaman: Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, commissioned by Dame Evelyn Glennie. It was originally intended to be an encore to the concerto but has since become a stand-alone piece.

Nostalgia was inspired by three things: a photo taken by Doug Barber of an old man looking out of a window during sunset, a painting by Luc Leestemaker titled Voyager #7, and an accompanying poem to the painting by Leestemaker titled Voyager:

Voyager
by Luc Leestemaker

When I was a little boy
I’d be in the street with my father
On a Saturday afternoon
He washed the car and
I played with a boat, in the river of water and soap
That gulped down the road.
By laying my head on the ground I imagined the boat being a steamer
I stepped on board and took off.
Sitting in my studio today I imagined again getting into that boat
And Float
And disappear…

– Vincent Ho

This collection was created for cellist Beth Root Sandvoss of Land’s End Ensemble.

I. Morning Song
This is a work I wrote one early morning when I was living in Glendale CA. While I was in my studio, I could see from my window the sun slowly emerging over the horizon. Struck by this beautiful scene, I decided to compose a piece that would capture what I felt at that moment. By the time the sun was fully out, the piece was done.

II. Fleeting Memories
During one winter afternoon in Calgary, I was viewing the falling snow from my studio window. This brought back many memories of similar peaceful moments of reflection. These fleeting memories made me feel nostalgic, inspiring me to capture that moment in musical form.

III. Heist
In 2018, I was commissioned to write a work for cello duo VC2 titled Heist 2. Their phenomenal playing inspired me to write an energetic motoric line that would serve as the foundation of the piece — one would play this line while the other would respond with materials built on their own semi-improvisatory gestures. Heist is that motoric line in its original form rewritten for solo cello and optional drum kit. As the title suggests, this piece reflects my long-time interest in crime noir.

– Vincent Ho

I. R1ddler
II. 2-Face
III. P3nguin
IV. C4twoman
V. Poi5on Ivy
VI. J6ker

This work is a product of my ongoing efforts in developing my own performance practice for solo piano – the tactile characteristics that define my pianistic language. In each of these movements, various natural gestures of mine, all born out of the natural motor executions of my fingers as defined by my hands’ anatomical structure and technical skills, were the focuses of examination and development. This approach reflected a specific principle: that the strength of a piano composition rests on how well it fits in the pianist’s hands while maintaining the expression of the composer’s voice. Therefore, how the pianistic gestures feel as tactile ideas must also fit with how they sound. This has been the foundation of many pianistic composers of the past that led them to define their own performance practice: Scarlatti, Chopin, Ravel, Ligeti, etc.

The inspirations for this set of etudes were the supervillains of comic book culture that I grew up reading about and watching on television and film. My general method:

  1. Select six supervillains from comic book culture.
  2. With my wife’s help (Tracy Eng, a socio-psychologist), research the psychological profiles of each villain. Being that most of them are placed in an asylum rather than a prison, that suggests they each have distinguishing disorders/conditions manifested in criminal form (eg. R1ddler – OCD, narcissism, ASD).
  3. Provide these profiles to dancer-choreographers and discuss what their physical and gestural languages would be.
  4. Discuss with pianists how each villain’s physical language can be recreated in pianistic form – hence “etudes:” musical compositions designed to develop particular techniques on the given instrument.
  5. COMPOSE!

My heartfelt thanks to the following people who contributed their thoughts, suggestions, and expertise during the creation of this work: Tracy Eng, Yukichi Hattori (choreographer), Kimberly Cooper (choreographer), Odette Heyn (choreographer), Vicky Chow (pianist), Jenny Lin (pianist), Jamie Parker (pianist), and Phil Roberts (pianist).

– Vincent Ho

Sandman’s Castle was written for Glennie as part of her “50 for 50” project to celebrate her 50th birthday – 50 composers would compose 50 measures of music for a solo percussion instrument. For this project, I chose the tam-tam as my instrument of choice. For years I had been drawn to its sonic beauty and many expressive possibilities. As well, writing for such an instrument allowed me to explore uncharted territories and open up new directions in my creative thinking, most especially the concept of “haptic listening” – where the ears function as organs of touch that feels/traces the surface, texture, and grain of every sound. For me, I view this work as a mystical journey into the world of dreams, ruled by the Sandman, with Glennie serving as the listener’s guide.

– Vincent Ho

I. Twister
II. Filigree
III. Cadenza
IV. Burn

Kickin’ It is a work that provides the pianist and drum kit player an opportunity to showcase their virtuoso skills. There were a number of elements that inspired its creation: the art of improvisation, the music of Squarepusher, jazz, gamelan music, Chinese folk music, and the crime novels of James Ellroy. Compositionally speaking, this work brings together two separate streams I have been developing in my musical language. One is my experience in writing for percussion instruments, and the other is my ongoing pursuit in developing my pianistic language – the tactile and gestural elements (or “signatures”) that define my own performance practice. Kickin’ It therefore represents the confluence of the two streams. The two players are featured on equal levels of importance as they maintain their constant dialogue with one another while covering a wide expressive range.

– Vincent Ho

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