Nova Pon & Turning Point Ensemble: Symphonies of Mother & Child

Inspired by birth, infancy, and the composer Pon's relationship with her firstborn child

Nova Pon & Turning Point Ensemble: Symphonies of Mother & Child
Nova Pon. Photo: Christiaan Venter

Symphonies of Mother and Child by The Turning Point Ensemble is composed by Nova Pon, from Bowen Island, inspired by birth, infancy, and Pon's relationship with her first child.

The record is sensitive on the whole yet rhythmic. Its most forceful rhythms are in the first part, and then it lulls you in before ending with a detailed rhythmic dance. The word symphonies here is like the word musicking. It's like the practice of making music. Something that could never be done by AI, something that the Turning Point Ensemble has excelled at in Vancouver for decades and continues to represent, being a premier destination for the works of excellent composers that we have in our midst. This is Pon's first album of compositions, and it speaks well to her position within this community and her ability to launch out of it by creating great collaborations like this one.

"World Within" introduces the ensemble with brass power and an elegant theme featuring violin and flute. There's a new mood with the clarinet that builds to an ending fanfare, but then it draws back down for the start of the titular long-form feature composition.

The first movement of Symphonies, "I. entrancement", is another epic long track – there are three of them out of the total six tracks. Suspense and wonder is the theme of "entrancement". Cello, plus a joyous woodwind theme and some cinematic wind ensemble playing tucked into it.

"II. following", like the next two movements of Symphonies' five, is not an epic long one. I hear chimes and bells, a nursery rhyme, another joyous theme from the brass, and then a call-and-response section that's both played and mixed beautifully.

With "III. explore and implore," I started to notice a lot of the folk-coded elements, like the violin shredding that happens here; also fast-forwarding to the last track, the triple meter, the rhythmic strings, the aggressive viola playing with the chopping and the double stops. There are some Celtic elements to my ears.

On "IV. listening," the oboe and brass presences stand out. Then we have the epic last track, with flurries of action through most of it. There's a main motif, and a calm string section in the middle, but the viola chopping takes us out of it.

A new low-end theme shows up right at the end. The ending happens just like childhood, I guess: so fast. There's a unison brass blast, a sweeping closing statement C major, and a decision to not finish with the main motif at the end. It's a dynamic project that pleases but doesn't need to tie up all its loose ends.

released Mar. 29, 2024 / Buy CD & digital (Bandcamp) / available on streaming