Mark Takeshi McGregor – Scratches of the Wind

Solo flute music from the Pacific Rim

1. Scratches of the Wind Nirmali Fenn (6:08)
2. Notgnirrac Alfredo Santa Ana (8:25)
3. Sanjo III Eunho Chang (10:29)
4. O-hisa Ramsey Sadaka (10:33)
5. Invisible WingsChun-Ju Yen (8:00)
6. At the Apartment on Broughton Street Chris Kovarik (6:11)
7. courbe dominante Rósa Lind Page (12:33)

Producer / Réalisateur: Mark Takeshi McGregor
Recording engineers / Preneurs de son: Santa Ana, Fenn, Yen: Don Harder; Chang, Sadaka, Page: Mark Takeshi McGregor; Kovarik: Piotr Wieczorek
Digital editing and mastering / Montage numérique et gravure: Santa Ana, Fenn, Yen: Don Harder; Chang, Sadaka, Page, Kovarik: Piotr Wieczorek
Overall album mastering: Don Harder
Cover artwork / Œuvre de couverture: Write Me a Note (Inspired by the 80s) by/par Nancy Blanchard
Photograph / Photo: Lenora Ede
Graphic design / Conception graphique: André Cormier
Translation / Traduction: André Cormier

Recording details / Détails de l’enregistrement: Various dates / dates diverses 2019, 2020, 2021
Pyatt Hall, VSO School of Music, Vancouver
Mark’s bedroom, Vancouver

Special thanks / Remerciement:
Piotr Wieczorek, Sean McGregor, Shizu Hayashi and Ronald Hunt, Jordan Nobles & Redshift Music Society, Farshid Samandari & Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, Nancy Blanchard, André Cormier, Don Harder, Lenora Ede, Alfredo Santa Ana, Ramsey Sadaka, Chris Kovarik, Bernardo Gonzáles Burgos & Kiné Producciones, Antonio García Acosta & Museo Leonora Carrington.

Scratches of the Wind is dedicated to the memory of Peter John McGregor.

This recording was made possible through the generous assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Cet enregistrement a été rendu possible grâce à la généreuse assistance du Conseil des arts du Canada.

Scratches of the Wind is available from:

TK500 © 2021 Redshift Music

This album was always intended as a sequel to Lutalica, my 2019 album which looked at contemporary solo flute music from a Pacific Rim perspective. Scratches of the Wind continues its exploration of composers who live in (or hail from) Pacific Rim countries — but through the additional lens of the 2020/21 global pandemic. At a certain point in 2020, when public venues were shut and this album was less than half complete, I converted my bedroom into a recording studio and recorded the remaining tracks. I won’t reveal which pieces were recorded in the recital hall and which were recorded next to piles of unsorted laundry (and, thanks to some exceptional mastering, you’ll likely not notice the difference). Suffice to say, this album has extra meaning for me: it isn’t just the conclusion of a years-long exploration of identity and hybridity in music, but also the thing that kept me focussed, excited, and balanced at a time when arts events had completely ground to a halt and morale in the community was arguably at an all-time low.

Beyond the Pacific Rim theme, there is a strong sense of artistic migration that runs through Scratches of the Wind: many of these composers hail from one part of the world but now call another place home. As well, several of these works explore this idea of what Santa Ana calls “psychological and physical geographies”: Kovarik’s piece evokes a specific Vancouver location, Page looks to the rings of Saturn for inspiration, and Yen seems to go further still, taking us into the realms of the celestial.

“I am as mysterious to myself as I am to others,” said the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, the inspiration behind Alfredo Santa Ana’s Notgnirrac (“Carrington” spelled backwards). A Mexican-British artist who left Lancashire to find a new way of existence in Mexico City, Carrington displayed “a self-reflecting attitude inwards, to one’s own identity, culture, and work”. This attitude strongly resonated with Santa Ana, himself a “migratory artist”: born in Mexico City, he now lives in Vancouver (unceded Coast Salish territory: Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh). While Carrington is best remembered for her stunning paintings and sculptures, it was her surrealist writing that arguably left the greatest mark on Notgnirrac: Santa Ana’s score is peppered with Carrington quotes that are whimsical, introspective, and often downright bizarre.

Nirmali Fenn is a Sri Lankan-born Australian composer, now teaching at Stony Brook University on Long Island, NY (Paumanauke, Sewanhackey). Her work for solo alto flute, Scratches of the Wind, takes its title from a line of Henri Michaux’s Darkness Moves. The alto flute is perfectly suited for Fenn’s exploration of the acoustic qualities of the sound of human breath: at times it soothes, other times it rasps violently, with the addition of the performer’s voice further amplifying the more raucous moments.

Traditional Korean music and visual art lie at the heart of Eunho Chang’s Sanjo series, an ongoing collection of works for solo instruments. Sanjo (literally meaning “scattered melodies”) is a type of traditional Korean music developed in the 1800s consisting of an instrumental solo accompanied by the Janggu drum. Chang’s Sanjo series doesn’t have the accompanying drumming, but the various percussive effects executed by the flute in Sanjo III evoke the spirit of the Janggu, punctuating fragments of expressive and virtuosic melodies.

Taiwanese composer Chun-Ju Yen composed her solo flute piece, Invisible Wings, for the Cortona Sessions for New Music 2013. This explosive work uses nearly every technique in the contemporary flute arsenal to punch through the physical limitations of both instrument and performer, in order to catch some glimpse of what might lie beyond. Whispered phonemes, angular leaps, and glissandi lead the listener hurtling into a climax that has the flutist literally screaming across the instrument.

While completing his doctorate in Vancouver, Ramsey Sadaka was commissioned by UBC’s Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery to commemorate the launch of Esther Shalev-Gerz’s outdoor art work, The Shadow. The resulting work for solo flute, O-hisa, is a musical portrait of a character from Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s novel Some Prefer Nettles. While Sadaka certainly conveys the flow of O-hisa’s psychological states (real and imagined) throughout the novel, the following phrase, translated by E.G. Seidensticker, provided the main inspiration for this piece: “O-hisa was a shade left behind from another age.”

Rósa Lind Page is an Australian composer based in Sydney (Gadi, Djubuguli). Her work for solo flute/alto flute, courbe dominante (2006), has many sources of inspiration: in addition to sharing its title with a Kandinsky painting, this piece “pays homage to Christiaan Huygens, founding member of the French Academy of Arts and Sciences, who… created lenses enabling him in 1659 to discover the true curvature of the A and B Saturnian rings.” These rings play an important structural role in this work; moreover, in the score each ring-section is assigned a French Baroque dance form — a subtle reminder that Page’s music, no matter how complex or cosmic, should always evoke the spirit of dance.

Now residing in New York, the Canadian-American composer Chris Kovarik wrote At the Apartment on Broughton Street in 2012, while she was living in Vancouver. The mercurial nature of this piece (along with the subtitle “In memoriam M.L.”) suggests a complex narrative, which is expounded on by the composer: “This piece was written to honour, in some small way, a person of great significance in my life. We met while she was in remission, had a glorious, silly, fun, and open and honest relationship. Then she had a relapse and died. The piece attempts to find some sort of meaning in the random senseless meaninglessness of existence: the joy, the sorrow, and the ever present shadow of death.” – Mark Takeshi McGregor, September 2021

Mark Takeshi McGregor
Described as a “mind-blowing” musician of “huge physical energy” (Times Colonist), flutist Mark Takeshi McGregor is one of Canada’s leading interpreters of classical, contemporary, and experimental music. As a soloist, chamber musician, and improvisor, Mark has performed extensively across five continents. Recent engagements include Innovations en Concert (Montreal), GroundSwell (Winnipeg), Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival (Singapore), Museo Leonora Carrington (San Luis Potosí, Mexico), Powell Street Festival (Vancouver), Melos-Ethos International Festival of Contemporary Music (Bratislava), Núcleo Música Nova International Symposium of New Music (Curitiba, Brazil), and the ISCM World New Music Days in Vancouver. He has performed as concerto soloist with the Victoria Symphony, the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Taiwan), the Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, Music on Main Allstars, and the Aventa Ensemble, and has worked with many emerging and established Canadian and international composers. A prolific recording artist, Mark co-founded the award-winning Redshift Records label in 2007 and in 2020 was the winner of the Western Canadian Music Award “Classical Artist of the Year”. He has served as co-artistic director of Redshift Music Society, artistic director of Powell Street Festival, and in October 2021 became artistic director of Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival.
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Photo by Mark Mushet