NACO Recordings

Vestiges d’une fable

Gabriel Dharmoo, with musicians of the NAC Orchestra

Released May 17, 2024

Composer: Gabriel Dharmoo
Genre: Contemporary Chamber Music
Conductor: Gary Kulesha
Performers: Gabriel Dharmoo (Voice), Desiree Abbey, David Brongo, Frédéric Lacroix, David Pell, Zac Pulak, Angela Schwarzkopf, and Musicians of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra: Max Cardilli, Karen Donnelly, Joanna G’froerer, Charles Hamann, Darren Hicks, Jethro Marks, Stephanie Morin, Noémi Racine Gaudreault, Sean Rice, Kimball Sykes, Lawrence Vine, Emily Westell

With this album, the NAC Orchestra celebrates the innovative artistic voice of composer Gabriel Dharmoo and highlights his contribution to Canadian contemporary music.

Between 2021 and 2024, composer and interdisciplinary artist Gabriel Dharmoo was a Creative Partner of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. This monographic album of Dharmoo’s chamber music is the culmination of this collaborative process.

Composed between 2010 and 2017, this collection of chamber works represents a formative period in Dharmoo’s creative development as an artist. Alongside defining his signature style as a composer, he was also consolidating his approach to vocal improvisation and performance, while also researching South Indian Carnatic music, eventually exploring the concept of imaginary folklore. 

Composed after his first trip to India, “Moondraal Moondru” (2010) explores rhythms, melodies, and ornamentations inspired by Carnatic music, as well as striking sonic memories he experienced in India. Similarly, “sur les rives de” (2011) is inspired by his observation of the striking contrast between the two banks of the Ganges in Varanasi. The program note highlights how one bank of the sacred river is rich in history, civilization, and human activity, while the other seems so natural, sparse, and raw: “The piece travels from one bank to another; from cultural melodic material to purely organic material, represented by the pebbles.” 

Although Indian music has informed his ear in meaningful ways, Dharmoo then became interested in the notion of imaginary folklore, where the interplay between various sonic and musical ideas creates an ambiguity around their perceived cultural origin. “the fog in our poise” (2016) evokes the ceremonial music of an imaginary culture in which body percussion coexists with playful melodies and textural atmospheres. According to Dharmoo’s notes, “this fictitious population would allow for a certain refinement in rituals and social graces, while retaining a profound relationship with their physicality and their natural environment.” 

Vestiges d’une fable” (2014) is inspired by the mockumentary format present in his interdisciplinary performance Anthropologies imaginaires (2014). The short program note is a quote from the fictional book Forms of Sung Theatre (Chapter 4 – “Personification”) by the imaginary musicologist Tricna Bisay: “Little research has been done on the concept of personification in this fable, but from what is known of their mythologies, we can confirm that the performer incarnates different archetypal characters, such as the child, the saboteur, the abbess...”

For this recording, Dharmoo sings his own arrangement of the original soprano part, showcasing his rich and playful approach to vocal expression.