While the lore around music tends to say that it tells a story, or that it exists as some sort of universal language, the truth of the matter is that music is a slippery artform and it’s tough to find suitable metaphor for it, especially the more abstract it gets. The debut full-length from Brownsville, Texas-based Canadian composer Monica Pearce unveils a series of pieces united by a rare instance of such a metaphor. TEXTILE FANTASIES is a cycle of chamber works, for keyboard and percussion instruments, each of which is inspired by the particular texture of a specific fabric or pattern. In these pieces, the connections to the subject matter in question can often be found close to the music’s surface. However, what really gives these relationships their depth and power is how they cross the boundaries of multiple senses, joining touch, sight, and sound.

Over the course of Textile Fantasies’ 70-minute duration, Pearce makes potent, quasi-synaesthetic connections between her inventive fine-spun textures and the specific material and tactile traits of the eight textiles, but those are not the only intriguing relationships she posits. She places propulsive virtuosity in conversation with a painterly approach to timbre and juxtaposes driving rhythm with textural abstraction, all the while weaving in refined melodic contours.

MONICA PEARCE is a Canadian composer specializing in opera and chamber music with a penchant for toy piano—as heard throughout Textile Fantasies.  In 2008, she co-founded the emerging composer collective, the Toy Piano Composers with Chris Thornborrow. From 2008 to 2018, the group presented over 120 new works and released a self-titled disc on Redshift Records. In 2022 she was nominated for Classical Composer of the Year by the East Coast Music Awards for Aunt Helen. Her operas have been performed across Canada and the United States, while her toy piano works are frequently played internationally.

“… a gripping new work for double manual harpsichord, which was a suitable showcase for Shen. It explores detail and register with extended sonorities in a constantly moving texture.”
— Bruce A. Russell, I Care If You Listen on toile de jouy


Textile Fantasies
Works by / Oeuvres de Monica Pearce

1 toile de jouy
Wesley Shen (harpsichord / clavecin)

2 leather
SHHH!! Ensemble:
Edana Higham (piano), Zac Pulak (percussion)

3 chain maille
TorQ Percussion Quartet:
Richard Burrows, Adam Campbell, Jamie Drake, Daniel Morphy

4 houndstooth
Barbara Pritchard (piano)

5 silks
Cheryl Duvall (piano)

6 velvet
TorQ Percussion Quartet:
Richard Burrows, Adam Campbell, Jamie Drake, Daniel Morphy

7 damask
Shawn Mativetsky (tabla), Wesley Shen (piano)

8 denim
Jamie Drake (percussion), Joseph Ferretti (toy piano / piano jouet), Daniel Morphy (percussion), Wesley  Shen (toy piano / piano jouet)