Project Earth: The Blue Chapter – Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music – Linktree

Christine Carter, clarinet
Zoë Martin-Doike, viola
Anna Petrova, piano

The first in the Iris Trio’s epic multi-chapter Project Earth series, The Blue Chapter features original compositions by Juno Award-winning composer and jazz pianist Florian Hoefner, with original poetry written and recited by Griffin Prize-winning poet Don McKay. The result is the collision of the Iris Trio’s virtuosity and “exquisite balance of sound” (Augsburger Allgemeine) with a remarkable new body of spellbinding chamber music, uniting inspiration from classical, jazz, and folk genres.

With Project Earth, the ensemble strives to illuminate the impact of human behaviour on the environment, addressing issues of climate change, pollution, habitat degradation, and biodiversity loss, while also giving centre stage to the immense beauty and wonder found in nature. The three original works comprising the album serve this mandate with artful, innovative creations that are in turns celebratory and elegiac.

The initial impetus for The Blue Chapter was “Bird Island Suite,” taking inspiration from nesting bird islands around the Newfoundland coast. The work includes a breathtaking elegy for the Great Auk, hunted to extinction by 1848, a virtuoso musical reel in tribute to the delicate but tough Leach’s Storm Petrel, and a raucous jazz-inspired homage to the bird islands themselves, evoking, as McKay says, the “marvelous musical-noisy stew that seems to summon the very forces of birth and death.”

After delighting audiences across Canada with their performances of “Bird Island Suite,” the trio commissioned the two subsequent multi-movement works that complete the album. “Chorus of Wishes” draws influence from minimalist music, and the accompanying poetry echoes these musical patterns with a chant form. McKay shares that the chant is “often connected with emotions that reach and recur and yearn,” expressing a longing and a hope for a surviving, thriving natural world. The album’s third piece, “Kinds of Blue,” celebrates the colour in its infinite variety found in nature, with a tip of the hat to the musical blues form as well.

Bird Island Suite
1. Poem – Audience – 0:57
2. I. Audience – 5:11
3. II. The Bird Island Cacophonic Choir – 5:25
4. Poem – Song for the Song of the Great Auk – 1:24
5. III. Song for the Song of the Great Auk – 5:42
6. Poem – Song for the Song of the Leach’s Storm Petrel – 1:34
7. IV. Song for the Song of the Leach’s Storm Petrel – 4:08

Chorus of Wishes
8. I. Part of It – 9:52
9. Poem – Chorus of Wishes – 3:48
10. II. Wider Mind – 7:08

Kinds of Blue
11. Poem – A Blue in Every Hue – 1:05
12. I. A Blue in Every Hue – 3:14
13. Poem – Jay – 0:31
14. II. Jay – 2:18
15. Poem – Iris – 0:34
16. III. Iris – 3:43
17. Poem – Berries – 0:52
18. IV. Berries – 3:27

Total time: 60:59