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In Honour of: Baroque Meets Minimalism
February 12, 2018
Bridget Breiner rehearsing In Honor Of at Les Grands Ballets' Salle Rouge

“I am very inspired by the rules of choreography in classical ballet; how does dance change and develop yet still remain connected to its classical roots? I found that’s what Georgs Pelēcis did with this music. He writes this minimalist music but it has a feeling of history to it,” says choreographer Bridget Breiner, speaking about Pelēcis’ In Honour of Henry Purcell, which provided the inspiration for her choreography titled In Honour of. In this work, the female dancer wears pointe shoes and the movement has classical lines, yet Breiner describes it as a contemporary work.

Born in 1947, Georgs Pelēcis is a Latvian composer, musicologist, and professor of counterpoint and history of theory at the Latvian Academy of Music. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Aram Khachaturian; he was also the first president of the Riga Centre of Early Music. His compositional style, which has been described as "new consonant music", reflects positive emotions, the joy of listening to and performing music, and the contemplation of, or aspiration to, an ideal. Says Pelēcis, “my musical language and idioms are undoubtedly influenced by what I have learned and enjoyed of past musical culture, those expressions of melody, rhythm, and harmony which follow a line from the ars nova of the 14th century, through the music of 17th century Italy, Germany, England and France, up to the music of our own time.” He also claims to be influenced by folklore, and explains there is nothing stylistic about his music; that he doesn’t see music in terms of “old” or “contemporary”, but rather as a continuum.

Speaking of minimalism, Pelēcis has said that “such a superficial conception of musical beauty confuses me, and I’m disturbed by the pagan spell-weaving and narcotic-schizophrenic persistence of musical material which are characteristic of minimalist works.” Yet he claims that Arvo Pärt is one of his favourite contemporary composers, and that he feels an affinity with minimalists such as Steve Reich.

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