VAMSO performs “Masquerade” by Edward Top


Edward Top is very excited that his work “Masquerade” has another chance to play in Vancouver.

“This was my first piece that I wrote for the VSO back in 2011,” he said. “And before that, I wrote even more complex music. So I thought, OK, this is my first composition for the orchestra so I better write something that is not too edgy and too challenging”.

While this work may not be as complex and technically difficult as Edward’s previous works, it is certainly a great challenge for a student orchestra such as VAMSO.

“Masquerade” is inspired by the painting “Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889”, by Belgian artist James Ensor. The painting is a massive work, over 6 feet high and 26 feet long. “It is huge. It’s almost like you are becoming part of it because the characters at the bottom of the painting are larger and are almost like they are coming towards you,” said Edward. “I knew of James Ensor for a long time and I always thought about that kind of crazy, nightmarish painting, with people almost in caricature with masks; it’s something I’ve always been fascinated with. When I saw this painting, I thought it was great. I should do this.”


Although the music definitely has a strong connection to the painting, the work also stands on its own. “It’s quite a narrative piece. It has a lot of elements that are from the painting so I think it would make more sense if people saw it,” he said. “Especially the ending, like the fast bit, then the piece has its own life.”

In the three years since he wrote “Masquerade”, Edward Top has been very active in Vancouver’s cultural scene. He continues to be the composer in residence for the VSO, and is also the Head of Composition at VAM. It’s even possible that the move away from Europe may be influencing his musical sensibilities. “I’m now writing in a more accessible form, maybe just a phase, but writing music that is more playable,” he said. “Here in Vancouver it’s much more open, and it doesn’t matter what style you’re writing because there is less pressure from a longer tradition. I find that really pleasant. Vancouver is very rich musically, I think. It’s like people don’t really know it yet because it almost feels like it’s in a growing process. There are so many composers and ensembles. I think it’s wonderful”.

VAMSO, under the direction of Les Dala, will be performing Edward Top’s “Masquerade” on Sunday, February 23rd, 2pm at the Orpheum Theatre. Tickets are available for purchase online until 5:00 pm on Saturday, February 22nd through the VAM website. General admission is $10, and $6 for students and seniors. After this time, tickets are only available for purchase from the Orpheum Theatre ‘Will Call’ window on Nelson Street.