Emma Rush ‘A Dream of Colour’ Album Review

This superb album by the Canadian classical guitarist Emma Rush was inspired by the paintings of William Blair Bruce

In 2020 I commissioned seven new Canadian pieces inspired by the paintings of William Blair Bruce. With this project I hoped to create a new repertoire of Canadian music for solo guitar that would capture Bruce’s artistic practice and share the magic of his paintings through sound. ~ Emma Rush, July 2023

The concept of creating an entire album based on paintings is a bold one, and Canadian classical guitarist Emma Rush has succeeded with her new release entitled A Dream of Colour. The compositions are highly original and deeply evocative; the seven pieces were created by Amy Brandon, Christine Donkin, Dale Kavanagh, Jeffrey McFadden, Daniel Mehdizadeh, Craig Visser, and Christina Volpini, in a a wide range of styles.

William Blair Bruce was a noted Canadian impressionist painter, and Emma Rush became acquainted with his paintings as a regular visitor to the Art Gallery of Hamilton. The gallery is more than 100 years old and holds a great number of iconic works.

This isn’t the first project that Rush has taken on to reflect her deeply held interest in Canadian art and culture. Her 2017 album Canadiana featured classical interpretations of songs by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Stan Rogers and Joni Mitchell. She is widely regarded as one of Canada’s premier classical guitarists and maintains a busy concert schedule. Earlier in 2023 she travelled to Sweden to perform at the Canadian Embassy, Future Echoes Festival, and Kristianstad Music Days. She was also a guest at the Guitar Alla Grande festival in Ottawa where she presented on women in the guitar world in the 1800s, in addition to conducting master classes.

Her guitar technique is impeccable, while her presentations display both elegance and fluidity of expression. Particularly impressive on this album are the “Red Rock, St. Nazaire” suite by Amy Brandon and “the phantom hunter” by Christina Volpini. That said, every piece contributes solidly to the whole and presents a unique perspective on the experience of viewing Bruce’s paintings.

Emma Rush is to be congratulated for this ambitious project to transform physical images into sound. We recommend the album highly on several levels, not just for concept and musicality, but also for the purity of sound achieved by the engineering and recording team.

In October 2023 she will give two concerts in the United States:

Oct. 20    Skaneateles Public Library, NY

Oct. 21    Classical Guitar Society of Upstate New York Festival, NY

In November 2023 Emma will give three concerts in British Columbia:

Nov. 2       A Dream of Colour Workshop, AJ Elliot School, Sointula, BC

Nov. 4      Sointula Athletic Hall, Malcolm Island, BC

Nov. 9      Capitol Theatre, Nelson, BC

Track listing and composers:

  • Moonlight in Canada – Christine Donkin 
  • Red Rock, St. Nazaire – Amy Brandon
    • i. Red Rock (into the light)
    • ii. Thin Cloud
    • iii. Under the Deep Blue Waves
  • Reflections on Afterglow – Dale Kavanagh
  • Temps Passé (for guitar and tape) – Craig Visser
  • the walker of the snow (the phantom hunter) – Christina Volpini
  • Mirror of the Moon – Daniel Medizadeh
  • Chedoke Ravine – Jeffrey McFadden
Brian Miller

Brian Miller is the Publisher and Editor of Vivascene, which he founded in 2010. A former record store owner, business executive and business writer, he is devoted to vinyl records, classical guitar, and b&w photography.

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