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Robert Lemay's music the through-line for 5-Penny's multi-disciplinary concert

'Surface and Underground' melds poetry, music and art for single performance at TNO
Poet Thierry Dimanche and composer Robert Lemay suited up for art, while producing “2000 meters underground,” a composition of music and poetry recorded two kilometres below ground in the SNOLAB research facility. (Supplied)

The next 5-Penny New Music Concerts performance, "Surface and Underground," takes place on St. Patrick's Day, Saturday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario.

"Surface and Underground" aims to celebrate contemporary poetry, music and art, and features Sudbury poet Thierry Dimanche, Acadian poet Daniel H. Dugas, Nova Scotian poet Valerie LeBlanc, visual artist Patrick Harrop, and Sudbury composer Robert Lemay, as well as the Proteus Saxophone Quartet from Calgary.

The evening will be in two parts. The first is devoted to Dimanche and Lemay, whose musical-poetic project, "Two Kilometres Underground," will be premiered. Writer Ella Jane Myers brought us the story of what just might be the world physically deepest composition. 

The collaboration reflects their fascination with the SNOLAB's research on dark matter and elementary nuclear particles. In July 2016, Dimanche and Lemay paid their first visit to the world-famous underground facility. 

Dimanche then wrote a set of texts that formed the basis of Lemay’s musical work, "Fragments noirs (Dark Fragments)". Scored for two saxophones, the piece consists of nine musical commentaries on poetical extracts. "Fragments noirs" was recorded last March in the SNOLAB’S large experimental space dubbed the Cryopit, which also has remarkable acoustical properties.

The evening’s second part will highlight LeBlanc and Dugas, whose poem, "Afflux," also inspired a work by Lemay. The Proteus Quartet will perform the piece along other French and Canadian compositions that reflect the poetic theme. 

The concert will conclude with Lemay’s "No Limits," a work for baritone saxophone inspired by "Vous," a poetry collection by the eminent Acadian poet, Herménégilde Chiasson.

Harrop’s visual images will punctuate the poetry and the music throughout, with a variety of digital transformations projected onscreen by computer.

A reception will follow the event with the launch of two new books: "Problème trente" by Dimanche and "Everglades" by Dugas and LeBlanc, both published by Éditions Prise de Parole, the well-known Sudbury publishing house.

Tickets cost $23 for adults and $17 for students, and are available through TNO's box office. Visit