In 2002, a young composer named Vincent Ho was inspired by paintings he saw in a small gallery in Edmonton. That day, Ho took the gallery’s business card and wrote the artist’s name on it. Years later, during his post-doctoral studies, Ho found himself in Los Angeles, where the Dutch-American artist, Luc Leestemaker, happened to be living. Ho looked Leestemaker up and reached out to him, and the two of them went out for dinner. At this first meeting, they discovered a mutual love for music and art, and discussed how they could collaborate.

After all, music was in integral part of Leestemaker’s process, and ultimately, his paintings. Whenever Luc was at work in his studio, he painted to music loudly playing from the 300 CDs he had in his giant CD player that included everyone from Wagner to Philip Glass, and Bob Dylan to Coldplay. Music moved him, and thus, his paintbrush, so to now have his art inspire music was an exciting and intriguing proposition.

In the fall of 2005, Ho was commissioned to write a work for the ARC Ensemble (Artists of the Royal Conservatory of Music) for their 2006 tour in China, and decided that he wanted to compose a work inspired by Leestemaker’s paintings. After pouring over hundreds of them in the weeks after their first meeting, Ho selected four that he would interpret into music.

Four Paintings by Leestemaker has since been performed worldwide by the ARC Ensemble, the Winnipeg Philharmonic Orchestra, and now, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in a virtual concert premiering Saturday 24 October. In 2007, Lineage Dance Company in Pasadena, California choreographed a modern dance piece to the music and it remains in their repertoire today.

Ho and Leestemaker collaborated on a few other projects, including From Darkness to Light: A Spiritual Journey (premiered by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra), and remained friends until Leestemaker passed away in 2012.

Emily Lau was Luc Leestemaker’s life partner for many years until he passed away, and was at his first meeting with Vincent Ho. Calgary Phil musicians perform Four Paintings by Leestemaker during an online concert premiering Saturday 24 October at 7:30PM (MDT). You can read Vincent Ho’s program notes on our concert page here. A virtual gallery tour featuring paintings by Leestemaker opens Thursday, 22 October at

By Emily Lau
October 2020