The three movements are: Nuages ("Clouds") Modéré – Un peu animé – Tempo I – Plus lent – Encore plus lent. Fêtes ("Festivals") Animé et très rythmé – Un peu plus animé – Modéré (mais toujours très rythmé) – Tempo I – De plus en plus sonore et en serrant le mouvement – Même Mouvement. Sirènes ("Sirens") Modérément animé – Un peu plus lent – En animant, surtout dans l’expression – Revenir progressivement au Tempo I – En augmentant peu à peu – Tempo I – Plus lent et en retenant jusqu’à la fin. The three movements were inspired by a series of impressionist paintings, also entitled "Nocturnes" by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Debussy wrote an "introductory note" to Nocturnes as follows: "The title Nocturnes is to be interpreted here in a general and, more particularly, in a decorative sense. Therefore, it is not meant to designate the usual form of the Nocturne, but rather all the various impressions and the special effects of light that the word suggests. 'Nuages' renders the immutable aspect of the sky and the slow, solemn motion of the clouds, fading away in grey tones lightly tinged with white. 'Fêtes' gives us the vibrating, dancing rhythm of the atmosphere with sudden flashes of light. There is also the episode of the procession (a dazzling fantastic vision), which passes through the festive scene and becomes merged in it. But the background remains resistantly the same: the festival with its blending of music and luminous dust participating in the cosmic rhythm. 'Sirènes' depicts the sea and its countless rhythms and presently, amongst the waves silvered by the moonlight, is heard the mysterious song of the Sirens as they laugh and pass on." Nuages and Fêtes were premiered by Camille Chevillard with the Lamoureux Orchestra on 9 December 1900 in Paris. The complete suite was first heard under the same forces on 27 October 1901. The initial performances met with a cool response from critics and the public, but today these are considered some of Debussy's most accessible and popular works, admired for their beauty. The music lasts for about 25 minutes.
A bassoon fellow at the New World Symphony, Darren Hicks hails from small-town Nova Scotia. At ease both in the orchestra and in a chamber setting, Mr. Hicks has performed across Canada and abroad. His teachers have included Frank Morelli (Yale University) and Christopher Millard (University of Ottawa). Mr. Hicks was a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra (Verbier, Switzerland) from 2013 to 2015 and was the recipient of the Dean’s Prize at Yale’s Commencement 2014, the 2012 National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary, and a 2012 Nova Scotia Talent Trust Bursary