SFU Woodward’s to present first Frank Zappa concert in Canada

January 27, 2017

By Wan Yee Lok

For the first time in Canadian history, a concert dedicated to Frank Zappa will be presented. SFU Woodward’s partners with Turning Point Ensemble to present Frank Zappa meets Varése and Oswald as part of the PuSh Festival. The concert is conducted by Owen Underhill, a professor at SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA) and a member of Turning Point Ensemble.

In anticipation for the concert, SFU News sat down with Underhill to learn more about Frank Zappa, his musical style and influence today.

Who is Frank Zappa?

Frank Zappa was composer and electric guitarist whose first album came out in 1966. He founded the group, Mothers of Invention, which was one of the most daring and brilliant rock bands during that period. His work was always quite experimental, part jazz and part contemporary music. As his career continued, he also composed for the symphony orchestras. Zappa passed away in 1993 from cancer but his influence has only increased over the years, not only in music but in other art mediums as well.

As a composer and conductor yourself, is your work influenced by Zappa?

I followed Zappa’s work when I was young and bought all his albums. His work always fascinated me. I've always admired Zappa so it has been a long dream of mine to perform his most famous pieces in a concert.

Who should attend this concert?

Anyone who knows Frank Zappa's music or wonders who Frank Zappa is should attend. This is a fantastic opportunity to hear his work live. I don't think a concert like this has ever been done in Canada. One of Canada's most innovative composer John Oswald will also have a premiere that I will be conducting in the concert.

What are some of the concert highlights?

For those who know Zappa, we're doing some of his most well-known pieces including Uncle Meat, Peaches En Regalia and The Dog Breath variations. One of the works, G-Spot Tornado will be choreographed by SFU SCA professor Rob Kitsos as well.

The concert starts today and continues on to Sunday, Jan 29, 2017. To purchase tickets, visit: