Canadian Composers Interview Series with Sophie Dupuis

In our new blog series, Canadian Composers Interview with ACNMP board member and organist Matthew Boutda, we endeavour to illuminate the artistic process of select working composers from across Canada.

Sophie Dupuis is a composer from New Brunswick (Canada) interested in interdisciplinary art music and music for small and large ensembles. She is recognized for her impressive technique and endless imagination. Her creative mind is influenced by her childhood spent in the picturesque scenery of the Maritimes and, conversely, by her attraction to raw, electrical and harsh sounds. Her works have been played in workshops by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia, and in concerts by ensembles including duo aTonalHits, the Array ensemble, Toy Piano Composers Ensemble and Architek Percussion. She has been commissioned and performed by Caution Tape Sound Collective, Thin Edge New Music Collective, and most recently by Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal for their Generation2018 tour.

Dupuis was awarded the Karen Kieser Prize in Canadian Music 2016 for her piece Perceptions de La Fontaine and received several prizes for her studies in music. As a composer in early career, Dupuis spends time focusing on her professional development. She recently took part in workshops such as highSCORE Festival, UPbeat Summer Course for Composers, and Orford Arts Centre. She is currently completing her DMA in composition at the University of Toronto. Aside from her studies and work as a composer, she is an arranger and passionate music teacher of violin, piano and theory.


Matthew: Would you mind sharing a few words about your personal and musical background?

Sophie: Did my undergrad in Composition at Dalhousie, went into a double major in Science and Music.  I didn’t want to be a composer until undergrad. I wanted to major in performance but was afraid and ended up doing composition!  I never thought of myself as a composer until I realized I was really good at it and I enjoyed the process.

Matthew: When did you start learning how to compse?

Sophie: I wrote an etude for piano to practice technique. The process flowed. I pretended to be Boulez! I also looked at Philip Glass . . . I liked his energy when I started taking composition seriously.

Matthew: What are you currently working on?

Sophie: I’m currently working on my DMA Thesis and two major works.

Matthew: Is it challenging to write pedagogical music for young students?

Sophie: The approach to technicality is the issue. Kids are creative and not afraid at that age. They are open to challenges. I have written some works for young students and I look forward to doing more.

Matthew: How can we continue to grow this awareness for Canadian music?

Sophie: We should value the works of Canadians. Canadian music is missing in music education across the board.

Matthew: What advice do you have for beginners learning how to compose?

Sophie: Try to get out and see as many shows as possible –even the weird ones!  Find art that inspires you and get exposed to many art forms.

Listen to Sophie’s haunting choral work ‘There will be no ice left in the Arctic in 22* years from now’. The title must be adjusted according to the year of performance. The statistic from the U.S Center for Atmospheric Research claims that, if global warming keeps increasing at the current rate, the Arctic will be free of ice by 2040. Thus, the number of years in the title must be written according to the formula “2040-X,” X being the present year.

 

Canadian Composers Interview Series with Vivian Fung

In our new blog series, Canadian Composers Interview with ACNMP board member and organist Matthew Boutda, we endeavour to illuminate the artistic process of select working composers from across Canada.

JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung has a unique talent for combining idiosyncratic textures and styles into large-scale works, reflecting her multicultural background. NPR calls her “[o]ne of today’s most eclectic composers.” This is supported by many of her latest works, including Humanoid for solo cello and prerecorded electronics; Frenetic Memories, a reflection on her travels to visit minority groups in China’s Yunnan province; and The Ice Is Talking for solo percussion and electronics, commissioned by the Banff Centre, using three ice blocks to illustrate the beauty and fragility of our environment.

Many distinguished artists and ensembles around the world have embraced Fung’s music as part of their core repertoire, including the American Opera Projects, Chicago Sinfonietta, San Francisco Symphony, Shanghai Quartet, Staatskapelle Karlsruhe, Suwon Chorale of South Korea, and Ying Quartet, to name a few. Conductors with whom she has collaborated include Long Yu, Andrew Cyr, Rei Hotoda, Peter Oundjian, Edwin Outwater, Steven Schick, and Bramwell Tovey.

Born in Edmonton, Canada, Fung began her composition studies with composer Violet Archer and received her doctorate from The Juilliard School in New York. She currently lives in California with her husband Charles Boudreau, their son Julian, and their shiba inu Mulan, and is on the faculty of Santa Clara University.


Matthew: Would you mind sharing a few words about your personal and musical background?

Vivian: I was born and raised in Edmonton. I began playing the piano very early and my first piano teacher, who also happened to be a composer, encouraged me to compose and notate. As a young kid, I didn’t like to practice so I started to compose instead. I wrote my first pieces when I was seven or eight. These were very basic pieces that expressed stories and my imaginations. I think these early days in Edmonton were very important because it shaped the idea of cultivating imagination in me.

Matthew: How often are you composing now? Are you currently working on a new composition?

Vivian: My compositional process goes in spurts! This past month was busy with travelling and preparing for performances. Next, I will concentrate on new projects – an orchestral piece for the Winnipeg New Music Festival and a double violin concerto for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.

Matthew: What advice do you have for beginner composers?

Vivian: I would encourage young musicians to experience creating a piece. It really isn’t about the end result but about the process of creating. I encourage everyone to also be curious listeners; listen to pieces you might not know or listen to what others, not only in Canada but around the world, are creating.

Matthew: If you had to choose just one, what is your fondest musical memory?

Vivian: Hearing The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky when I was growing up! It got me excited about new music and discovering more about using different chords and clusters! Not having to rely on tertiary harmonies and the possibility of incorporating other orchestral instruments.

Vivian is currently putting the finishing touches on a new orchestral work to be premiered at the Winnipeg New Music Festival next month.  Listen to her work “The Ice is Talking” premiered by percussionist Aiyun Huang at the Banff Centre this past summer.

ACNMP Job Posting -Seeking Office Admin!

The ACNMP seeks an energetic and self-motivated individual to work with the Board of Directors and Contemporary Showcase Coordinators in the capacity of Office Administrator.

About ACNMP

The Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects (ACNMP) is an organization dedicated to the promotion of Canadian contemporary music. Throughout our history, it has been our mission to encourage teachers to teach Canadian contemporary music, to motivate students to study and perform this music, and to encourage Canadian composers to write music for students of all levels from the most junior to the paraprofessional.

ACNMP has centres of operation in 15 cities and towns across Canada. Every year during Canada Music Week, these centres present a Contemporary Showcase Festival, a non- competitive festival set in a master class format adjudicated by knowledgeable musicians. Various workshops are also available.

Job Description

Working directly with the President, the Office Administrator is responsible for providing office administrative and clerical services in order to ensure effective and efficient day-to-day operations of ACNMP.

The position requires approximately 15 hours per month, with peak times of work to support the national Contemporary Showcase Festival during late September through mid-January. The candidate should have experience with grant-writing, possess good communication and current technology skills. The candidate should be able to work independently with sound judgment and an attention to detail.

Wage to be negotiated based on qualifications and experience.
To apply for this position, please send a cover letter and resume to Stephanie Chua at info@acnmp.ca

Deadline for receipt of applications is 5:00 pm EDT, December 31, 2018.

Job Responsibilities

• Funding Development: apply for all available municipal, provincial, and federal funds; research and cultivate relationships with corporate supporters and sponsorships; lead fundraising initiatives

• Administration: manages day-to-day operations of the organization; communication with Contemporary Showcase Centres; work closely with Board Members in assigned tasks; preparation and distribution of quarterly newsletter to membership via MailChimp; updating website via WordPress; responding to emails and voice mails; attend board meetings normally held in September, January, and June

• Promotion & Advocacy: contributing to social media presence (Twitter, Facebook); fostering and building positive relationships with community and arts organizations, supporting Contemporary Showcase Centres

Requirements and Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated success in the following:

  • Experience in the administration of non-profits and/or arts organizations
  • Knowledge of granting and private funding landscape
  • Excellent communication (verbal and written), interpersonal, and problem-solving skills
  • Initiative, ability to work independently, and sound time-management skills
  • Computer and social media proficiency (applications include Microsoft Office, WordPress, Mailchimp, Facebook and Twitter)
  • Ability to work with virtual teams

Preferred Skills, Experience, Background, and Interests

  • French is strongly preferred
  • Musical background is an asset
  • Interest in supporting the teaching and the performance of Canadian contemporary music

Canadian Composers Interview Series with Imant Raminsh

In our new blog series, Canadian Composers Interview with ACNMP board member and organist Matthew Boutda, we endeavour to illuminate the artistic process of select working composers from across Canada.

Born in 1943 in Ventspils, Latvia, Imant Raminsh came to Canada in 1948. After completing an ARCT diploma in violin at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto and a Bachelor of Music programme at the University of Toronto, he spent two years at the Akademie “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, Austria, studying composition, violin and conducting, and playing in the professional Camerata Academica orchestra.

He is the founding conductor of the Prince George Symphony, the Youth Symphony of the Okanagan, NOVA Children’s Choir, and AURA Chamber Choir. His compositions have been performed on six continents by such ensembles as the Vancouver, Edmonton, Hamilton, Toronto, Okanagan, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick Symphonies, the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Tafelmusik Baroque Chamber Choir, the Tokyo Philharmonic Chamber Choir, the Stockholm Chamber Choir, the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir, Ave Sol (Latvian Chamber Choir), and many others. His music has been heard in such world-renowned halls as Carnegie Hall (New York), Tchaikovsky Hall (Moscow), Westminster Abbey, and Notre Dame (Paris).

Imant has also pursued studies in geology and biology, and worked for many summers as a naturalist/interpreter in BC provincial parks. He and his wife, Becky, an architectural designer, poet, and collaborator on some of his choral works, have a lovely bright daughter, Lisa Alexandra Soleil.

He is an officer in the Order of the Three Stars of the Republic of Latvia.


Matthew: Would you mind sharing a few words about your personal and musical background?

Imant: Musically, my first instrument is violin. I have had practice on piano.  My mother was a pianist. She graduated in the 1930s and had a career as a concert pianist when the war broke out.  Music was always a part of our family and all of our siblings studied piano to some degree.  I happened to drift off to the strings and -probably because of my cultural background as a Latvian for whom folk song was very strong- the majority of my works are for solo voice or choir.

Matthew:  What inspired you to composition?

Imant: Music has always been an internal thing for me!  The interest to try and create something original has always been there. I don’t know if there has been something specific, but my earliest compositions are from the age of 5 and, in fact, I still have copies of them. I had always been fascinated by ledger lines, with extensions like firetrucks. I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t doodling or writing. In my late high school years and university years, I started to take myself a little more seriously.  As for learning to compose, largely I have been self-taught. Over the years I have had students come to me because they wanted to learn composition. I have always said to them that composition can be learned but cannot be taught.  Students can be exposed to the variety of techniques, but in terms of the art itself, it is really something that cannot be taught. I have certainly gained much from composers who gave me good advice and I did study composition in Salzburg, but the actual process is very individual within oneself.

Matthew:  What advice do you have for beginners learning how to compose?

Imant:  Just compose. Just do it. Don’t wait for inspiration. You could solicit help from people that you know that are known as composers, but just do it. Young students are fascinated by the romance of composers -how do you get to be a Beethoven or a Bach? But you just do it. You won’t become a Bach or Beethoven, but become who you are with your own voice. What made them great? A lot of hard work. Even Bach talked about the hours he put into developing his craft. What is failure? What is success? Only the one writing can say what he or she has set out to do. Don’t put all your hopes on other people’s evaluation of your work. Just do it.

Matthew: What makes your work different from others?

Imant:  I think you would have to be the one to decide that. Every composer’s work is unique to that composer to some degree. Composers in their early stages write works inspired by great composers. If you think of the great writers, they all still use the same lexicons and just created works which reflect their ideas. For me to judge my work from the point of view of others is difficult.

Matthew: What is your favourite work that you have written?

Imant:  That is kind of like trying to choose what is your favourite child.  It is unfair to ask, but I do have some favourite . . . Songs of the Lights, my opera ‘The Nightingale’.

A number of works by Imant have been selected for inclusion in our Contemporary Showcase Syllabus, including one of his favourites: Songs of the Lights.  Click here to listen to the work for choir.

Canadian Composers Interview Series with Carmen Braden

In our new blog series, Canadian Composers Interview with ACNMP board member and organist Matthew Boutda, we endeavour to illuminate the artistic process of select working composers from across Canada.

Carmen Braden is WCMA-nominated composer/performer/field recordist from the Canadian sub-Arctic. Her music+sound company Black Ice Sound is based in her hometown of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Carmen’s vocal, instrumental, and electroacoustic music is greatly tied to her soundscape. She draws from the environment by examining natural phenomena through sonic, visual, sensual and scientific ways of understanding.

Her music has been performed across Canada by many prestigious ensembles and soloists including the Toronto Symphony, James Ehnes, the Elmer Isler Singers, and the Gryphon Trio. Her work has been performed internationally at the ArtArctica festival in Finland and The Global Composition in Germany. Carmen’s debut studio album Ravens was relesed by Centrediscs in 2017.


Matthew: Would you mind sharing a few words about your personal and musical background?

Carmen: I was born in Whitehorse, Yukon in 1985, and raised in Yellowknife, and Yellowknife is where I’ve made my home and work base. I took piano lessons starting at age 5, and was a real music nerd in elementary and high school – in all the bands and choirs, learning different instruments like the flute, tuba and trumpet. I started learning about composers and began improvising and learning jazz piano, and did my first real analysis of another composer’s work (it was Debussy’s La Mer -one of my lifelong favourites!). I did my undergrad and masters degrees in music composition (BMus Acadia ’09, MMus U of Calgary ’15), and stated my own music business called Black Ice Sound. Now I compose, perform, teach, and do anything that comes up for work relating to music – and I travel across Canada and sometimes internationally to work – it’s awesome!

Matthew: What inspired you to composition?

Carmen: Watching my teachers compose in University really got me excited, especially when I saw how they were bringing their environmental surroundings into their works. That made me want to do the same with my own environment and that’s where I found my first early inspirations that still say with me.

Matthew: Are you currently working on a new composition?

Carmen: I just finished one last week for choir – it’s all about water. I have had such a busy winter with creating things that I will take a break for a few weeks before starting the next one. I find it is very necessary to renew and replenish the creative juices.

Matthew: For beginners learning how to compose, what advice do you have for them?

Carmen: Be as curious as possible . . . about everything! All kinds of music should be explored when you’re learning to play or learning to compose. For example, rapper Kendrick Lamar’s album Damn just won the Pulizter – an award that was almost always given to classical composers. There are compositional ideas that are worth checking out in that album! And curiosity should also be an everyday – even an every-moment – part of a composer’s life. It will help to expand what inspires you, as well as make you a better human. And that is essential when making music and working with other humans.

Matthew: What makes your works different from others?

Carmen: The fact that I wrote it! Every person’s compositions are unique to them. I suppose my inspirations about the sub-Arctic environment aren’t very common in other people’s works. And sometimes my style includes improvisation or finding ways to make each performance of my pieces unique each time. Many composers do this as well, and I love how it keeps the music fresh even for me – the composer.

Matthew: Why should we grow this awareness for Canadian music?

Carmen: Because Canadians are writing excellent music!

Carmen’s debut CD ‘Ravens’ was released on the Centrediscs label in 2017. Click here to listen to ‘The Raven Conspiracy: II, Waltz of Wing and Claw’ for String Quartet.