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.