Composer Spotlight: Robert Lemay

As part of our project to update our syllabus we are adding new works for brass and percussion. We would like to feature some of the composers that we are adding and help promote their hard work. Meet Robert Lemay:

Né à Montréal en 1960, Robert Lemay est compositeur depuis la fin des années 1980. Sa musique a été jouée et diffusée dans plus de 30 pays et a reçu de nombreux prix internationaux.

La musique de Robert Lemay s’inspire de la poésie, de la littérature, du cinéma, des arts visuels et des événements politiques et sociaux. Les éléments théâtraux, tels que la disposition de la scène, la spatialisation, les gestes et le comportement de l’interprète, sont souvent présents dans ses œuvres. De plus, la musique de Robert Lemay est influencée par les techniques spectrales (importance du timbre), les approches modales d’Olivier Messiaen, les modulations rythmiques d’Elliott Carter et l’organisation formelle de Iannis Xénakis. Le saxophone et les instruments à vent jouent un rôle particulièrement important dans son œuvre.

Robert Lemay détient un baccalauréat et une maîtrise en composition de l’Université Laval sous la direction de François Morel, ainsi qu’un doctorat de l’Université de Montréal sous la direction de Michel Longtin. Il a également étudié à la State University of New York à Buffalo où il a travaillé avec David Felder et suivi des séminaires avec, entre autres, Brian Ferneyhough, Donald Erb et Louis Andriessen. Il a également travaillé avec François Rossé à Bordeaux et avec Georges Aperghis à l’ATEM à Paris.

Robert Lemay a enseigné à l’Université de Saskatchewan (1996-97) et à l’Université Laurentienne à Sudbury de 2000 à 2021. Il a été compositeur en résidence de l’Orchestre symphonique de Sudbury de 2008 à 2010, et a été président et codirecteur artistique des 5-Penny New Music Concerts à Sudbury de 2004 à 2018.

Born in Montreal in 1960, Robert Lemay has been active as a composer since the late 1980s. His music has been performed and broadcast in over 30 countries and has received numerous international awards.

Lemay’s music draws its inspiration from poetry, literature, cinema, visual arts, and political and social events. Theatrical elements, such as the stage layout, spatialization, gestures, and comportment of the performer, are often present in his works. Moreover, Lemay’s music is influenced by spectral techniques (the importance of timbre), the modal approaches of Olivier Messiaen, the rhythmic modulations of Elliott Carter, and the formal organization of Iannis Xénakis. Saxophone and wind instruments play an especially important role in his oeuvre.

Lemay holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition from Université Laval under the direction of François Morel, and a doctorate from Université de Montréal under Michel Longtin. He also studied at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he worked with David Felder and took seminars with, among others, Brian Ferneyhough, Donald Erb, and Louis Andriessen. He has also worked with François Rossé in Bordeaux and with Georges Aperghis at the ATEM in Paris.

Lemay taught at the University of Saskatchewan (1996-97) and at Laurentian University in Sudbury from 2000-21. He was Composer-in-Residence of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra from 2008-10, and was President and Co-Artistic Director of the 5-Penny New Music Concerts in Sudbury from 2004-18.

Robert’s work for percussion Pommes is being added to the syllabus, thank you Robert!

Composer Spotlight: David Occhipinti

As part of our project to update our syllabus we are adding new works for brass and percussion. We would like to feature some of the composers that we are adding and help promote their hard work. Meet David Occhipinti:

“It’s definitely music for today, streamlined yet atmospheric…a listener hears the rare but
gratifying combination of lyricism and cutting-edge music.”
-Geoff Chapman, The Toronto Star

David Occhipinti is a composer, and guitarist whose music crosses borders from jazz and
improvised music, into contemporary classical music and beyond. David’s musical
accomplishments have earned him two Chalmers Arts Fellowships, as well as multiple
JUNO nominations for his work as a recording artist. Among his nominated works are his
critically acclaimed album Forty Revolutions in 2007; and Duologue, in collaboration with
saxophonist Mike Murley, in 2003.

Camera, (2012) is a recording that features David’s chamber music compositions and guitar
improvisations. It was heralded by his mentor, Jim Hall as: “an absolute gem… his writing
is unique, his playing is completely original and stunning… an absolute work of art!”
The 2019 release, these out of infinite, features David’s works for the voice with text by
Dylan Thomas, James Joyce, e.e. cummings, T.S. Elliot, Emily Carr, Emily Brontë, and
Emily Dickinson. Fanfare magazine wrote, “Occhipinti’s settings are stellar and
hypnotic….like George Crumb… sheer delight. It breathes freshness and clarity.”
David’s recorded work has been featured on the CBC and BBC.

David’s first orchestral work, Saturnia (2022), was part of the Toronto Symphony’s
‘Explore the Score’ event that occurred at Roy Thomson Hall in October of 2022.
David received a commission from the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra to compose a piece
for brass and percussion. The premiere performance of En Passant was in Ottawa on May
1st, 2022 with Jean-Michel Malouf conducting.

A world premiere recording of Net of Gems, for flute and harp, appears on a recent
recording by Suzanne Shulman and Erica Goodman. David has also had his
compositions commissioned or recorded by a wide-ranging list of artists- including
percussionist Beverley Johnston, Arraymusic Ensemble, Canadian Children’s Opera
Chorus, and Random Access Large Ensemble.

David has performed and toured across Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He has
performed Canadian premieres of works by Steve Reich and Gabriel Prokofiev. David has
been based in Toronto for most of his career, but during the 1990s he also spent some
time studying in New York City with Jim Hall, and three years living in Italy.

Several works for percussion and brass will be added to the ACNMP syllabus. Here is a link to one of his other works:

Composer Spotlight: Stella terHart

As part of our project to update our syllabus we are adding new works for brass and percussion. We would like to feature some of the composers that we are adding and help promote their hard work. Meet Stella terHart:

Stella Claire terHart was born in Estevan, Saskatchewan on January 31, 1960, and presently lives in Inverary, Ontario. Stella is the only individual in Canada to have been awarded all four available ARCT diplomas from the Toronto Conservatory of Music: Pedagogy, Performance, History, and Composition. She studied with Bill Moore (Regina), Lyell Gustin (Saskatoon), Robin Harrison (Saskatoon), and Marilyn Engle (Calgary). Stella has adjudicated festivals throughout Ontario and the Maritimes. She is a retired member of the College of Examiners of the Toronto Conservatory and a member of the board of the ACNMP. Stella presently is the Artistic Director of both the Frontenac Women’s Chorus and the SATB mixed choir, Melodia. Her award-winning piano, instrumental, and choral compositions have
been performed world-wide.

Stella’s work Reflective Moments (for horn and piano) is one of the works that has been selected to be added to the syllabus in the junior category. You can also find her on facebook:

Thank you Stella!

Composer Spotlight: Emily Gray

As part of our project to update our syllabus we are adding new works for brass and percussion. We would like to feature some of the composers that we are adding and help promote their hard work. Meet Emily Gray:

Emily Gray is a clarinetist, composer, and music arranger from Montreal. She studied at McGill University and her work “On the Lake” for horn will be featured on our syllabus in the junior category. Please feel invited to check out her other pieces as well.

Thank you Emily for your work!

New Work Collaboration: Rogue Duo and Composer Eugene Astapov

Saman Shahi, pianist and composer and Violinist Bijan Sepanji have been an unstoppable force since joining together as a duo in 2018 with their multitude of performances in Canada as well as Iran in 2018 and it continues to grow a unique and attractive repertoire. While the duo has a rich and diverse repertoire, the group takes pride especially in commissioning and promoting works by emerging composers.

Rogue Duo was also resident ensemble at the University of Tehran in 2018 for a series of performances and masterclasses. Since its inception the group has also performed in Timothy Eaton’s World Music series (2019), Tirgan Festival (2019), Sarv Academy’s Nachtmusik series (2018), as well as independent recitals around the city. The duo Princess Margaret Centre’s Online noon series (2021), ICOT’s “Reboot” (2021) As well as Wilfrd Laurier University’s Noon Hour concert series (2022) .

Since the start of the pandemic, the duo has also been active in recording, performing online in collaboration with local Toronto artists. One of these collaboration, which was a dedication to the
victims of the 752 Ukrainian fight was featured on Voice of America and so far has received over 12K views across social media platforms.

The variety in Rogue duo’s repertoire is its core strength. The group performs avant-garde contemporary music, classical music, as well as arrangements of popular, folk and world music. The duo is committed to commissioning and performing new Canadian music especially by emerging composers.

Now the duo is working with Ukrainian composer living in Toronto Eugene Astapov to create a new work and would appreciate your help making this work a success. The Rogue Duo is going on tour in Ontario this November and will be featuring newly commissioned works by Iranian and Ukrainian composers.

From Composer Eugene Astapov:

To all the supporters of Canadian New Music, I wish to send warm summer greetings, as we
are nearing the beginning of another concert season and academic year with many exciting
events happening across the country. From coast to coast Classical music organizations are
dedicating more resources to the commissioning and performance of contemporary Canadian
repertoire and creating more exposure opportunities for the diverse young generation of
composers emerging from every corner of the country. Canada’s major symphony orchestras,
such as the Toronto Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony, the National Arts Centre, new music
organizations such as Esprit Orchestra and Soundstreams are all coming out with innovative
programming and showcasing the vast array of talent Canada has to offer. It is due to the
tireless work of a number of associations and alliances who spent years fighting for the
representation of talent in Canada’s illustrious institutions, with one such organization being
the Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects.

One such initiative, the Contemporary Showcase, has recognized some of the most gifted
composers who have recently emerged in the Classical music scene over the decades and I
fondly remember receiving an award as a young music student from Toronto’s Earl Haig
Secondary School. These awards encourage young students to pursue their discovery of
contemporary music and engage with challenging music they otherwise would not encounter.
The initiatives of the ACNMP are far-reaching, including the commissioning of contemporary
compositions. As a young student at the Eastman School, I was fortunate to receive one of my
earliest commissions from the ACNMP, a small work for guitar, and peculiarly enough it ended
up being one of my most performed works! It has been commercially released twice on the
streaming platforms as recently as last fall by the American guitarist Trevor Babb.

With all the wonderful work the ACNMP is doing assisting composers and Canadian
musicians I would like to thank the Alliance for once again promoting my music and I wanted to
take this opportunity to talk about the new project I’m working on with the Rogue Duo. It is a
short piece for Violin and Piano entitled Utterings, and it is a reactionary work to everything
that’s going on in the world right – wars, uprisings, people suffering from the cost of living
crisis, forest fires and air quality; this work will be an inferno of aggressive passages and
explosive chords. Since the piece is designed to last only 5 minutes, I plan to use that timeframe
to create the most effective and impactful musical material for audience to remember.
I would like to wish everyone a happy and restful end of summer holidays and hoping to see
you all soon at the concert halls!
Eugene Astapov

If you would like to help with this commission please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Saman Shahi!