A Month of Tuesdays Q&A – Nicole Lizée & Nancy Tam

2018 Emerge on Main artist Nancy Tam (composer & sound artist) asks Music on Main Composer in Residence Nicole Lizée 4 questions.

 

NT: Please describe your experience of being in a compositional rut? And, how you get out of said rut?

NL: What might be perceived as a rut could actually be a part of the process of creating. It should challenge you. Sometimes there’s some discomfort. Developing a new work is complex and challenging emotionally, intellectually, and creatively. There may very well be obstacles (or ‘ruts’) along the way. This is usually good. This could mean unfamiliar territory and expanding/developing. Difficult decisions have to be made throughout the process. When it’s something that’s meaningful to me and that I believe in, I have the drive to work through obstacles – otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it. On the other hand, sometimes things just flow and a piece almost writes itself. I also read a lot of books, particularly nonfiction. I find that immersing myself in other worlds opens up the brain to other options and can promote clarity of thought. Learning how to use a new piece of equipment – i.e. cameras, software – or working on my tennis game; these actions demand complete focus on something else, stimulating other parts of the brain. You can come back to your main endeavour and see it from a new angle.

 

NT: What motivates you to compose music? And, what do you think the function of western concert music in Canada is?

NL: Essentially, expression, emotion, and ideas. I’ve composed since I was very young – it’s safe to say I was obsessed with it; it was ‘what I loved to do the most’. I never questioned why, or what it was, or how to do it – I just did it, because I felt the pull or drive to do it. This hasn’t changed. Another aspect of composing music means working with incredible artists, writers, thinkers, risk-takers – who share an unrelenting passion and belief. This is an amazing motivator. In response to the second question I strongly feel that concert music should only exist to express ideas and emotions. It should be personal and meaningful and authentic. It shouldn’t exist to follow trends, jump on bandwagons, or attempt to mimic someone else. The term function can be interpreted as having a use other than this – to sell products or to meet existing expectations of what music should be. This kind of music-making doesn’t interest me at all.

 

NT: What are the names of 10 influential compositions by female composers?

NL: This is a question that requires a great deal of thought – and compiling a list of 10 is difficult to do. A few things that jump to mind: the word ‘influential’ is very subjective and often implies that the work has had to exist for a certain length of time, and has been determined (by someone) to have had a major impact on the music world. I also feel the term composer often – but shouldn’t – automatically refers to those who work within a specific genre. Also, these works are of major importance regardless of whether or not they were written by women.

An unfinished list of 10 pieces by composers:
Kaija Saariaho – Orion, L’Amour de loin
Ann Southam – Glass Houses
Meredith Monk – Book of Days, Songs of Ascension
Pauline Oliveros – many works, her ‘Deep Listening’ aesthetic
Kate Bush – The Hounds of Love album – particularly Side B, titled, The Ninth Wave
Delia Derbyshire – all of it, particularly her work created for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and her group, White Noise, her secret work never released but discovered after her death – essentially, all of it
Carla Bley – Escalator Over the Hill
Daphne Oram – her Oramics technique
Laurie Anderson – her invention of instruments, album Big Science, her many innovative, cross genre collaborations
Alice Coltrane – her

Lists like these – that isolate a certain group – are tricky and I’m not sure how much good they do. If I had been asked for a few of my favourite pieces, several newer pieces would be included in this list. It’s impossible for a list of 10 to be complete. And, for this list to be ‘correct’ I would also have to list Hildegard von Bingen, Lili Boulanger, Nadia Boulanger, Amy Beach, etc, etc.

 

NT: Where will you be this summer and how will you spend it?

NL: First, I will be at Bang On a Can in NYC when So Percussion are performing White Label Experiment. I’m hoping to get to Indianapolis immediately afterward where the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra are performing my work. In mid-June I will be on faculty at Lunenberg Academy of Music Performance (Nova Scotia). In the middle of this residency I will fly to Toronto for the Luminato Festival to perform my operetta, La Callas Fantasie, with Carla Huhtanen and Ben Reimer. I will also see Eve Egoyan’s performance of my Lynch Études in her own concert that week. Then I fly back to Lunenburg for the remainder of the residency, which concludes with the premiere of a new multimedia piece for San Francisco’s Friction Quartet, who are also in residency at Lunenberg. After this I travel to Australia for about 10 days to meet and work with artists and artistic directors to plan the future. Then I return to Montreal to write for the coming 2018-19 season – and hopefully fit in some much needed tennis and bourbon (probably at the same time).

 

Music on Main Composer in Residence Nicole Lizée (composer & performer) takes to the stage for One Night Stand with Steve Raegele (guitar), Ben Reimer (percussion), Rebecca Whitling (violin), Tawnya Popoff (viola), and Rebecca Wenham (cello) on April 17, 2018 at The Fox Cabaret.

Composer and sound artist Nancy Tam will step into the spotlight with clarinetist Liam Hockley and pianist Nicole Linaksita for Emerge on Main on April 24, 2018 at The Fox Cabaret. 

For ticket information and the full 2018 A Month of Tuesdays concert series line up, click here

A Month of Tuesdays Q&A – Nicholas Wright & Nicole Linaksita

2018 Emerge on Main artist Nicole Linaksita (piano) asks VSO Concertmaster Nicholas Wright (violin) 5 questions.

 

NL: What piece of advice would you give to your previous self?

NW: So many things! In terms of music making I would say that if it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it! It’s absolutely fine and perfectly healthy to listen and analyze the performances of other artists but a phrase or a particular fingering etc has to feel natural and suitable to you, otherwise it will never be convincing in performance.

 

NL: If you had the funding to do whatever you wanted, what would you do?

NW: Estonia recently outlined and put funding aside for an ambitious plan to ensure every child has access to a musical instrument. What a fantastic goal this is and one that would be incredible to replicate elsewhere.

 

NL: In an alternate dimension where you play an instrument that you do not currently play, what instrument would this be and why would you choose this instrument?

NW: I’m drawn to sounds that are full of character and expression. This of course has much more to do with the player than the instrument as it’s possible, for example, for two highly experienced professional bassoonists or cellists to sound so wildly different from one another. An answer for this question gets complicated for me as I intrinsically link each instrument to a particular player who’s sound I love. Then it becomes a question of repertoire. That’s the long answer! The short answer would probably be French horn and cello for orchestral instruments, but most of all voice because here there is no barrier for personality in the tone. It’s also probably one of the reasons that ‘the four last songs’ by Strauss, which includes a beautiful violin solo, is my favourite piece.

 

NL: Do you have a favourite film score?

NW: I’m a big fan of John Williams, not only as a composer but also as a conductor and musician. His ability to raise the overall experience of a movie is absolutely incredible. One particular score that’s always been a favourite though is Out of Africa by John Barry.

 

NL: How do you stay motivated as a musician?

NW: Surround yourself with other musicians and artists that inspire you. Never be musically arrogant, there are always more things to learn and new ways to approach a piece.

 

Violinist Nicholas Wright takes to the stage with soprano Robyn Driedger-Klassen and pianist Grace Huang  on April 10, 2018 at The Fox Cabaret.

Pianist Nicole Linaksita will step into the spotlight with clarinetist Liam Hockley and Composer & Sound Artist Nancy Tam for Emerge on Main on April 24, 2018 at The Fox Cabaret. 

For ticket information and the full 2018 A Month of Tuesdays concert series line up, click here

A Month of Tuesdays Q&A – Marie-Chantal Leclair & Liam Hockley

2018 Emerge on Main artist Liam Hockley (clarinet) asks Quasar’s Marie-Chantal Leclair (soprano saxophone) 5 questions.

 

LH: I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended many Quasar concerts in the past (I think my ears are still ringing from a performance of Xenakis’ XASat at the University of Victoria 8 or 9 years ago!) and am always struck by the aesthetic diversity of your programming. Do you have a particular vision, ideology, or guiding principle that defines your repertoire as an ensemble?

MCL: New commissioned works have always been a major part of our repertoire. By commissioning works, we aim to foster the development of an original and significant repertoire. We want to provide a platform for those artists whose compositions embody a strong, original voice, regardless of their nationality, generation or aesthetic allegiance. Composers, musicians, and artistic collaborators are considered a unit, a creative team. Quasar supports their work by facilitating workshops for research and creation where these team members can take risks, innovate, and express their creative ideas to the maximum. We also see our role as first-rank ambassadors for composers from Québec and Canada. At the same time, Quasar constantly seeks out new works from the international scene, which we integrate into our repertoire. This includes works by major figures like Xenakis, Berio, Haas, Aperghis, and Andriessen.

 

LH: More specifically, what is it that draws you to the composers that you work with and the pieces that you program? What are you looking for in a piece of music?

MCL: Quality, creativity, personality, and originality are what I am looking for. All of these can be found in very different aesthetics. To explore different aesthetics, broaden my perspectives and nourish me as an artist. The best way for me to discover a composer is through live concerts. I trust my instinct, my first impressions, and my physical response to the music through exposure. Most often, I have a crush on a composer first, and then I intellectualize my choice.

 

LH: To date, what has been your most rewarding or illuminating musical collaboration?

MCL:  The ensemble has been together for so long that it’s hard to choose only one. Collaboration is at the heart of our musical projects, and it is through those collaborations that we have evolved and grown. I will mention very rewarding collaborations with Jean-François Laporte, Klas Torstensso, and here on the West coast with Daniel Peter Biro and Wolf Edwards.

 

LH: Given that the saxophone is a relative newcomer to the field (in comparison to stringed instruments or keyboards, for example), what is the role of tradition and the past within your practice? Do you see your focus on experimental idioms as a way of establishing new paradigms of musical creation and reception?

MCL: We certainly do not have to carry the weight of a long tradition and that gives us more freedom. With composers, we’ve developed the sound palette of the instrument, developing new “modes de jeu” or developing existing ones. This is exciting and rewarding. It feels like there is still so much to explore and refine. At the same time, we do not have the legitimacy and credibility of instruments with long tradition. There is still some prejudice towards this instrument. But this is a challenge we can deal with. To me, the saxophone is the vehicle and the destination is the artistic project.

 

LH: Aside from the incredible musicianship and vitality of your quartet, what factors have been the biggest contributors to your continuing success? What advice can you impart to emerging artists and ensembles working in a similar field?

MCL: Focus, integrity, and persistence. Quasar is not an ensemble that has had spectacular debuts, but we always stayed focused, passionate, and have slowly constructed what Quasar is today. Patience is certainly a keyword, and I don’t take anything for granted. A strong dose of audacity is also essential. You need to try the crazy things that you are dreaming of. Not everything we try will work but in the process we learn a lot. Partnerships (with composers, organizations, ensembles, etc.) have and still play a huge role for Quasar. One should not isolate. I believe in strength in numbers. Be a part of the community, involve yourself, give of your time, share ideas, and you will be fed back.

 

Quasar: De souffles et de machines takes to the stage on March 27, 2018 at The Fox Cabaret.

Clarinetist Liam Hockley will step into the spotlight with pianist Nicole Linaksita and Composer & Sound Artist Nancy Tam for Emerge on Main on April 24, 2018 at The Fox Cabaret. 

For ticket information and the full 2018 A Month of Tuesdays concert series line up, click here

Happy International Women’s Day – A Message from David Pay

Since its founding in 2006, Music on Main has strived for gender equity among our headlining musicians.

Why do I care so deeply about equality? Because I care about quality.

When we create, adopt, and perpetuate systems that favour one gender over others, we eliminate opportunities to experience the best work. When – with our programming and prizes – we show people who aren’t often represented that their music doesn’t have an equal place, we eliminate opportunities to experience the best work.

We introduced our Composer in Residence programme in 2012 with Jocelyn Morlock. Caroline Shaw became Composer in Residence in 2014, and in 2016 Nicole Lizée took over the post. I look to these extraordinary women as role models, individuals who are forging creative paths and astonishing careers in music.

For ISCM World New Music Days 2017, Music on Main and the Canadian League of Composers created an equity statement for the Call for Works which let the world know we were seeking gender equity at the festival. Of the more than 600 works submitted, 38% were by women. I noticed this percentage was much higher than other Calls for Work that don’t inform composers their work will be considered with equal attention. Of those 600+ works, 89 works from 90 creators were selected for presentation. Of the 90 creators, 39 identify as female, 2 identify as other, and 49 identify as male. That breaks down to approximately 44% female, 2% other, and 54% male, not quite our goal of 50% female and 50% male, but a significant win for new music programming anywhere in the world.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, I look back on the past 12 years of programming at Music on Main and know that we can always do better. I also look back at the hundreds of inspiring women who have shared their music – and worked offstage to make the performances possible – and celebrate them for their leadership, their vision, and their art.

David Pay
Artistic Director
Music on Main

We’re hiring!

Music on Main is hiring a Development Manager

Music on Main seeks a fundraising professional who wants to shine a spotlight on one of the most celebrated music presenters in Canada’s cultural scene. As a vibrant, growing organization, Music on Main offers its team plenty of opportunity for experience, growth, and autonomy. We’re looking for a creative, ambitious professional who is passionate about fundraising and the performing arts. The Development Manager will be responsible for managing and implementing Music on Main’s fundraising and donor initiatives, including Foundation Support, Corporate Sponsorships, Donor & Sponsor Stewardship, Special Fundraising Events, and Government Support.

Check out our 2017 Development Manager Job Description for details about the position. The deadline to apply is July 28, 2017.

Music on Main welcomes Mallory Gallant, Marketing Manager

Music on Main is delighted to welcome Mallory Gallant as our new Marketing Manager. Mallory recently returned from Toronto where she graduated from the Second City Theatre Training Centre in Comedy Writing. She is also a graduate of the Conservatory Theatre Program at Mount Royal University, the Documentary Production program at Langara College and the Arts and Entertainment Management Certificate at Capilano University. While in Toronto she was the Communications Coordinator for the Canadian Club of Toronto. Mallory has also worked with companies such as the Public Dreams Society, Theatre for Living (formerly Headlines Theatre), DSR Productions, TED Talks and the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA). We look forward to working with Mallory at Music on Main and at the ISCM World New Music Days 2017.

Music on Main welcomes Melissa Tsang, Artistic Planning & Operations Manager

Music on Main is thrilled to welcome Melissa Tsang as our new Artistic Planning & Operations Manager. Melissa has previously been the Company Manager for Ballet BC, and has years of experience in arts administration, including work with Vancouver Opera and Gateway Theatre. She has also been closely involved with the Phoenix Chamber Choir, the BC Choral Federation, and the BC Choral Federation Youth Council. We look forward to adding Melissa’s expertise to the Music on Main team!

Yejune Synn wins 2016 ISCM Young Composers Award, supported by Music on Main

The winner of the 2016 ISCM Young Composer Award (supported by Music on Main) has been announced. The winner, who will receive a commission for a new work to be performed at a future International Society for Contemporary Music festival, was Yejune Synn (Korea) for his work “Zoetrope.”

Music on Main has supported the ISCM Young Composer Award since 2013.

Page 1 of 512345