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Compositional Crossroads

Compositional Crossroads: Music, McGill, Montreal

Edited by Eleanor V. Stubley
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 386
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  • Book Info
    Compositional Crossroads
    Book Description:

    Visionary deans, composers, musicologists, and students associated with the Faculty of Music between 1970-2004 offer insights into the early contributions of Istvan Anhalt, the birth of the Electronic Music Studio and McGill Records, the importance of visiting composer-teachers, opportunities for composer/performer collaborations, the development of performing spaces and ensembles, and new ways of considering sonic creativity. Several essays are devoted to major composers who taught at the school, including Bengt Hambraeus, alcides lanza, Brian Cherney, Bruce Mather, John Rea, and Denys Bouliane.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7504-2
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Letter From the Dean
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Don McLean
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Crossroads
    (pp. 3-16)

    The idea that Canada has a musical history worthy of being told is relatively recent, having first been articulated by Helmut Kallmann in 1960.² Rather than harvesting the fruits of a thousand generations of civilization, however, that story has been one of an emerging “new music” culled from the struggle and toil of pioneers preoccupied not with matters of high culture but with the physical and economic realities of founding a nation. Initially the story focused on the musical pastimes of the people of Canada, the concern being not so much the music itself as the role it played in...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. 19-32)

    Edward Casey writes that while place begins with a name and a physical space, its identity ultimately hangs on the way in which it “gathers” and “holds” people “to reflect the continuous contours or layout of the local landscape.”¹ The Faculty of Music, as a school, is by definition a crossroads, a stopping off place or “oasis between destinations” where students gather to learn the craft of their art. And it is, given the nature of that craft, as much a spiritual quest for voice as a path to knowledge. At the beginning of the 1960s, however, the Faculty had...

  7. 1 István Anhalt and New Music at McGill
    (pp. 33-55)
    Robin Elliott

    One of the many visitors drawn to the Faculty in 2004, musicologist ROBIN ELLIOTT is the Jean A. Chalmers Chair in Canadian Music and the director of the Institute for Canadian Music at the University of Toronto. When Elliott first met István Anhalt at a summer gathering in his parents’ Kingston garden, he was about to graduate from high school, and was himself at something of a “crossroads,” unsure as to whether mathematics or music would be the path to his future. He recalls that Anhalt was “a large part of his decision to opt for music,” and that although...

  8. 2 A Brief History of McGill University’s Electronic Music Studio, 1964–2004: alcides lanza in Conversation with Meg Sheppard
    (pp. 56-71)
    alcides lanza

    ALCIDES LANZA’s journey to McGill began in his hometown Rosario, Argentina, and included studies at the Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires with Alberto Ginastera, Luigi Dallapiccola, Olivier Messiaen, and Bruno Maderna (1963–64), as well as an extended stay in New York where he worked at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (1965–71). Arriving shortly after István Anhalt’s departure, he subsequently shepherded the growth of the McGill Electronic Music Studio (EMS) through three dramatic transformations spanning more than thirty years. The EMS quickly became for him a home, a place where he could nurture the developing voices of young...

  9. 3 Better Than a Thousand Days of Diligent Study Is One Day with a Great Teacher: Visiting Foreign Artist Residencies at McGill’s Faculty of Music, 1975–1981
    (pp. 72-109)
    John Rea

    His own studies not yet completed when he arrived at McGill in 1973, JOHN REA’s quest for voice has evolved with the institution, his travels expanding with the Faculty’s reputation and his capacity as composer, pedagogue, producer, and administrator developing to creatively meet the exigencies of the moment. During his tenure as dean (1986–91), the Faculty, despite a climate of economic restraint, won a place on the international stage with the performances of the McGill Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the revitalization of the opera program, and the successes of the Contemporary Music Festival, one of the first of...

  10. 4 McGill University Records, 1976–1990: A Brief History
    (pp. 110-128)
    Paul Pedersen

    One year before he came to McGill in 1966, PAUL PEDERSEN completed the first fully computerized composition written in Canada:Serial Compositionfor violin, horn, bassoon and harp. This piece, although only six minutes long, had taken an IBM 7094 computer – the same model that was used by NASA for its lunar landing program – twenty-eight minutes to generate and was, in the words of Pedersen himself, “virtually un-performable.” At the time, however, it was a feat that brought Pedersen immediate stature, launching a journey that was to lead him from the Electronic Music Studio through various departmental administrative roles to...

  11. 5 The Making of New Music: Composer as Collaborator
    (pp. 129-149)
    James Harley

    A composition and digital music professor at the University of Guelph, JAMES HARLEY is a seasoned composer and new music scholar whose works have been performed throughout Canada, as well as in Belgium, Japan, London, and Warsaw. Adopting an autobiographical stance, he provides a student’s perspective on the pedagogical template that fed the compositional curriculum in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Using drafts of his early works, he explores the ways in which the collaborative composer-performer relationships he cultivated while at McGill influenced his musical language and compositional approach. His memories, consequently, often assume the form of lessons learned;...

  12. 6 From Mixed Up to Mixin’ It Up: Evolving Paradigms in Electronic Music Performance Practice
    (pp. 150-168)
    Laurie Radford

    While completing his doctoral studies (1992–97), composer LAURIE RADFORD was also teaching electroacoustic music at both McGill and Concordia Universities. It was one step of a continuing journey that has subsequently led him via the University of Alberta from his home province, Manitoba, to City University in London, England. At the same time, his music has been performed internationally and he has won coveted commissions from such esteemed ensembles as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Le Nouvel ensemble moderne, Esprit Orchestra, Trio Fibonacci, Trio Phoenix, the Molinari String Quartet, and the Penderecki String Quartet. Despite the taxing rigours of such...

  13. Introduction
    (pp. 171-177)

    As at any crossroads, the languages spoken at the Faculty of Music are multiple and in constant evolution at its manifold visitors come and go. The conversation changes depending on the route taken through the building, with the presence of composers as teachers and the openness of the Faculty’s institutional infrastructures encouraging chance meetings and casual exchanges that have their own inspirational value for the creative work of composers, conductors, and performers, and for the theoretical model-making and hermeneutical analyses of musicologists and theorists. Yet, like other crossroads, such as an airport or a train station, the conversations have a...

  14. 7 The Lost Recital: An Analysis of Bengt Hambræus’ Carillon for Two Pianos
    (pp. 178-198)
    Bruce Mather

    Recently retired from the Faculty of Music, BRUCE MATHER is respected throughout Canada for his work as both composer and pianist. Before coming to McGill University in 1966 he studied at the University of Toronto and at Stanford University, as well as in Paris and Darmstadt where he worked with Darius Milhaud, Olivier Messiaen, and Pierre Boulez, among others. As director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble from 1986 to 1995 he developed a reputation for the detailed attention of his analytic mind and the fine tuning of his musical ear. Hambræus dedicatedCarillonto Mather and his wife, Pierrette LePage,...

  15. 8 The Soles of the Feet: alcides lanza Reconnects with his Roots
    (pp. 199-226)
    Pamela Jones

    Musicologist PAMELA JONES has had a lifelong passion for both music and dance. The journey spawned by this passion has included undergraduate studies at McGill University, Faculty of Music, doctoral studies in musicology at King’s College, University of London, early dance studies at the Julliard School and the New England Conservatory, and appearances as a member of the Nonsuch Historical Dance Company in England. She currently teaches at the National Theatre School of Canada, BalletDivertimento, and Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and has published widely in journals and reference books, includingStudi Musicali, Early Music, Perspectives of New Music,...

  16. 9 Hidden Meaning in Brian Cherney’s Die klingende Zeit
    (pp. 227-245)
    Neil Middleton

    As conversation, this study ofDie klingende Zeitmay be read as a “lesson with the master,” since it was initially motivated by NEIL MIDDLETON’s admiration for and desire to better understand his mentor’s capacity to control and shape the intricate complexities of large scale formal structures across time. Originally from Saskatchewan, Middleton travelled to Montreal in 2001 with an already impressive record for his youth, in that several of his compositions had already been performed by the Saskatoon Composers Society and broadcast on the CBC. While at McGill, he studied with Brian Cherney, he was composer-in-residence for the Wind...

  17. 10 Bruce Mather’s Symbolist Théâtre de l’âme
    (pp. 246-263)
    Steven Huebner

    STEVEN HUEBNER currently holds the prestigious James McGill Chair in Musicology. Born and bred in Montreal, he returned to his alma mater in 1985 after completing doctoral studies at Princeton University. His internationally celebrated research focuses on French and Italian music of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and he has written extensively on opera, includingFrench Opera at the Fin de Siècle: Wagnerism, Nationalism and Style(1999) andThe Operas of Charles Gounod(1990). Moving effortlessly back and forth between the libretto, the poetic significance of various musical elements, and broader questions of identity, his interest inLa Princesse...

  18. 11 “Music under the Influence”: On la nécessité extérieure in the Music of John Rea
    (pp. 264-300)
    Jérôme Blais

    JÉRÔME BLAIS teaches composition and music theory at Dalhousie University in Halifax. After studying music theory at McGill University he completed doctoral studies in composition at l’Université de Montréal under the supervision of Michel Longtin and Reno De Stefano. His works have been performed by a variety of new music ensembles, including the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, the Quasar Saxophone Quartet, the Quatuor Bozzini, Bradyworks, and Array Music. His interest in John Rea’s compositional languages seemingly provides a perspective on place from the outside, in that his insights are a result of having heard five works through the programming choices...

  19. 12 Illusions, Collapsing Worlds, and Magic Realism: The Music of Denys Bouliane
    (pp. 301-327)
    Patrick Levesque

    PATRICK LEVESQUE picks up the conversation where Jérôme Blais leaves off, but he writes from a vantage point at the Université de Montréal, on the other side of the mountain that once isolated McGill “as a seat of wisdom well worth taking in.” The bleak despair of John Rea’s assessment of the new music scene in Canada has also been replaced by a sense of hope. The analyses comprising this chapter in turn represent the voice of the sceptic former student, motivated by a need to reconcile Denys Bouliane’s own description of his compositional processes with apparent stylistic changes and...

  20. EPILOGUE: The Schulich School of Music: Hearing the Future
    (pp. 328-334)

    30 September 2005: The Schulich School of Music, with its new building (designed by the architectural firms Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux and Saucier + Perrotte), stands ready. The transformation celebrates 100 years of music at McGill. Spawned at the intersection where technology, science, and music meet, it also “represents the dawning of a new era,” an era in which, according to Dean Don McLean, “a world-wide cultural and educational revolution is finding in the practices of the arts a paradigm for re-imagining the purposes and dynamics of the university as an institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge.”¹ “Created by...

  21. Chronology
    (pp. 335-348)
  22. APPENDIX ONE Recordings
    (pp. 349-358)
  23. APPENDIX TWO The Aims and Philosophy of McGill University Records (1988)
    (pp. 359-360)
  24. Index
    (pp. 361-369)