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Volume 10 Issue 8 - May 2005

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COMPOSER TO Composer

COMPOSER TO Composer Eric Morin & Patrick Saint-Denis INTERVIEWED BY PAUL STEENHUISEN, April 2005 This month's interview is a transaclamic submission. I'm at rhe ISCM {International Society for Contemporary Music] World Music Days, in Zagreb, Croatia, where as President of the Canadian ISCM Section, I am hosting Canadian composers Eric Morin and Patrick Saim-Denis. Morin lives in Montreal, and teaches at Laval University, while Saim­ Denis currently lives in The Hague, where he studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Both are recent Jules Leger Prize winners, and will have their Leger pieces performed here. During the busy schedule of concens, rehearsals, and meetings with other composers/performers from around the world, we managed to take some time to discuss their work. Eric Morin was present at the beginn(ng of the festival, and a few hours after his departure, Patrick Saint-Denis arrived. Vancouver, with the ocean and those big mountains, it must change something in your writing. STEENHUISEN: So why didn't you do. that instead of going to Paris to study? MORJN: Going to Paris ,and Europe was a little fantasy I had as a teenager - an interest in French culture, and philosophy, Nietsche in particular. But I specially went there to work with Gerard Grisey. STEENHUISEN: So what did you get out of going to Paris and STEENHUISEN: Eric, I first met you in Paris, then Toronto and Montreal. Now we're in Zagreb for World Music Days. Is it important for you to travel and be part of your pieces in different places? MORIN: Yes. It's better to be there, and to live it. It's not the same thing to listen to recordings and look at scores. Now I want to go west of Toronto. I've only been west of there once. I'm sure that in studying with G.risey? MORJN: I gained a friend, actually. He didn't teach me anything specific. There weren't so many individual sessions with him; but more get-togethers. He showed us scores and made us listen to music. He talked a little about his own music, but not much (which is a good thing). He didn't talk about spectral music, and he had nothing to sell us. That's good • teaching to me. News Roundup continued from page 25 May 26-28, Ensemble Noir returns that evening at the Music Gallery. with a dance/opera The Or­ On May 14 at 8pm, the Music Gallery presents an evening of music by and about Italian master Gi- - acinto Scelsi, and follows it up on the l 5th at 3pm and 8pm with a concert featuring the music of Italian composers Berio, Nono and Donatoni. Stellar performances are bound to come from Janice Jackson, Wallace Halladay, and Stephen Clarke. Winner for best title of a new music concert this month goes to: quasiMODAL, a concert of improvised music happening May 18, at the Art Gallery of York University. Eve Egoyan returns, under the Music Umbrella May 21, performing worlcs by Satie, Tanaka, Norgard and others at Eastminster United Church at 8:00. phan Boy, composed by artistic director Bongani Ndodana, at Artword. Esprit Orchestra also has a concert May 26; works by Chris Paul Harman, Scott Wilson, and more. On May 27, New Music Concerts presents Wild Wired West, a concert of music for chamber plus electroacoustics featuring works by Keith Hamel, Paul Steenhuisen and more at the Music Gallery. Finally, May 29, Arraymusic presents its Future Lab concert, a concert of music from their young composers' workshop. This concert is also at the Music Gallery. May is full of new music. Take advantage of the fine weather and the good spirits that that brings you, and try something new. At that iime, I wrote Clone, for solo piano, which is the basis for D 'un chliteau l 'autre, the piece being played here in Zagreb. D 'un chliteau is for string quartet and piano. I had eleven chords that came out of nowhere, and I knew I wanted to write a big piece with it. I had to write a piano piece, so I did Clone before the big piece. STEENHUISEN: What do you mean that the chords came our of nowhere? MORJN: The material dates from 1995, but I remember that I used the C-sharp in the middle of the piano, and the uppermost C and lowest D on the piano. All the chords are symmetrical around the C-sharp, and spread out around it. Then I rearranged the notes and voicings of the chords to find a good sonority that was pleasing to my ear. All of the music is these eleven chords. STEENHUISEN: But there is more going on than chords ... MORJN: I think of them as harmonic fields, or reservoirs of notes. This way the material can . be used as a chord, lines, or many things. With a harmonic field, the notes are spread out over time, and they are always used in the same octave. I also have multiple chords or harmonic fields active simultaneously. I call that a polyphony of processes. This relates to the title, which means "one castle, the other". It exemplifies the basis of the piece on these eleven chords, and how it moves from one to the other, from one architecture to the other. It has nothing to do with the novel of the same name by Louis-Ferdinand Celine. The title has fluidity, which is something I try to achieve in my music. STEENHUISEN: How would you describe the fluidity you 're seeking in your music? MORJN: The thing I like the least in music is boxes, blocks - clear sectional divisions. Messiaen's music is full of blocks, and I have problems with that. But on the other hand if you take early spectral music, fluidity, that's all it is, one thing developing into another, slowly transforming. You need contrast too. STEENHUISEN: Tell me about how you rework one piece into another. MORJN: It's not really reworking the piece, it's a transcription. lt forces you, of course, to make it work. There' Clone, but it's just a short section of D 'un chiiteau l 'autre. It's about six minutes, while D 'un chiiteau is around eleven minutes. There are three versions of D 'un chiiteau /'mare, and every version is the same music. The first version was for four solo strings and fifteen instruments. There is an orchestral version of it, which was played by the TSO, and the string quartet and piano version. In the last version, I had no choice but to really write for string quartet, where they do tuui parts together, as well as solo parts. STEENHUISEN: Why did you make different versions? MORJN: It's really difficult to get your music played. I asked myself why shouldn't I do like Ravel, or Debussy, and write different versions of my pieces. It creates more opportunities for performance, but basically, I like doing it. It shows you another aspect of your creativity. You can imagine, when making an orchestral version of this chamber piece, all of the questions I had•to ask myself when passing from one to the other. What to keep, what's really important in the piece. STEENHUISEN: Did you have a plan to make multiple versions of the piece when yu started? MORJN: No, not at all. STEENHUISEN: So it's a bit like Berio does with rhe Chemins series, and Corale, which are derived from the solo Sequenzas. MORJN: Yes and no. I think D 'un Chiiteau works because I started with the large ensemble and reduced it for string quartet. It's much easier. lt gives you more choice. If you write a duet for Bass Clarinet and Alto Flute, and want to make an orchestral version from this, you have to come up with many, many new ideas. STEENHUISEN: Tlwt's what Berio does, starting with a solo piece and expanding outwards. MORJN: That's another piece, which is why he changed the titles. STEENHUISEN: Don't you feel that by reducing it you are squeezing your ideas down? MORJN: No, because I include it all. That's the interesting part of it. I think it's better to do this and keep the same title than to rewrite the same piece over and over, changing the title each time like so many composers do. CONTINUES 26 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM MAY 1 - JUNE 7 2005

.-..tll LI £11-.1= · "' 114 . A T 8 T G I 0 R G I T H I ·s.c Ee i( T . -- Madawaska Siring OuartA1 qwholenote at the music gallery! 05/02 nine mondays salon #7: opera in the works HOSTED BY OPERA IN CONCERT'S HENRY INGRAM AND WHOLENOTE PUBLISHER, ALLAN PULKER. FEATURING THE WORLD PREMIERE PERFORMANCE OF THREE SCENES OF ANDREW AGER 1 S NEW OPERA, FRANKENSTEIN. 8PM, / . saturday + sunday, may 14-15 the italian intensive a music gallery special project: italian new music since 1950 THREE CONCERTS: REGULAR/ MEMBERS/ STUDENT+ SENIOR TWO CONCERTS: REGULAR/ MEMBERS/$10 STUDENT + SENIOR. SINGLE CONCERT: REGULAR/ MEMBER/ STUDENT + SENIOR saturday may 14@ 8pm why leaves are sounds: a tempo for scelsi Performance for three interpreters between music and poetry of Giacinto Scelsi for the 100th anniversary of his birth, featuring Silvia Schiavqni. voice; Walter Prati, violoncello and electronics: Giancarlo Schiaffini. trombone. sunday may 15 @ 3pm electro-italian Works by 20th century Italian new music titans Luciano Serio .. Luigi Nono and Franco Donatoni, performed by dynamic Halifax soprano Janice Jackson (voice) with Toronto's Wallace Halladay (saxophone) and Stephen Clarke (piano). sunday may 15 @ 8pm italian for beginners Toronto's acclaimed Madawaska String Quartet performs Italian 20th century classics by Scelsi, Donatoni, Lucio Garau and Luigi Dallapiccola, with special guests Janice Jackson (voice) and Stephen Clarke (piano). music gallery: may 2005 05/08 glass on bronze EVERGREEN CLUB CONTEMPORARY GAMELAN MEETS THE GLASS ORCHESTRA' 05/12 descriptive event title! ELECTRO/ROCK EXCURSIONS WITH THREE RING CIRCUITS, ROL JUI +. ORIGINAL RECIPE. PAY WHAT YOU CAN! 05/20 toca loca: use your pocky FOCUS ON ASIAN COMPOSERS LIVING IN THE WESTERN WORLD. PERFORMERS INCLUDE SIMON DOCKING, AIYUN HUANG + GREGORY OH PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS! 05/27 wild, wired west PRESENTED WITH NEW MUSIC CONCERTS. KEITH HAMEL CURATES A CONCERT OF CHAMBER MUSIC WITH COMPUTERS. FEA­ TURING WORKS BY PAUL STEENHUISEN, ROBERT PRITCHARD, LAURIE RADFORD + DAVID BEREZAN. 8PM, //. 05/29 future lab· ARRAYMUSIC YOUNG OOMPOSERS' WORKSHOP FINAL CONCERT. tuesday may 3 @ 7:30pm christina petrowska quilico periorms ann southam's complete rivers cycle THE COMPOSER NOW: COLLABORATIONS SERIES, /$10 STUDENT+ SENIOR Pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, famed Canadian interpreter of new music, gives the world premiere of Ann Southam's 19-part cycle Rivers in its entiret)i. The performance of the technically challenging and mystical two-hour work will include one intermission, and the concert will be followed by a reception. music gallery: co-ordinates location: st. george the martyr church, 197 john st. box office: 416-204-1080 web: www.musicgallery.org www.mginstitute.ca SOCAN Foundation The J.P. Morgan Chase ·Foundation t St. orge the Martyr -G\!{- torontdartsbounci I ()ll: ...,,"'\....... :"'>lOCll(-f(U•'.Ol':'(.MI-"• I ..a. ...,... I Canadian Heritage Canada Council for the Arts Patrimoine canadlen Conseil des Arts du Canada MAY 1 - )UNE 7 2005 WWW. TH EWH.OLENOTE.COM 27

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