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Volume 14 - Issue 4 - December 2008

temporary music there is

temporary music there is a risk that theyjust do what's on the page, and forgetabout doing something with the music. Butour musicians are so accomplished in allrepertoire that they bring interpretiveabilities to contemporary music. It's notonly with New Music Concerts - it's likethat all over Toronto.It's also because we try to rehearseenough, which doesn't just mean gettingthe notes right and in tune. It's to be familiarenough with the piece that when youare playing your line, you know what'sgoing on somewhere else. If you can hearthe counterpoint or some chords that areagainst you, then you play differently.You usually manage to bring the composerhere - is that important?From the first day our intention was to alwayshave the composers here. Without the composer,you don't have a hope in hell of knowing thatwhat you're doing is correct. The players playwith more enthusiasm, because they want toplease him. And when they have questions, theycan get the answer right away. When it is possibleto speak to the composer, that's the bestsituation of all.Does being a composer have an effect onyour approach to playing?I use a lot of analysis when I'm playing. MarcelMoyse, the flute teacher who had the biggestinfluence on me by far, taught us analysis. Hemade us aware of how a piece was composedso that we had a better idea of how to play it.Like any language, if you don't understand themusical language of the composer, you can'tunderstand what's being said. And if the performerdoesn't understand the language there isno hope of the audience understanding the piecebeing performed.Does the fact that you write music influenceyour teaching?When I teach flutists, basically, I teach themhow to analyze the piece. All a teacher canteach you at any time is how to listen and how toteach yourself - those are the most importantthings you can teach anybody.Have your compositions changed much overthe years?Even the titles I'm using show a change in myattitude towards composition. The piece I'mworking on now is called Remembrances, andI'm calling the first movement Tsunami. TheWith Heinz Holliger, 1980whole piece will certainly be more accessiblethan any of the other pieces I have written.Jn what sense? ·In the sense that I'm not choosing an obscuretitle and writing an obscure piece around it.Each of my pieces is quite different, although Ilike to think that all my music takes the listenerto a world they didn't know, someplace thatthey've never been before. Otherwise, whywrite the piece? But when I began to compose,I wanted to write pure music. Then I wentaround the world - Japan, Hong Kong, SriLanka (which was Ceylon at the time), India,and Turkey. When I got home, I had so manymusical experiences in my head that I neededto get them out. I had always been outspokenlyagainst composers writing music influenced byother cultures, unless they were from thosecultures. But after that trip I had to do it.I wrote Remembrances for a flute orchestraof twenty-six flutes -piccolos, C flutes, alto,bass and contrabass flutes. If I had decided towrite for flute quartet, with just four parts, itwould have been fmished already. But I'mwriting 26 parts.Are these titles descriptive?Tsunami is fairly literal at the beginning becausea flute orchestra is fabulous for doingvirtuosic things like cascades. The secondmovement, Solemnes, recalls the monastery inFrance which was assigned the job of researchingand reestablishing the old Gregorian chantfor the Roman Catholic Church. I learned aboutthat from my University of Toronto days, whenI studied paleography with Harvey Olnick. Thefirst time I went to a church service atSolemnes it was beautiful beyond belief.Everything was sung. It was a total experience,with incense and so much atrnos-~ phere. That experience is still very big inmy mind. Solemnes opens up like a cloudfrom a torrent of piccolos and low bassflutes to unison Gregorian. When you havethat many flutes playing unison, they createa sound you will never forget.What's slowing me up is the last movement,which I want to call Caracas. It'sinspired by unbelievable Venezuelan fluteplayerslike Hua.scar Barradas. I think thegreatest Latin flute playing by far is inVenezuela. It's tricky because I don't wantto copy the style literally.Ijyou had to choose one aspect of musicmakingto concentrate on, what would that be?Practising the flute.Do you mean performing?Yes. I think as we get older, our ears becomemore acute, and we are much more critical. Tobe a good player, you have to be critical ofyourself, so I am very critical. As I criticizemyself, I think my playing gets better. I thinkI'm actually doing it better than ever before.RECORDINGS and COMPOSITIONSA list of Robert Aitken's many recordings isavailable on his website at www.bobaitken.ca,as is a list of his compositionsUPCOMING PERFORMANCESOn Monday December 15, 2008 7:30 - 9:30,Robert Aitken, along with New Music Concertsensemble members Fujiko lmajishi, DavidHetherington and Max Christie will be performingat the launch of a CD +DVD from NewMusic Concerts on NAXOS (8.559614) celebratingElliott Carter's lOOth birthday. Thelaunch will take place in the Party Room, lstFloor, 38 Avoca Ave (at the comer of St. Clair,2 lights east of Yonge St). Admission is .00(charitable receipt issued), and includes a complimentarycopy of the CD + DVD, refreshments.Reservations are required through NewMusic Concerts at416-961-9594Aitken will also be performing with New MusicConcerts on Sunday March 29 2009, in a programentitled Roger Reynolds and his Proteges.On April 19 2009, Aitken will be performing ina concert celebrating Talivaldis Kenins at theGlenn Gould Studio.kitchener-waterloo symphony'sWWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM

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