8 years ago

Volume 5 Issue 3 - November 1999

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I lf!l month's cover:

I lf!l month's cover: Robert Aitken@ 60 by David G.H. Parsons . New Music Concerts has. been strategically and fittingly placed as the fmal offering of the · Massey Hall New Music Festival (November 19). And Toronto's, and Canada's, oldest contemporary music presenting organization has taken this opportunity to honour their founding artistic director, Robert Aitken, on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Aitken's outstanding contribution to the world of music as a virtuoso flautist needs little introduction. He has performed around the globe to critical and public acclaim, and is one of the most respected exponents of his instrument - hav~g appeared with all the major orchestras and regularly collaborating with the ·world's fmest musicians and chamber ensembles. Throughout his distinguished career as a performer, recording artist, presenter and teacher, Robert Aitken has displayed an unswerving commitment to exploring, with his audiences and his many · students, not only Canada's rich compositional output, but also the contemporary musical languages of European and Far Eastern cultures. Robert Aitken the composer is considerably less well knoWll, even though he has received numerous commissions to compose for his professional colleagues as well as student ensembles. The upcoming concert will be a rare occasion 'for local audiences to delve into this exc~ptional artist's personal creative voice. · "In general, I do not push myself as a composer on o~ New Music Concerts," states A1tken modestly in a recent interview, II _ ___ __;__________ "but the board of directors m. tentionally reflects the random Robert Aitken d · remembers th various · wanted to do it, so I thought .·· order and rich colours of nature successes fi d urmg d e orgamza- d t m. aybe this is one time it would as exhibited by trees and th tion's · 1976 rrst eca · e, t an noes f "'foliage' . The music follows an err sprmg our o be appropriate." idea of all things relating and Europe in particular. Three work,s by Aitken will flowing into each other and, .-:- "We went to Stockholm, be heard, 'Folia' for wind quintet while there are random aspects, 1t Bourges, .Brus~ls, Gent, . and two 'installments from the is not at all a 'free piece'. Also ·Reykjavik, Nantes .and Pans, 'shadows' series, a set of pieces ... the time of year just seemed among other centres, with a total· inspired by his extended visits to right for inclusion on this of 16 concerts in all. There was the Orient. 'Nira: Shadows ill' concert!" an energy and growing awareness (1973-88) is an intriguing Also on the programme is of Canadian composers on the composit~on ~at has been chosen, 'Lalita: Shadows ll' (1973) for an international scene. · But things to conclude New Music Concerts . exotic ensemble comprised of began to change in the early 80s progranune. . . · solo flute, 3 eelli, 2 harps and with the arrival of fimding cuts, "It was cOmmlSSIOned by percussion. "My frrst thought · reduced opportunities abroad, · a Quebec ensemble with unusual was that ... the time 1 wrote these and we have lost a great deal of ·instrumentation - violin, flute, pieces was in the 1970s, and it mileage from before." Still, he oboe, viola, bass and keyboard - would come across to the remains optimistic that the that unfortunately developed · audience as a style of yesteryear. pendulum is swinging yet again, internal conflicts before my piece But suddenly this musical and that new doors may be could be'completed," states the approach seems relevant again." opening for Canadian music. composer, explaining this music's New Music Concerts' f5-year gestation period. "The Founded in 1971, New Music Musical Portrait series three non-Quebecois members Concerts has given over 200 always includes a piece by an (Cuban, Czech and Japane~) concerts and been responsible for influential teacher of the featured were asked to leave, and smce I numerous commissions from . composer, as well as a work by a had written with the original . Canada's fmest composers. younger, emerging creator players in mind, I sai~ ···'forget International luminaries such as selected by the artist. For the it'. Then, in 1988 I came back Stockhausen, Cage, Berio, Glass, former, Aitken has chosen John and finished this work while in Takemitsu and

for solo flute as a special tribute to the great composer who died earlier this year. "While many would assume that I am more influenced by European trends, it is actually Canadian composers who have had the biggest influence on me," says Aitken. "In addition to John a significant composer in my life is Gilles Tremblay, and among the international figures, Globokar and Bolliger, both giants in their own worlds." Representing the younger generation is Juhan Puhm, a composer with whom Aitken has kept in touch and has been watching develop. 'Unfolding (Epigenesis)' dates from 1994 and, says Robert simply, "~eeded its premiere:" He adds, "This work also calls for piano and harpsichord together, and it is not every day that you can have both available on the same evening." As is displayed by this birthday retrospective, Robert Aitken continues to design innovative programmes, influence creativity through commissioning projects, and set high standards of musical excellence. His commitment to· the work of our composers on both the national and international stages, multifaceted skills as performer, composer and educator (not to mention the drive and determination evidenced in all he undertakes) are why he remains ·one of the most remarkable 'musicians in our midst.' David G.H. Parsons is Ontario Regionql Director & Acting Head, National Library Canadian Music Centre Chalmers House 20 St. Joseph Street Toronto, Ontario COUPON TO DINE AT PATRIS RESTAURANT Makers of fine historical keyboard iMruments (416) 538·3062 www.inUriog com/-hps

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