8 years ago

Volume 6 Issue 3 - November 2000

  • Text
  • November
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • December
  • Choir
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Orchestra
  • Arts
  • Bloor

Me: Do you actually put

Me: Do you actually put 'Jreelance composer" down on applications? Allison shrugs: Well, it depends. If it's a bank I'm an accountant, if it's Internet _I'm a consultant, if it's an arts organization I'm a composer. Whatever comes along, I can get a job. Right now I've got two jobs. On top of all the corporate work I've got two pieces due. One is a Dutch commission - my first commission from another country. Me: Your official bio (on the ArrayMusic website: Array.html) says you'd done ~ome stuff in the US, and some ·in Holland before, too. Allison: Tons. But this is th~ first one that pays. J1m curious enough to ask: How much? Allis~n grins happily: Ten thousand guilders, that's about ,100 Canadian. It's being funded by the Edu11rd van Beinem Stichting- that's Dutch for foundation. The piece is for The Percussion Group of the Hague, and they took it upon themselves to get funding. For other commissions, like for the Ives Ensemble, I got plane fare to Holland and they put me up-while we toured it for three weeks. That was OK, but I had to buy most of my own food,. Me: What's in itfor the Stichting? Allison: Recognition - they ask me·to mention them every time I talk about the piece - they get free tickets to the premiere and their name on the score. I spot a segue: Do you prepare parts or just a master score? Allison pulls a sheaf of neatly printed music out of one of the stacks on the desk: Here - oh, that's Fin Fin, that's another one - where IS it? Oh, here. These are the parts, I always give them cue lines, they may or may not need a conductor, so each person has their own part and one other part, so they can always tell where they are. (She contin- . ues to rummage.) "Decorated Shed'', this is a piece for five highland snare drums. These are the rhythms, I got the rhythms from a _book on highland drumming. Me: Ethnic? Allison: No, it's episodic, it's very timbral, they play the rhythm on the BEHIND THE SCENES, CONTINUED snares, then riff it on other instruments, say Japanese drums, small taiko. It's a bit different for me to write an episodic piece for percussion, you're not dealing with melody, just rhythm and timbre: Here's another boisterous passage, hacketting ... Allison looks at me, not sure where she lost me. I explain: I don't understand "hacketting". Allison: Oh, hacketting, distributing a steady beat among different instruments. The second movement is slower, it has wooden planks and these babies. (She picks up two oversized very bright red plastic; apples from her desk. They make a muted chiming, like Chinese "healthy balls". They have smiles. Allison smiles back.) Fisher Price. They discontinued these . twenty years ago! These may be the only two in the world, I will take them to · Holland, probably give them to the group -'-- you like to give them something - and they can't perform the piece without them. Me: How do you research? ' Allison: I've always had percussion in my pieces, but I did research a lot of the techniques, the highland drumming and stuff, but it's not trying to be an ethnic music, I couldn't do that. Me: How do you write? Allison, patient with me: I input. The software is called Finale, then if I want to )ear it I play it back. Me: How did you start composing? Allison: It was.really a dream for me. When I actually decided to be a com-· poser I was 15. I wrote a piano solo, and I did some arrangements of Stephen. Sondheim stuff for my high school. I was really fortunate to have an instructo.r who introduced me to contemporary music. Who? Lloyd Burritt, at my high school in North Vancouver - that's North Van before it was yuppified. What I got in high school was the way music was made. The course covered the \ history of Western music from chant to 7o's music. I was playing in a pop band at the time, but when I heard Stravinsky I said what everybody else said, "I wanna write music like THAT!" It's something that just hits you, what can you do? Me: There seem to be a lot' of Toronto composers born in Vancouver -Alexina Louie, Eve Egoyan, Linda Shumas, Amelia Nurse, you, what's with Vancouver? Allison: I couldn't.say, I was actually born in Edmonton Alberta, and I stayed there for two days! · , Me: Did!'-'t like it, eh? Allison: My dad was a graduate student at Berkeley, and they couldn't afford to have· me there, so my mother got on a plane to Edmonton, I was born there, then we flew back home. The plane fares cost less than having a baby in a Califor- . nia hosp~tal. Me: Your stuff is mainly ensemble music, so you can't perform it on your own. Who plays your work? Allison: When I went to U Vic to study composition I wrote a piece that was played professionally when I was m,aybe 23. When I graduated I went to Holland to study with Louis Andriessen. I got together a band with some oth,er stu­ -dents, we played each other's music. Maarten Altena had me do something for his group, so did the Ives Ensemble. I made some connections there, I go back there once a year, twice this year. Now there's a bunch of people around the Mercer Union who get together andjam there. I keep that up. · Me: Sometimes it seems thatthere is a lot of new work being written in Canada, but I don't hear very much ofit. AlUson: It's called a premiere culture. You have your piece played once, then that's it, it goes to the CMC (Canadian Music Centre) archive. You have to arrange to get your work played, I try to get mine recorded. Last August I recorded my second CD, it's taken me 5 .years. When you have to deal with union musicians and real studios with producers and engineers - I rented Glenn Gould Studio - it gets expensive. The · next one I'm going to have morn improvising. You like the music, you like the . creative work. It's more satisfying t)lan just playing notes. Me: You seem to have more stuff happening in Europe than here. What's different there? Allison: They have a better systerp.. When I did my piece with the Ives _ 52 Wholenote ~ NOVEMBER 1, 2000 - DECEMBER 7, 2000

Canada's largest selection of sheet music titles for strings. Avail d convenient mail-ord As a foll-service string shop • we offer the following: present UNIVE~ :~;"" 12 Great~ Canadian Choirs : , Unite ~ CBC 1if!• radi~ ~4.Jcws 1 cs . AND BfYOND.I Robert Sund (Sweden), Conductor + Repair, Restoration, an + Strings Accessories, B 26 Cumberland, 2nd Floor. Tch 1-416-960-8494 Emaih Free Parking! Open Mon.-Sat. 10-6 Thurs. until 8 pm. University choirs from coast to coast join forces in a musical and visual spectacular. 400 voices form a huge circle in Massey Hall - the Largest gathering of Canadian university choirs ever: Victoria, Alberta, Regina, Manitoba, Windsor, Western Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier, Toronto, Ottawa, McGill and Memorial of Newfoundland - led by one of the world's most celebrated choral conductors. ~ THE CHORAL STORE INC. Perform With the Best 170 The Donway West, Suite #411 Toronto, Ontario M3C 2G3 Telephone: (416) 446-7440 •Fax: (416) 446-7640 Toll Free: (800) 394-6527 E-mail: Canada •s foremost Violin Specialists 201 Church Street Toronto, On. MSB 1Y7 Sunday, November 5, 3pm Massey Hall, Toronto R. Murray Schafer: Credo from Apocalypsis Thomas Tallis: Spem in alium ( 40-voice motet) Jeffrey Ryan: Paint the Light (World Premiere) VIA+· VIA Rail Canada tJ ~2c?n9P 11> Tfl_E (JL()BE. AND JJ\l.L RAMADA'. Hote l & S u ite s ,•"""'"'•, The ~ SI ; Swedish '•,,,,. ,.,,. Instit ute , ... :::Jff~; " ' '"'" ''' '" George Cedric Metcalf Foundation Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation Tickets: (Students & Srs.: ) Group Rates Available (416) 593-4828 WORKSHOPS wit h Sund and Schafer. For information call (416)504-1282 COMING: February 13, 200L. Swedish Radio Choir with Eric Ericson Produced by: .,,,,,. swewu···N ··· D :: ;::~i ~ .... EeA+Mi5. C A N A D t!A'"''"'"/ .· soundstreams NOVEMBER 1, 2000 - DECEMBER 7, 2000 Wholenote 53

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)