Canadian composer

World Music Exploration - Andrew Ager

Maestro gives his seal of approval (energetic singing) on this week's featured entry. This week we are learning about Canadian Composer Andrew Ager. 
Andrew Ager is a living composer. He has been the Composer-in-Residence of the Georgian Bay Symphony and Timothy Eaton Memorial Church. Ager has composed music for orchestra, chamber ensembles and opera. 


This is a clip from his 2005 opera "Frankenstein" based on Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" (a collaboration with Tryptych Productions of Toronto) 
He has received grants from the Laidlaw Foundation, The Ontario Arts Council and The Canada Council for the Arts.
(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Claude Champagne

This time, we are exploring some classical-style Canadian music. Our featured composer is Claude Champagne. 

Claude Champagne lived from 1891to 1965. Born in Montréal, he started piano and music theory at the age of 10. He was a composer, teacher, adjudicator and administrator. 
Champagne wrote for orchestra, piano, organ and choir. He also wrote five solfège teaching manuals, served as assistant director of the new Conservatoire de Musique du Québec and later became the editor-in-chief of the Canadian publications department of BMI Canada Ltd. (1949-65) and as an adjudicator or juror for many competitions. Fellow Canadian Clermont Pépin once said that Champagne "established the basis of a modern teaching approach for the training of young musicians in Québec."
This week's clip is from Champagne's first major work, the symphonic poem Hercule et Omphale (1918):
(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration 2010/11 Week 11 - Canadian Composers

It was really difficult for me to choose just one classical Canadian composer to highlight. Our composers are truly prolific and they are not afraid to push Canadian music to new levels. Then I decided that since I've been highlighting two Canadian pieces per week, why stop now? This week, we are exploring Healey Willan and Alexina Louie.

The first Canadian composer we will explore this week is Healey Willan (1880 - 1968). According to Timothy J. McGee in The Music of Canada, Willan is Canada's best-known composer(Toronto: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1985). He was a teacher at the Toronto Conservatory of Music (now the Royal Conservatory of Music), as well as the University of Toronto. He also was a church organist, choirmaster and conductor.

Willan composed approximately 800 musical works, including operas, symphonies, concertos and liturgical music. He also wrote music for band, piano, organ, choir and solo voice. His musical style is considered conservative, incorporating late-romantic and post-romantic idioms.

This week's pick is How They So Softly Rest:

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies our second featured composer for the week: Alexina Louie (1949 - ). She is a composer, pianist and teacher. She has written for musical theatre, orchestra, chamber music, TV and film. She has explored electronic music and has blended elements of Asian music - a nod to her Asian heritage.

In 1986, the Canadian Music Council named Louie Composer of the Year. In 1994 she earned the Chalmers Award for her work, Gallery Fanfares. She received the Jules Léger Prize in 1999 for her composition Nightfall. In 2005 Louie became an Officer of the Order of Canada.

This is Fastforward. The performer is Israeli concert pianist Dorel Golan:

(c) 2010 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Oscar Peterson Remembered

Canadian jazz legend, pianist, composer, Grammy Award winner, humanitarian and Order of Canada recipient Oscar Peterson passed away on December 23. He was of 82. The following are links to some articles and tributes to the great Mr. Peterson:

Oscar Peterson's website, containing news, biographical, band, journal, discography, photos, audios and more. Wikipedia article on Oscar Peterson CBC tribute to Oscar Peterson The Press Association's article, Tributes Pour In for Oscar Peterson Collections Canada website The Toronto Star's memoriam The Canadian Encyclopedia Loss of a Legend - CTV Tribute

"C Jam Blues" never sounded so fine!

This is one of the Oscar Peterson CD's in my music collection:

Getting Inspiration from Other Composers

One of the highlights of Monday's Calgary ARMTA Annual General Meeting was the lecture-recital by Canadian composer David McIntyre. I enjoyed hearing about what inspired him to write some of his works. For instance, he said that his work Better Days for solo piano was initially "Bitter Days" - written on a bad day. Another was nicknamed "Chuga" because of the rhythm. I need to get my hands on his Pro-Motion and E-Motion suites because I know my students and I will enjoy them immensely. I can picture a few of my young male students enjoying "Drive" (with its er, driving rhythms).

Several of his works are written for family and friends, such as his Anniversary Suite.

Something clicked in my brain after hearing that. Here I've been, stumped for the past two months on how to write a collection of reflections about my old babysitter who passed away earlier this year (she was like a grandmother to me). I was stumped on things like what colour her kitchen was and just what old toys and games I pulled out from the boxes in her attic. I couldn't get past those details so I kept pushing back the project.

When one can't find the words, why not use music?

I composed the first draft of the first of a set of three songs. It's about baking with Nanny, one of my favourite memories. I tried to create melodic lines to represent myself as a child talking with Nanny over what to bake. It's very sing-songy, like all children's songs. I just need to work out a few kinks.

I already have ideas for the other two songs (about adventures at the park and up in the attic) but I'll keep on improvising until the tune and rhythm bursts forth from within. That strategy seems to work.

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.


Saluting Canadian Composers

Canada Music WeekTM takes place later this month (Nov. 20 - 24). Incidentally, November 22 is St. Cecilia's Day (patron saint of music with a very colourful history). Canada Music WeekTM aims to:

  • bring to the attention of the public, through various means, the importance of Canadian music;
  • emphasize not only Canadian work, but also the significance of music generally;
  • introduce contemporary music to Canadian students and stimulate a keener appreciation and understanding of this music;
  • encourage music teachers to widen their knowledge and experience of Canadian works;
  • support composers and performers of Canadian music.

I've met several wonderful established Canadian composers, including Dean Blair, Roberta Stephen and Joyce Pinkney. Elinor Lawson, my university professor, studied with Violet Archer.

You can find out more about our talented composers by visiting the following links:

(c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Encyclopedia of Music in Canada

Things have been rather hectic these past few days - reorganizing everything from the studio to the house and from my budget to ARMTA portfolios.

This week's useful link is the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. You can find out about Canadian classical, pop, jazz, rock music and more.

(c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.