New Year = New Media

I started off 2014 with a brand new piece: a violin duo for Thin Edge New Music Collective. This piece is a fortuitous coming together of a commission and an idea that had been stewing at the back of my mind for quite some time.

To earn a living, I spend quite a bit of time restoring antique wooden doors, windows and all their trims. I have grown to really love these unique pieces built from beautiful oldgrowth timbre and hardened by a hundred years of service. I spend quite a number of hours with each piece slowly peeling off years of paint, sanding away the grime and revealing the highly varied wood patterns beneath.

Staring at the wavering lines made me think of musical phrases. Imagining notes on a horizontal wooden surface brought to mind early vocal music performed around a table. The individual parts would be oriented towards all four sides of a sheet of paper, which was placed in the middle of this table so all the performers could see their music. Naturally, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to engrave a score onto a door?

So when Ilana Waniuk from Thin Edge asked me to write a violin duo for her and Suhashini Arulanandam, sparks started flying from my brain. Imagine two young women, dressed in black, playing their wooden violins around a wooden door! Visual perfection!!!

The chosen door in its original condition 

The door

Now imagine that the chosen door was also attacked with a hatchet or cleaver at some point leaving a jagged hole in one of the panels. DRAMA!!!!

After the attack, the hole was patched with a little piece of plywood

The door's wound

So I’ve spend the last few weeks working out the relationship between these two imaginary women trapped on opposite sides of a locked door. This relationship does not seem very peaceful, I must admit.

The door being stripped of the cheery green paint

The stripping of the door


** The door was generously donated by a friend. Thank you! **

2013 Review

I know I’m a little late on this, but it’s been busy! My 2013 had a fantastically overloaded ending. Here’s a summary of my year:

1. Finished my opera On the eve of Ivan Kupalo in early January. It was premiered in late January at the Happening Festival in Calgary. It was like delivery a baby I had been carrying for 3.5 years.

2. Also in January, I went to the Banff Centre for three weeks.

3. In February, Thin Edge New Music Collective toured my piece Bridal Train through Banff, Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and Montreal. They performed it again in Italy in the summer.

4. In April, I defended my thesis and finally graduated. Yey!

5. In May, I travelled to Toronto for the Soundstreams Emerging Composers’ Workshop, where I got to work with the Gryphon Trio, R. Murray Schafer and Juliet Palmer. Had a great time.

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6. In August, I spent 4 weeks in France, Spain and Italy with my lovely boyfriend. Yey! Had my purse and passport stolen in Barcelona. Boo.

7. In the summer, I won some SOCAN awards.

8. Sometime in the fall, excerpts of The Child appeared in the arts journal Manor House Quarterly.

9. At the end of October, I went to Toronto for a few days for Rachel Mercer’s amazing performance of my piece The Child, Bringer of Light presented by New Music Concerts. Did I say it was amazing?

10. Straight from Toronto, I traveled to Kosice, Slovakia for the beginning of the ISCM World New Music Days. About 3.5 days and 8 concerts later, we moved on to Bratislava for more ISCM goodness (4 concerts for me). The highlight of this fair city was meeting Kaija Saariaho again. One of the best parts about the Slovak portion of this festival were all the fantastic student volunteers whose work continued well into the night during tours of the local bar scene. From there, we travelled to Vienna, where my solo accordion piece, Light-play through curtain holes, was performed by Alfred Melichar. It was one of the few pieces containing triadic harmony floating in an ocean of hardcore modernism. In total, I saw approximately 20 concerts in 10 days.

with Kaija Saariaho in Bratislava-Nov 2013

11. To top off my ISCM experience, I also returned back to Bratislava on the last day to see Saariaho’s new arrangement of her opera La Passion de Simone commissioned by the Melos Ethos Festival. It was fantastic. The next day I travelled to Kyiv via Riga. In this 24 hours, I had stepped foot in 4 European capitals (if you count the Riga airport).

12. After the ISCM, I spent three weeks in Ukraine, just as the protests were starting up. I visited a couple of villages with my excellent guide, Iryna, and recorded some great songs.

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13. After getting back home in December, I fought very hard to finish the piano trio Toss a flower on the water, which will be premiered by the Gryphon Trio in March as the official wrap-up of the Soundstreams workshop. It was extremely hard for some reason. Then I temporary died over the holidays. Phew!

So far it’s not looking like 2014 will be any less busy. Woo!

Off the Voice in Vancouver

I am excited to revive my older performance art piece, Off the Voice, in a new, more compact version. I will be performing it tomorrow (Saturday, January 18) at the Western Front (303 East 8th Ave, Vancouver) as part of Vancouver Pro Musica’s Electroacoustic Festival.

This piece was inspired by an ordeal that a singer friend of mine went through some time ago. She lost her voice and was almost completely mute for several months. As you can probably imagine, such an experience is especially terrifying for a singer. For me, the work became an exploration of that too frequent inability (or fear) to express ourselves clearly.

Here’s a video recording of my last performance of the work at the Banff Centre in the winter of 2011.