NAC Workshop: Day of Truth

Tonight is the climax of the NAC Composers Program with performances of five premieres at the Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre. There will also be a piece by Chen Yi. After a week of sweating, correcting and second-guessing, we have to release our babies into the world. The info for the “Future classics” event can be found here.

Last night was the penultimate and ultimately more ‘important’ event of this whole summer institute – the conductors’ concert. The five conducting students got their big break to conduct the NAC Orchestra through some favorite classics. This is the event that attracts all the donors.

Because it’s the 10th anniversary of the composers’ program, I was asked to represent all the summer institute participants with a ‘thank you to the donors’ speech. Naturally, since few of these people actually come to the composers’ concert, they had me speak at this event instead. It was a bit of a funny concept, but I’m happy that the composers were at least present in some form in the donors’ consciousness. Public speaking is also a kind of performance outlet for me so it was pretty cool to address about 1,500 people. Maybe some of them will even be curious and come out tonight to see what this being alive and composing thing is all about.

The pieces are all sounding great. The ensemble has done a fantastic job. I feel that they’ve really invested themselves. My piece has improved astronomically from the first read through. Once the players realized that they could be much more expressive with my material, it just turned into a different piece. It sounds much more like what I hoped to hear in terms of the intensity of the individual sounds and gestures. The all-too-typical structural problems endemic to young composers are still there, of course, but the piece seems to be standing and continuing to generate a barrage of earworms with dirty legato flavour.

There is also some sort of composers’ panel happening in the city today. It’s not open to the public and no one, not even the participants, seem to know what it’s about. There are representatives from all over the country and they are supposed to be at the show tonight. I finally get to meet a few names I hear everywhere and they’ll add a few bodies to the audience.

Speaking of the audience, apparently they do this concert ‘differently.’ Instead of spreading a 10-person crowd through a 2000 person hall, they just put everyone right on stage with the performers. I am really curious to see how that will work.

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