Browsing: Interviews

“What happens when you find a ghost and you bring it into a work of music?” asks Nicole Lizée. Insofar as that question is ­answerable, her compositions that form a dialogue with the surrealist film worlds of David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, and Alfred Hitchcock or compositions that meld outmoded and glitching gadgets with western chamber instruments unveil the eerie temporal rift between present and past as humans interact with media and technology. Sound Sources Born in small-town Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan in 1973, Lizée’s ­experiments in sound led her to pursue piano at Brandon University, Manitoba followed by a MA in composition…

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Opéra de Montréal’s production of Another Brick in the Wall, inspired by Pink Floyd’s cult album, must be one of the most eagerly anticipated arts event of the year. Composer Julien Bilodeau was given the enormous task of turning the work by Roger Waters into an opera. He spoke to us about the process. After graduating from the Montreal’s Conservatoire de musique, Bilodeau completed further studies in Paris and Frankfurt, and in 2006 received the Robert Flemming prize from the Canada Council for the Arts for most promising composer. Since then he has composed works commissioned by the Montreal Symphony…

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Beginning with a look at the role of the harp in ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, Harpmania takes audiences through the sounds of different harps ranging from the lyra, a small ­traditional Celtic harp, to the modern-day electric harp. It’s a journey showcasing the harp’s history and repertoire, up to the role the harp plays in the music of today. For ­example, did you know that harp music is prominent in a lot of video game music? “The harp may seem like a simple instrument, but it has played a very large and important role in different countries and cultures,”…

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The opera L’Amour de loin – or Love from Afar – premiered to conspicuous plaudits in Salzburg in 2000, and has enjoyed ­numerous productions around the globe. It also signaled the beginning of a ­remarkably fertile, ongoing collaboration ­between composer Kaija Saariaho and then first-time librettist Amin Maalouf. Maalouf has since partnered with Saariaho on three more musico-dramatic works, all of them sharing certain distinctive features: strong female characters, epitomizing a ­generative, rancorless strain of feminism; an elusive, gossamer air of mysticism; a usually gentle, ultimately affirmative perception of the workings of providence; and a subtle yet dogged curiosity about the paradox of simultaneous…

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As soon as I entered her office, I felt the passion that drives Jutta Puchhammer-Sédillot as she spoke about her instrument. She explained to me that “among the strings, the viola’s register is the closest to the human voice. Every string of the viola has its own tone.” An accomplished Viennese-born violist, Puchhammer-Sédillot is professor of viola in the Faculty of Music at the University of Montreal and is as passionate about the repertoire as she is about teaching the instrument. She regularly attends viola conferences around the world, where she shares her discoveries and reflections with other internationally-acclaimed violists.…

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Canadian violin virtuoso Alexandre Da Costa is on a mission – to bring classical music to the public. His latest project Stradivarius à l’Opéra consists of twelve gems from the operatic repertoire, ­reworked for solo violin and orchestra. He ­selected the works that he felt suited his large, lush tone, found the arrangements and then made a recording, now out on CD. Da Costa said that the project has two principal ­objectives: to appeal to opera lovers with a ­different approach to classics, and to reach out to those not familiar with the beauty of opera by providing an easily…

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Where in North America can you see 17th- and 18th-century French comic opera featuring an all French-Canadian cast? The unlikely answer is Washington, DC. The city’s company Opera Lafayette (OL) has been performing ­obscure French Baroque opera for 17 years. This is all due to its founder, conductor Ryan Brown, a humble violinist trained at Oberlin and Juilliard with Dorothy DeLay, who has gradually built a company worthy of envy. On February 19, Opera Lafayette will revive Pierre Gaveaux’s Lenore ou l’amour conjugal (1798), a work which inspired Beethoven to write ­Fidelio. It’s part of a Brown’s plan to present…

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PROFILE AND INTERVIEW:  An advance discussion with Avner Dorman about his new opera: Wahnfried “When I started working on this project,” recalls Avner Dorman, “there were people who said it could be controversial.” Those people were probably right, but it doesn’t faze Dorman in the least. From my point of view,” the celebrated American-Israeli composer replies, “I think that’s a good thing for an opera.” Dorman, best known to date for his “intricate craftsmanship and rigorous technique” in a dazzling array of orchestral, chamber, dance and vocal works, is about to have his first opera, Wahnfried, premiered at the Badisches…

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OPERA REVIEW: anatomy theater, a new opera by David Lang and Mark Dion, part of the 2017 Prototype Festival, New York City (New York premiere, viewed January 7, 2017). INTERVIEW: Composer David Lang. She’s been hanged for murder – but men still can’t keep their hands off her. Signs posted at the entrance to Brooklyn’s BRIC Arts | Media House for performances of anatomy theater warn of “simulated hanging” and “nudity” featured in the show. And, yep, both appraisals prove quite true (with nothing “simulated” about the latter, by the way). But no tipoff can adequately prepare one for the…

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INTERVIEW: with Amin Maalouf (Kaija Saariaho’s librettist-collaborator on L’Amour de loin and other works) The opera L’Amour de loin – or Love from Afar – premiered to conspicuous plaudits in Salzburg in 2000, and has enjoyed numerous productions around the globe. It also signaled the beginning of a remarkably fertile, ongoing collaboration between composer Kaija Saariaho and then first-time librettist Amin Maalouf. Maalouf has since partnered with Saariaho on three more musico-dramatic works, all of them sharing certain distinctive features: strong female characters, epitomizing a generative, rancorless strain of feminism; an elusive, gossamer air of mysticism; a usually gentle, ultimately…

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