Jennifer King: Pianist on the Moon

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

Canadian pianist Jennifer King’s new album, O Mistress Moon: Canadian Edition, uses the pastel colours and images of the moon to set a gentle, mysterious, and poetic mood.

The images of the moon and decorative ­elements on King’s website are courtesy of her friend Andrea Ledwell.

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“Sometimes having an image, or a colour or a relatable aspect can bring a listener to ­gravitate towards music that they might not normally listen to,” King says. “I think it is an important aspect to look at when introducing people to new music, especially if it is contemporary.”

King has always been drawn to the moon: her 2018 first album, O Mistress Moon, was a collection of hidden nocturnal-themed gems for the piano.

“There is something about [the moon]that can be created on the piano, like combining a rolling bass line with a beautiful melody that has now been elaborated on by so many composers,” King says.

Portrait of Jennifer King

King feels contemporary Canadian piano music could be more present on the digital music scene. With O Mistress Moon: Canadian Edition, she wanted to “highlight the wealth” of Nova Scotian and Maritime music, since there are a lot of unknown talented composers in those regions.

She then discovered a Facebook page called Mi’kmaw Moons, made by Dave ­Chapman and Cathy LeBlanc. The page ­explains how to say the names of the moon in ­Mi’kmawi’simk, and it describes the ­history and background of the names for every month’s full moon.

Each of the 12 full moons in 2021-2022 were assigned to a composer on the album. “I took the pieces and thought about how they felt when I was listening to them—what they were trying to communicate. The more ­romantic ones I linked maybe towards the summer months and then the ones that were feeling a bit more spacious with a cold feeling, I linked to the winter months,” King says. “It really helped enhance the project and I think the composers really like the fact that they had their own moon.”

Two pieces were written specifically by Canadian composers for the project. King commissioned Amy Brandon to write Frost Moon, and Richard Gibson to write the River Freezing Over Moon.

“It was a great honour really to have those two pieces written, and they are certainly beautiful works [that]I hope… will get played by other people,” she says.

King hopes this project’s focus on Indigenous culture and history, as well as the presence of two commissioned works by Canadian composers, will add to the world of Canadian music.

“I thought the traditional (Mi’kmaq) knowledge of the moons was a very important ­aspect of the project, and it is something I wish I had learned about as a child going to school, as this knowledge was something I was never made aware of. This album is another way to view music [and]what we do as musicians, and to think about how people might listen, where it is coming from,” she says. “That is what I was looking for and [I] hope this viewpoint will continue to guide me.”

Music video of Nocturne No. 3 from Jennifer King’s album O Mistress Moon: Canadian Edition

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


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