Tim Brady with the NEM: Cultural Dialogue

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Tim Brady loves a good challenge. His latest: setting poems in an Indigenous language to music. To do this, the composer-guitarist chose a poem collection entitled Uiesh (“Somewhere”) written by famous Innu poet Joséphine Bacon.

“I really loved Joséphine Bacon’s work,” he said. “I thought it would be quite a challenge to compose music a singer would perform in an Indigenous language. The linguistic, grammatical, and syllable structures are very different from European languages. Joséphine helped me a lot, and I concluded that my music needed to use a simpler rhythmic language, more clear-cut to help each syllable stand out. I wanted them to be distinct. Generally speaking, in opera, the comprehension of a text has always been an important thing for me.”

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Joséphine Bacon

Brady has composed many pieces for voice—not only operas, but also pieces with choir and vocal ensembles. The work he has just submitted to the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne is another illustration of his passion for vocal composition. It has seven distinct sections: seven songs played not in a cycle, but rather continuously. The instrumentalists are there to complement the voice, the composer tells us. “It’s a work where the text and the voice are the focus. Indeed, in 90 to 95 per cent of my compositions for voice, I want the voice to take centre stage. The other instruments are almost always thought out in relation to the voice. My first loves were pop music, the Beatles and other groups from the 1960s and 1970s, so it was normal for me that the voice be part of the music. Although I don’t compose in this style, it still anchors my artistic experiences.”

Soprano Deantha Edmunds was chosen to give life to Bacon’s poems. “Whatever the medium and instrumentations, I love working with extraordinary artists who have something to say,” Brady said. “Beyond this, learning about new musical cultures pushes me to grow as a musician and imagine new ways of composing. As a white man, I recognize that we must have more dialogue with the First Nations of Canada. In a deeper sense, this is part of our vision of our country. For me, this collaboration with the Festival as well as Joséphine Bacon is a step in this direction. Yes, we’ve discussed Indigenous culture, its history, and its (troubled) relationship with Western culture, but we were also in the process of creating a work of art. This relationship between artists gives us two ways of addressing these questions. This deepens the human and artistic experience.”

Translation by Isabel Garriga

Brady will present excerpts of his new work on June 16 at Salle Claude-Champagne in collaboration with Nouvel Ensemble Moderne. The première of Uiesh in its entirety will take place Aug. 14 at the Festival Internationale Présence Autochtone, with whom Tim Brady is collaborating for the first time. Note that this cycle will be performed once more on Oct. 25 at Bourgie Hall.


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


About Author

Justin Bernard est détenteur d’un doctorat en musique de l’Université de Montréal. Ses recherches portent sur la médiation musicale, notamment par le biais des nouveaux outils numériques, ainsi que sur la relation entre opéra et cinéma. Membre de l’Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM), il a réalisé une série de capsules vidéo éducatives pour l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Justin Bernard est également l’auteur de notes de programme pour le compte de la salle Bourgie du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal et chargé de cours à l’Université de Sherbrooke. Par ailleurs, il anime une émission d’opéra et une chronique musicale à Radio VM (91,3 FM).

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