Congratulations to the Six Young Artists invited to participate in TPL’s Inaugural Composers’ Symposium 2020

We are thrilled to welcome these six young artists – elected through competitive process – to participate in The Piano Lunaire’s Inaugural Composers’ Symposium 2020, January 17-19.  

Clockwise from top left: Dylann MillerPaul Alexander LessardEunseon YuChristopher McAteerTom Weeks and Michael Maevskiy.


Each composer will be creating a new work* for solo piano, in mentorship with Christopher Mayo.  These six new pieces will be premiered by Stephanie Chua and Adam Sherkin at a MainStage performance on Sunday January 19, 2020 in Toronto – STAY TUNED!

Announcing the inaugural PIANO LUNAIRE COMPOSERS’ SYMPOSIUM in 2020

APPLY: HERE 

THE PIANO LUNAIRE is a contemporary classical music organization based in Toronto, pursuing the presentation of artistic excellence in the 21st Century.  The company’s portfolio is three-fold: we produce monthly full moonperformances, house a record label, and collaborate with the Canadian musical community at large, in capacity of both fundraising and pedagogical platform.

Correspondingly, our mission comprises three mandates: 1) to present new, dynamic and piano-centric music from the last fifty years to present; 2) to give voice to emerging professionals in the vibrant scene that is Toronto’s musical ecosystem and; 3) to offer audiences a direct, challenging and ultimately supportive concert experience, as they engage with the music of today and the artists of the future.

THE PIANO LUNAIRE provides patronage-tiers for multiple types of concert goer: “Moon Stages” (house concerts seven nights a season); “Main Stages” (Gala shows in elegant spaces three nights a year); “Blue Stages” (Pop-up alternative events in unusual settings, 2 nights a year).

As a new initiative, we look forward to an inaugural workshop for emerging composers. This will prove a dynamic setting for collaboration and educational experience in the craft of composing for solo piano.


CALL FOR APPLICATIONS:

The Piano Lunaire: Composers’ Symposium 2020

The Piano Lunaire invites composers who self-identify as early career to apply to
their inaugural Symposium. Looking for a quick immersion into the craft of solo
piano writing? Then consider applying to this workshop! Mentoring with composer
Christopher Mayo, pianists Adam Sherkin and Stephanie Chua, participants in this
intensive weekend symposium will: 1) improve technical skills for contemporary
piano writing (approx. 3 – 8 minutes in length); 2) support composers’ concepts
and ideas in the development of best practice, and: 3) help realize these ideas
through performance.

Minimum age requirement is 18 years and up. The six selected composers
will work with the mentors in three stages:

1. An individual 30-minute video session (Skype call) with Christopher Mayo to take
place late October.

2. An individual 30-minute video session with Adam Sherkin or Stephanie Chua to
take place in late November.

3. Intensive group sessions (Saturday) and a public performance of all works
(Sunday evening), weekend of January 18-19, 2020 in Toronto.*

During the two-day weekend intensive, composers and mentors will participate in
group discussions and presentations of all six new works. The world premiere
performances will be open to the public and recorded live.

* Please note that we are unable to provide for participants’ travel and
accommodation; however, we would be happy to provide a letter of support
towards application of travel grants and bursaries.

Thank you to The Canadian Music Centre for sponsoring the inaugural Composers’ Symposium

APPLY: HERE 


Application Process:

1. Submit a document (PDF format) with approximately 100 – 150 words answering
the two following questions: What is your previous experience in writing for the
piano? And: How do you feel you would benefit from this workshop at this point in
your studies/development/career?

2. Submit two works with scores and sound files/links. (It is not necessary to
include the piano but strongly encouraged).

3. Submit a one-page C.V.

4. Application fee: $20 (CAD). This fee solely covers our jurors’ time in assessing
the submitted material.

Deadline: Friday, September 27th at 12:00 midnight (EDT). Selected composers
for the 2020 Symposium will be notified in early October. An $80 (CAD) workshop
fee will be required at this time.

Submit this at the following ONLINE FORM.

Any enquiries can be emailed to:  thepianolunaire@gmail.com

 

Biographies of Mentors:

Christopher Mayo (b. 1980) is a Toronto-based composer of orchestral, chamber,
vocal and electronic music. Christopher’s works have been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles worldwide, including London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, London Sinfonietta, Crash Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Aurora Orchestra, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble contemporain de Montreal and Manchester Camerata where he was the Composer-in-Residence from 2012-13. Christopher has taught composition and orchestration at Wilfred Laurier University, McMaster University, and Royal Holloway University of London, as well as leading composition workshops for organizations including the National Youth Orchestra of  Great Britain and Aldeburgh Young Musicians.
http://www.christophermayo.net

 

Stephanie Chua is an expressive and versatile pianist devoted to presenting and performing contemporary works through musical insight and innovative programming. She has performed in solo and chamber recitals across Canada, Europe and Asia. Recent highlights include a performance at Shanghai New Music Festival and as a featured performer in Soundstreams’ ’Six Pianos’ Main Stage concert at Koerner Hall (Toronto). Stephanie has commissioned and premiered over 60 works for and with piano in her work as part of junctQín keyboard collective, in duo with violinist Véronique Mathieu, and as a soloist. She has worked as a teaching artist in Contact Contemporary Music’s ‘Music from Scratch’, Continuum in the Classroom, and given lectures on contemporary techniques and keyboard repertoire at the University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario. Stephanie’s contemporary repertoire encompasses major solo works of Helmut Lachenmann, Franco Donatoni, and  Rebecca Saunders to those with multi-media and live electronics by Nicole Lizée and Karlheinz Essl.
http://www.stephaniechua.com

 

Pianist/Composer Adam Sherkin has performed at significant venues throughout
Canada, the United States and Britain, enjoying recent premieres of his works in
Mexico, The Netherlands and Vietnam. In addition to maintaining a private
teaching studio for over fifteen years, Sherkin has been featured as guest lecturer
at Mount Allison University (Sackville), University of Guelph and the Royal
Conservatory (Toronto), among others. His solo repertoire includes music from the
Baroque to present-day, with a specialization in music from North America,
including his own. He has worked extensively with new music ensembles, International vocalists and contemporary chamber groups on a regular basis. In 2018, he founded The Piano Lunaire, a Toronto based, not-for-profit organization that presents monthly performances, houses a record label and collaborates with the Canadian musical community at large, in capacity of both fundraising and pedagogical platform. @adamsherkin | www.adamsherkin.com

COMPOSERS IN PLAY: The piano turned imaginary percussion instrument with Taylor Brook

Taylor BrookCOMPOSERS IN PLAY offers an up-to-date snapshot, particularly in conjunction with a premiere or new artistic collaboration.  Ahead of the upcoming performance June 5, 2019 in Toronto – The Canadian Left Hand Commissioning Project –  Taylor Brook  discusses his new piece for composer/performer Adam Scime: Shaekout.  Taylor sat down with us to offer some thoughts about the piano and a compelling new compositional approach he dubs: Piano as Imaginary Percussion Instrument.)  🎹  Ten Supersonic questions follow.


What are your current thoughts about solo piano music?

It’s hard to eke out something original and stand against the great repertoire for me. There’s the additional issue where my music is quite microtonal, so I cannot rely on the harmonic tools that I’ve developed. For the left-hand piece, my approach was to treat the piano as a kind of imaginary percussion instrument.

I wrote a solo piano piece back in 2009, (it’s alright.)  At the time, I found it very challenging to write for the piano; today, I think I find it even more challenging to do so.  I will often enhance my writing for the piano in an ensemble context with re-tuned piano samples, mixed to give the illusion that the instrument is microtonally tuned.  I have also written some digital piano pieces (re-tuned).

My dream is to write for a piano that I myself can retune.  Microtonality has been such a constant throughout my work: my whole harmonic language is based on it.  I almost feel like I am a beginner again when I write for the piano.  This is the reason I took the particular approach I did in the new piece Shakeout (ie. without any kind of baggage!)

 

What pianistic effects or concepts were you after in your new left-handed piano piece, Shakeout?

As mentioned before, I tried to think about the piano as an imaginary percussion instrument.  To this end, I severely limited what could be played in terms of pitches and harmonies, instead focusing on rhythmic ideas.

Another thought I’ve had in context of this project: after looking at the list of composers involved in the project, it occurred to me what a beautiful group of works would be created from the cohort.  I thought I’d like to offer something that will contrast and generate interest within the group.

So I wrote a rather “ugly” piece.

It’s not repulsive, just brutal. Of course, it could be a fun little piece in isolation, however not knowing what the other composers wrote, (just knowing their music in a general sense), I thought it might be interesting to produce music that stand outs as well as fitting well within the group.

 

What might you identity as your favourite or most compelling piano technique, extended or otherwise?

Anything can be compelling in context.

 

Tell us more about your approach dubbed, “piano as an imaginary percussion.”

This is something that I do often in my work: not necessarily conceiving of a new imaginary instrument, I prefer to frame things in terms of an invented tradition; an alternative reality.
I have written pieces that are vaguely modelled after folk songs but from a folk song “tradition” that does not really exist.  Likewise, with Shakeout, I was proposing: what if the piano was an imaginary percussion instrument, with its own performance history and its own set of idiomatic techniques?   With this as the rubric, I limited myself in a rather extreme way.
Ecstatic Music, a piece I wrote for violin and percussion adapts this approach.  For the violin part, I imagined that the instrument was from some other tradition where the lowest three strings were basically percussive strings.  The only melodies should be played on the high E-string.

 

TEN SUPERSONIC QUESTIONS

1. ​What instrument do you most dislike the sound of?

None really – Marimba can be tough, but I can’t say I really dislike it.

 

​2. ​What music are you writing at the moment?

Solo for bassoon and electronics for Dana Jessen. Electronic music. And a piece for TAK ensemble (soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, and percussion) with electronics.

 

3. ​Name three other composers you’d share a drink with.

Adam Scime!

 

4. Favourite performing artist alive and active today?

Not sure – I need to get out more!

 

​5. ​What did you want to be when you grew up?

Too late.

 

​6. ​What was the last piece of new music that really blew you away?

Mouthpiece by Erin Gee.

 

​7. ​Name your favourite key, chord, tonality, cluster or extra musical noise.

11/8 with 6/5 (ie. the 11th overtone mixed with the just minor 3rd).

 

8. ​ What book are you reading at the moment?

Music in the 17th and 18th Centuries by Richard Taruskin (brushing up for my teaching).

 

​9. ​ Favourite breakfast food?

A Croissant.

 

​10. ​(Summer) dream vacation?

Smithers, B.C.

 

Extra question: ​Name your favourite Montreal haunt.

Patati Patata


Visit: taylorbrook.info

Facebook Event: Canadian Left Hand Commissioning Project, here

ADVANCE TICKETS at: Canadian Music Centre

COMPOSERS IN PLAY: From six hands to one with Alex Eddington

Alex Eddington
COMPOSERS IN PLAY offers an up-to-date snapshot, particularly in conjunction with a premiere or new artistic collaboration.  Ahead of the upcoming performance June 5, 2019 in Toronto – The Canadian Left Hand Commissioning Project –  Alex Eddington discusses his new piece for composer/performer Adam Scime: The Opera Game.  Alex wrote to us with his thoughts about the piano genre and its less common iterations: scores for six-hands and left-hand.)  🎹 Ten Supersonic questions follow.

How might you describe your relationship with the piano? Is this the first left-handed work you have written for the instrument?

The Opera Game is the first left-handed work I’ve written, but what’s strange is that I’ve never written for TWO-hand piano as a solo (well, not for 20 years). Only accompaniment to other voices, choirs, instruments.  I have a major SIX-hand piano piece.  Yes.

The piano was the first instrument I learned, and the one I’ve played most, and I’m teaching beginners now.  So perhaps some day I’ll suddenly write a bunch of etudes for young pianists.

 

What were you hoping to convey with this music and was it successful?

I went out on a limb with this one, by making text an integral part of the piece.  The performer talks about the construction of the piece, and the reason it exists, all the while playing it.  I’m a theatre person as well, and this was a theatrical impulse.  It’s the kind of piece you have to be in the room for, to see facial expressions and his left hand struggling to keep up.  It’s meant to be awkward and look/sound like a performer overcoming hurdles, but it could also be charming in the right hand and mouth.  Adam Scime is a charmer, thankfully.

I’m also interested in music that is derived from non-musical things: chess in this case. Converting chess games to music is awkward, arbitrary.  Can it capture the drama and depth of this game?  Not in the music as notated: it has to come from the performer.  I might expand this piece in future, to include video of the chess game, quotes from Bellini’s “Norma” (the opera that this chess game was played during) and maybe right and left hands as opponents.

 

How, if at all, did writing for one hand only inform your compositional process (at the keyboard) and overall aesthetic?

With a different piece I would have looked at how to use the left hand smoothly across the entire keyboard, to create an illusion of space and depth that belies the single hand.  But with THIS piece I wanted it to sound like the performer is being imposed upon, more and more.  Part of the fun (?) will be watching his left hand jump around to specific but arbitrary keys.

 

TEN SUPERSONIC QUESTIONS:

1. ​Where are you from originally?

The Beaches area of Toronto.  Same house I live in now, actually.

 

​2. ​What are you writing at the moment?

A guitar/electronics piece for Daniel Ramjattan, sound design and musical arrangements for three summer theatre productions, and the libretto for an opera-ish piece with Toronto Consort.

 

3. ​Name three other composers you’d share a drink with.

Ann Southam, Benjamin Britten and Anna Magdalena Bach.

 

4. Favourite performing artist alive and active today?

Film/TV: Bryan Cranston or Sandra Oh

Music: Andrew Bird?  Bela Fleck?

This is tough.

 

​5. ​What did you want to be when you grew up?

Firefighter, Magician, Biologist, Composer (in that order!)

 

​6. ​What was the last piece of new music that really blew you away?

Jay Schwartz: “Music for Voices and Orchestra”

 

7. ​Name your favourite key, chord, tonality, cluster or extra musical noise.

The song of the Swainson’s thrush.

 

8.​ What book are you reading at the moment?

Just finished “Night” by Elie Wiesel.  Wow.

Back into the middle of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe.

 

​9. ​ Favourite breakfast food?

Harvest Crunch.  All day.  By the handful.

 

​10. ​(Summer) dream vacation?

Haida Gwaii by kayak.

 

Extra question: ​Name your favourite Toronto haunt.

My canoe, floating just off of the R.C. Harris Filtration Plant.


Visit: alexeddington.com

Facebook Event: Canadian Left Hand Commissioning Project, here

ADVANCE TICKETS at: Canadian Music Centre

COMPOSERS IN PLAY: Of Keyboards and the Blues with Mason Bates

OF GLITCHES AND MACHINES: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 at 8:00 PM | Doors at 7:00 PM


Scored for piano with off-stage boombox, White Lies for Lomax is a “short but dense homage” that concludes with a field recording of an Alan Lomax song.  This piece was written for the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and performed by each of the finalists. It has since been orchestrated by Bates; you may find that version HERE.

 

It is still a surprise to discover how few classical musicians are familiar with Alan Lomax, the ethnomusicologist who ventured into the American South (and elsewhere) to record the soul of a land. Those scratchy recordings captured everyone from Muddy Waters to a whole slew of anonymous blues musicians. White Lies for Lomax dreams up wisps of distant blues fragments – more fiction than fact, since they are hardly honest recreations of the blues – and lets them slowly accumulate to an assertive climax.

Excerpt from “White Lies for Lomax” by Mason Bates:

The following is excerpted from an interview given by Lizée with critic Jeremy Reynolds:

Mason Bates, 41, has been named the most-performed composer of his generation as well as the 2018 Composer of the Year by Musical America. The San Francisco-based composer’s music is best known for its approachability and integration of electronica and orchestral music. His alter ego, DJ Masonic, regularly sells out clubs with what he calls post-classical rave music.

Mr. Bates’ newest orchestral premiere, “Resurrexit,” was performed in the Fall of 2018 by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He has been named composer of the year with the orchestra twice, in the 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 seasons. critic Jeremy Reynolds spoke with Mason Bates ahead fo the premiere performance:

 

Jeremy Reynolds: Is the title “Resurrexit” a spiritual nod?

MB: Yes, it was Manfred’s idea to commission a spiritual concert opener. His Catholicism is such a significant part of his life and music. I grew up in a church school, but this sort of spirituality isn’t something that’s figured into my music much since high school.

This turned out to be a challenging piece to write…. It’s a 10-minute concert opener, and those tend to be exciting, pieces like [John Adams’] “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” or my piece, “Mothership.” Combining this excitement with a spiritual energy was tricky. I think the challenge was to write music that evokes things from the story while remaining self-sustainable.

JR: What’s the piece like?

MB: I was drawn to the mysticism of the resurrection story, and I wondered if it was possible to tell the story in a hyper-compressed way. I wanted to incorporate some of the theatrical elements for Manfred. This piece is in a three-part structure. The first sounds like mourning, almost a miniature requiem. The middle section that I think of as the reanimation — flickers of light start to dart all around the orchestra. And the third is the resurrection itself.

 

JR: Any unusual tonalities?

MB: Yes, actually. I’ve been wanting to explore the scales and the exotic modes of the Middle East. I didn’t want to be too literal on that level, but I wanted to give a distinct flavor. There’s a supernatural element to the resurrection story, and in order to conjure that darkness, I wanted to go into those more mournful Middle Eastern tonalities.

The story is dark; to really experience the lightness fully you have to experience the dark. When you think of pieces that evoke the resurrection, they tend to be traditional in terms of harmonies and tonalities. I wanted [“Ressurexit”] to sound more dusty and mysterious.

 

JR: How about odd instruments? Any electronics?

MB: No electronics for this piece, but I’m using an instrument called a semantron, a sort of plank instrument used to summon monks to prayer at the start of a procession. When I first heard this I decided I had to find a way to use it. It’s part of the fabric of the piece. Bringing different sounds like this into the concert hall is a goal of mine. After all, how can you create a new piece of art? Whether it be moving or uplifting, you want to bring something fresh into the concert hall.

 

JR: What else is on your horizon?

MB: In December, I have another orchestral premiere, this one at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra. That piece is called “Art of War.”

For further reading, see the full interview (posted in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 2018), here:

An interview with composer Mason Bates