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CD Release Party

CD Release Party

I’m pleased to announce that the release party for my new CD all spring will be held on June 10 at 7:00 at the Jack Straw Cultural Center in Seattle. The CD includes five of my chamber pieces, performed by the Seattle Chamber Players and friends, and will be released on the Composers Concordance label. I’ll post more details about this event closer to the date.

Now Hear This Festival

Now Hear This Festival

I’m delighted to learn that two of my pieces, Col and Why the parrot repeats human words, will be performed at the Now Hear This festival, which will take place from March 20-22, 2015, in Edmonton. Last year the Wind Rose Trio and dancer Gerry Morita gave a wonderful performance of Reeds, and I had a great time attending. The weekend-long festival had the perfect mix of great music, excellent performances, and ample opportunity for discussion and socializing. I’m looking forward to attending again this year.

Welcome to my new website!

Welcome to my new website!

Welcome to my new website! (Thanks Olivier Grascoeur!) Most of the content from the old site is still here, but it should be easier to find, and there is more added. Feedback (positive or negative) is always welcome!

Jan Tait and the Bear

Jan Tait and the Bear

In 2010 I spent 10 days in Yell, one of the Northern Isles of Shetland, with a group of killer whale researchers. Although we didn’t see any killer whales, I was there long enough to fall in love with the land, people, and folklore of Shetland.

While I was there, I got to know the musicians of ffancytunes, the UK’s northernmost chamber ensemble. They asked me to write a piece for them, and I decided to write a chamber opera based on the Shetlandic folktale Jan Tait and the BearIt takes a long time to write a 40-minute chamber opera, and I was interrupted several times (by a violin concerto, by the birth of my son, by my hermit thrush research, etc.), but I finally completed it in October!

In November I spent a week in Yell, where we began rehearsing Jan Tait. I’m really looking forward to the performances, which will be in the summer and fall of 2015.

Premiere of Seven Duos for Birds and Strings

Premiere of Seven Duos for Birds and Strings

I wrote Seven Duos for Birds and Strings in 2011-2012, when I was composer-in-residence at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany. The piece explores the ways different species of birds might sing their songs together, ranging from unintended overlapping to hocketing so tight that it sounds like only one bird singing.

Seven Duos was commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts for violinist Annette-Barbara Vogel and violist Dan Sweaney. For a variety of reasons, the piece did not receive its premiere until November 28, 2014, when Annette-Barbara and Dan performed it at the International Viola Congress. I’m glad they waited, because this year the Congress was in Porto, Portugal, and I was able to attend! They gave a fantastic performance, and I had a great time visiting Porto as well.

Hermit thrushes sing songs based on the overtone series!

Hermit thrushes sing songs based on the overtone series!

For the past several years, I’ve been researching the song of the hermit thrush together with Bruno Gingras, Dominik Endres, and Tecumseh Fitch. We found that its songs follow the overtone series! Our resulting paper was published in the Procedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences on November 18. Some good press coverage of our research can be found in Smithsonian Magazine and Huffington Post, and on CBC’s Quirks and Quarks.

English String Orchestra performs “falling still” in London

English String Orchestra performs "falling still" in London

I’m just back from London, where the English String/Symphony Orchestra and violinist Harriet Mackenzie, with Ken Woods conducting, gave a beautiful performance of falling still. The concert also featured a fantastic premiere of Wall of Water by Deborah Pritchard, and pieces By Thea Musgrave and Kaija Saariaho. (A detailed review of the concert can be found here.)

I’ve known Ken since the early 1990’s, when we were both students at Scotia Festival of Music, and it was great to have the chance to work with him again. (Ken is a very multi-talented musician. When we were at Scotia Festival, we performed Ancient Voices of Children by George Crumb together: Ken played both the mandolin and the musical saw parts!)

Fung-Chiu Duo Performs Sorex

Fung-Chiu Duo Performs Sorex

The Fung-Chiu Duo is including Sorex, which they commissioned from me in 2010, on their Prairie Debut 2014-2015 tour. They will be performing Sorex, as well as pieces by Stravinsky, Bernstein, and Prokofiev in 14 locations across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Details of the concerts can be found here.

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