Author profile at La Scena Musicale magazine, Montreal.
Here are a few of my favourite projects:
For all of his work, there has always been an amount of criticism thrown at Lefèvre for reviving the works of Mathieu. “The main problem we have here is that it’s always difficult to recognize the talent of Canadian composers. Some people have said that Mathieu’s music was bad — blah, blah, blah. But I always say, you have it all wrong.
“I never attempt to prove that Mathieu was the greatest composer of all time. As I’m trying to say to Canadian people, we do have a history of Canadian composers.”
- The Kronos Quartet Looks to the Future (06/01/2017)
“When I was 14 years old, I had this realization that all of the string quartet music that I had played up until that point was written by four guys that lived in one city: Vienna, Austria. They were Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert,” says Kronos founder and artistic director David Harrington. “They were all white, all of the same religion, and probably all spoke German. I had this realization that there are a lot of other cities in the world; there are a lot of other cultures, languages, and religions. That’s when I embarked on a personal exploration of music from other places than Vienna, or even Europe.
- Marina Thibeault: 21st-Century Viola Ambassador (06/01/2017)
- Interview: Nicole Lizée Redux (03/02/2017)
- Nicole Lizée: Techno-Hauntologist (02/01/2017)
With decaying devices ranging from the archaic to the arcane – the reel-to-reel machine, the stylophone, the omnichord – Lizée aims to create both new sounds and new perspectives. “I use this equipment within a chamber ensemble. I notate it, harmonize it, and members of the ensemble have to learn how to play it – I devise a way of playing it like a violin or a vibraphone or any other instrument. It becomes a part of the ensemble.”
If malfunctioning, glitching and melting devices seem unlikely bedfellows for chamber works, for Lizée, the progression from the workshop to the concert hall was instinctive. “Bringing these two worlds together is very natural,” she explains. “I consider oscillators and game consoles instruments or sources of sound in the same way I consider a piano or guitar.” This affinity gave rise to pieces such as Arcadiac (2005–8) for ’70s and ’80s arcade consoles, video, and orchestra, or Karappo Okesutura (2006) for glitched and spliced karaoke tapes, chamber ensemble, and mezzo soprano.
- Opera McGill at 60 (12/01/2016)
Hansen – who plays an entire cast of characters within a single exchange, regaling you with stories within stories without dropping the thread of the conversation – is someone who thinks and talks (and even blogs) about opera a great deal. But he doesn’t have a lot of patience for things that he thinks are holding back the craft and threatening its longevity.
“I tell my students this all the time, sometimes they believe it: I take opera really seriously; I just don’t take myself seriously,” laughs Hansen. “I think there are a lot of people who take themselves too seriously in opera.”
- James Ehnes @40 (09/01/2016)
When asked about the reasoning behind the tour, Ehnes answers with a self-deprecating laugh, “It’s sort of silly, right? A 40th birthday is a very artificial thing but everyone talks and jokes about it. ‘Ah, you’re over the hill!’ So, as it was approaching, it just crossed my mind that there were certain special projects that would be very meaningful to me. This whole season has been about these special projects.”
- Into the Woods: A Tale of Tales (04/01/2016)
Throughout the musical, the most salient theme is the power of stories and storytelling, especially the idea that children learn from and define themselves against the stories we tell. Like Sondheim and Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with George (1984), a great portion of Into the Woods takes place on a meta level, in this case a story about stories rather than art about art. The self-referentiality of the musical is built into its construction; the common fairy tale themes established in the first act are dissected and subverted in the second, from the misogynistic princes to the deconstruction of the good/evil binary.
- collectif9: On the Edge (02/01/2016)