Classical music: 2 summer programs propel BC’s next wave of composers



Standing Wave and Orford-Musique du Québec’s annual Compocon allow emerging composers to interact with senior mentors

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August saw two important programs for emerging composers with a significant local presence. Standing Wave, Vancouver’s popular new music ensemble, hosts its annual Compocon; and the long-standing summer master class in composition at Orford Musique in Quebec City had a strong connection to British Columbia earlier this month.


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Composers are the most isolated musicians. Not only do they work countless hours on their own producing music, but they also miss out on opportunities for performers to perform with friends and peers. Composition master classes go a long way in building community and networks and in enabling emerging composers to interact. Over the past two summers, the programs have moved online; even so, the opportunities to connect are invaluable to new composers who find their way.

The Standing Wave Compocon offers space for 10 lucky participants. They have access to the Standing Wave list of musicians, with composers Edward Top, Jacquie Leggatt and Keith Hamel tuning in for lessons. Orford Music is national in scope, but this year’s participants are mainly from Quebec and British Columbia, and the two mentor composers are both from Vancouver: Dorothy Chang and Jocelyn Morlock. Véronique Lacroix, founder of the prestigious Contemporary Ensemble of Montreal, was also a key part of the team this summer.


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Flutist Christie Reside is a mainstay of Standing Wave as well as solo flute of the VSO. And she enthusiastically got involved in the Compocon project.

“I can’t wait to be there all year,” she says. “The energy is right, the atmosphere is incredibly welcoming, the songwriters mentors are so inspiring, and of course there is nothing better than spending a week with the rest of the band – it’s a band. incredible musicians.

“We have worked with 26 student composers over the three years of Compocon, and each has been an absolute joy to work with. We have received a lot of feedback from students that the opportunity to work intimately with six professional musicians for an entire week on their works is a rare and valuable experience.


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Composer Mohammad Motevaselan was part of the Compocon program last year and this summer he was part of the Orford Music framework. Over the past few months, Motevaselan has been able to take advantage of a number of virtual opportunities, creating works for basset horn, guitar and the unusual combination of organ and trombone for Vancouver Pro Musica. Being connected through the seminar was important. He found the chance to meet his Vancouver peers at an outdoor gathering and at a final concert to be artistically, socially and even psychologically positive.

“I wrote an oboe and saxophone duet on Zoom, the oboe in Edmonton and the saxophone in China, which made the planning of Zoom’s rehearsals a bit tricky,” says the composer and konghou (traditional Chinese harp ) Vancouver’s Nathania Ko, who was part of the Compocon and Orford-Musique programs, this summer’s work. ‘I was very happy with the results.’ Courtesy Photo, Nathania Ko

Nathania Ko is another Vancouver musician who has participated in both programs. As an undergraduate student, Ko studied Konghou – the traditional Chinese harp – in China, and then completed a master’s degree at the University of British Columbia. Ko was excited about her job this summer.


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“We were able to work with different performers at a very high level. Due to the pandemic, we have been able to see the bright side of the technology, ”she said. “I wrote a duet for oboe and saxophone, oboe in Edmonton and saxophone in China, which made programming the Zoom rehearsals a bit tricky. I was very happy with the results. “

Both initiatives focus on musical exploration supported by a wealth of information, practical advice and encouragement. Ko commends her mentors and the way they encouraged her to explore.

“Dorothy and Jocelyn gently pushed me out of my comfort zone, into a world of new sonic possibilities,” she says.

Reside agrees, adding, “We have the opportunity to work on a lot of things, from exploring the unconventional sounds our instruments can produce, to proper notation, to how to communicate effectively with musicians to. really get the best possible performance out of it.

  1. Principal oboe Roger Cole retired after 45 years with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

    Solo oboe Roger Cole leaves the VSO on a perfect note

  2. A disguised Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra records at the Orpheum Theater.

    Classical music: Vancouver Academy flies over Beethoven with symphonic follies

  3. June Goldsmith (left) and Adrian Fung perform together.  They took the popular Music in the Morning program and built an online presence for it.

    Music in the Morning is online with great success

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