En amour en hiver : when Tim Brady meets Michel Rivard

From the beginning, in 2007, a common view united composer Tim Brady and the new conductor of the Orchestre Symphonique de Laval (OSL), Alain Trudel: the creation of new music is not in itself problematic. Certainly, some works appear less easily accessible than others but that is not the reason why they are inaccessible to the general public, this public which, with few exceptions, attends the concerts of any symphony orchestra in Québec. If there is a problem, it seems to lie in what surrounds a creation: the presentation of the work, its description and the manner in which it is contextualized. Perhaps because their respective paths cover a wide spectrum ranging from jazz, to pop, to contemporary music, Brady and Trudel proclaim their commitment to vulgarisation. On this basis, they elaborated a composer-in-residency program whose mandate is to foster links between musical creation and the wider community within which the OSL performs. The privileged approach is based on this very simple idea: to invite the public, and particularly young ones, at the heart itself of the musical creation process. In the many schools he visits, Tim Brady offers students a series of workshops in preparation for the collective creation of a short musical work, which the OSL then performs during its student concerts; before and after the concerts he meets with the public to discuss, via his own works, musical creation and thus proposes to the newcomer an approach to music that generates deliberate curiosity, in a “self-taught” manner, reflecting that which has shaped the composer for more than 40 years.

The first component thus concerned education which, according to Brady, makes up more than half of his tasks. The second one concerns the creation of musical works. To this day, the OSL has created two new works by Tim Brady: Running (2008) inspired by Runnin’ Back To Saskatoon by the Guess Who, and Requiem 21.5 (2009), in homage to Canadian flutist Lawrence Beauregard. On Tuesday, Sept. 28th, at the Salle André-Mathieu in Laval, the OSL will create “En amour en hiver,” a generous opus lasting more than 20 minutes, for baritone and orchestra. The project is ambitious and calls for a special collaboration with author-composer-performer Michel Rivard. This meeting might seem fortuitous, but such is not the case: Brady is passionate about the voice (he has already composed two operas and many cycles for the voice), and in particular about songs. He holds this musical form in high esteem, and points out that whereas very few “classical” composers have successfully tackled this genre (one thinks of Gerschwin and Bernstein), this is not so much because it is considered vulgar or trivial, but because it presupposes a totally different conception of time. In a way, En amour en hiver leads the composer to blend various genres by triggering a meeting between the Rivardian universe of song and Brady’s sonorous worlds.

Brady has today the necessary hindsight allowing him to categorise these sonorous worlds in a simple and precise manner: they are harmonic, rhythmic, monodic and textural worlds that, in the process of a work, are placed side by side, are entangled, and/or are superimposed to each other. Each bears within itself the mark of his distinctive musical personality, enriched among other things by his career as an electric guitarist: a strong sense of pulse, harmonic extensions issuing from the universe of jazz, or long melodic lines. In En amour en hiver, here they are, modulated in six sections without rest, following the structure of Michel Rivard’s text, which unveils to us a youthful love, forever ingrained in his memory. The text-music relationship, in this case, traveled several times back and forth during the creative process: more than once, the composer was inspired by a portion of the text, or conversely, the author wrote down a few words after having heard a freshly-composed musical excerpt. And so, by and by, the work is fashioned and constructed according to a dynamic reciprocity that allows the two media, text and music, to feed upon each other.

Nonetheless, from these various exchanges, a golden rule prevails: the text has priority over the music, which means that it must be perceived in such a way that the listener can grasp all the subtlety of its meaning. But there’s more: if Michel Rivard is considered a master in song writing, it is because on the one hand, he is deft at working with words, and on the other hand, because he possesses this rare ability to make language sing, a language that subtly oscillates between the accents of literary poetry and those of slang. The pronunciation of the text itself is thus crucial, urging the composer to fashion a work that emphasizes the inherent musicality that the text already possesses. This particular attention given to prosody can only reach its goal with difficulty if it is not transmitted to the performer, responsible to provide the work with an actual musical life. By entrusting the score to baritone Michael Donovan, Brady has thus carefully drawn his attention to this essential aspect of the work, so that its interpretation may find an appropriate tone. It is now up to us to experience it.

Orchestre Symphonique de Laval
En amour en Hiver by Tim Brady and Michel Rivard
When: Sept. 28th and 29th, 2010, 8PM
Where: Salle André-Mathieu
Conductor: Alain Trudel Soloist: Michael Donovan, baritone
From the beginning, in 2007, a common view united composer Tim Brady and the new conductor of the Orchestre Symphonique de Laval (OSL), Alain Trudel: the creation of new music is not in itself problematic. Certainly, some works appear less easily accessible than others but that is not the reason why they are inaccessible to the general public, this public which, with few exceptions, attends the concerts of any symphony orchestra in Québec. If there is a problem, it seems to lie in what surrounds a creation: the presentation of the work, its description and the manner in which it is contextualized. Perhaps because their respective paths cover a wide spectrum ranging from jazz, to pop, to contemporary music, Brady and Trudel proclaim their commitment to vulgarisation. On this basis, they elaborated a composer-in-residency program whose mandate is to foster links between musical creation and the wider community within which the OSL performs. The privileged approach is based on this very simple idea: to invite the public, and particularly young ones, at the heart itself of the musical creation process. In the many schools he visits, Tim Brady offers students a series of workshops in preparation for the collective creation of a short musical work, which the OSL then performs during its student concerts; before and after the concerts he meets with the public to discuss, via his own works, musical creation and thus proposes to the newcomer an approach to music that generates deliberate curiosity, in a “self-taught” manner, reflecting that which has shaped the composer for more than 40 years.

The first component thus concerned education which, according to Brady, makes up more than half of his tasks. The second one concerns the creation of musical works. To this day, the OSL has created two new works by Tim Brady: Running (2008) inspired by Runnin’ Back To Saskatoon by the Guess Who, and Requiem 21.5 (2009), in homage to Canadian flutist Lawrence Beauregard. On Tuesday, Sept. 28th, at the Salle André-Mathieu in Laval, the OSL will create “En amour en hiver,” a generous opus lasting more than 20 minutes, for baritone and orchestra. The project is ambitious and calls for a special collaboration with author-composer-performer Michel Rivard. This meeting might seem fortuitous, but such is not the case: Brady is passionate about the voice (he has already composed two operas and many cycles for the voice), and in particular about songs. He holds this musical form in high esteem, and points out that whereas very few “classical” composers have successfully tackled this genre (one thinks of Gerschwin and Bernstein), this is not so much because it is considered vulgar or trivial, but because it presupposes a totally different conception of time. In a way, En amour en hiver leads the composer to blend various genres by triggering a meeting between the Rivardian universe of song and Brady’s sonorous worlds.

Brady has today the necessary hindsight allowing him to categorise these sonorous worlds in a simple and precise manner: they are harmonic, rhythmic, monodic and textural worlds that, in the process of a work, are placed side by side, are entangled, and/or are superimposed to each other. Each bears within itself the mark of his distinctive musical personality, enriched among other things by his career as an electric guitarist: a strong sense of pulse, harmonic extensions issuing from the universe of jazz, or long melodic lines. In En amour en hiver, here they are, modulated in six sections without rest, following the structure of Michel Rivard’s text, which unveils to us a youthful love, forever ingrained in his memory. The text-music relationship, in this case, traveled several times back and forth during the creative process: more than once, the composer was inspired by a portion of the text, or conversely, the author wrote down a few words after having heard a freshly-composed musical excerpt. And so, by and by, the work is fashioned and constructed according to a dynamic reciprocity that allows the two media, text and music, to feed upon each other.

Nonetheless, from these various exchanges, a golden rule prevails: the text has priority over the music, which means that it must be perceived in such a way that the listener can grasp all the subtlety of its meaning. But there’s more: if Michel Rivard is considered a master in song writing, it is because on the one hand, he is deft at working with words, and on the other hand, because he possesses this rare ability to make language sing, a language that subtly oscillates between the accents of literary poetry and those of slang. The pronunciation of the text itself is thus crucial, urging the composer to fashion a work that emphasizes the inherent musicality that the text already possesses. This particular attention given to prosody can only reach its goal with difficulty if it is not transmitted to the performer, responsible to provide the work with an actual musical life. By entrusting the score to baritone Michael Donovan, Brady has thus carefully drawn his attention to this essential aspect of the work, so that its interpretation may find an appropriate tone. It is now up to us to experience it.

Orchestre Symphonique de Laval
En amour en Hiver by Tim Brady and Michel Rivard
When: Sept. 28th and 29th, 2010, 8PM
Where: Salle André-Mathieu
Conductor: Alain Trudel Soloist: Michael Donovan, baritone

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