In thinking back on a year unlike any other, I have realized that I have been marking the passing of time increasingly often in music through projects, compositions, and recordings. I may not be able to remember what I did in mid-March, but if I am able to remember what I was working on at that time, my memory suddenly kicks in, and I feel better about how I have been moving through time.
Although it started as a personal reflection, I have decided to share the results here so you may see (and hear) some of what this year brought in relation to music (and running!).
The New Year
Bringing in the New Year a year ago, the Canadian Chamber Choir, led by Julia Davids, premiered my work "Unimagined Light", the winner of their 2020 Composition Competition. The premiere was the result of months of virtual rehearsals, workshopping, and recording with this world-class ensemble. We embraced the imperfections of the virtual world, with stunning results.
Taking part in Lucky Penny Opera's 48-Hour Opera Project, I was reconnected with the wonderful soprano, Nicole Ross who I had known from growing up in the music scene in Nova Scotia. In just a weekend, we wrote and recorded a 15-minute chamber opera from different cities. This is the first scene:
Choral Creation Lab
Carrying over from 2020, my residency in the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto's Choral Creation Lab culminated in the creation of a 15-minute work, "Life in the Time of Warming" created with poet/writer Matthew Gwathmey. This heart-wrenching work meets the changing of our climate head-on, with painful honesty. It was a pleasure working with Matthew, Kathleen Allan, and the Amadeus Choir, and we look forward to the premiere of this work. Here you can hear the demo of the first movement:
With the spring came 10 continuous weeks of collaborative performer-composer residencies with the 1:2:1 Performer-Composer Intensive, Labo de musique contemporaine de Montréal, and the Westben Performer-Composer Residency. These programs presented opportunities to work with musicians such as Nick Photinos, Vicky Chow, Jennifer Higdon, & Yvonne Lam, while creating with dozens of incredible musicians over this time (too many to list!).
We came out of each of these with a recorded project, but more importantly with a shared developing of our individual crafts in collaborative settings. I feel much more comfortable and excited working with other artists and musicians after growing and learning through these programs.
1:2:1 Performer-Composer Intensive - "Stepping" for piano and fixed audio
Performed by Justin Pasquil
Labo de musique contemporaine de Montréal - "Janelas"
Westben Performer-Composer Intensive - "Connections"
Debut EP "Refuge"
After receiving an Artist Development grant through FACTOR Canada, I was able to record my debut EP of a few piano pieces in November 2020. This spring, in March, I released "Refuge" digitally with a series of videos, interviews, and the EP itself.
Completions & Premieres
In addition to the works above, there were several premieres which happened this year from Montréal to the Netherlands, with more on the horizon for 2022. Here are the new ones this year:
Unimagined Light (for SATB choir & fixed audio)
when the warmth is infinite. (for soprano, piano, & fixed media)
The Uninhabitable Earth (for SATB choir & fixed audio)
Stepping (for piano & poetry, with fixed audio)
O littlest hands and dearest (for SATB choir)
Silver Light (for solo piano)
Run (for solo cello)
That Star Is Awake (for percussion & piano)
This Moment Will Not Stop (for flute, bass clarinet, & piano)
A Dream [Within a Dream] (Within a Dream) (for 2 pianos, 4 hands)
Imagined Shapes (for cello & piano)
Also with the spring this year came a return to running in a big way! In June I started a months-long marathon training schedule covering over 650 miles over the year, which took me through several half-marathon and 10k races towards the Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax on November 7th. It happened in-person and was glorious. This being my 3rd marathon, it went so well that I am already looking forward to (hopefully) the Chicago Marathon in October of 2022.
I was also able to raise over $1,100 for the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, a valuable organization which is dear to my heart.
Coming Up In 2022
The Chicago Marathon in the fall of 2022 is a huge personal goal to look forward to, in addition to the possibility of another marathon in the spring.
The most exciting project in the works is the recording and release of my first full-length album of original works, "Breathe In, Breathe Out", which has received funding from FACTOR Canada. Recording with my dear friends and colleagues India Gailey, cello, and David Potvin, piano, will be a dream with our incredible recording team. Recording is set for March 2022, with the release later in the year.
The demo of the title work, "Breathe In, Breathe Out"
Performing in Ottawa in February as part of the Ottawa New Music Creators concert series will be a highlight of the new year as I tackle Ann Southam's monumental work, "Simple Lines of Enquiry", and present the Canadian premiere of my set of piano pieces "Silver Light".
There are other premieres & creation projects to look ahead to, but I will end this update here in reflection of the past year.
Perhaps more important than any of the above projects individually has been the refining of balance in my life. Balance of professional and creative energies, balance of family with personal care, balance of valuable hobbies with rest. It's not been an easy year, but I feel a more well-rounded person, artist, and family-member than I did 12 months ago. The continued search for balance in life will be a priority of mine heading into 2022, and I wish the same for you as we turn this calendar page.
Take care of yourself, take care of those you love, and fill your life with music, or whatever brings you light. Sending my best to you and yours for 2022.