Composition

Premiere of When I Was a Glacier

I’m excited to announce that the wonderful Aella Choir of Ottawa will be premiering my work When I Was a Glacier, March 3 at First Baptist Church in Ottawa, at 7 pm. (Facebook event) Entrance is by donation, so just show up and enjoy the music!

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This work, for treble choir, piano, and tubular bells, is based on the poem by New York-based poet Emily Skillings (read it here). The text is at once empowering, disturbing, and image-evoking, and felt especially appropriate after spending the last summer in Iceland, where we climbed a glacier with the artistic director and collaborative pianist of Aella.

(L-R) Matthew Lane, Mikaela Tolf, Shawn Potter (Aella’s collaborative pianist), Jennifer Berntson (Aella’s founding artistic director).

The work, with it’s potent harmonies, broad washes of slow counterpoint, and bare vocal simplicity at times, was guided by the imagery of the poetry in combination with digital algorithms, used to generate segments of the harmony. Equally inspiring was the awareness of what this powerful choir can do, even with the most basic of themes.

Like any Aella concert, it promises to be a wonderful evening, with a diverse program of largely Canadian choral music from some of today’s most interesting composers.

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One of the algorithms used while composing the piece, analyzing the spectrum of the tubular bell sound and generating a set of harmonies based on this bell sound.

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