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Following: 177

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born: 1967
born in: Vancouver, BC
I am Canadian; originally from the west coast, but now reside in Ontario. I obtained my postgraduate degree in music composition from the UK. Although my portfolio consisted of my (written) thesis and acoustic compositions, I have recently begun to develop... [more]

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posted on 01.19.10

Remember Trainspotting, anyone?

A friend of mine sent me this link recently, and wow, I’d forgotten what a great song this was.  Danny Boyle’s film is one of my top twenty cinematic faves, the British band Underworld is still going strong, and that scene in the men’s toilet  never fails to gross me out.

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“Just watched Transformers 3 and it was hell awesome! Especially Linkin' Park's Iridescent. Escorts in Melbourne really love it. :)”
Posted over 4 years ago
“Great movie! I've really found a love for British cinema. Between Snatch, Lock Stock, Layer Cake, etc. there are some fantastic films.”
Posted over 5 years ago
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Happy New Year!

It was freezing on Saturday night, but after a day of teaching and some scrumptious Japanese food at Sushi Queen restaurant, I headed down to Harbourfront to catch John’s set from 8pm.

It didn’t take long for me to get warmed up: John’s heady mixture of electronica, dub, drum-and-bass as well as his jazz-influenced piano playing created a hot mix for a cold evening.  A well-needed prescription for the full house of skaters gliding along under the clear, still night.


The Toronto Harbourfront DJ Skate Nights is one of the most popular events taking place in Toronto over the winter season-not to mention that the Toronto Star calls it one of the ‘175 reasons to love Toronto’ (see here).

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I froze my butt off, and still managed to have an amazing time. Never thought that disco could still be fun, but on Sat, Dec 5th, DJ Andrew Allsgood and Gang of Two DJs (Andycapp & Todd Rod) made it all good. I definitely need more skating practise!

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Peregrina (1969) by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

“It’s another way of being creative. Performing music is more a question of serving. But painting is a dialogue from the start. You make only one stroke – and from that moment you are in discussion with your subject.” —Dietrich Fischer-DieskauOn being a performer




My friend Suzanne very kindly asked me to accompany her for her upcoming performance of Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder (Seven Early Songs), excerpts from Olivier Messiaen’s Harawi and a work of mine called Mãku (Where are we?) written during my postgraduate studies in the UK. We’ll have two performances this spring in Toronto.

I wasn’t that familiar with Berg’s vocal music, apart from his operas Wozzeck and Lulu, so I was happy to become acquainted with this early suite (written c. 1905-08).


Berg’s suite of seven songs are all based on the texts of these Romantic German and Austrian poets: Carl Hauptman, Nikolaus Lenau, Theodor Storm, Rainer Maria Rilke, Johanes Schlaf, Otto Erich Hartleben and Paul Hohenberg. The lyric quality of the texts is expressed masterfully in Berg’s writing, and although this suite is an early example of Berg’s compositional style, I can detect influences of Richard Strauss, Claude Debussy (particularly in “Nacht”) and Gustav Mahler.  These works are an effective synthesis of Schoenbergian rigour and Romantic/Impressionistic influences.



Harawi (1945) is a song cycle comprising the first part of Messiaen’s Tristan Trilogy, preceding the Turangalîla Symphony and Cinq Rechant, both completed before 1948. Influenced by the Tristan and Isolde myth, Messiaen uses the trilogy to explore themes relating to love and death.


The Berg and Messiaen (as well as my piece) are not difficult to learn; however, they do still require attentive and focused practice. There are small challenges. For instance, the Berg is easier than either my piece or the Messiaen because the rhythmic structure is conventional, and therefore can afford greater latitude in terms of how beats are placed. Messiaen’s use of asymmetrical rhythms, combined with the extremely slow tempo of the first and fifth songs (“La Ville Qui Dormait, Toi” and “L’Amour de Piroutcha”) can be more challenging because the singer and pianist have to be rhythmically exact otherwise the song loses its surface coherence.


Of the three works we are working on, my piece, Mãku (2006), is the most challenging.  It is stylistically very different from the Messiaen and the Berg; and although the rhythmic structure is straightforward, the vocal line and the piano accompaniment contain gestures that are challenging to combine. It is also challenging because the text is a transliteration of the original Persian from a work of Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī.  But…both Suzanne and I are more than familiar with difficult contemporary works, so neither of us are worried-but it will take longer to get through my piece than the others.



Alban Berg ‘7 Early Songs’


Olivier Messiaen ‘Harawi’






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posted on 12.31.09

Aaah…the holidays. First you’re panicking over presents (I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a few names!), then panicking about how many leftovers you’re going to have to eat over the next few months…by that time it’s too late to return the gifts you really really really didn’t like. Then, of course, a few weeks have gone by and I haven’t written a word…


Thought I’d start out by introducing a few new music videos; unfortunately, the vast majority of the work out there is so banal it’s relatively easy to pick out the truly excellent work out there.  The popular music industry is not well known for supporting imaginative, innovative and genuinely creative work. 

I discovered the videos for N.A.S.A project’s  "Spacious Thoughts," and "Ready, Able," from Grizzly Bear's 'Veckatimest' via The Guardian’s (a UK newspaper) Viral Video Chart.


N.A.S.A. project’s video was created by Fluorescent Hill, a Montreal-based graphic design duo  (Mark Lomond and Johanne Ste-Marie) whose work has appeared in film, video, commercials as well as the print medium.

N.A.S.A. (North America/South America) is a dance album featuring a wide variety of musicians (including Tom Waits, Kanye West, Lykke Li, John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers, RZA, MIA, David Byrne, George Clinton, Ghostface Killah, and others), and is a conscious effort by N.A.S.A. to show how people can be brought together by music and art. There is a muscular edginess to the video, with enough visual ambiguity to soften the unsettled nature of the images.


On the opposite side of the spectrum, Allison Schulnik’s clay images in Grizzly Bear’s video consistently display softness, pliability and vulnerability in their ‘broken up/broken down’ style of motion. 

Grizzly Bear is an American indie rock band formed in the early 2000s, whose sound has been described as psychedelic, folksy and experimental. Vekitimest, their latest album (2008), features “Ready, Able” and includes choral and string quartet arrangements by the composer Nico Muhly. 

Allison Schulnik graduated with a BFA in experimental animation from CalArts in Valencia, California, and has exhibited worldwide.  For "Ready, Able", she created malleable claymation forms (‘Things’) that are at once both poignant and sad as well as being otherworldly and rather scary.


Although both these videos employ radically different vocal styles/genres and visual imagery, the intuitive and perceptive tailorinig of visuals and audio work together to create genuine works of beauty.




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