JOHN OLIVER


composer

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Title

Year of Composition

Category

Duration:

Number of Parts

Instrumentation brief

Instrumentation

Program Note

Braque’s Beach

2014

Solo Instrument

03:15:00

1

classical guitar, 4 octaves

These two guitar pieces were commissioned by Neil Douglas to celebrate the arrival of a magnificent special 4-octave guitar that Neil commissioned from Canadian luthier Michael Dunn, an instrument with special resonating properties and a beautiful cubist design with special woods of mahogany and __.

Picasso’s Reach

2014

Solo Instrument

04:20:00

1

classical guitar, 4 octaves

Ancient Heroes Suite

2013

Solo Instrument

20:00:00

1

classical guitar

classical guitar

Fifth Hour at the Dance Party

2012

Solo Instrument

04:15:00

1

Tubax or baritone saxophone

I wrote this short work as a bit of fun for the wonderful French saxophonist Serge Bertocchi to play in his concerts. I had wanted to create a major work for Serge, but so far, the opportunity has not arisen. So meanwhile, this piece evokes a drugged-out dancer who is really into the music.

Tossing and Turning

2008

Solo Instrument

03:10:00

1

violin solo

“Tossing and Turning” was written for Piotr Szewczyk’s “Violin Futura” project of short exciting new music for solo violin. The form of the piece is like a fitful sleep, as suggested by the title.

Sea Spray #1, 2, 3, 4

2005

Solo Instrument

08:03:00

1

Classical Guitar

The series of “Sea Spray” pieces were written to encourage the development of the five-finger right hand technique developed by Charles Postlewate. Each one explores different right hand techniques to refine the technique while playing challenging and rewarding music.

Minimusica

2005

Solo Instrument

33:00:00

1

Classical Guitar

I wrote most of these pieces between 1980 and 1985 as concert studies to refine musical and technical skills. The works are inspired by the spirit of the Studies of Villa-Lobos and Debussy. They are intended for performance on the concert stage. The player should have complete command of the instrument before attempting these works, including an understanding of how to play in all positions of the fretboard and knowledge of all of the natural harmonics from the fourth through 19th fret. There are five categories of pieces, each one developing a specific technique: CONTINUUM (”continuous”) develops arpeggio AEQUUM (”equal”) develops slur NOCTURNUUM (”nighttime”) develops natural and artificial harmonics HARMONIUM (”harmony”) develops integration of skills and introduces octaves and polyphony RELIQUIARUM (”the rest”) are works that challenge the student to integrate advanced techniques, such as stretching, polyphony, playing with open and stopped strings, etc.

Throughout the works you will find specific fingerings and indications of open strings and stopped fingerings on particular strings. These indications are, without exception, part of the composition and communicate the intended sound of the piece. Oftentimes, for example, open strings will be used in a pattern because there is a specific desire for that colour, and for the sound to ring on. As is often the case with guitar music notation, it has not always been possible to notate exactly how long some notes are supposed to sound because many voices are notated on the single staff.

Through Night

1988

Solo Instrument

10:30:00

1

Grand Piano

Through Night is in two movements: 1] Sunset Shadows; 2] Moonshadows. Composed at the Banff Centre for the Arts, this work is inspired by the evolving processes first explored by the early minimalists. In this case, though, I have established several different types of sonically rich musical materials and have subjected each one to different lengths of additive or subtractive processes. The pianist needs to keep these different musical gestures clearly separated. The middle pedal is used throughout to sustain a “resonance chord”, one for each movement. The first movement places four musical “objects” out “in an open field”, so to speak (stacked perfect fifths), as the sun sets on the objects, creating lengthening shadows as the music progresses to the sunset at the end. In the second movement, we hear four “objects” placed on a now darkened field (stacked alternating tritones and perfect fourths) as the shadows move from long to short and back as the moon crosses the night sky. A haunting melody is overtaken by short notes in the process and then restored as the moon sets.

Diary (1983)

1983

Solo Instrument

09:30:00

1

Guitar

like the sea at sunrise

1982

Solo Instrument

10:00:00

1

Piano

Living near the sea in Vancouver has had a profound effect on me. This work explores the sense of time of lapping waves and harmonically sounds like the lungs full of salty sea air. The shifts in resonances and time bring me close to the sense of the sea.

Nylong Symphony #2 - “Crystal”

2010

Electroacoustic

23:35:00

1

fretless classical guitar, computer

The Nylong Symphony Project started out as an ambitious “spectral/cultural voyage across centuries of sound (mainly plucked strings).” It began as a project about the evolution of the sound of the guitar and related family of instruments (oud, lute, vihuela) through history, an entirely imagined and highly subjective relistening to ancient through contemporary music. The original work, composed in 2004-5, consisted of six movements and lasted 50 minutes. I performed the music on multiple guitars, and processed their sound with two computers to extend their sound with spectral and spatial treatment. This journey began with an electric Oud, traversing the classical guitar before culminating with the fretless classical guitar. The sound of nylon-stringed guitars, and music from Spain through Persia to India formed the musical core of this journey. By the end of this journey I came to the realization that what held the most interest for me was the transcultural abstract sound that I was able to achieve when building large immersive sound masses, the kinds you hear in the other larger works on the present disc. And so “Crystal” was born.

A common description of crystallization tells how “water being cooled undergoes a phase change from liquid to solid beginning with small ice crystals that grow until they fuse, forming a polycrystalline structure. The physical properties of the ice depend on the size and arrangement of the individual crystals, or grains…” And so, my composition begins with the liquid sound of a solitary fretless guitar playing a single note, and grows, through a similar process as crystallization, to form huge undulating masses. It is about how perception of time and the self-reflective psyche undergoes warping when faced with complex gradual processes.

Dust

2003

Chamber with electroacoustic

08:46:00

1

Clarinet & digital audio (4-channel or stereo)

In Dust I return to the ideas & sound world of my dramatic award-winning work El Reposo del Fuego for synthesizers and audio. That work ended with the phrase “El Tiempo es polvo” (Time is Dust). This work continues where El Reposo del Fuego left off, and explores the concept of time as dust. Eerily, El Reposo del Fuego took disaster, grief and loss as its themes and was written around the time of the Mexico City earthquake (1985); I began work on Dust, which explores the sense of dilated time that occurs during a disaster, a month before the attack on the USA of September 11 and completed it afterward, amazed by this synchronicity.

The clarinet virtuosity of François Houle plays a central role in this dramatic intense work. Nominated for the Outstanding Classical Composition Award at the 2006 Western Canadian Music Awards.

Wild Time

1991

Chamber with electroacoustic

11:00:00

1

MIDI Vibes, Synthesizers

Wild Time is about time and consists of nine short pieces that are held together by similarities of material. These pieces are like shapshots of an ongoing music. There are three basic types of events, name LULL, BEAT, & FLUX. In the centre of the piece a section called WARP takes the material of BEAT & FLUX and distorts them. Pieces with the title BEAT represent periodic rhythmic movementy, steady pulse; FLUX represents continuous change of rhythm, continuous acceleration and slowing down; LULL represents stillness, lack of movement. Variation is the main compositional technique employed. Certain motives, colours, or temporal patterns reappear throughout the variations. My aim is to play with our perception of time and colour, to bring the listener to the grey area between hearing music as now temporal, now spatial (or colouristic) phenomenon, one moment affirming memory by increasing speed, the next moment slowing down to bring the listener toward amnesia and a reflective state. Wild Time is a swinging bridge; the listener is in the middle, looking down to the precipice and into the wilderness of our perception of time.

El Reposo del Fuego

1987

Chamber with electroacoustic

16:10:00

1

DX7-II/TX802 synthesizers & audio

El Reposo del Fuego (The Resting Place of Fire) for DX7-II/TX802 digital synthesizers and digital tape was composed for Sergio Barroso and is dedicated to him. The tape part was realized in the summer of 1987 at Mr. Barroso's Ireme Studio, and at the studios of Paul Dolden and Simon Fraser University. Thanks to them, and to Andrew Czink, for their help in the realisation of this work. The title is taken from a set of poems by mexican writer José-Emilio Pacheco, a selection of which is recited in the tape part by Antonio Urrello of Vancouver. The work opens with a two-line poem by Pablo Neruda, titled "Punta."

When Mexico city was devastated by an earthquake in 1985, I thought of the horror, the anxiety, and the awe I felt when the earth shifted during my visit to Guatemala in 1978. I imagined the agony such massive destruction leaves in its wake, not only the human and material devastation, but that of optimism and hope. José-Emilio Pacheco's poem evokes a similar awful event, and through his words I have made a sonic affirmation of the solidity of the human spirit in the midst of nature's terrible chaos. The synthesist struggles with the tape, a voice asserting itself against those heartless gods who puff on their cigars and shake the earth to remind us of their power.

El Reposo del Fuego was premiered by Sergio Barroso at the International Festival of Electronic Music "En torno a los sonidos electrónicos" in Mexico City on January 30, 1988, and, in November, won the First Prize in the electroacoustic category at the 8th CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers, as well as the jury's Grand Prize, provided by the Canada Council. In September 1989, the work was awarded the City of Varese Prize at the Luigi Russolo International Competition for Young Composers of Electroacoustic Music. The work is featured on Sergio Barroso's first compact disk "New Music for Digital Keyboard" on the Montréal label SNE (Société nouvelle d'enregistrement).

Meditation for Barbara

2012

Chamber Music

09:00:00

1

bowed piano

“Meditation for Barbara” is a companion piece for Curtis-Smith's “Rhapsodies,” I use four of the same bows used in that work. Many of my works, from electroacoustic to orchestral, explore resonance, alternate tuning systems, and sonic phenomena in general. My Meditation explores resonances of C, D-flat, F and G. Most of these “notes” are contained in some of the resonances of one another. I’ve added a few techniques not found in the “Rhapsodies,” such as pulling two bows through at once (G, B-flat, D, E), and one lone prepared note. I hope you enjoy the results of this wonderful collaboration with Barbara.

World Enigma 2

2015

Solo Instrument

05:00:00

1

cello

Hot Tempered Clavier: Preludes and Fantasies No. 3

2011

Solo Instrument

05:05:00

1

1/16-of-tone Piano

The idea for these Preludes and Fantasies came to me as I considered how the 16th of tone piano afforded the composer the possibility to "compose the temperment." By this I mean that, because the 16th-of-tone is a musical interval "à la limite du perceptible" it allows for the integration of the finest possible gradations of "sound drawing", from cluster work that one could call "composed chorus effect", to more traditional approaches to sound organization, such as the use of melodic and harmonic structure. This new piano merits a catalogue of compositions that explores this new temperment in all of its implications (musical, cultural, and technical). Rather than create a series of pieces straight from my imagination, I decided to "recompose" the Well-Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach, to provide the listener with familiar motivic and harmonic reference points while revealing the characteristics of the new temperment. Listeners will hear structural, motivic, and harmonic material from the Bach, transformed into smaller divisions of the octave, such as 1/4, 1/6, 1/8 and 1/16 tone divisions, as well as sound-organization based on the harmonic series.

Hot Tempered Clavier: Preludes and Fantasies No. 1 & 2

2005

Solo Instrument

11:26:00

1

1/16-of-tone Piano

The idea for these Preludes and Fantasies came to me as I considered how the 16th of tone piano afforded the composer the possibility to "compose the temperment." By this I mean that, because the 16th-of-tone is a musical interval "à la limite du perceptible" it allows for the integration of the finest possible gradations of "sound drawing", from cluster work that one could call "composed chorus effect", to more traditional approaches to sound organization, such as the use of melodic and harmonic structure. This new piano merits a catalogue of compositions that explores this new temperment in all of its implications (musical, cultural, and technical). Rather than create a series of pieces straight from my imagination, I decided to "recompose" the Well-Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach, to provide the listener with familiar motivic and harmonic reference points while revealing the characteristics of the new temperment. Listeners will hear structural, motivic, and harmonic material from the Bach, transformed into smaller divisions of the octave, such as 1/4, 1/6, 1/8 and 1/16 tone divisions, as well as sound-organization based on the harmonic series.

Hallowe’en

1980

Solo Instrument

09:00:00

1

Prepared Piano

On October 31, 1980, I decided not to go to a party because of the rainstorm. Instead, I went to my little garage studio and played long into this night of wandering spitirs. Here is the result. The work employs several “extended” techniques, such as preparing a handful of notes with coins, scraping, plucking and striking the strings with plectrum, percussion mallet, an open palm, etc. The performer also sings, speaks, and whispers, and can actually make an entire theatrical production of the piece, as have as have most who have performed the work to date. A video was made of this performance by Wayne Olin which can still be found in the Banff Centre for the Arts Library Archives.

Hot Summer Nights

1993

Vocal

06:00:00

2

soprano voice and oboe (original version)

5 versions: 1] sop, Oboe; 2] mezzo, Oboe; 3] ten, e.hn; 4] Bass, b.Clarinet; 5] alto voice and alto flute

The music is inspired by Eastern European and Middle-eastern singing. Both singer and instrumentalist should approach their instruments taking these folk traditions into consideration, producing a basic straight tone that is rich in harmonics. vibrato should be used only as a musical and expressive device on certain held notes (this being left to the performer’s discretion). For those interested in musical theory, the work in composed using a 15-tone mode that features quarter-tones, notably the quarter-tone above the principal drone-note.

“Hot Summer Nights” by Genni Gunn

I lie in the shade of my lover’s sleep. Curtains spread their thighs and the cool hand of the moon strokes his lips, my heart. So easy to slide into his breath easy as snowflakes melting easy as habis become.

Hot summer nihts, the air a mellifluous refrain the sky a black stone I must scale to tocuhy distant scars too high too far

I lie in the ache of my lover’s heartbeat he, whose only fault is loving me too much submit to the sable caress of inertia’ easy to believe absolution for the unoriianl sin of loneliness.

[Used with permission.]

Flight 182 Meditations

2015

Electroacoustic

59:00:00

2

poet and computer processing

Birds of Paradise Lost

2009

Chamber with electroacoustic

08:40:00

2

flute and computer

flute and computer running LIVE software by Ableton

This music was inspired by the recordings that Chenoa Anderson sent me during the initial stages of the project. I had asked Chenoa to record various whistling, overtone & breath sounds, as well as some microtonal movement. The inspiration for the composition emerged as a result of processing and piling up selected sounds in a multitrack recording that you hear as the opening 30 seconds of the composition. The rest of the composition unfolds in real time; all effects and sonic buildups are created by the computer musician who uses only the flute sound as the source.

Am Bushed

2009

Chamber with electroacoustic

09:52:00

2

violin, piano or guitar accompaniment, and digital audio, with optional guest musicians

violin and guitar (and/or lute, harp, piano, hammered dulcimer, synthesizer, etc.) or piano (and/or any number of chording instruments from any world tradition), and digital audio (5.1 surround, 4 channels, or stereo); optional instruments include 2nd melody instrument(s) from any world tradition, medium range (e.g. clarinet, viola), and violoncello (and/or any number of bass instruments from any world tradition). Improvising drums and percussion may be added freely.

This work was conceived of as a companion piece to my composition titled “On Freedom,” a work commissioned by Duo46 (Beth Schneider, violin and Matt Gould, guitar) for their duo, with 4-channel surround sound. Whereas that work is a virtuoso piece for duo, “Am Bushed” was designed for Duo46 to play with any number of invited guest musicians. The music is an open invitation for reflection by musicians and audience on the years of the reign of George W. Bush as President of the United States of America (2001-2009), and of the aggressions set in motion by his father George H. W. Bush.

Specifically, this piece is dedicated to those American citizens and concerned citizens of the world who lived through this period feeling that their freedom to freely express their ideas about the world in which we live had been stifled by the Bush doctrine that those who disagreed with his foreign policy could be considered de facto enemies of the state, best summed up by his famous saying “you are either with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

On Freedom

2008

Chamber with electroacoustic

15:10:00

2

Violin, Guitar and 4-channel audio (or CD)

violin, guitar and 4-channel audio (or CD)

“On Freedom” is an essay in sound. We hear the word all the time. But what is freedom? Are you free to walk the streets of your city or town without fear of arbitrary arrest, confinement and torture? Are you entitled to the presumption of innocence and a fair public hearing? Are your conversations with friends and family private? I think the answer is yes for Canadians, but in the United States, the Patriot Act has suspended these freedoms.

Since President Johnson’s invasion of South-east Asia without a declaration of war, the hope for a peaceful future that was expressed in the founding of the United Nations has been betrayed again and again by American governments acting in their own interest as policeman to the world. Resistance by Americans to the wars of their government requires tremendous fortitude. This music is dedicated to them: to their idealism, to their sacrifice, and to their courage.

Special thanks to Bob Schneider for introducing me to Matt and Beth, and to Michael Juk, CBC producer and the CBC for commissioning the work. Thanks also to those who supported and inspired this work, including Norman Solomon, Wayne Morse, Barbara Lee, Alan Rinehart, & Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. Voices and sounds used with permission and gratitude to Norman Solomon & Loretta Alper (War Made Easy, The Movie), Erich Schmidt (CBC Archives), Americanrhetoric.com, the Freesounds Project. Software by Stefan Smulovitz (Kenaxis), Ableton (LIVE), Native Instruments (various sound synthesis software) and Sibelius (notation software).

“On Freedom” was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for Duo46. The work is dedicated to Alan Rinehart.

World Enigma 1

2014

Chamber Music

06:40:00

2

erhu and piano

I started thinking about reducing musical materials to essentials about a decade ago. A few years ago I started working with software whose main concept is to allow musical material to be organized in such a way that multiple pathways may be created, but that pathways will most-often return to a cycling point. So a phrase may arrive at a “fork in the road” that leads to an extension, a branching off, or an added loop, in mid-phrase; then the excursion may later rejoin the phrase. The result is a kind of music that resembles the experience of looking for a long time at a piece of art work: the eye wanders among the various parts of the whole.

In World Enigma 1, I begin a new series of simple music in which I do not use any software for the creation or organization of the music. Working with only the five traditional pitches used in most Chinese music, I create musical phrases that move in particular ways that suggest their Chinese origin, yet remain unresolved in either the Asian or Western sense. Due to this ambiguity, the music also begs to be transcribed for different small chamber groups, preferably mixtures of instruments from different cultures.

The original version was commissioned by the Piano Erhu Project (PEP) and is dedicated to them. You hear my love for early polyphony when erhu (or other melody instrument) plays the main melody three times slower than the piano; other echoes abound and extended harmony reshapes the experience later on.

It is my hope to write more in the series “World Enigma.”

Hommage à Bruce Mather

2014

Chamber Music

11:40:00

2

harp and guitar (tuned down a 1/4-tone)

A search for a new tonal music that incorporates the natural-sounding 11th harmonic was a primary goal of this work. The musical interval between the 10th and 11th harmonic of the overtone series is the “neutral second,” neither major nor minor, exactly 3 1/4-tones distance. This work explores the sound-world of this interval and the intermodulation of adjacent chords.

Ornamental

2012

Chamber Music

04:15:00

2

erhu, guitar

I originally wrote Ornamental for erhu and guitar, though the erhu part can be played on any melodic instrument with the same range (lowest note middle-D). The musical material is derived from the movement "Green" from my guitar quartet PRISMOPHONY. The piece begins with a kind of baroque turn and the entire ethos of the work is inspired by the notion of ornamental music.

Front Porch Music 1

2012

Chamber Music

08:00:00

2

guitar and piano

Trembling Aspen 2

2011

Chamber Music

11:40:00

2

2 harps

2 harps

I wrote Trembling Aspen 2 in the spring of 2011, again using “Nodal” software that I started using in the first number in this series. Nodal allows the user to create controlled random selection of pathways through musical materials. I explore the notion of imitation as derived from polyphonic techniques like canon and fugue, and merge them with the self-similar motion of natural phenomenon, like the movement of leaves in the wind. I create a very still music with large and small gestural elements that occur in unpredictable reorderings. The end result is somewhat akin to the experience of staring at an Aspen tree during a late-summer breeze.

African Apparition

2007

Chamber Music

03:41:00

2

2 classical guitars

After some African rhythm studies, I made a first sketch for this piece in 2004. Stunned by the sound, I had trouble finishing the piece and set it aside. A year after writing another guitar duo called “A Dream of Africa,” I came back to this little piece which had actually been the first African apparition in my musical dreams.

A Dream of Africa

2006

Chamber Music

04:45:00

2

Guitar and Ruan (or violin, viola, second guitar)

viola and guitar

This lilting music is inspired by African drumming and kalimba music. You will hear interlocking patterns between the players, some parts appearing to move faster than others.

Arranged for viola and guitar for Duo Fresco (Brett Deubner, viola; Christopher Kenniff, guitar)

Still Turning

2004

Chamber Music

10:05:00

2

Classical Guitar and Zheng

Classical Guitar and Zheng

In three movements titled 1] Still Turning; 2] Yo-yo; 3] Watching the River Flow. In this work I have worked in a detailed way with the characteristic guzheng string bending technique, controlling, through a written out score, a technique that is usually added freely by the musician to make the music expressive.

3 Trains

2000

Chamber Music

09:20:00

2

Cello and Piano

3 Trains evokes the experience of listening to trains from a distance, from across the valley, across the lake, over the field, rather than the noisy experience of standing near the engines and cars that squeak and grind. If you have ever sat quietly in a park, in your back yard, or on a porch, listening to distant trains, then you are ready to play and hear this piece.

About a month after Ian Hampton invited me to write a work for cello and piano, he called to let me know that he had been listening to trains a lot lately, usually in the wee hours, and that he’d like to fax a page of chords he had jotted down in the middle of the night. And so he did.

I have lived within earshot of trains at various point of my life, and especially during the seven years before writing this piece. So these train sounds were already familiar to me. However, I was particularly taken by the echo that Ian spoke about.

So a few weeks after I started writing the music, I set out to Ian’s neighbourhood to hear what he had been hearing. When I arrived at Belcarra Park near Ian’s house, it was 6:00 on a chilly summer morning, clouds hugging the horizon to the east where the sun was rising. I could hear and identify most sounds in the dead quiet of that hour. After listening for twenty minutes to birds awaking and the lapping of water, I heard a low rumble, very distant at first, then louder, then, finally, the West Cost Express horn (“B” above), short toots, then longer ones. The echo across the water of Burrard Inlet came just over one second after each toot.

It is this very quiet listening experience that I want to capture in the first of these pieces, Midnight Train. I use the grand piano’s middle pedal extensively in this and the third piece to create the echo effect. The second piece, Train of Thought is a melody I sang and wrote down as I played the piano accompaniment (train “C” above) over and over again. It is similar in intention to the 13th century troubadour alba, or ‘dawn song.’ The third piece returns to a representation of the train horns —train “A” above this time— as well as the locomotion sound in the circular phrase that the cello repeats over and over. The last section is a jazzy celebration of trains.

From Thunder and Rain to Crossing the Great Stream

1994

Chamber Music

12:40:00

2

2 Percussionists

Marimba, B.dr, 5 roto, 3 cymb, 3 gong, bongo, sm Percussion x 2

Readings in the taoism literary classics, as well as a specific reading of an oracle provided by the I Ching, have influenced From Thunder and Rain to Crossing the Great Stream, in all aspects of the composition, from the choice of instruments, to the materials and their development, to the overall structure of the work.

Les Retrouvailles

1987

Chamber Music

04:30:00

2

2 Cellos

Written during a winter residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts for the production of a dance work called “Time Limit,” the duo became a hit among musicians at the Centre but has unfortunately not seen further performances after the initial run. The work depicts the reunion of lovers after time apart: a highly perfumed romantic/expressionist work.

Guacamayo’s 11,000th Polemic (No. 1)

1985

Chamber Music

07:00:00

2

2 Amplfied Classical Guitars

2 Amplfied Classical Guitars

A character sketch for the hero of my opera “Guacamayo’s Old Song and Dance”. Like many of my works of this period, the instrument is explored for new sonic possibilities. The lowest string is tuned down to A an octave below the 5th string. A bottleneck is used to produce entirely new musical effects, including a disappearing act. There is a “spectral canon” in the middle of the work. And the glissandi that opens the piece is one of my trademark sounds, bending chords out of their usual sound. The trickster is at work!

Unmasking

1985

Chamber Music

14:00:00

2

Cello and Piano

This work, composed using the resonance of F, employs the special Bösendorfer piano with the low F extension (although it may also be performed on a standard-range piano). The Unmasking of the title refers at once to the unmasking of the higher harmonics of the low F and to the unmasking of the cello’s character, or characteristic melodic sound, during the course of the piece. When the piano plays low resonant chords, the cello sounds best, most in character, when it plays clear melodic material above. When the piano ascends the harmonic series to play clusters, the dramatic tension between the instruments forces various attempted solutions. Once the piano is playing both the generative resonant low chords and the resulting “harmonics,” the cello may struggle to stay in character, but in the end can only gain the upper hand by performing a sound of which the piano is not capable, namely, a continuous glissando. The central tension in this music is caused by the opening proposition: listen to all of the sounds produced by any single note played on the piano. Only the lowest two of these complex sounds are actually in tune with the equal-tempered tuning of the piano. The piano proposes the sound field; the cello proposes the line to draw on that field.

In the Flesh

1994

Vocal

13:00:00

2

Baritone Voice & Piano

In the Flesh was commissioned by the Music in the Morning Concert Society and first performed by Russell Braun, voice, and Carolyn Maule, piano, at the Vancouver Academy of Music’s Koerner Recital Hall, Vancouver, Canada on March 15, 1994. In 1974, George Bowering had a collection of poetry published (by McClelland and Stewart) called In the Flesh. In his preface, he says “The following collection is made of magazine verse written after I turned thirty...not of a piece necessarily, but of a period that was entered upon & is done with.” Later he describes this period as a time in between his lyrical twenties and the more internal thirties. In George's twenties, he was “so busy taking in details that I was always saying or learning to say, oh, there it is out there. After turning thirty I said, oh, here it is in here. It was as if the language was not going out to meet the objects, but was being said by them from inside up to my larynx & out there. “I used to say, as I was on the verge of turning thirty, that if I survived I wanted nothing more in the future than I wanted wisdom, though it is mixt with despair, etc. I got pain & tears & cosmic laughter that promised to bring on wisdom. I now feel that it will come, & am immediately aware of the work involved, whereas earlier I merely hoped for the promise. That make little lyrics while waiting.” Since I began writing music, I have been taking in details, experimenting with various musical voices, techniques, and so on. I have been going “out there” to find my art. During my late twenties, I traveled quite a bit, turned myself inside out, searched far afield, even went off the edge; I’ve had a wild time. But lately I’ve been coming to the same realization that Bowering came to in his early thirties: “here it is in here.” In the spirit of Bowering’s “little lyrics while waiting,” I would describe my song cycle as cabaret tunes while waiting. That internal place from whence comes the most profound artistic expression is a place I have called The Resting Place of Fire since my composition of the same name (1987, in Spanish, El Reposo del Fuego). Since the composition of these “tunes while waiting”, new work comes increasingly from this internal place.

Guacamayo Suite

1991

Vocal

12:40:00

2

Tenor voice & Piano

The Guacamayo Suite for tenor and piano was made at the request of Vancouver Opera several months after the first performance of the composer’s first opera Guacamayo’s Old Song and Dance by the Canadian Opera Company in Banff and Toronto from Feb 26 to March 10, 1991. The suite consists of four songs that concentrate on the storytelling aspect of the opera. Each song presents a different character from Guacamayo’s story. In the first song, the storyteller prepares us for the stories he will tell about his ancestors Seven Macaw, the father, & Zipacna and Cabracan, the twin sons. The remaining three songs are taken from each of the three characters’ first appearance in the opera, where each begins to tell their own story, through Guacamayo, the storyteller.

en amitié

1994

Chamber with electroacoustic

03:00:00

2

Soprano Sax & digital audio

Commissioned by Radio-Canada to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the french FM network. Uses the voice of the Right Honourable René Levesque from his “speech to the nation” on the evening of the first election victory of the Parti Quebecois on November 15, 1976.

Eternity Gaze

2013

Chamber Music

18:15:00

3

erhu, guitar, piano

Eternity Gaze is a work in four movements, each of which explores a different musical and cultural "space." "Looking Outward Together" sees the three musicians looking toward the musical styles of each others' instruments. They begin by creating a sound sculpture on some resonances around the notes A and E with pentatonic melodic bits. The erhu takes up a pentatonic melody in E minor that slowly slides into a jazz-blues, which, on coming to full fruition, disappears right away back into the ether. "Forgetting Time" is a medieval musical structure whereby a melodic sequence of x numbers of notes is given note durations of y number of values. The erhu plays a seemingly endless melody as the notes of the melody ebb and flow based on the ever-changing time each note is held. The melody is surrounded by a veil of harmonics and muted notes on guitar and piano. "In a Mirror" is a driving music that combines the minor modes of the west with a three-note pentatonic motif. The last movement, "Here, Now" combines the extended chords and polyrhythms often found in jazz and new music with rising lines on erhu. In the second part of the movement, assertive, happy Beethoven piano arpeggios invade a slithering, unstable erhu melody to create a strange dichotomy that reflects our time.

Celestial Storehouse

2012

Chamber Music

15:30:00

3

erhu, guzheng, marimba & 2 crotales

The composition is inspired by the following text from the Chuang Tzu: "Who knows the unspoken explanation, the unexpressed Way? Among those who do know, this is called the celestial storehouse: we can pour into it without filling it, we can draw from it without exhausting it; and yet, we don't know where it comes from. This is called hidden illumination."

Fields Before Us

1990

Chamber Music

16:20:00

3

Soprano Sax, Bass Clarinet, 3 Congas (one player)

In five movements: 1] Killing Fields; 2] Corn Fields; 3] Magnetic Fields; 4] Elysian Fields; 5] Playing Fields.

The title Fields Before Us evokes nature in the present tense, history when interpreting the word “before” in its temporal meaning, and the future when taken to mean “in front of us.” The additional titles of each movement intend to create an evocative atmosphere for the listening, but otherwise have no narrative intent.

The work is comprised of five movements, the fifth of which is a collage of the previous four. Each movement reveals a particular approach to time and space. All are Unified by the use of the Fibonacci(1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8) and other additive number series. the first and third movements employ canon techniques; the second a multi-layered, colouristic technique; and the fourth a wavelike melodic organisation. Though each of the four movements is distinct, they share basic musical materials (intervallic and temporal relationships.) This allows me to play a game with the listener’s memory in the fifth movement, showing how the previous four can be intertwined in an effect similar to looking at a quadruple-layered chess game, in which we can see four games at once. Such multiplicity is a metaphor for modern life.

The work was first performed on a concert of the Vancouver New Music Society on March 11, 1990 by the amazing musicians Lori Freedman, David Branter and Salvador Ferreras.

New Bloom

1988

Chamber Music

06:30:00

3

Flute, Violin, Viola

Composed at the Banff Centre for the Arts after master classes with Roger Reynolds. I found Reynolds’ concepts of chopping up musical materials with a view to finding new and “impersonal” ways to put them back together fascinating. It was something related to serial music organisation, but with a new liberty. But I found that the source material being chopped up was a series of notes that I could not follow in its original form, or, perhaps, that I simply did not like, that did not speak to me. It was as though we were trying to put together a puzzle of a field of grass – not very rewarding, too self-similar. I would prefer to do a puzzle of more clearly delineated objects, such as a flower, a bird, a clock and the sea. And so I wrote a fibonacci-inspired arc melody with very clear growth patterns in both melodic and rhythmic structure. I chopped this up into increasingly smaller segments, intershuffled, and then placed them in reverse so that the piece begins with shards of the materials, and as the piece progresses the chunks of material become more and more complete until the original melody emerges at the end, a new bloom. This process is given to the flute. The two string players perform secondary “spin-offs” of the process that give the impression of mirrors reflecting light back to the main evolving line.

Inside Out

1988

Chamber Music

08:00:00

3

3 Clarinets

Composed at the Banff Centre for the Arts, this work is inspired by the “chamber music theatre” of French composer Georges Aphergis. The clarinetists who attempt this piece should know their instruments “inside-out.” They are required to alter the pitch with the embouchure, play alternate fingerings, multiphonics, sing while playing, and stamp their feet (in frustration perhaps)! This piece explores resonance and melodic concepts that appear in many of my works of this period. The structural alternation of textural and “avant-garde” techniques with more plaintive material is treated somewhat freely in this work.

Before the Freeze

1984

Chamber with electroacoustic

13:00:00

3

Clarinet & CD or Clarinet, Trumpet, Alto Sax & CD

One or three instruments find themselves in an harmonic environment, disturbingly familiar, orchestral in space, yet emanating from loudspeakers. Interacting among themselves and with the audio, they discover the shades of timbre which pass through the air they breath.

Raven’s Cry (version for 3 voices)

1999

Vocal

10:00:00

4

one or more voices (3 parts: high, medium, low), Piano & CD

Raven’s Cry was commissioned by the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Competition and first performed by finalists in the competition on April 30, 1999 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. The winner for best performance of the imposed work was Krista Scott. Also, the winner of the competition, mezzo-soprano Vilma Vitols, sang the work in the solo version across Canada as part of her winning tour in the fall of 1999. Text by the composer with additional text from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The score was written to be sung in both of the official languages of Canada, English and French; Spanish has also been added in several places, though the rhythms have not always been completely notated due to space restrictions. When a soloist sings the piece, the story told at the centre of the piece should be spoken in the majority language of the audience. (See page iii of this Introduction for the complete text of this story in English, French, and Spanish.) The rest of the piece may be sung in any of the three notated languages (English, French, or Spanish), the three languages of the Americas, with the following two exceptions: 1] Since the story's original language is English, there are some phrases that must be sung in English; these are notated in English only in the score. 2] The sections that feature Articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR] (from bars 99 to 183) appear in the score in the two official Languages of Canada, French and English, as well as Spanish where possible. However, these passages may be sung in any language for which a translation of the UDHR exists. Translations of the UDHR in more than 40 languages can be downloaded from the "50th Anniversary" internet web site http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/index.htm and used instead of or in addition to the text as it appears in the score. The performers would then have to adapt the notes and rhythms to fit the text to the score. A highly creative rendition of this section of the score would present a mixture of languages for each of the musical phrases.

NOTE: Other versions of the score with single high, medium and low parts are simply part extractions of this score, with the exception of the “version for solo medium voice” which was revised for Vilma Vitols.

en amitié (rock band version)

2002

Chamber with electroacoustic

03:00:00

4

Soprano Sax (optional E.gtr, E.bass, Drum Set) & digital audio

Commissioned by Radio-Canada to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the french FM network. Uses the voice of the Right Honourable René Levesque from his “speech to the nation” on the evening of the first election victory of the Parti Quebecois on November 15, 1976.

Shaking the Core

2015

Chamber Music

10:30:00

4

2 violins, viola, cello

Prismophony

1999

Chamber Music

17:10:00

4

Guitar Quartet

"Sounding the prism” would be a literal translation of the title. The music is inspired by folk and classical traditions of various cultures. Canon technique is used extensively throughout. "Blue" comes from the Afro-american blues through the lens of spectral Dutch minimalism. "Green" emerges from an inconsequential baroque ornament figure. "Purple" is a spectral canon, which plays the closest notes to the overtone series of a vibrating tube or string. "Yellow" is a delicate percussive piece inspired by the rhythms of Africa.

Traces

1993

Chamber Music

10:00:00

4

String Quartet

2 Violin, Viola, Cello

My first composition for string quartet muses on certain bits and pieces of music from the string quartet repertoire: traces of music from the past, archaeological discoveries of parts of string quartets long-since dead to living composers, yet much alive in the hearts of concert-goers today.

Imagine a time in the future when the great works of music have been reduced to a set of principals that forms the basis for a series of computer programs. Sheet music would no longer exist and live musicians would have been replaced by computers. The "composers" in such a time would be those who had best mastered the computer programs that "generate" the music. A disaster will have happened during a world-wide power failure: all of the original pieces of music on which the computer programs were based will be destroyed. After such a catastrophe, a young musicologist-composer might seek out original musical scores printed on paper to study them. After finding only single pages here and there of bits of string quartets written by Beethoven, Mozart and Bartok, he might write a piece such as "Traces" in his search for the origins of musical inspiration.

Joyous Noise

2000

Choral

02:05:00

4

SATB Choir

This work was written specifically to open a program of lighter music from North America and England. Thus the references to “American song” and “English little ditty” in bars 22 to 25. (These words can be replaced by other words more suitable to the program being performed if deemed appropriate.) Similarly, the choir should choose words to place in the blanks found in bars 26 through 34 that best describe the other works on their program. the words chosen should be sung by the entire choir so the text is clearly intelligible. The men echo the women in the three phrases from bar 26 to 31. It is suggested that three different words be chosen for these. Then all sing together, again three phrases, which can be a repetition of the previous three, or three new words altogether.

Rainsongforest

1986

Vocal

17:00:00

5

Soprano Voice, Oboe, Guitar, Piano, Synthesizer and Tape

In Memorium, Edward Oliver, the composer’s father, who died May 18, 1986. Text by the composer.

No Ambition

2011

Chamber with electroacoustic

15:00:00

5

wind controller, keyboard controller, malletKAT controller, electric guitar, amplified cello

George Bush said: “We have no ambition in Iraq.” I never believed him. This composition is my last comment on the George W. Bush era of American politics. In this work, I take this single phrase and process it beyond recognition, crushing and pulverizing it into continuously moving textures that surround the listener, just as the results of Bush’s actions circulate the globe today. I become sarcastic and irreverent. Laughter is our only defense against the hatred and disdain that emanated from the words and actions of that government.

Contemplating Motion

2010

Chamber Music

06:00:00

5

clarinet, bass trombone, harp, violin, cello

This work is inspired by listening to a single sound and it’s harmonic (overtone) structure: contemplating the motion inside sound (difference tones) when two or more instruments play in unison. Difference tones create fluctuating beating and additional sounds in the air. So we hear more than the notes that are played. Similarly, when sounds are so low that they go below our threshold of hearing, they turn into beating patterns. Rhythm and pulse are just a continuum at the low end of our hearing. This short piece explores the sound based on two notes, C and D, and then combines them in the end, culminating in a slowing down that represents the transition from pulsed listening to harmonic listening.

Purple Lotus Bud

2004

Chamber Music

17:00:00

5

Zheng and String Quartet

Chinese guzheng, 2 violins, viola, cello

This is the first original composition ever written for zheng and string quartet. I thank Mei Han for thinking of this combination of instruments and for giving me the honour to write the work, and the Borealis Quartet for taking on the challenge of creating this new work. The music plays with the difference in sound between ancient Chinese music based on a five-note pentatonic scale, and the dominant seventh chord, which I consider to be the pivotal sound of European art music as most people experience it (i.e. in the standard repertoire). The music begins with a cross-cultural rewriting of the ancient zheng composition Pink Lotus in Many Modes and continues with contrasting transformations that emerge. The yin and yang principle pervades.

I wanted to create a new music that merges east and west, rather than having them "meet," which is the usual way to describe this cultural mix. To achieve this goal, I analyzed Pink Lotus in Many Modes and took its skeleton as the basis for the first section of the music. This became the creative spring-board (starting point) for the rest of the music. I wanted to "get at the DNA" of ancient Chinese music, and cross-pollinate with my own western music training to create a new music. This is the musical equivalent of a "mixed marriage," where the children are neither caucasian, nor asian, but truly a mixture of both.

I was born and raised in Vancouver. I listened to classical European music alongside the (Mississippi river) Delta Blues, bluegrass, folk music, and rock and roll. North American culture already contains a strong mixture of European and African music in "the blues," which is the song-form of the African-American slaves. This music has an unstable or moving musical interval of the major/minor third that resembles the unstable minor third found in Pink Lotus.

The title of my work, Purple Lotus Bud, reflects a mixture of the "pink" of the ancient Chinese composition, and "the blues" of North America. If you mix the colour blue with pink, you get purple. And rather than the flower, I focus on the bud of the flower. And so my work is like a mixed blue and pink lotus plant that is about to burst forth from its bud to the flower. I am writing "new world music" that merges different musics of the world into a new sound.

Gallery

1996

Chamber Music

16:15:00

5

Wind Quintet

Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn in F, Bassoon

I wrote GALLERY in the spirit of Bach's Musical Offering and the writings of painter Wassily Kandinsky. GALLERY began its life as a collection of sketches, written mainly when inspiration struck. The form of the work evolved from the material, without preconceiving a formal structure., In fact, the final order of the movements was hard to decide. The work was slightly revised in 2008.

Lately, I have been thinking about temperament and the effect of sound on listeners. Sound is a continuum, untempered. Humans can discern approximately 72 steps within an octave, in the speaking register of their hearing. The equal tempered tuning system (that used on keyboard instruments, for example) allows for highly developed polyphonic music, using many, varied melodic and harmonic structures, but with only 12, equally-spaced steps per octave. Its weakness lies in its inherent inability to sound "restful", because of the constant beating of the sounding intervals. An overload of dissonance comes quickly to music sounding with this tuning. On the other hand, music played using just intonation (pure intervals spaced according to low-integer ratios) sounds restful, even at a higher level of intensity. Wind instruments tend to play pure intervals when they play together, without a piano. So, in GALLERY, I have written pieces using both systems.

The first movement resembles artist sketches for a series of paintings. Within the first movement, the sketches are titled “frame,” “resonance,” “points,” “lines,” and “plane.” (One can hear the reverberations of Kandinsky’s treatise “Point and Line to Plane” and an echo of the idea of Mussorgsky’s walking music in his “Pictures at an Exhibition” can be heard in the opening “frame” music.) At the end of this movement, you will hear a melody that reappears at important places throughout the various movements. In the second movement, "Points Breakdown," I use just intervals (7th to 12th harmonics) and canon technique to create what composer John Burke has called "bouncing around inside a dominant seventh chord." “Lines Interlacing,” the third movement, is subtitled “In the style of a tarantella,” though it is a strict canon at the fourth that develops the “sketch” that appeared near the beginning. This same tune is then given a new mixed accompaniment in the fourth part, “Alluvial Plane.” The fifth part, “Eternity Canon,” is a trio of the high winds that combines the “points” idea of narrow linear movement with the rhythmic profile of “lines” and ends the phrases with the “resonance” model. All of this is organised as a canon at the unison that transposes up a major third with each iteration. This sends the players (and the listener) into the highest registers of the instruments, into undulating clusters, before a final descent. The sixth movement, called “Watercolours,” now combines the previous music into a new masterwork for all to hear. The sliding tones added to the “lines” material enriches the colour of the piece. Concepts of line and counterpoint mix traditional meaning with new and our study of “point and line to plane” is complete.

Fanfare for the Future

2000

Choral

03:30:00

5

SATB choir, organ

This work was written at the request of the Vancouver Bach Choir and is dedicated to the World Peace Movement. I believe it is the true purpose of music to move musicians and audiences toward a greater sense of their common humanity and to inspire compassion. My choral music is, in this sense, sacred music.

Chase the money

2000

Orchestral with soloist

10:15:00

6

Alto Sax and String Orchestra

Alto Sax, Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Double Bass

Chase the Money is a chasing game between the pure penetrating tone of the alto saxophone and the massed sound of the string orchestra. Beginning with the entire group playing middle C, the single idea that generates the music is the expansion of this interval from unison to a minor seventh. The corresponding expanding motivic material that emerges becomes the subject of the middle section. I think of the sound the musicians make as a living being that is not arbitrarily structured, but structured according to the various behaviours, acoustical properties, and psychoacoustic affects of sounds when they are combined. I am writing directly with sound. I wrote the saxophone part directly on the instrument, using several idiomatic microtonal fingerings. Chase the Money was commissioned by the Montreal publisher Éditions musicales opus 102. I thank Bernard Savoie for commissioning the work and saxophonist Otis Murphy for invaluable inspiration and consultation during the creation of the music. I am especially indebted to Vancouver saxophonist David Branter for his championing of the work.

Sounding Eternal

2001

Chamber with electroacoustic

21:00:00

6

Trombone, String Quartet, & MIDI Guitar/electronics/voice

My music is sometimes worldly, sometimes other-worldly. Sounding Eternal is a seminal work in the latter stream, striving to find a quiet music, a natural, resonant music that could be written and listened to for eternity. (Gallery and Prismophony are similar works.) Here I employ both the natural harmonic series and the 31-tone equal-tempered scale. This tuning allows a composer to create modulating harmony that resonates much more naturally than the 12-note tempered scale. The music comes out of chaos to explore the three vowel series “u”, “a”, and “ee” that make up the word “why” (and also expresses the harmonic series), moving through a dialectic between group declamation and individual expression, and on to the last part, a five-part motet on the harmonic series of the note E that allows all voices to be heard equally and to reach a meditative, yet lively place.

Radioed

1993

Chamber with electroacoustic

18:00:00

6

Mixed Sextet

Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Percussion, Synthesizer, microphones

One summer evening I found myself at a Greek festival. The party was almost over. And suddenly the music was getting very interesting. This was not the usual popular fair! The music was in complex metres, and yet it was still dancing music. I went home humming these new tunes, infected by this new expression. Often I only discover the strange and new through recordings or radio broadcasts. This time I was lucky. But “radioed” is what I have become during my life, sensitive as I am to the musical culture of the world through radio broadcasts, which then lead me to recordings. Such were the thoughts that lead me to create my own ersatz Greek tune and then go through a process of dismantling it during the course of my composition.

Guitar Concerto (La Abuela)

2001

Orchestral with soloist

22:00:00

7

classical guitar and string sextet or string orchestra

guitar, 2 violins, 2 viola, cello, double bass

The guitar is my instrument. Guitarists Alex Dunn, David Tannenbaum and I attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music together, a turning point in my life when American composer John Adams taught me there, and encouraged my writing. So my guitar concerto takes the listener into the world of virtuoso guitarists, whose musical lives are permeated by the Spanish repertoire, and, of course, the ubiquitous Aranjuez Concerto (by Rodrigo) in particular. My concerto evokes the traditional in form and content, allowing the soloist to display technical and musical finesse. I am indebted to Alex for his wonderful inventiveness and suggestions to refine the guitar part.

Our City Square

2012

Chamber Music

12:00:00

7

arranged for guitar trio

Eagle Flies to Mountain

2005

Chamber Music

18:00:00

7

Mixed World Music Octet

Clarinet in A, sheng (or accordion), zheng (or harp and dobro/lap steel Guitar), percussion, gaohu (or violin), erhu (or violin), pipa (or Classical Guitar), daruan (or Classical Guitar retuned or Cello)

"Eagle Flies to Mountain" explores the four elements – earth, air, fire, water – as implemented in concepts of the zodiac, specifically the personalities of cusp signs. Cusp signs take on the characteristics or personality traits of two adjacent signs of the zodiac, and thus two elements. Here I have named the combination of Earth/Air as “mountain,” and Water/Fire as “eagle.” Each of these combinations contains opposites and represents well the concept of yin and yang. Earth is apathetic, sluggish, grounded, practical and conservative in approach. Air is irritable, changeable, intellectual and abstract, inventive and clever. Water is sad, brooding, flowing, wavering, intuitive and emotional. Fire is active, enthusiastic creative and courageous. The mountain is where earth and sky meet. Eagle flies high near the sun, then dives to catch fish in the water. Eagle can also fly to the mountain. This story is eternal, without an end. Yet we have stories about how it all began. And this is how my music begins.

Driven

2003

Chamber Music

07:00:00

8

Chamber Ensemble

Flute and/or electric violin (optional), Alto Sax, Cello (baritone sax doubling optional), Vibes, Guitar (optional Synthesizer plays bass and flute parts), Electric Bass (optional), Piano, Drum Set.

Driven is music for mind, body and soul. It makes you want to get up and dance, then it transmogrifies to take you for a canonic ride where the individual voices race after one another until they merge in a frenetic energy that lets tumble “the tune.” Thanks to J. S. Bach for continued inspiration.

Travels without my Parrot

2014

Chamber Music

11:00:00

8

clarinet, shaker, guitar and string quintet

clarinet, shaker, guitar, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass.

This music was John Oliver's contribution to a semi-theatrical production by the Big World Band of a story "The Parrot and the Merchant" by Rumi.

Oliver contributed the travel music, as the Merchant travels from Iran to the Indian jungle to communicate the story of his parrot's life in captivity in Tehran. Since the journey takes the Merchant away from home and back again, it seemed an appropriate musical form to extract from the complete piece, which was a collection of music composed by various band members in 2014 when it was written.

Consensus

2007

Chamber Music

10:00:00

8

Mixed World Music Ensemble, 7 or more players

High Wind (Flute, Dizi, Soprano Sax, Oboe, Shakuhachi, etc.); High Bowed String (erhu, violin, sarangi, kamancheh,); Other melody instrument (viola, pipa, electric guitar, alto or tenor sax, clarinet); Drum Set (tabla, dumbeck, congas, frame drum, or other: adapt part.);Keyboard (zheng, harp, yang chin, accordion, synthesizer); Classical Guitar (amplified) or Electric guitar (GR-33 synth optional); Guitar 2 [optional part] (classical, steel-string, electric, zhongruan, tar); 4-string Bass Guitar or other bass (electric, acoustic or guitarron, contrabass clarinet, bassoon, sax).

Classically-trained musicians of many of the world’s cultures increasingly want to play music together, and want to play with musicians from oral traditions. A great synthesis is underway. With so many different approaches to creating and playing music, such a project has great challenges. But regardless of the musician’s musical background or training, there is one thing most can agree upon: that music was born of about four notes. My work is a way for musicians to get together to play a piece based on the notes D, E, G, & A.

Each musician brings special training to such music-making. Those who can read music well can teach the score to musicians who play better by ear, so that all can reach a musical consensus. The “solos” section can be extended through improvisation, with the duration of each solo to be determined by a cueing system devised by the musicians. Classical musicians are encouraged to ornament, vary, add to, and alter the written solos to make them idomatic for their instrument.

Although conceived of for a mixed Asian and Western ensemble, several, quite different, core ensembles could be used. For example, an amplified band: soprano sax, electric violin, 3 electric guitars, drum set, synthesizer and electric bass; an “intercultural” band: shakuhachi, kamancheh, clarinet, dumbeck, accordion, classical guitar, zhonruan, and guitarron. The first version was performed on dizi, erhu, pipa, drum set, zheng, classical guitar, zhongruan, and electric bass.

Retour

1998

Chamber Music

14:30:00

8

Chamber Ensemble (Octet)

Flute, Oboe (English Horn), Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Double Bass, Piano, Percussion (one player): waterphone, 4 suspended cymbals (Chinese cymbal, heavy jazz ride cymbal, two other cymbals [may be sizzle or other special]), 2 tuned gongs [B,A], 1 tam-tam, 1 temple bell [bowl] in A, misc. ringing percussion, vibraphone, tambourine, 4 octobans [lower set, tuned loosely], large bass drum.

The French word “retour” simply means “return.” Return to the source, to the wellspring of artistic creation, to the origins of music in resonance, dance and song. Enjoy the multiplicity of musical creation. If the soul is dancing, the music will dance. “Retour” begins where my piece “Aller-retour” left off ten years previously: a new beginning.

Summer (F)ayre

1995

Chamber Music

09:45:00

8

String Octet

4 Violin, 2 Viola, 2 Cello

Commissioned to celebrate the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival’s 10th Anniversary. The work exists in two basic forms, contained within one score: Summer Ayre for string quartet, and Summer (F)ayre, for two strings quartets. The two works may be played alone, or one after the other. Summer (F)ayre may be played by a single quartet with prerecorded audio of the other four parts. Echoes of the troubadours, and their “natural” sounding music, merge with the driving energy of minimalism and a certain lyricism in the polyphony.

Monkey Running

2007

Chamber Music

06:00:00

11

Mixed Chinese & Western Ensemble

Piccolo (bangdi), Bandoneon (Sheng, Accordion), Violin (Erhu), Pipa, Zhongruan, Yangqin (Cimbalom), Zheng, Drum Set, Classical Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar

Welcome to the year of the monkey. Monkey Running is a fun energetic piece full of mischief. Three monkeys visit the music: a slow big monkey, a smaller monkey who likes to sing, and the tiny spider monkey who squeaks. Monkeys crave fun, activity and stimulation, and they like to show off. I would like to thank Mr. Zhang Jin for erhu lessons and for translating the title into Chinese characters, and to Ms. Han Mei for zheng lessons, and to the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble for commissioning the work.

11

2000

Chamber Music

07:10:00

11

9 electric guitars, & 2 electric basses

9 electric guitars, & 2 electric basses

My friends and I all grew up with the electric guitar as the instrument of pop culture worship. I wrote this piece for my friends. The great players were gods to us and everything about the instrument and how it was played created a buzz, from Townsend's powerchords and guitar smashing, to Hendrix's chewing and burning. The electric guitar was more than an instrument: it was a talking stick capable of possessing those who dared to plug it in. I spun this piece out of a few little insignificant guitar licks. Rock guitar gods (and wannabes) always set their amplifiers to "11". Long hair and a big attitude is not a requirement to play this piece, but it helps.

Aller-Retour

1988

Chamber Music

11:05:00

11

Chamber Ensemble

Flute, E.Hn, B.Clarinet, Trumpet, Hn, Trombone, Violin, Cello, Double Bass, 2 Percussion.

“Un aller-retour s’il vous plait.” “Pour ou, monsieur?” “Peu importe.”
(“A return ticket, please” “Where to, sir?” “It doesn’t really matter.”)

Alba

1980

Choral

05:30:00

12

12 voices (SATB)

I wrote the text in Spanish first, then translated it into English. In the repertoire of the troubadours and troveres, the alba is a song that deals with the lover’s departure in the early morning. In the later German minnesinger tradition, these often became devotional prayers. I have combined the two in my piece, transforming the ecstasy of love that creates intense electricity between lovers in the first verse into the destructive “electricity” unleashed by the nuclear bomb in the second.

I was twenty-one years old when I wrote this work. As I write this in 2006, I feel that the world hasn’t fundamentally changed since then. I recopied it from the original and made a few adjustments to better shape the piece, but otherwise it is the same work I wrote in 1980 during my second month singing with Cortland Hultberg’s University of British Columbia Chamber Singers. Today I rededicate this work to Cortland Hultberg’s memory.

Scenes from an Intercultural Marriage

2014

Orchestral

14:30:00

14

Traditional Chinese Orchestra

“Scenes from an Intercultural Marriage” is a title that I invented after I finished writing the music. So although it may seem that there is a story being told in the music, there is not! The music mixes together the musical flavours of China and North American: pentatonic with blues and jazz. The open strings of the cello contain 4 of the 5 notes of the pentatonic scale used in Chinese music. At the beginning of the music, you will hear the cello and the orchestra play these four notes as ascending perfect fifths. Then the cello will pluck the strings and fill in those notes with a blues scale. This is the basis for much of the music you will hear.

The names of the four movements are:

1] Good Morning Vancouver! 2] Shooting Stars 3] Learning to Dance 4] Look in the Mirror.

Alternate Visions

2007

Opera

01:20:00

14

Opera in 7 Scenes

seven Voices, 2 sax, e. Guitar, Bass, kyd Synthesizer., Computer, Diffuseur

Love and technology collide as a man and woman try to get away from their devices and meet in real life. Yet technology is always there to intervene. The audience is placed in the heart of the action with the protagonists: two singles develop a relationship over the Internet in a virtual 3D environment; they decide to break the ice of cyberspace and meet in person at a high-tech karaoke bar, which is in fact the set of Alternate Visions, a reality television show where couples form and break up before an audience. At the last minute, they both get cold feet and ask their respective best friends to take their places. Misunderstandings multiply ad infinitum, raising many questions about fidelity, the perception of reality and the culture of identity. The music mixes "Art Music" with vernacular forms, from ballad to blues to electronica, to evoke the different emotional states of the characters and situations.

The Bridge

2010

Orchestral

10:02:00

15

Mixed Chinese and Western chamber orchestra

Dizi (Bangdi), Flute (Alto Flute), Guanzi, Bass Clarinet, Percussion (one player: gongs, gamelan pots vibraphone, dagu, bass drum), Piano, Pipa, Zongruan, Sanxian, Gaoju, Erhu, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass.

About a thousand years ago, when the Christian Church split into Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, the musicians of the catholic church and of Europe started to write music down. From this simple act, a new music was born that allowed for more subtle and complex changes in the music: many new combinations of voices, harmonies and rhythms were born. Music to the east of modern-day Turkey remained essentially driven by song and melody. I also observe that in China, the plucked strings are an important part of the orchestra, whereas in the West, they are not. So I chose three soloists: the viola (big violin), the sanxian (Chinese banjo) and percussion. In my composition, I try to create a bridge between the two ways of making music by using the most recognizable features of each tradition: the diatonic chords of western music and the melodic drive of Chinese music. In the first part, I create this bridge by showing how the two solo instruments can play the same musical material but sound completely different: the western viola begins, sounding almost angry and war-like; the Chinese banjo, the sanxian, then takes a turn at the musical idea, turning into playful folk music. Thus begins a dialogue that continues on, transforming into a joyful celebration. In the second part, I create a very static music that evokes the music of the 15th century: the solo instruments create a hypnotic imitation music that seems to circle inward on itself. In the last section, the main theme is derived from both the first and second parts. This time the music proceeds according to principals of Western harmonic progression – mainly by thirds, like the main melodic interval – the "bridge" is created by a sudden appearance of a few bars of traditional classical piano chords that spawn a whole new pulsating music of harmonic and melodic drive that takes us to the end of the composition.

Cool Cut

2016

Orchestral with soloist

17:40.00

15

alto saxophone and chamber ensemble

alto sax, flute/picc, clarinet, bassoon, bass clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, percussion, piano, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass

A purposely enigmatic work, I have taken as inspiration the first few notes or phrases from key compositions from the "cool jazz" period, specifically the landmark Miles Davis nonette recording BIRTH OF THE COOL (1954). Baritone saxophonist and composer Gerry Mulligan's tunes are at the core of the piece. My favourite Dave Brubeck composition, "Blue Rondo a la Turk" also makes appearances at various points, and the unavoidable famous Paul Desmond tune "Take Five" elbows it's way in the very last section.

Many of these tunes are between 4 to 12 bars long, and the rest consists of improvisation over chord changes. Whereas improvisation is often the core interest for jazz music lovers, in my case, I sought similarities of chords and melodic structures among the various tunes, and mashed those together, discarding improvisation entirely.

I also purposefully keep the duration of the 5 tunes quite short, between about 2 to 4 minutes in length, so they are very compact and end suddenly.

I use chords and passages from following compositions:

Blue Rondo a la Turk by Dave Brubeck;

Budo by Miles Davis and Bud Powell;

Venus de Milo, Rocker, Jeru, and Line for Lyons by Gerry Mulligan;

Move by Denzil de Costa Best;

Israel by John Carisi;

Take Five by Paul Desmond

Straight No Chaser and 'Round Midnight by Thelonius Monk, the latter as realized by Miles Davis on his album “Round About Midnight”

I dedicate COOL CUT to the memory of my mother, who raised me on a mix of cool jazz, string quartets, folk, pop, and Saturday afternoon at the opera, all playing at full volume, all the time.

My very special thanks Alison E Kirkley and Richard Carswell for their financial support of the creation of this music.

Five Ring Concerto

2010

Orchestral

21:44:00

16

chamber orchestra

fl, ob, cl, b.cl, bn, hn, tp, b.tn, perc, hp, pno, string quintet

The Five-Ring Concerto was commissioned by Arts Partners in Creative Development for the Turning Point Ensemble to celebrate the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. The symbolism of five rings, three medals and two competing teams is intentional and permeates several aspects of the piece: five movements; three sections of the orchestra – string, winds, and brass – compete with one another; and in two of the movements, the competition is between the sole athlete and an icy slope or track. Are there gold, silver, and bronze winners in this "competition"? I'll let the audience be the judge. Musicologists and theorists might enjoy exploring my particular approach to harmony and chromaticism, which has a lot to do with resonance. But for the reader of these words, what I had in mind when I began to compose was to sonify the actual rhythms of the winter sports, to get at the viscera: "being the sport". In this way I hope to evoke the spirit of the games. Musicians are athletes. At times they compete as individuals; at other times they work as a team. Music and sport are siblings. Look at the movement! It's all a dance: musicians dance through their movements, hockey players twirl on the ice, painters create gestures on canvas. All are negotiating ups and downs, fast and slow. It is all art.

How does this translate into music? If you know the sports well, you will hear their sounds recreated and become play in the music. You will hear the curling rock go down the ice, the sweepers sweep, the rocks collide. You will hear the exact pulses of speed skating, in a continuous sweeping motion. The skeleton is heard as a youtube video and then from the perspective of a spectator at track-side: talk about opposite experiences! The freestyle skiing movement will launch your ears into the moguls, and into the air. Finally, the hockey movement begins with the entry of the players, one after the next, as in a fugue, creating ritual circular patterns; once the puck is dropped, the brass and winds compete – while strings are the puck – two goals are scored before our window on this quintessential Canadian Olympic sport closes to end the piece.

Creations

1988

Choral

14:00:00

16

Antiphonal 16 voice choir, SATB

Composed at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Text collected by the composer from ancient religious texts and mythologies. The work explores resonance, storytelling, and mystery. A seminal choral work ideally performed by 16 strong voices with controlled concert hall space or amplification.

Guacamayo’s Old Song and Dance

1991

Opera

01:45:00

17

Opera in One Act

5 Voices, 2 Flute, Bass Clarinet, 2 Trumpet, 2 Trombone, Guitar Synthesizer, 2 kyd Synthesizer, 2 Percussion.

The story of GUACAMAYO'S OLD SONG AND DANCE, a one-act opera for five singers and twelve instrumentalists performing on acoustic and electronic instruments, is drawn from the Popul Vuh, an ancient book of the Maya peoples, who still live in Guatemala and sounthern Mexico. In the opera, five contemporary Mayas (two grandparents, two grandchildren and a storyteller) give us a glimpse of their oral tradition by telling and enacting the story of Seven Macaw, and his two sons Zipacna and Cabracan--false gods pretending to be the creators of Light, the Mountains, and the Flatlands, respectively.

The story takes place in a time when people were made of wood. The (true) Creator-Gods, collectively referred to as "Hurikan" (from which we derive the word "hurricane"), had failed for the third time in their attempt to create the human race. They were just conceiving the sun and moon, and contriving a big flood to flush out the wooden people to make way for another try at the creation of mankind when they noticed these False Gods on the earth. Our story begins as the two boy-warrior-gods, Hunahpu and Ixbalanque (Eesh-ba-lan-kay) are on their way, sent by Hurikan, to trick the three False Gods into their own deaths.

The subsequent missions of trickery, recounted by these five people of today, take on increasingly contemporary significance as the storytellers reinforce the ancient Maya belief in eternal recurrence: events will come again, though differing in detail.

Gypsy Chronicles

2010

Orchestral

15:00:00

18

Chamber orchestra with instruments of the world

Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Tabla, Frame Drum/Darbuka, Oud, Persian Tar, Santur, Zheng, erhu, string sextet

I wrote this piece to celebrate the great project of intercultural music making. To this end, I imagined myself on the road to Byzantium, or Constantinople, or Istanbul (take your pick): somewhere on the Silk Road, with a bunch of gypsies, who originate from Allah/God/Vishnu knows where. And they are all playing their instruments together. So the first movement (of four) is somewhat traditional in sound, evocative of some sort of imagined Persian music. The Persian 17-note mode – the tuning of the "tar" (triple-coursed gourd-resonating guitar from Iran) – is at the core of the sound of this music, which is infused with the unison melodic practice of the Middle East, yet it is mysteriously striving to compose itself, perhaps suggesting echoes of the early melodic conversions of Claude Vivier and Stockhausen, yet I unabashedly veer toward the Troubadours. All great fun to prepare you for the small monuments of the second and third movements, two smaller “chronicles”. And in closing, the music returns to dance.

Forging Utopia

1997

Orchestral

12:10:00

18

Orchestra (2222 2200 timp str)

“If this is a report more personal than otherwise, more pop culture than high-brow, that is no more than the first lesson of "brink culture." Today we cannot escape the influence of the popular, and we can find no authoritative standpoint from which judgments can be delivered with finality. This cultural and epistemological vertigo can be frightening, certainly, but it can also be pretty exciting–even liberating.” -Mark Kingwell, DREAMS OF MILLENNIUM

Forging Utopia is a manifestation in sound of my thoughts, ideas and feelings about the world in which we live at the turn of the millenium, and how music might enliven, enlighten and transform the listener. I want to forge a future for music, rather than dwell too much on the past. If new music is to have an important place in society at all, it must aspire to move an audience to reflect on existence. The utopian in me writes to forge a better existence. We need a reference point as we set out on a journey, whether that journey be in time, in space, or within ourselves. My Forging Utopia contains several such references, familiar music in an unfamiliar context. By the time you complete the journey of Forging Utopia you may find you are back where you started…or that you never left…or that you can’t get there from here. Or...

Raven Steals the Light

1999

Orchestral

22:40:00

18

Orchestra (2222 1100 timp. pc, pno, str)

My composition sets the story of The Raven Steals the Light, as told and illustrated by Bill Reid in a book of Native American tales of the same name, which he co-wrote with Robert Bringhurst. The music begins with the ‘inky pitchy blackness double fugue’ (the world before light). Raven bumbles around in the dark, to eventually discover a house with no windows or doors. Inside he hears an old man who says, ‘I have a box and inside the box is another box and inside it are many more boxes, and in the smallest box of all is all the light of the world.’ Raven decide he wants the light , but he can’t find a way into the house, so he goes upstream to make a plan. He decides to transform himself into a hemlock needle to travel downstream until he reaches the place where the old man’s daughter collects water. She will collect water at the moment Raven arrives (as hemlock needle). Then she will drink from the bucket and swallow Raven. Raven will go to her womb. The daughter will go home and Raven will be born inside the house as Raven-boy.

After much stumbling around (in the dark, remember), he will find the box of boxes with light in the smallest one. He will cajole the old man to open the boxes, against his will, one by one, until a strange light is cast. When he opens the last box, the old man picks up the ball of light and tosses it like a toy to Raven-boy who, at that instant, transforms himself back into the big black Raven. In the newly found light, the old man barely glimpses his grandson as the boy’s mouth becomes a beak and catches the light and Raven flies up out of the house through the smoke-hole.

As Raven flies into the sky, everything below is lit up, but, as Raven can now see, so can his predator, Eagle. Eagle chases Raven., Raven swerves to avoid Eagle, and in doing so, drops half the light, which breaks on the rocks below into one big piece and thousands of tiny pieces that bounce back into the night sky to become today’s moon and stars. Finally, tired of the chase, Raven drops the last piece of light on the horizon, creating the sun. The eternal Raven escapes the jaws of the Eagle and goes on to find food and new adventures in his newly illuminated world. The composition ends with the transformation of the world by light.

Unseen Rain

1995

Orchestral with soloist

11:00:00

19

Mezzo-soprano, Orchestra (2222, 1100, pc, tymp, hp, strings)

When June Goldsmith, artistic director of the Vancouver concert society Music in the Morning, approached me to write music for Judith Forst and the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, I was delighted, knowing that I could be sure of working with composers’ advocates. As we discussed the piece-to-be, June suggested I read any writings by the Sufi poet Jalal al-Din al-Rumi. This was a great discovery for me and timely, too. My new interest in concise forms found its match in the quatrains.

Touch!

1993

Orchestral with soloist

22:14:00

20

Cello & Orchestra (2222, 2200, timp, hp, str)

At the height of my consideration of the role of romantic expressivity in music, I wrote this three movement work to celebrate sensuality and sing the suspended time that infuses the state of infatuation. In 1993, I wrote the following about this music: “Time and memory touch us, determine the landscape of our emotions and actions. Time is circling, turning, returning, revolving like a kaleidascope. The cycles of life bring us repetition and variation: tomorrow it is the same sun but something in the day is different. The music that touches most people deeply is music that they can identify with their lives, with the rhythms of hope, anticipation and disillusionment.

Anamnèse amnésique

1989

Orchestral

14:00:00

22

Orchestra (2222, 2200, timp, 2pc, hp, cel, str)

anamnèse - a voluntary utterance by a psychiatry patient. amnésique - forgetting; loosing memory

Faces

2007

Orchestral

30:45:00

27

orchestra (2222 4331 timp, 2pc, strings)

2 flutes (2 doubles piccolo) 2 oboes 2 clarinet in B-flat 2 bassoons 4 horns in F 3 trumpets in C 2 trombones 1 bass trombone (valved) 1 tuba timpani (4 drums) percussion 1: bass drum, snare drum, 2 floor toms, suspended cymbal percussion 2: marimba, glockenspiel, orchestral cymbals strings (6/6/4/3/2 minimum; double this number is ideal)

The idea for the "Faces" series of orchestral works came to me as the result of a commission from the Windsor Symphony for a work inspired by the visual arts. For Windsor, I created "Face in the Abstract," which is inspired by the meeting of portraiture and landscape painting with Abstract Expressionism. The second and third pieces in the series were commissioned by the New Westminster Symphony. The second movement, "Face in the Sky," is inspired by the kind of dream state I find myself in while contemplating the shifting clouds of Vancouver. "Face in the Concrete" is inspired by the tension that exists in society between individual voices and stories, and the pounding of feet of crowds marching to the tune of the most awe-inspiring idea of the moment. Specifically, it was inspired by two images: that of a pacifist's face being pushed into the concrete by police, and the "nuclear" shadow" of an evaporated body in the concrete in Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped. The overall idea that unifies all of the pieces is a desire to create music that is at once familiar and new, and that creates a new visceral experience for the listener.

Millennial Moments

1996

Orchestral

17:00:00

27

Orchestra (2222 4331 timp, 2 pc, str)

Commissioned to celebrate the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra’s 10th Anniversary. The work is in three movements: 1] Decade Fanfare; 2] Still Water; and 3] Television.

Up Wind

2004

Orchestral

20:53:00

33

Orchestra (3333 4331 Timp, 2 pc, hp, Piano, str)

3 Flutes (player 2 & player 3 double piccolo) 2 Oboes english Horn 2 clarinets in Bb (player 2 doubles Eb Clarinet) Bass Clarinet 2 Bassoons contraBassoon 4 Horns in F 3 Trumpets in Bb (player 1 doubles piccolo Trumpet in Bb) 3 Trombones (player 3 plays Bass Trombone) contrabass Tuba in BBb 2 Percussion player 1: vibraslap cowbell suspended cymbal woodblock vibraphone 2 congas 2 timbales snare drum large Bass drum player 2: police whistle 2 agogos glockenspiel a Drum Set consisting of the following: pedal Bass drum snare drum two medium to high toms mounted on the Bass drum 2 different-sized floor toms 1 ride cymbal 2 crash cymbals 1 special cymbal [suggest china or sizzle] hihats Timpani piano harp Strings (14/10/8/7/5 minimum; more recommended to balance winds and brass)

Smoke gets in your eyes. Wind gets in your ears. You can’t see the wind but you know it’s there because you hear and feel it. Music is the same: it’s in the air, it is unseen. We tend to believe what we see, but are less sure about what we hear. Often we think music is in the notes: “here is the tune, it goes like this; here are the chords.” Yet the sound of music goes far beyond these notes and chords. I am interested in the integration of traditional notions of music (e.g. the known affects that melody and harmony produce) with new forms of organizing sound based on contemporary science and thought.

In Up Wind, I use only a few notes to create three contrasting movements that draw different lines and shapes. The first movement presents mostly fast upward lines and slower lines moving down or in zigzags. The second movement uses only the extreme registers of the instruments. The high register clusters produce difference tones in the listeners’ ears: the music literally invades your body (safely). The third movement pulls a wandering melody out of quickly rising lines.

Devolution

1984

Orchestral

21:00:00

34

Orchestra (3333, 2 picc, e.hn, e-flat cl, b.cl, ctr bn, 4331, timp, 3 pc, Piano, hp, str)

Master’s thesis for McGill University, based on observations about the Gestalt of melody and how a chosen melody can be transformed in various harmonic contexts. Overall graphic structure inspired by sculptural and architectural ideas.

Paris-Amsterdam 512

2010

Orchestral

08:10:00

512

12 saxophones and 5 massed saxophone choirs

Over the edge

2005

Electroacoustic

20:00:00

12 channels of surround audio

NEW PROGRAM NOTE (2013)

OVER THE EDGE (2005) is a 12-channel remix/granulation of my 1991 composition “Off the Edge” that explores various new pathways through the original work. I created “Off the Edge” in 1991 using samplers and FM synthesis controlled by an ATARI computer running C-LAB NOTATOR LOGIC software. In both the original work and OVER THE EDGE, you can hear my interest in highly dense sounds that are derived from recordings of natural sounds, such as rocks being thrown into a pit to vocal fricatives and whistling sounds. I multi-tracked those sounds to create highly dense storm-like sounds in OFF THE EDGE, and then completely remixed the entire work using granular synthesis to create even more subtle geographies in OVER THE EDGE. I think of this as my "immersive soundscape" period. The works sounds and structure are akin to the structure of landscapes.

The version of the work that I present is the original version for 12 loudspeakers rather than the 5.1 DVD-audio version that was recently released on the earsay label.

OVER THE EDGE was commissioned by Réseau des art médiatiques and presented at AKOUSMA2 in Montreal.

Marimba Destruido

2005

Electroacoustic

12:45:00

8 channels of surround audio

A granulated remix of Marimba Dismembered.

Just inference

2003

Electroacoustic

05:03:00

quadraphonic sound

Just Inference was commissioned to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Group of the Electronic Music Studio (GEMS) Ensemble of Montréal (which Oliver co-founded with Claude Schryer and alcides lanza), and was first performed at the Clara Lichenstein Recital Hall on October 23, 2003.

Composer alcides lanza asked former composer members of the ensemble to create short "remix" pieces based on the McGill University Records recording of his composition "interferences iii." I performed, as guitarist, in this seminal work for voice, chamber ensemble and electronic in the first season of the GEMS ensemble. I took the two most active passages from the work and created a remix using additive and subtractive procedures. The pulse that underlies the entire piece reminded me of another early GEMS work by my colleague Claude Schryer called "Just a Pulse." So my work "Just Inference" is a tribute to the cofounders of GEMS and to electracoustic music that gives the drama of the human voice a central role.

ALTERNATE (shorter) Just Inference was commissioned to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Group of the Electronic Music Studio (GEMS) Ensemble of Montréal – which Oliver co-founded with Claude Schryer and alcides lanza – and was first performed at the Clara Lichenstein Recital Hall on October 23, 2003.

alcides lanza asked former members of the ensemble to create "remix" pieces based on his composition "interferences iii." I remixed two active passages, adding a pulse that reminded me of "Just a Pulse" a work by co-founder Claude Schryer. "Just Inference" is a tribute to the GEMS cofounders and to electracoustic music that gives the drama of the human voice a central role.

Give Us Peace

2002

Electroacoustic

04:52:00

2 or 4 track digital audio media

Give Us Peace was commissioned by CBC Radio One to commemorate the first anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

In "Give Us Peace" I return to the ideas & sound world of my dramatic work "El Reposo del Fuego" for synthesizers and audio.

My composition begins with sonic chaos, an imaginary sound world that fuses the sounds of objects breaking, crying, screams, distant crowds, singing, drumming, and religious chanting. Halfway through, the soundscape falls into itself on the phrase "No hay espacio mas ancho que el dolor" (There is no space wider than grief) and the remainder of the work fixes our attention on an eternal choir over which we hear the sounds of voices melting into granulated noise as people seem to turn to dust.

This last part of the work, through pacing the speed of the listener's breathing, builds a sonic memorial to the victims of September 11th and a promise for a better world for our children.

Copper Flying

1998

Electroacoustic

08:47:00

MIDI Guitar, computer, synthesizers

Virtual Metal, ringing from my fingers, breathing metal, spinning around you, enveloping.

I created this electroacoustic piece by directly playing a physical modelling synthesizer with my Zeta MIDI Guitar: this metallic sound is reminiscent of a waterphone. By playing the guitar and using extra controllers like the "accelerometer," I am able to move the sound between the speakers and imitate various ways of striking and bowing this computer-synthesized version of a large metallic percussion instrument. I use my own computer program and my own synthesized sounds to create an accompaniment that creates a dialogue among elements.

Second Nature

1992

Electroacoustic

08:05:00

CD/film sound track

Music for the film of the same name by Daniel Conrad with choreography by Judith Marcuse. Second Nature won the Silver Award at the “Dance on Camera” Festival in New York City in 1993 and was screened at the Seattle International “Best of the Fest Shorts” special screening, the Montreal Festival des Filmes du Monde, and the Denver International, Odense, Flaners, Namur, Linz, and Aix-en-Provence festivals.

Off the Edge

1992

Electroacoustic

13:14:00

digital audio

Whispery whistles, shifting stones, avalanche drums, rushing rustling densities, a thousand iciles breaking over burbling blue bones.

Off the Edge was created in 1991 using three sound generating boxes controlled by an ATARI computer running C-LAB NOTATOR software. The three instruments were the AKAI S-1000, TG77, and EMU Proteus/1. Thanks to Paul Dolden for commissioning the work and helping with production.

Marimba Dismembered

1990

Electroacoustic

03:00:00

digital audio

A dirge for Guatemala’s national instrument; a cry for an end to the genocide of the Maya people.