Composer’s Kitchen: Concert; MCML present Magnitude6

Composer’s Kitchen 2015




This event is part of the Composer’s Kitchen project.

Double bill

Composer’s Kitchen 2015

In the press

Weaving dew patterns with Quatuor Bozzini

Egidija Medekšaitė, The Sampler, October 28, 2016

As a composer, I am exploring weaving patterns in order to transform them into musical language. The use of non-musical data does not guarantee the successful transformation and mostly requires deeper studies and research so that the chosen weaving pattern can be matched with sounding material. For me the Composers’ Kitchen was a great laboratory in which to nurture my initial idea, slowly transforming it into the final composition through the various stages of this project; but let me start from the beginning.

It all started in Montréal, Canada with a meeting of the performers, Quatuor Bozzini, mentors Christopher Fox (UK) and Christopher Butterfield (Canada), and fellow composers Georgia Rodgers (UK), James O’Callaghan (Canada) and Kyle Brenders (Canada). An intense two-week period involved rehearsals every day, revisions of pieces, listening sessions, discussions, and individual meetings with the mentors. It was a great opportunity to crystallize ideas in order to achieve the result that each of was looking for.

For me it was a long journey, because the first sketches I made did not resemble either the primary idea nor the weave; they were too reliant on narration and illustration. But in Montréal I was able to write this piece in “real time”, every day producing new sketches, which were then rehearsed in various tempos, trying out different techniques, working on dynamics and details, discussing the sounds that resulted from each sketch. Each rehearsal was recorded so that at the end of the day it was possible to listen again and to create something ‘new’.

I felt that it was a luxury to work on one particular composition and to have so many possibilities to try things, working out what could best suit my idea. After three different versions and intense conversations with musicians and mentors, I finally found the right tools and solution. I must admit that this period of searching was challenging, but the support from the members of Quatuor Bozzini and mentors made me realise that with the best team on your side it is possible to discover your true artistic individuality and perfect your vision.

After each rehearsal of our own pieces, we could listen and gain experience from colleagues’ compositions, and how their ideas are developed, what kind of sound or timbre they are looking for. At the end of this first stage each of us had created individual compositions, all very different stylistically and aesthetically, and these were all performed in a concert in a loft space in Montréal.

For the second stage we moved to Banchory, a small town in Scotland. This was probably a more relaxed experience for me. I had had a five-month break from the piece, an ideal time to leave it for a while, and after a discussion with Christopher Fox I was able to make final revisions and complete the composition with fresh ears. This time, I knew in advance what my piece was all about. Megh Malhar is based on the organza weave, a weave whose structure is invisible because of its thin silk threads. It is striking for its sheer surface and transparency, a feature which I felt united it with the harmony of the Indian raga. During the second stage, I experimented with the final form of the music, refining the specific character of the piece. It was a special time for me, cooking each day, meeting after rehearsals and concert for dinner in one of the cottages where we stayed, walking in the forest, visiting Aberdeen, sight-seeing, having informal conversations, being part of this family.

For me the Composers’ Kitchen was a great opportunity to concentrate on one particular piece. I think that without this possibility, and especially such a close connection with the professional performers of Quatuor Bozzini, mentors and composers, I could not have created the piece which emerged as the final result. I believe that this is a great opportunity for any composer who wants to become the best chef in their musical kitchen.

I believe that this is a great opportunity for any composer who wants to become the best chef in their musical kitchen.

Creating a new work with Quatuor Bozzini

Kyle Brenders, Soundstreams, June 23, 2015

Our Artistic Associate Kyle Brenders recently spent a week in Montreal, participating in Quatuor Bozzini’s Composer’s Kitchen. He wrote a blog post for us about his experience, and how he composes.

Beyond what I do here at Soundstreams, I attempt to have a life as a practicing composer (and performer, but that’s a story for another blog post). I am constantly searching to find a balance between my own artistic practice, and that which I’m working to put on stage at Soundstreams. Some might say that my work as a creative musician is my second job, because I do it after I get home from Soundstreams. But I sometimes feel that Soundstreams is my second job, there to support my habit as a musician! All kidding aside, I recently participated in an emerging composer workshop—a departure from being the workshop designer, which is part of what I do at Soundstreams.

I created a new work for string quartet as part of the Quatuor Bozzini’s Composer’s Kitchen. The Composer’s Kitchen is an annual musical “laboratory” conceived as an artistic “playground,” where composers workshop their new composition with direct support from the Quartet, as well as two composer mentors. The Composer’s Kitchen happens in three stages:

1) A workshop in Montreal and performance of the new work;

2) A few months of private revisions;

3) Another workshop in London, UK, and concert of the final works.

The workshop had four participants that were selected through an application process: two composers from Canada and two from the United Kingdom, supported by the amazing UK organization Sound and Music (you can read about the other participants here). The two mentor composers were Christopher Butterfield from Victoria, BC, and Christopher Fox from London, UK.

This workshop reminded me of how intense the process of creating a new work really is. In my own compositional practice, I know I’ll be performing much of the music that I write. Because of this, I tend to leave a lot of musical information out of the score. Dynamics, articulation, bar-lines, time signatures, instructions for improvisation, and sometimes even the duration of notes, are aspects of the score that I leave out, and figure out either in real-time during the performance, or through the rehearsal process.

I wasn’t going to be performing this new work, so I needed to create something clear and precise. However, I don’t believe in creating a score, handing it over, and expecting the piece to be performed directly as it appears on the page. I love openness, which requires the performers to make their own decisions. I love facilitating surprises for the performers as they play the music, and also for me as the composer of the work. This can create complications when working with musicians used to scores that have the composer’s instructions clearly written on the page. I knew this would a challenge going into this workshop, but I also knew that the members of Quatuor Bozzini would be game for anything.

I had a breakthrough on my piece when another workshop composer mentioned that she views the compositional process as “creating an article of clothing”—composers have to put the pieces of thread together for the performers. I am slightly different in my work—I provide the performers with the buttons and thread, but they have to create the shirt. The materials I provide the performers with create specific musical events, but how each event progresses through time will be determined in each performance. This idea is also where my piece got its name: sewn.

You can see a section of the score below and listen to how it’s all put together. There is a main set of materials that begin the section, and then each player is free to move through their own musical materials. Each player receives only their subsections, separate from the other four players.

My music has a quirkiness that I encourage. I recently played with Bobby McFerrin at Roy Thomson Hall, and one thing he stressed was that everyone needs a level of quirkiness in their everyday, and suggested 10%. I think I’m there with this piece. The Quartet really explored the material with curiosity and wit. But remember, this is only one performance, and one way through the material. Each time the Quartet performed my piece, they created a new version. My music isn’t about capturing a final, flawless performance, but capturing the moment the musicians are presently in.

Another amazing aspect of this workshop was collaborating with the other participants. They each created incredible pieces that inspired me to work harder (you can hear one of them here). Seeing another composer’s music being work-shopped is one of the joys of this process. I love watching how people put music together, hearing them describe what they’re doing, and seeing how the performers respond. It’s this joy of creation that made me first want to make music, and continues to drive me every day. Luckily, this workshop has a second stage, where we all come together again. I’ll write again in February after the third stage of the workshop, which will include a performance of the work in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Embedded: Composers Kitchen 2015

Georgia Rodgers, June 23, 2015

In June I took part in the Quatuor Bozzini’s Composers Kitchen workshop in Montreal. What a wonderful experience, and what luxury to have so much time with QB. I can’t thank them all enough for their help, patience and encouragement.

It was great to get to know each of the four composers (Egidija Medeksaite, Kyle Brenders, James O’Callaghan and myself) and two mentors (Christopher Fox and Christopher Butterfield) who provided invaluable advice. It was a privilege and an illuminating experience to be in the room while each of the (entirely different) new pieces took shape.

I wrote a new work called Three pieces for string quartet which, as the name suggests, comes in three movements each of which focuses on a different aspect of the instruments’ sound: noise/pitch, resonance, friction. There’s a recording below.

Thank you so much to Sound and Music for enabling me to take part in this project.