by Robert Scalia
Mention classical music, and Beethovens Fifth Symphony springs to
mind. Try the same thing with Canadian contemporary classical,
however, and the term rings hollow more often than not. Tim Brady knows
it all too well.
In countries like France, Germany and Italy, the idea of a living composer
isnt a strange one, he said lightheartedly, but were
still trying to convince people that someone with a Canadian or Irish
passport can actually compose classical music.
So this composer, one of nine musicians in the Oscar Peterson Halls
resident ensemble called Concerts M, is organizing Voyages: Dublin-Montreal,
running from March 12 to 16.
The festival will showcase Montreals Bradyworks and the Bozzini
Quartet (both part of Concerts M), plus Dublins CRASH Ensemble and
Vox 21. Lectures are also part of the package.
It took a backstage conversation following his solo guitar concert in
Dublin four years ago to open Bradys eyes to the musical and social
parallels between Ireland and Quebec.
The composition of classical (also called serious, or new) music has only
been a feature of the musical landscape in both countries for 60 years.
Young composers arent hemmed in by the walls of history, but are
free to graze in a musical landscape that offers a broad range of tools,
sounds and instruments.
Ever more bold, dissonant, evocative contemporary classical music in both
cities is actually being written now, Brady said.
Because were such a young musical culture, most composers
are what I would call very impure. Not many of us started
piano lessons at the age of five. A baby boomer, Brady was heavily
influenced by the Beatles and 1960s pop. He was into garage bands before
he studied jazz and classical music.
Those influences persist. His music reflects todays cultural environment,
where creating very strict, narrow, pure art forms simply doesnt
Lets face it: 500 years of evolution has changed the nature
of music, he said, so in the middle of a string quartet, Ill
throw in an electric guitar that sounds like Limp Bizkit. It doesnt
seem peculiar to me, because these are sounds I like.
It makes for interesting music, a fusion of chamber music, jazz, musique
actuelle and electronica.
Brady is relying on Montreals vibrant and dedicated new-music audience,
which numbers in the thousands, to make the festival a success. Hes
also hoping the St. Patricks Day spirit will lure people interested
in exploring what he believes is an important facet in Irish culture.
The way Brady sees it, getting the crowd is more than half the battle.
I almost always have a positive reaction to my music wherever I
Remaining events in the festival: tonight at 8 p.m., a concert of electroacoustic
music; tomorrow at 8 p.m., the CRASH ensemble from Dublin; Saturday at
8 p.m., Bradyworks and Vox 21.
For reservations, call the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall box office
at 848-4848. For more information, call 848-4716.