November 4, 2013 Respond
Ever since I visited Japan for a wind ensemble competition in 2009, I’ve been fascinated by Japanese culture and music. It was my first time in Asia, and I felt like I was on another planet altogether. Tokyo is deliciously overwhelming in every way, from it’s ultra modern, replaceable architecture to its complex spaghetti bowl transit system and it’s fluorescent pop culture.
Underneath all this modern gloss, I discovered ancient gagaku and other Japanese musical traditions. I studied gagaku in depth for my doctoral comprehensive exams, and became fascinated with its instruments, its structure and its incredible longevity. It is a rich musical form, different from all other musics I was familiar with at the time, and from which I continue to draw musical inspiration for my own work.
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend a concert by Nagata Shachu, a taiko drumming ensemble based here in Toronto. The ensemble performed new compositions written by members of the group in an attempt to enrich this ancient art form, but I found myself drawn more to the traditional music presented, especially that which incorporated complex dance-like gestures into the performance. The last piece on their program, Miyake, was especially rich in both sonic and visual beauty. This was a very inspiring concert.
Batô, a piece of gagaku music.
October 10, 2013 Respond
I’m thrilled to announce that my scores are now available through the Europe-based music publisher Babel Scores. My Babel Scores page has easy access to score samples, recordings and program notes. I’m among some excellent composers represented at Babel Scores. I’m honoured to be a part of their community.
You can access my page here: http://www.babelscores.com/brianharman
Note that my scores will remain available through the Canadian Music Centre. Here is my CMC page.
October 7, 2013 Respond
The concert season is fully upon us! Having lived in Ottawa for a few years, where audiophiles need to patiently seek out those rare contemporary music events, Toronto is a nice change. There’s a lot going on these days in Toronto, especially by young, emerging ensembles. I’ve already attended an interesting concert by the new Blue Moss Ensemble, Thin Edge New Music Collective’s very enjoyable and eclectic fundraiser, Tapestry New Opera’s entertaining and brilliantly staged Opera Briefs, and a few other concerts. Tomorrow night I’m seeing Peter Grimes at the Canadian Opera Company, and this weekend is the start of the Music Gallery’s X Avant Festival.
Non-musical events have also been creatively inspiring, including Nuit Blanche this past weekend (despite the swarming crowds), and a great film featured at TIFF called Stranger by the Lake. I’m hoping to venture into new worlds this year, musical and otherwise. Jazz, improv, visual art, theatre… you name it. Anything experimental.
I’ve also booked a trip to NYC at the end of the month, to see some concerts, catch up with some composerly (and other) friends, and generally explore a city I don’t really know at all.
August 9, 2013 Respond
I’m doing some listening as I plan out my next project for the Silver Birch String Quartet, and I came across this amazing piece called Blackjack by Michael Beil. It’s like a giant multimedia puzzle that the composer assembled. Leaves you wanting to watch it again to figure out how it works.
July 11, 2013 Respond
I’m currently revising À la Fois, the work I wrote last year for violin and cello. The amazing violinist Leslie Ting, who happily moved from Montreal to Toronto this year, will be performing it on a concert at the Canadian Music Centre next season. A second performance of a piece is a real luxury for…
June 26, 2013 Respond
I had a great rehearsal today with Mark McGregor at the Toronto’s beautiful Array Space. He’s performing my piece Surface at a 5:30pm concert tomorrow at the CMC, along with Duo Cordei. Tickets and info available here. There will be wine! It’s fascinating to see how different certain aspects of the piece sound in his…
June 20, 2013 Respond
I’m thrilled be commissioned by the Sudbury-based Silver Birch String Quartet to write a new work for their 10th Anniversary Season.
I worked with these amazing musicians as part of a septet that performed my piece Sanctuary this past March. I haven’t written a string quartet in a very long time, so I’m looking forward to digging in to this project this summer.
The proposed concert program is rather humbling!!
Haydn: Quartet Op. 20 #6
Harman: Premiere title TBA
Beethoven: Op. 131
June 20, 2013 Respond
It turns out that my article analyzing Ana Sokolovic’s work Géométrie Sentimentale, published by the journal Circuit earlier this year, will be translated and published as part of a new book about contemporary music in Québec, entitled ‘Écouter le modernisme musical au Québec’, as part of the Paramêtres series at Publications Université de Montréal. I’m thrilled to be a part of this great educational project, and I’ve been working on revising the article this week.
May 25, 2013 Respond
Here is the formidable Jane Wood in a teaser for tonight’s concert at the Music Gallery!
May 22, 2013
Happy Spring! Time for renewal. I’m currently working on this new website, and looking forward to sharing more recent music here, as well as doing some more frequent writing and blogging. Stay tuned. For now, my old website is still live, with lots of audio excerpts and more info about me: www.brianharman.ca. contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org