Lake Simcoe, the lake by which I now live, was called Ouentironk, or 'beautiful water', by the Huron people. This 26-minute work, written for soprano, 4 drums and orchestra, grew from my first encounter with the Chippewa of Georgina Island, on Lake Simcoe.
Cette langue si simple
This is one of several electronic pieces I wrote during the 1980s. Paris was the centre of the world for electronic and electroacoustic composition at the time (and probably still is !). Cette langue si simple, or 'This So Simple Language' in English, is conceived as an electronic symphony. I remember when Francois Bayle, one of France's leading electroacoustic composers, introduced the work at the first performance, he spoke of « l'orchestre qui surgit de la texture sonore. » Absolutely ! I could not express it better.
There is a uniqueness to the way a guitar can be played that did not strike me until I began to work on this commission - you do not need two hands to play it ! By banging the fingers of the left hand down hard enough, you make the strings vibrate clearly. And so the right hand is free to play in counterpoint. When you listen to this extract, remember that this is a live recording of the first performance in the Centre Pompidou in Paris. This is a single guitarist who plays !
La voix de l'orateur
In the same way that instrumental compositional techniques influenced my electronic composition, I soon found that the opposite was true: my instrumental work began to reflect the gestuality of electronic performance. This piece, for solo percussion and orchestra, is a superb example of electronic performance processes translated into instrumental terms.
This is the second of two pieces commissioned for the SPLASH festival in 2012. They were first performed as a part of several dance sequences that took play on a beach. The overall theme was water and the forest, hence the title! The orchestration is more complex than it sounds: the brass instruments cannot hold such long notes in reality! Working around that kind of problem is one of the fascinating things in composition.