Throw It At The Wall And See If It Sticks (TIATWASIIS)

Paul Paroczai once ripped apart a piano, not to see what was inside, but to fill it with electronic components.  Since that day his algorithms haven’t gotten any tamer and his interfaces haven’t gotten any more conventional.  You might find him onstage costumed as a boy scout, or dressed up like David Bowie piloting a generative music system (unfortunately there isn’t a photo online for that yet), but more likely, you’ll recognize him by his sonorous voice, which can be heard right here during the February 4th episode of re:composition.

Toys vs Instruments

There’s no denying that Nancy Tam writes pretty music.  Whether lyrical or percussive, her sounds display an approachable dramatic sense familiar from many musical worlds.  Her unearthly taste in visual art comes as a stark contrast, while all of her works bear bold and evocative titles suggesting a drama of objects more than of humanity.  Matt interviews Nancy tomorrow, to talk about a multiplex corpus that gets more so by the day.

Contemporary Metal

Harry Stafylakis describes his work as “contemporary metal.”  But alas, his rhythmically driving compositions call for no mosh pits or stage makeup; rather, the metal is in the notes  – a little bit bluesy, mostly minor (although rarely diminished) and without a trace of spectralism.  Stafylakis’s metal is a kind of folk tradition.  The infamous rock’n’roll drama is still their, though, beneath a classical veneer laced with postminimalism.  For Stafylakis, you can dress it up, but it’s still metal when you take it out.

A Composer’s Guide to Multiple Continents

Jazz and classical sounds find a collective home in Elizabeth Knudson‘s in latest work, a concerto for jazz trio and orchestra.  No stranger to symphonic forces, Knudson and her music have travelled far and wide, collecting musical odds and ends from around the world.  (Knudson chronicles her adventures on her blog.)

Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that folk songs play a major role in her teaching and composing work.  Simultaneously, as a cellist with the West Coast Symphony Orchestra, Knudson is well acquainted with the high classical ultragreats.  Ultraclassicalness?  Ultrafolkness?  Ultrajazzness?  Let’s find out how they meet!


Matthew Ariaratnam is at home in many types of performance, whether or not they involve Compositing with a capital ‘C’.  Prevailingly delicate and inviting, Matthew’s concert music contrasts starkly with the arid soundscapes of our previous guitarist-guest.  Close-miked sounds and domestic spaces figure in his electronic music, the most recent of which is a soundscape for a room featuring a couple of homemade pillows.

Like Katerina Gimon, a classmate at Wilfrid Laurier University, Matthew is a singer-songwriter and improviser.  In singing, he tends toward a gentle, melodic style that eschews drama in favour of geniality.  Improvising finds him employing a more challenging palette, involving, well, whatever seems most interesting at the time.  We’ll get to hear a bit of all of the above when Matt joins us in the studio on Thursday.

What’s heard and not written?

If you’ve been to new-music concerts around town in the past while, you’ve probably encountered Dorothea Hayley, and, if you’re lucky, you’ve also encountered her voice.  Dory returned to Vancouver a few years ago after extensive music studies in Montreal. She now produces the very fun Blueridge International Chamber Music Festival (which, this summer, featured at least one performance involving four pianists playing the same instrument, so everyone should go see what shenanigans they’ll devise this year…).  Much sought after as a virtuoso performer, Dory has premiered works by contemporary composers far and wide, and by this point, is able to sing, well, just about anything.

Although she has been known to improvise, Dory would never call herself a composer, making her the first specialist performer we’ve interviewed thus far.  On Thursday, we hope to hear her insights not only on the music she brings to concert but also the way she interprets, curates and contextualizes it to make the complicated programs her audiences have become familiar with.

Harmonics in Parallel

On Thursday our friend Ben Wylie will join us in the studio (interviewed by Matt, who, despite having populated most of this blog, has not previously appeared live on the show!).  Wylie’s work emerges from the tradition of American microtonal instrument-building set off by Harry Partch and Ben Johnson.  His deep interests in minimalism and the psychoacoustic properties of the harmonic series often draw Ben to writing lengthy processes rather than gestures, pulling an audience into a noticeably altered state of attention.  Listening to such works as James Tenney’s Postcard Pieces might prove an interesting primer for some of Ben’s sounds.

Since moving to Vancouver Ben has extended his compositions to involve lights and theatrics; indeed, we can expect theatricalized music to become an increasingly important thread in his work.  On Thursday, we have a lot to talk about.  Heck, we might even say a thing or two about playing the guitar and using power tools.


Tomorrow, we bring forth an interview (recorded earlier this year) with Rodney Sharman.  A nationally recognizable member of Canada’s concert milieu, Sharman composes with confidence and a deep sense of history, perhaps in part because his teachers number among the most esteemed composers active in the later decades of the 21st century.  Where many of our guests – and some of us too – tend to be classified as ’emerging artists’, Sharman has most certainly emerged, and the relationship between his weighty, sculpted work and the rousing cacophony hammered out by the struggling youngsters of today leaves much to contemplate.

Seeing voices?

In this day and age, many composers’ artistic lives don’t revolve around the concert hall.  When it comes to Alanna Ho, what you see is as important as what you hear, and where you do your seeing/hearing is as likely an art gallery as a music venue.  Although educated as a composer and pianist, Alanna pursues a visual art practice that strongly influences her soundmaking.  When she teaches children to compose, she does so by means of visual cues.

On Thursday, we’ll hear about the junctions of vision, sculpture, sound and pedagogy.  And if we’re lucky, we might also hear a performance preview, which – we hear – involves a typewriter and some very old letters.