I recently embarked on a project that involves many people and organizations: a community-arts focused organization, Jumblies Theatre; a contemporary music organization, Soundstreams Canada; the residents living in a brand new Toronto high-rise community called City Place; and finally a composer, myself. I am delighted to be working as part of this collaborative project, exploring the role of composer in the community through the creation of a new choral composition
informed and inspired by engagement with community members.
The project will lead to a new work for choir that grows from time spent with artists and community members at Jumblies’ downtown venue, The Ground Floor. My composition will find ways to mingle professional musicians with community members into an integrated artistic work. The excitement of the process and piece will reside in the way these elements permeate each other to create a compelling work that has been shaped by a specific social context. This project will draw on my compositional expertise while also presenting inspiring new challenges that will lead me into new artistic territory. The final result will be a piece that reflects my aesthetic and current compositional sensibilities, while also drawing on and reflecting the experiences and interests of the community members involved in the project.
In my role as the SoundMakers Composer-in-Residence, I will share the creative and collaborative process of this venture. As the project unfolds over the coming months, one will have the chance to follow along on the SoundMakers website. Often composers share the end result of their creative efforts through a performance of their composition, without ever having the occasion discuss or share the details of the creative process that leads to this final product. Here, I will share the experience of composing this new composition, and the process of working on an artistic project that has many people and moving parts involved.
During November I had a wonderful time visiting and singing with The Ground Floor Choir at their Wednesday evening rehearsal. I had the opportunity to get to know the participants in the choir, additional community members who dropped by for the arts drop-in program, staff members, and Shifra who leads the choir.
The community, the choir, and I are all now busy writing postcards to each other. This is a way of staying in touch over the coming weeks, and an opportunity to become further acquainted with one another. It’s also a starting point for generating materials that will inform the creation of the new choral piece. The content of the postcards will be shape both the text and sound world of this new composition.
Today, I placed six postcards in the mail to The Ground Floor Choir, detailing some of my recent experiences. I am anxiously awaiting postcards from The Ground Floor to arrive in my mailbox. I can’t wait to read the postcards, and to start exploring how I might integrate these ideas, words and pictures into the beginnings of a new composition for choir.
photos courtesy of Liam Coo, Jumblies Theatre