What are we doing this summer?

I recently asked our faculty members in the Fountain School to tell me what kinds of research and creative activities they had planned for this summer. I can’t wait to hear more details in the fall once we all start running into each other again at the photocopier.

Here is what five are doing:

STEVEN BAUR (musicology)

My primary research project this summer will be to complete an article-length study on the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the first American-born musician to earn an international reputation as a legitimate composer in the European classical tradition. Remarkably, Gottschalk earned this status largely through his incorporation of Afro-Caribbean and African-American derived rhythmic idioms into Western compositional practice. Among his most original and influential works are those based on the pronounced rhythmic ostinato patterns Gottschalk encountered in the multicultural New Orleans of his youth and during subsequent tours and residencies in Latin America. We recognize these kinds of repetitive schemes, often marked by syncopated rhythms and percussive timbres, as “grooves” in subsequent musical styles.

Louis Moreau Gottschalk at the piano

Tentatively titled “Gottschalk’s Grooves: Rhythm, Race, and Classical Music in the Americas,” the article demonstrates the centrality of the groove principle and the rhythms of the Black Atlantic to much of Gottschalk’s music. Furthermore, it grapples with the complex and problematic racial dynamics by which Gottschalk, a white musician who grew up in a slave-owning family, initially gained recognition and how that legacy continues to impact the performance, presentation, and reception of his music in the 21st century.

SCOTT MACMILLAN (guitar)

I am composing a series of pieces for guitar ensemble based on some of my 12-tone canons.  The canons have provided “blueprints” for interesting harmonic and melodic ideas and have also given me some experience in recording.

I presently have three of these pieces on the go and this is one of them: 

Scott MacMillan, Canon at the Ninth, May 21, 2015.

It is a canon at a ninth and creates modulations of whole tones throughout the piece. It’s too much to get into what I’m compositionally doing but enough to say that this one pager will turn into a rollicking fast piece about 8 minutes long. This one will be quite challenging; the others are easier.  

Two years ago, I tried 2 ensemble pieces based on canons with the Dalhousie guitar ensemble and performed them at our yearly concert. It was quite successful, hence this project.

The canons were all done by hand, titled by the date and mostly while sitting in cafés. Each one has a diary entry.

SHANNON BROWNLEE (cinema and media studies)

I am going to write about eco-processing film, which is the practice of developing celluloid images using coffee and other non-toxic substances.

This practice was first discovered in 1995. Since then, artists have done a lot of research and developing with very exciting results like these and these

Photo from: https://www.diyphotography.net/caffenol-processing-film-coffee-supermarket-ingredients/

CHRISTINA HALDANE (voice)

This summer I’ll be focusing my creative activities on the expansion of my digital presence as an artist, and the publication of new Acadian folksong arrangements. I’ll be making my first ‘music video’ for my recording of Oscar Peterson’s ‘Why Think About Tomorrow,’ and updating all my promotional performance videos.

Christina Haldane, soprano

I’m also planning a return to the recording studio, to work on my second album called ‘Tu me voyais …’ And I’ll be collaborating this summer with my cousin, interdisciplinary artist Carl Philippe Gionet, on his new arrangements of Acadian folksongs, that are set for my voice. I’m curating this collection, and we will be publishing an anthology of the 12 Acadian folksongs towards the end of the summer.

Christina Haldane in the recording studio.

JARED MILLER (music composition)

This summer, I am working on three very exciting projects:

  • I am in the thick of rearranging my orchestral piece Under Sea, Above Sky for its US Premiere by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, which is to take place in July. It’s strange and exciting to imagine that in just a couple of months, I will be in a concert hall again with about 80 people I’ve never met who are playing my music live. I can’t wait!
  • I am also writing a new work for London’s Echea Quartet, which they will premiere in a digital concert this August. This is my fifth attempt at writing for string quartet since I was an undergrad and I’m still amazed by how colourful and versatile this ensemble is, but also extremely challenging to write for.
Echea Quartet
  • Finally, I’m scoring a Powerpoint deck! The Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota is having renowned human computer interaction designer Joy Mountford create a presentation on her life’s work. She has conceptualized and invented many things that are used daily – most notably, Apple’s initial use of QuickTime as well as the first sketches of the Apple Store. She has asked me to provide some music for some of the stunning infographics she will be sharing in her presentation and I am honoured to do so!

Jennifer Bain, editor

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