I think it was about two years ago that I stumbled upon Julia Mermelstein’s soundcloud page. It was one of those experiences on a social platform when you begin to see a recurring person who is following, and being followed by, your existing connections. Upon listening to her music, which I found alluring/intriguing, I had the further joy of being disoriented as to her musical encampment—where precisely does she fit in Toronto’s new music scene? That she did not immediately fall into one of my arbitrary composer taxonomies meant my ears listened a little differently.
The directions, written originally on the back of a postcard, are punishingly simple: play an extended roll on an undefined percussion instrument for an undefined period of time, from silence to a peak of quadruple fortissimo and back again.
Earlier this year I was at the Tranzac for an event, and afterwards went out for sushi with Patrick McGraw and a mutual friend. We were walking to the nearest subway station at the end of our night, and in the midst of a conversation Patrick said—in an entirely sincere voice—“It is a lot easier being a raccoon in Toronto than being an artist.” We had a pretty good belly laugh at the comment, but I have been reflecting on Patrick’s statement since then. I can see where he’s coming from.
In his long career, R. Murray Schafer composed a total of seven works with a prominent role for the harp. They’re all here, presented in chronological order, in this stunning new two-CD compilation of archival recordings, performed by the artists for whom they were written. This invaluable contribution to Canadian music history was conceived as a tribute to Schafer by Judy Loman, Principal Harpist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1960 until her retirement in 2002, who is featured in the first five of these compositions.
Now the dust of my PhD has settled (I'm a Dr. now they tell me), I have time to participate in the world outside. I have meant to make contact with the CMC for a long time. I have a number of ideas for libretti at present and am always keen to collaborate. While my subject has been war, I have a body of work on the pastoral, historic etc.