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Victor Davies: Biography

Victor Davies
1939 -
Region: Ontario

Victor Davies

Victor Davies is a musician who has crossed many musical boundaries from ragtime pianist to composer whose music has been recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. Born in Winnipeg Canada he studied at the University of Manitoba and Indiana University graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Composition. He later studied conducting with Pierre Boulez in Switzerland.

He began his career as a freelance composer, pianist and conductor, working with Winnipeg's major artistic organisations. His children's musicals, The Magic Trumpet and Reginald the Robot were premiered at The Manitoba Theatre Centre; Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers commissioned The Colour of the Times and Anerca; the Winnipeg Symphony commissioned Celebrations, A Short Symphony and From Harmony and he acted as their "staff arranger". For the CBC, The National Film Board of Canada and independent producers, he wrote scores for dramas and documentaries in a variety of styles, for radio, film and television.

He has composed and performed with his own "3rd stream" Jazz ensemble and was commissioned to write the first major score for planetarium, The Beginning and End of the World recorded with conductor Skitch Henderson. Davies' best known work, The Mennonite Piano Concerto was commissioned by the Fast Foundation, and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra with pianist Irmgard Baerg and conductor Boris Brott.

He has written music and lyrics for over 500 songs for the CTV children's series Let's Go! and The Rockets. Other theatre works include Beowulf staged in New York in 1977; Seize the Fire, based on William Blake; the musical Especially Babe for the Toronto Theatre Festival; The Musical Circus performed at the Zagreb Biennial; The Big Top commissioned by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (which received 50 performances with a TV special shown around the world); the theme song, Colours In The Dark, for the Famous People Players Broadway show and American tours; and scores for the international award winning film The Last Winter (Fox Video), The Nutcracker Prince (Warner Bros) recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and For The Moment (20th Century Fox) recorded in Prague with musicians of the Czech Philharmonic.

Victor Davies has conducted the Winnipeg, Edmonton and Kitchener - Waterloo symphonies and has been the conductor of his own film and television scores. He was musical director of CBC-TV's "Ninety Minutes Live" working with artists as diverse as Toni Basil the Queen of Disco; jazz artist Paul Horn; bassoonist George Zukerman and numerous pop, rock, folk and country artists. He was musical director, composer and producer of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1999 Pan American Games. Other artists with whom he has worked include Bob Hope, Dick Hyman, Ma-Anne Dionisio, Ofra Harnoy, The Orford Quartet, Shauna Rolston, The Canadian Trio, Wayne Marshall, Tracy Dahl, Henriette Schellenberg, and The Montreal Symphony.

He has served as president of the Canadian League of Composers, on the board of the Canadian Music Centre, was the first coordinator of symphonic arrangements for the Imperial Oil McPeak Pops Library, and is currently a Vice Chairman of SOCAN.

Davies' music, aimed at a wide audience, is melodic and brilliantly orchestrated and has a sense of drama and theatre. Though he looks to popular music as a source of inspiration, his style is eclectic. He uses popular idioms in his Pulsations Concerto for Electric Violin, the string quartet Fun for Four, the first movement of Celebrations for orchestra, Let's Talk! commissioned for the Emmy award winning Boss Brass and the CJRT Orchestra, and in his Jazz Concerto For Organ and Orchestra. This eclectic style also includes the use of the 12 Tone Technique and polytonality combined with traditional harmonic structures in the last movement of Celebrations, his film scores for The Pit, One Of Our Own, and his ballet Anerca. Davies‚ works runs the gamut of forms from childrens songs to his major oratorio for soloists, chorus and orchestra - Revelation. Equally at home in the concert hall, theatre or recording studio, his music is heard around the world, live, via recordings, film and television, (winning a Gemini Award for best documentary score in 2002) and he is sought after by performing artists to create new works for them. Works in progress include a Jazz Piano Concerto for conductor Bramwell Tovey to play and conduct. He has recently finished a musical of A Tale of Two Cities.

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