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COMPOSER SHOWCASE

Norman Sherman: Biography

Norman Sherman
1924 - 2015
Region: Ontario

Norman Sherman

The most distinctive characteristics of Norman Sherman's compositional process are his meticulous concern for craftsmanship and constant attention to detail combined with an excellent command of orchestral colour and an individual style free of any strong outside influences. His sensitive feeling for orchestration is the result of his having been a first chair player in symphony orchestras for many years.

Born, raised and schooled in Boston, Sherman graduated from Boston University with a degree in composition while also studying bassoon with Ernst Panenka and chamber music performance with Fernand Gillet, both of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During that period he had three years of intensive studies in advanced compositional techniques with Dr. R. Brogue Henning of Harvard University and while attending Tanglewood met Olivier Messiaen who invited him to join his class in Musical Aesthetics and Analysis at the Conservatoire National de Paris, which he did.

Arriving in Canada in 1957 to take up the position of principal bassoon with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the CBC Orchestra, Sherman was active both as a composer for CBC radio drama and as a conductor/arranger of light music for his own radio shows.

After four years in Winnipeg, Norman Sherman left Canada to accept the principal bassoon position with The Hague Philharmonic Orchestra (Het Residentie-Orkest) of The Netherlands, where he remained many years. During the course of his performing career Sherman played under the direction of many famous conductors; Charles Munch, Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Masur,Carlo Maria Giulini, Pierre Boulez, Eugene Ormandy, Karl Boehm, and Carl Schuricht to name a few. One conductor whom Sherman admired very much was Bruno Maderna and it was he who conducted the world premiere of Shermans Through the Rainbow and/or Across the Valley with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, a work for large orchestra which was commissioned anonymously.

Returning to Canada in 1975, (Sherman holds both American and Canadian citizenship) he was appointed to the position of Senior Instructor in composition and orchestration in the School of Music of Queen's University, Kingston, and remained in that position until 1999, when he decided to stop teaching in order to devote all his energies to compositional activities. At present he resides in London, Ontario, and is just beginning work on a composition for four saxophones and piano, the title of which will be For Adults Only.

Sherman's orchestral compositions have been performed by most orchestras in Canada, by the leading orchestras of The Netherlands and by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Many of these performances were also broadcast live.

His chamber music has been performed by various ensembles and soloists in Canada, The United States, The Netherlands, Mexico and Argentina and has been published by Berandol, E.C.Kerby and Florius Music Press.

Four of Sherman's compositions have been recorded on CD: Quintessant (Centrediscs), Bouquet (Chanteclair), La Bodega (Winterlonging) and The Pioneers (Heartland Journeys)

He has been the recipient of many commissioning grants from such organizations as the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Theatre Dance Players of Boston; and has received ten successive grants, over a ten year period, from the Ontario Arts Council to present a self-developed method in the high schools of Onario in which the students were taught to create instant modern musical compositions for diverse chamber groups using group improvisational techniques and procedures.

All of Norman Sherman's manuscripts and work papers have been accepted into the archives of the music section of the National Library of Canada, Ottawa, and many of his compositions are found in the libraries of universities and music schools in the United States, Canada, Finland and Denmark. A cassette recording of The Events of November 10th, 1812 is included in the Music and War Archives of Emory University, Atlanta, and in the library of the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.

He is a member of the Canadian League of Composers, an associate member of the Canadian Music Centre and an affiliate of Socan.

Centrestreams

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