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Scott Wilkinson: Biography

Scott Wilkinson
1962 - 2011
Region: International

Scott Wilkinson

E. SCOTT WILKINSON began his musical training as a classical guitarist at the age of six. After completing a Music Degree in both Performance and Composition at the University of Toronto in Canada, Mr. Wilkinson was invited to move to Havana to continue his studies in composition with the celebrated Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, who had first heard the young composer's work highlighted as part of 1984 Carrefour Mondial de la Guitare in Martinique. While living in the Caribbean, Scott was asked to compose his first large orchestral work for the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. What resulted was Symphony of the North (1987) which quickly garnered him a national young composer's award back in Canada. The song cycle Songs of a Thousand Paper Cranes brought his work to the attention of his next influential teacher, the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, who would later be instrumental in introducing Wilkinson's work to European audiences. Requiem (1991), a large orchestral/choral work premiered by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1992 was pivotal in bringing Scott to New York at the invitation of American composer John Corigliano whose own Symphony No. 1 (inspired by similar topics as was Requiem), had left a deep impression with him. With Corigliano's encouragement, Wilkinson continued to write for large orchestra with Concerto for Orchestra (1992/3) which gained considerable attention after being awarded in two Canadian national competitions and premiered by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. While enrolled at New York University in the Masters of Composition programme, Wilkinson composed a series of chamber works which seemed to have secured his presence within the musical community of New York. When Dances in the Square, a ballet for piano, strings and percussion, was premiered in the summer of 1993 it drew the attention of both choreographers and writers. Two collaborations resulted which would reintroduce Wilkinson to the world of theatre music. Not since the young age of 17, when Scott had been awarded for his incidental music to Chris Wiggin's stage adaptation of Sleeping Beauty (St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Toronto) had Wilkinson composed for the stage. The award-winning American playright Wm. M. Hoffman approached Wilkinson to compose music for two of his comedies "Cornbury: the Queen's Governor" and "Shoe Palace Murray" which enjoyed a successful run off Broadway. Librettist James Skoffield, collaborated the following year in the creation of an Oratorio for Boys' Choir entitled Goat Song. Currently, Skoffield and Wilkinson are at work on their Opera "Marquis de Sade". Two recent commissioned works completed in the current year include Legend: a Fantasy for Flutes and Harps, to be premiered in Chicago in 1996, and Kokopelli: Concerto for Flute and Orchestra to be premiered in Hamilton the same year.

Scott Wilkinson's music has been described in the Toronto Star as "a romantic romp for the post-post modernist". In a time when literary descriptors of musical style have become increasingly difficult to interpret, it is interesting that Wilkinson himself holds this quality of being able to communicate effectively to an audience as essential to his work. In a CBC interview, he stated, "In a musical world of such complexity, stylistic diversity and experimentation, one thing has never been more necessary--music of clear and honest communication from the composer to the listener, no matter what the vocabulary."

John Corigliano describes Wilkinson as "a fresh and accomplished composer whom Canada and the world would do well to listen to"; declaring him to be "a glorious new voice on the contemporary music scene."

In 2000, Wilkinson moved to Europe; first to Frankfurt am Main and later in 2002, to Berlin, where he currently lives. His music has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity with European audiences. Under Maestro Victor Feldbrill, Wilkinson’s “Myth” for orchestra was premiered with the Moravian Symphony Orchestra, followed by premieres of various chamber music. “Concertino Sentimentale for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra” was given its first performance with members of the Czech Philharmonic in Prague the following year; and the composer was invited back the next season when “Passages: Variations for Piano Solo” and “Prague: for Baritone and Piano” (text by Nobel-Laureate, Jaroslav Seifert) were programmed. Songs (with texts by Canadian poets: M. Atwood and A. Purdy) first heard at the Vancouver New Music Festival in 1998, were chosen for inclusion in a similar festival held in Yerevan, Armenia, along with “Chansons de Verlaine” as part of the city’s inaugural concert of the newly reconstructed concert hall. In 2001, Wilkinson had the honour of being the only North American composer selected for inclusion in the “Millenium Concert” held in Bologne (European Cultural City for 2001). His “Lyra: Fantasy for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra” shared the programme with internationally chosen works to represent music of the ‘new century’. The piece was premiered by the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologne under Maestro Gianpaolo Salbego. The ‘Solistas de Sevilla’ (under Mo. Miguel Angel Gris) toured Andalucia with “Dances in the Square” in 2002 as part of the XIII Jornadas de Musica Contemporanea: America de Norte a Sur. The concept was to present four composers to profile the western continents variety of stylistic directions. The tour also included music by L. Brouwer, P. Glass and A. Piazzola. Wilkinson’s musical-relationship with Spain continued with various chamber-music commissions and most recently with the premiere of “Overture & Tarantelle” with the Málaga Orquesta Sinfonica, chosen as part of their “Encuentro Internacional de Compositores”, in 2009 In 2006, Wilkinson was appointed conductor and artistic director of a Berliner Kammerorchester. As a conductor, he has been enjoying recent attention from a number of other European orchestras as well, including the Vorpommern-Mecklenburg S.O, the St. Petersburg State Symphony and most recently the Bucharest-Radio-Symphony and the Bulgarian State Opera, as guest conductor. Scott Wilkinson continues to compose, conduct and teach in Berlin.



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