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Andrew Svoboda: Biography

Andrew Svoboda
1977 - 2004
Region: Québec

Andrew Svoboda

Andrew Yin Svoboda was born 4 February 1977 in Burlington, Ontario. A gifted child of a Czech father and Chinese mother, he began piano lessons at 6. In school, he excelled in Science, Medicine and Law. Andrew was fascinated with music from an early age. The teenaged Andrew spent summers as a field assistant in the Arctic, hauling his synthesizer with him. In high school he was a member of drama productions, collecting awards for original music. His School Principal commissioned an original score to be performed by the students. Svoboda wrote libretto and composed the musical Earth Angels for 10 principal singers and a chorus, also training, directing and accompanying the cast.

The success of that production urged him into studies in Montreal. In his first semester at McGill, Canadian author May Cutler Andrew commissioned Svoboda to score her play about the Canadian North. Aah-Pootee! That’s snow, in classical fable style, is set for singers and musicians. The production was staged in Moyse Hall, McGill, on 23 July 1998. Aah Pootee was later produced in the New York City Family Arts Festival in July 2000.

At McGill, Svoboda studied under Bruce Mather, Denys Bouliane and Brian Cherney, and composed a number of chamber works. While still an undergraduate, he was named Composer-in-residence. His choral work Maran Atha was premiered by the McGill University Chorus under Iwan Edwards in October 2000. Andrew obtained his B.Mus (Hon) with distinction in 2000.

Continuing in a Master’s program at McGill, his April 2001 Rhapsody for chamber orchestra was premiered by the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble, conducted by Denys Bouliane. In 2002, Michel Reason and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra premiered the full orchestral version of this piece. Andrew became a finalist in that orchestra’s composition competition, winning 2nd prize.

During a 2002 Master Class with composer Tan Dun, Andrew was approached by Radio France’s Bruno Berenguer, offering a commission of an orchestral piece for the broadcasting series Alla breve. Granted leave from McGill, Svoboda moved to Paris to work under the guidance of Prof. Michel Merlet, of L’École Normale Supérieure de Musique de Paris. Two compositions came from Paris: Elevation, for full orchestra and conducted by Kirill Karabits, recorded by the Radio France Philharmonic 10 July 2003, and broadcast on Alla breve. Le Caveau des Oubliettes was commissioned by Quatunord, Dunkerque and premiered June 15, 2003 in Paris.

Andrew received a Diplome Supérieur and First Prize (Prix de l’Unanimité), and Le Prix de la SACEM (French Society for authors and composers). The one-act opera Martin Streda, for which Svoboda also wrote the libretto, was scored for baritone and eight instrumentalists. That was judged by the examiners as exceeding the scope of a Master’s work, and defended in December 2003. Andrew gained his MA in Composition in 2004.

In August of 2004, Andrew moved to New York, with a doctoral scholarship to Columbia University. At 27, he began his final composition, Trans-it, for piano and cello. This piece remained unfinished. Andrew Svoboda died on the morning of 29 December 2004.

April 2008


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