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Michael Purves-Smith: Biography

Michael Purves-Smith
1945 - 2018
Region: Ontario

Michael Purves-Smith

Michael Purves-Smith (1945-2018), conductor, composer, and performer (oboe, recorder, keyboards) earned a Master of Music Degree from the University of British Columbia in 1971, studying under the composer, Elliot Weisgarber. He is retired from the Faculty of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University and from the musical direction of the Wellington Wind Symphony in Kitchener Waterloo.

His compositions include many works for wind ensemble, and for various instrumental chamber configurations. His most recent, performed commission (2014) was from the Waterloo Chamber Orchestra for a concerto for clarinet and chamber orchestra. However, his passion is for the voice. He has written operatic stage works, such as a setting of the complete Rape of the Lock (Alexander Pope), a full length opera, Temple de la mémoire, and a fête galante, Le Chien de Watteau, which has been staged in France, Germany, and Canada. His 12 song cycles and four extended dramatic arias qualify him as one of the most prolific Canadian composers of art song. These include some unusual configurations, such as one cycle for contralto, two solo bassoons, and wind ensemble, and three 55-minute works, suggestively entitled “cultural intersections.” In addition, he has written extensively for vocal ensemble, for chamber choir, and for chorus, much of it a capella, but also including substantial works for band and chorus, and for chamber choir accompanied by baroque orchestra.

Along with pending commissions, he is currently working to upgrade and correct existing scores to a standard worthy of the CMC library.

For the past five years, music creation was stalled by the writing and publication of an environmental novel, Rocky Mountain Locust, under the nom de plume, M. I. Lastman.


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