Month: October 2015

Fast Track! by Alexina Louie

People have been asking Alex and I what weʼve been up to since returning from Espritʼs China trip earlier in the summer.

Upstairs – Alex composing Soul and PsycheIt was such an exciting, successful, and exotic trip with the orchestra, but it set Alex and I back three weeks in our respective projects. That doesnʼt include time loss due to the affects of the twelve hour time difference. That jet lag was brutal. Day for night!

We both immediately dove into our new compositions – Alexʼs Soul And Psyche for the combined forces of Esprit and the Elmer Eisler Singers scheduled for the last concert of Espritʼs season (March 31, 2016), and my new chamber orchestra piece for the Turning Point Ensemble, which I had been working on, but had to put on hold when I got on the departing plane.

I'm looking over a few pages of my new pieceMy deadline was tougher than Alexʼs as the premiere performance would take place in Vancouver on October 7. I have been writing music basically non-stop since we returned from China. My composition is scored for fifteen performers and that means there are a lot of empty musical staves to face every morning.

My piece consists of a lot of fast music which I refer to as “dangerous music.” Why dangerous? Itʼs because you write pages and pages of music and you think you are covering a lot of time because of the large number of sheets you have filled.

When I finally decide to time what Iʼve written, itʼs always a shock! I might have thought that those pages of full score might have covered eight minutes of music, but when timed they draft pages of A Curious Passerby At Fu's Funeralmay actually cover only 2 1/2 minutes. Of course, it doesnʼt take you 2 1/2 minutes to write 2 1/2 minutes of music – it could take weeks! My piece checks in at 138 pages! I have just finished it, but the premiere is just weeks away. Tight one.

Yet another dilemma that I faced was TPEʼs request for the title of the piece before it was finished! I normally donʼt like to force the title. Some of the titles of my pieces appear at the beginning of the compositional process, which is often a help as it can influence and inspire the music you are about to write. At other times, the title doesnʼt appear until you are well into the piece.

This was the case with this most recent composition – A Curious Passerby At Fuʼs Funeral.

Espritʼs opening concert of our 33rd season is Sunday, October 4 in the magnificent Koerner Hall, Toronto. On the morning of Monday, October 5, I am on the plane winging to Vancouver in time to make a rehearsal that afternoon.

Fast track!

– Alexina Louie