New Music Concerts

New Music Concerts. Organization established in 1971 in Toronto to present and foster new music and to provide performers with opportunities to master its techniques.

New Music Concerts

New Music Concerts. Organization established in 1971 in Toronto to present and foster new music and to provide performers with opportunities to master its techniques. In 1991 New Music Concerts continued to be recognized, nationally and abroad, as Ontario's major proponent of contemporary music of all countries and as one of the two or three most effectual organizations of its kind in Canada. The founders were Norma Beecroft (president), Robert Aitken (artistic director), John A. Wright, John Brown, John Beckwith, and C. Laughton Bird. Joe Macerollo succeeded Beecroft as president in 1989, and Aitken continued to hold his position in 1991. In the early years of its existence, NMC toured Canada, the USA and Europe, making the performance of modern Canadian compositions an important aspect of their artistic mandate. The organization's concerts in Toronto have been noteworthy for their emphasis on emerging composers from Canada and other parts of the world.

National Activities

Although based in Toronto, New Music Concerts has been active throughout the country through its involvement with other Canadian musical organizations. NMC has cooperated and co-sponsored events with the Banff School of Fine Arts, McGill University, SMCQ, Vancouver New Music Society, L'Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, Duo Traces, and the Quatuor Molinari.

Annual series of concerts at the University of Toronto began in 1972, and concerts were also given at York University and in several other Ontario cities. From the mid-1980s on, Toronto concerts have taken place most frequently at the Premiere Dance Theatre at Harbourfront. Tours in 1976, of Europe and of Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario, were followed by an appearance 24 Oct 1976 at the ISCM Festival in Boston. In June 1982, NMC appeared in New York and Washington, DC.

NMC also offers lectures, films, mixed-media presentations, forums, and musical theatre. Its concerts have emphasized cultural diversity through varied programming that has highlighted the musical cultures of such countries as Poland, Italy, Japan, France, Iceland, China, Indonesia, Slovenia, Lithuania, and Latin America. For example, NMC has devoted entire programs to the works of Luciano Berio in 1972 (6 Jan, the first concert presented by NMC) and 1980, George Crumb in 1974, Mauricio Kagel in 1974 and 1982, Peter Maxwell Davies in 1976, John Cage in 1977 and 1982, Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1979, Gabriel Charpentier in 1979, Witold Lutoslawski in 1980, R. Murray Schafer in 1981, Stefan Wolpe in 1983, Vinko Globokar in 1984, Wolfgang Rihm in 1985, Krzysztof Penderecki in 1987, and Morton Feldman in 1988, with the composers present and often conducting or performing and introduced to the audience in informal interviews. Other composers whose works have been featured are John Adams, Milton Babbitt, Pierre Boulez, Harrison Birtwistle, Sylvano Bussotti, Elliott Carter, Lukas Foss, Lou Harrison, Heinz Holliger, Ben Johnston, György Ligeti, István Márta, Arne Mellnäs, Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich, Dieter Schnebel, Toru Takemitsu, and Iannis Xenakis, among many others.

Canadian works commissioned and premiered by NMC (with the year of performance) include Gustav Ciamaga'sSolipsism while Dying (1973), Alan Heard'sTimai (1973), Sydney Hodkinson's Taula (1974), Norma Beecroft's Rasas III (1974), Collage '76 (1976), Jeu II (1985), and Jeu IV (Mozart) (1991), Rudolf Komorous'sBoogie Woogie (1974), John Hawkins'sTrio (1975), Donald Steven'sThe Transient (1975), Alcides Lanza'skron'ikelz (1976), Serge Garant'sRivages (1976), Harry Freedman'sFragments of Alice (1976), Alex Pauk'sEarthstar Meridian (1979), Barbara Pentland'sEventa (1979), Schafer's The Princess of the Stars (1981) and Rounds (1986), John Thrower'sLove Songs (1982), Talivaldis Kenins'sConcerto da Camera No. 2 (1983), Charles Wilson'sTwo Voices (1983), Jean Piché's In Vertical Fire (1984), Tim Brady'sChamber Concerto (1985), Harry Somers'sChura-churum (1985), John Hawkins'ssubstance-of-we-feeling (1986), Henry Kucharzyk'sChromatics (1986), Ann Southam'sQuintet (1986), Steve Tittle'snot quite like it used to be (1987), Aitken's Nira (1988), Andrew Culver's Hard Lake Frozen Moon (1989), John Burge'sInterplay (1990), Christopher Butterfield's The Mechanics of Desire (1990), and Robert Rosen'sMi Istakistsi (1991). The NMC has continued its tradition of commissioning works by Canadian and foreign composers since the 1990s. Recent commissions from Canadian composers include Gilles Tremblay's Croissant, Hope Lee's Fei Yang, Linda Bouchard's NEIGES, John Weinzweig's Prologue to a Tango, Harry Freedman's Phoenix, John Beckwith's A New Pibroch, Bruce Mather's Tempranillo, Omar Daniel's Zwei Lieder nach Rilke, Alex Pauk's Flute Quintet, Barbara Croall's If There Be Butterflies All Around, Daniel Foley's Souvenances, Howard Bashaw's minimalisms, and Paul Steenhuisen's ken. Foreign compositions commissioned by the NMC include Dieter Mack's Crosscurrents, Henry Brant's Ghosts and Gargoyles, Geoffrey Palmer's Reconciliation, Osvaldas Balakauskas's The Odyssey from B to C, and Diego Luzuriaga's Estreno Mundial.

In addition to those already mentioned, Canadian composers who have had works premiered by NMC include Barnes, Beckwith, Bolton, Brégent, Buczynski, Burke, Current, Hambraeus, Hannan, Hayes, Jaeger, Otto Joachim, Koprowski, Laufer, Luedeke, Mather, Melnyk, O'leary, Palacio-Quintin, Pauk, Puhm, Saint-Marcoux, Schafer, Symonds, Tenney, Tilley, Tremblay, Vivier, Weinzweig, Wes Wraggett, and Wyre.

Among the many performers who have appeared in NMC presentations are Otto Armin, James Campbell, Robin Engelman, Monica Gaylord, Rivka Golani, Erica Goodman, the LePage and Mather Duo, Joseph Macerollo, Jean MacPhail, Mary Morrison, Louis-Philippe Pelletier, Gary Relyea, and Patricia Rideout. Groups appearing have included Canadian Brass, the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Lyric Arts Trio, Nexus, the Orford String Quartet, David Rosenboom and Associates, the Tapestry Singers, the Toronto Winds, and the York Winds (Canada); the K & K Experimental Studio and Pupo Drom (Austria); the Solistes des choeurs de l'RTF, the Percussions de Strasbourg, and Pierre Boulez with the Ensemble InterContemporain (France); Aloys and Alfons Kontarsky, Siegfried Palm, and Trio Exvoco (Germany); Musica Elettronica Viva (Italy); the Warsaw Music Workshop (Poland); the Extended Vocal Techniques Ensemble, and Steve Reich (USA); and Vinko Globokar and New Phonic Arts (Yugoslavia). For its 25th anniversary in 1995-96, NMC invited composers Henri Dutilleux and Sir Michael Tippett to attend performances of their works. They also held a concert in homage to Morton Feldman and hosted performances by the ensembles GRAME (France) and AGON (Czech Republic).

In 1981 the NMC Ensemble, Aitken conducting, recorded Cherney's Chamber Concerto for Viola and Ten Players with Rivka Golani (RCI 537) and in 1982, with members of Nexus and conductor Paul Zukofsky, they recorded John Cage's Sixteen Dances (CP2-15). During the 1989-90 season, NMC presented the North American premiere of the film series Sound and Silence a set of 20 composer portraits produced by Poland TV and Katharine Adamov Films. The first CD by the NMC ensemble, New Music 90, was recorded in 1990 (New Music Concerts NMC-001). It features works by Aitken, Beecroft, Tremblay, and Xenakis. Recent recordings have profiled the music of various Canadian composers along with Takemitsu and Lutoslawski.


Further Reading

  • Schulman, Michael. 'New Music Concerts successful in attracting young audiences,' MSc, 280, Nov-Dec 1974

    'Contemporary music groups thriving across Canada: New Music Concerts,' MSc, 303, Sep-Oct 1978

    Beecroft, Norma. 'New Music Concerts to hold a tenth birthday celebration,' CanComp, 153, Sep 1980

    Beecroft, Norma. 'Serge Garant and New Music Concerts,' Cahiers de la Société Québécoise de Recherche en Musique, vol 1, Dec 1997