Alasdair MacLean | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Alasdair MacLean

Alasdair (Duart) MacLean. Composer, b Liverpool, NS, 8 Jan 1955; B MUS (Mount Allison) 1982, B MUS (Juilliard) 1985, M MUS (Juilliard) 1986, Diplome d'Honneur de composition (L'Ecole d'Art americaine, Fontainebleau, France) 1986, D MUS (Toronto) 1996.

MacLean, Alasdair

Alasdair (Duart) MacLean. Composer, b Liverpool, NS, 8 Jan 1955; B MUS (Mount Allison) 1982, B MUS (Juilliard) 1985, M MUS (Juilliard) 1986, Diplome d'Honneur de composition (L'Ecole d'Art americaine, Fontainebleau, France) 1986, D MUS (Toronto) 1996. Before entering Mount Allison University, Alasdair MacLean played in a rock band. While at Mount Allison, he studied piano with Evron Kinsman and Jamie Syer, and arranged, composed and played piano for the Windsor Theatre. MacLean's composition teachers include James G. Code (Mount Allison); Brian Cherney and Bruce Mather (McGill); Narcis Bonet (France); David Diamond and Stanley Wolfe (Juilliard); and John Hawkins and Derek Holman (University of Toronto). MacLean won a number of awards and scholarships including the Nova Scotia Talent Trust Award (1982, 1983, 1984); Juilliard's teaching fellowship, Composition Department Scholarship, and the Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hammerstein composition scholarships (all 1985); and the University of Toronto's Simcoe Special Scholarship (1991, 1992).

MacLean's compositions have been played across Canada and in the US, Britain, France, China and Japan.

Appointments, Premieres, Commissions
Alasdair MacLean taught theory and composition at Mount Allison University 1987-9 and 1993-4. He was appointed the first-ever composer-in-residence with Symphony Nova Scotia 1996-2000, where he consulted to music director Leslie Dunner and participated in education and outreach. MacLean's tenure provided six new works for orchestra or chorus and orchestra, and a piano concerto commissioned by the CBC.

MacLean was composer-in-residence 2001-4 for Debut Atlantic, writing nine pieces, eg, for Lucille Chung; Denise Djokic; Measha Brueggergosman; Ian Parker and Kaori Yamagami (who premiered Chromaline for cello and piano); Robert Pomakov and Brahm Goldhamer (who premiered Insomnia Songs for bass voice and piano); and guitarist Daniel Bolshoy (One Crow Sorrow). The CBC has commissioned and broadcast various of MacLean's works, and he has received commissions from such institutions as Mount Saint Vincent University (1996) and the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra (2004).

Alasdair MacLean has also been guest composer-in-residence at Memorial University and has adjudicated at competitions including the inaugural composition category at the Nova Scotia Kiwanis Festival. His piece One Becoming was featured in Redstar Film's portrait of Denise Djokic, Seven Days, Seven Nights.


Captives of the Faceless Drummer (Ryga). 1981. Ms

The Good Person of Schuan (Brecht). 1987. Ms

Tinker's Lamp. 1987-8. Chamber opera. Ms

Songs and Sayings. 1990. Ms

Caledonia. Musical. 1998-2000

Learning Together/Apprenons ensemble. 2001. Ms

I'll Never Leave You. 2006. SATB. Ms. Elliot Chorale


Variations for Orchestra. 1986. Ms. Symphony Nova Scotia

Memory Wheel. 1995-6 Ms

Maritime Folksong Medley. 1997. Ms. Symphony Nova Scotia

Signs of Change. 1997. Ms. Symphony Nova Scotia

We Move Homeward. 1998. Chorus and orch. Ms. Symphony Nova Scotia

Journey of a Small Drop. 1999. Ms. Symphony Nova Scotia

Spirit Room. 1999. Ms. Symphony Nova Scotia

Moving On. 2000. Ms. Symphony Nova Scotia

St Croix Island Suite. 2004. Ms. New Brunswick Youth Orchestra

Chamber Music
Fantasia for Violin and Piano. 1983. Ms. Philippe Djokic, Penelope Mark

Suite for Woodwind Trio. 1983. Ms. Belinda Code, Ivor Rothwell, Sally Wright

Theme and Variations for solo oboe. 1983. Ms. Belinda Code

String Quartet No. 1. 1985. Ms. Halifax Chamber Players

Lentement nous glissons sur l'onde. 1986. Oboe, B flat cl, bassoon. Ms

For Clarinet and Piano. 1989. Ms. James Mark and Penelope Mark

A Dream of Falling. 1991. Ms. McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble

Thresholds for piano and percussion. 1991. Ms. Janet Hammock, Bill Brennan

String Quartet no. 2. 1992. Ms. Saint John String Quartet

Discovery Dectet. 1997. Brass ensemble. Ms. Northumberland Brass

Trio for clarinet, tuba and piano. 1998. Ms. Richard Hornsby; David Kutz, Richard Raymond

Blue Snow. 1999. Vn, db bass, synthesizer/percussion. Ms. Motion new music group

I'll Give My Love an Apple. 1999. Brass quintet. Ms. Northumberland Brass

One Becoming. 2001. Vc and piano. Ms. Denise Djokic and Jeffrey Neufeld

One Crow Sorrow. 2002. Guitar. Ms. Daniel Bolshoy

Chromaline. 2003. Vc and piano. Ms. Kaori Yamagami; Ian Parker

Perpetual Blue State. 1994. Ms. Jon Kimura Parker

Her Installation Medley. 1996. Piano duo. Ms. Janet Hammock, Alasdair MacLean

Daft Mallow's Secret. 2001. Ms. Lucille Chung

Songs about Birds. (Poems Douglas Lochhead.) 1990. Ms. Sop, cl, guitar

Maritime Folksong Suite. 1993. Ms. Erik Oland and Wendy Nielsen

Nature Suite. (Text William Prouty.) 1996. Ms. Sop, clar, piano. Arts Atlantic Trio

Shadows Blue. 2001-2. Ms. Measha Brueggergosman and Robert Kortgaard

Insomnia Songs. 2002. Ms. Robert Pomakov and Brahm Goldhamer

Further Reading