Jim Hiscott | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Jim Hiscott

Hiscott, Jim (James Michael). Composer, producer, accordionist, b St Catharines, Ont, 4 Dec 1948; B SC (Brock) 1969, M SC (Toronto) 1971, BFA music (York) 1976.

Hiscott, Jim

Hiscott, Jim (James Michael). Composer, producer, accordionist, b St Catharines, Ont, 4 Dec 1948; B SC (Brock) 1969, M SC (Toronto) 1971, BFA music (York) 1976. He studied mathematics and physics in Canada and in 1970 at the University of Lancaster in England before deciding to pursue a career in music. He undertook musical studies 1970-6 with Samuel Dolin at the RCMT and 1973-6 at York University.

Hiscott won a composition award from the Canadian Federation of University Women in 1977. Also in 1977, he joined the CBC as a radio music producer in Toronto, moving in 1979 to Edmonton and in 1980 to Winnipeg where he remained in 1991. In 1981 he became a founding member and first president of the Manitoba Composers Association. Also in 1981, with composers Peter Allen, Bruce Carlson, and William Pura, he co-founded IZ Music, a contemporary music society in Winnipeg. A number of his works, including Red Dawn (1977), Spirit Reel(1982), and Variations on a Theme of Giuseppe Verdi (1983, rev 1985) have been premiered at IZ Music concerts. Hiscott also has been active as an accordionist. He performed in 1991 at the Music Gallery as part of the Big Squeeze festival, and has made recordings.

After the usual student experimentation, Hiscott has settled into a style that often merges contemporary sounds with world folk music. He generally utilizes a strong rhythmic base and a standard harmonic language. His Rains of Sailendra (1977) is evocative of rain as it develops into rhythmic regularity. It shows a strong influence of folk-like melody in an eastern tonality, and often passes the melody from one instrument to another. By the time of his The Flowering Forest (1982) this technique had settled into a highly individual style. Again, beginning with a rhythmic sequence on a single pitch, he builds towards considerable complexity. This work is quite atmospheric in character, and somewhat descriptive. The modality retains an eastern sound. Altiplano, written for the Great Lakes Brass Quintet in 1989, shows both a solidification of his commitment to world music and a return to a more standard western contemporary music stream. It maintains his usual rhythmic sense while alternating between folk-like and angular melodic passages.

Hiscott has received commissions from Music Inter Alia (Guatemala, 1983, rev 1984), accordionist Joseph Petric (Gilgamesh, 1977), violinist Victor Schultz (Variations on a Theme of Giuseppe Verdi), Metis Arts of Manitoba (Métis Dance Variations, 1985), and Manitoba Puppet Theatre. His 1973 work Planes was performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kazuhiro Koizumi in 1986. The Manitoba Composers Association included an excerpt of his Spirit Reel on its 1989 CD by Schultz (Manitoba Composers' MCVS-5001). Schultz performed Spirit Reel and Métis Dance Variations on a cassette released in 1990 (Magnitape MAG-1590). Hiscott is an associate of the Canadian Music Centre and is a member and served 1981-8 on the council of the CLComp.