Magnetic Band

Magnetic Band (Days Months and Years to Come 1974-82). Vancouver group founded in 1974 to perform new Canadian compositions in a context of other contemporary music and to commission works.

Magnetic Band

Magnetic Band (Days Months and Years to Come 1974-82). Vancouver group founded in 1974 to perform new Canadian compositions in a context of other contemporary music and to commission works. A stable core of performers was established to ensure presentations of consistent calibre and to provide a specific resource for composers. The group's conductor, the pianist-composer Alex Pauk, was a founding member of ARRAY in Toronto and of Array West in Vancouver. The latter group was superseded by Days Months and Years to Come, comprising Pauk (1974-9), and later (from 1982) Owen Underhill as conductor; the flutist Kathryn (Birute) Cernauskas; the percussionist Paul Grant, succeeded by Salvador Ferreras (ca 1978); the oboist Anthony Nickels, succeeded by David Owen (ca 1982); the organist-harpsichordist Patrick Wedd; the pianist Arlie Thompson (from ca 1978); the violinist Victor Costanzi (from 1982); and the cellist Lee Duckles, succeeded by Paula Kiffner (1978) and Susan Round (from 1982). The group became the resident new-music ensemble at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre in 1975 and presented five subscription concerts each season and performances in high schools. Composers were encouraged to be present, to talk with the audiences. Extensive program notes were mailed to subscribers before each concert. The concerts explored various aspects of new music, including improvisation, compositional techniques, and unusual instrumentation. The ensemble was augmented as needed by guest performers, and composers often assisted in their own works. In 1980 it recorded Saint-Marcoux'sMandala I (RCI 525/5-ACM 18), in 1981 Beecroft'sCantorum vitae (4-ACM 13), and in 1982 Pentland'sTellus (6-ACM 25).

In 1982 Magnetic Band became associated with Simon Fraser University, which became the main venue for its concerts, although it still appeared off campus (eg, at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, and the Arts Club), and in 1984 it performed at the ISCM festival in Montreal. The group became inactive after it performed its last independently produced concerts in May 1986, one involving music by George Crumb (an invited guest) at the Arts Club and another featuring works by Montreal composers, including the premiere of Denis Gougeon'sLettre à un ami (1986).

The programs included works by such world figures as György Ligeti, Toru Takemitsu, and Elliott Carter. Prominence was given, however, to pieces written for the group's particular combination of instruments, eg, Bruce Davis'Comp 1101011 and Salmacis (1975), Olov Franzen's The Vancouver Piece (1975-6), Allan Rae'sRainbow Sketches (1976), Christopher Butterfield's Trismegiste (1976), Pauk's Underneath the Afternoon (1977) and Beyond (1978), Grant's Year of the Horse: Three Rituals (1978), a collective work, Six Bagatelles (1978, for group and audience), Owen Underhill's Escalator (1982), and David MacIntyre's In Memoriam John Gardner (1986). With the assistance of the Canada Council, Days Months and Years to Come commissioned Marjan Mozetich'sRush-Hour Blues (1976), John Fodi'sPartimento: Here the Forsaken Virgin Rests (1976), Harry Freedman'sThe Explainer (1976), John Rea'sJeux de scène (1977), Thomas Baker's Yantra: Come Sweet Death (1977), Rudolf Komorous'The Midnight Narcissus (1977), and Alexina Louie'sLotus (1977). Works by Serge Garant (Quintette), Donald Steven, and Claude Vivier were commissioned for the 1978-9 season. Later commissions with Canada Council assistance included Edward Arteaga's Divertimento (1984) and Gougeon's Lettre à un ami (1986).


Further Reading

  • Mertens, Susan. 'Taste in music: to stop at the soup is to miss the duck,' Vancouver Sun, 23 Oct 1976