Hard to believe it was only 50 years ago, but November 30, 1959 was the first performance of electronic music in Canada. To celebrate this milestone, the McGill University Digital Composition Studio (formerly the Electronic Music Studio) hosted a concert this past November 15 in Tanna Schulich Hall. The first four pieces on the program were purely electronic, pre-recorded pieces, composed by past directors of McGill's EMS - Istvan Anhalt, Hugh LeCaine, Paul Pedersen, and Bengt Hambraeus. I was invited to perform the final piece on the program - alcides lanza's ontem, with Meg Sheppard (voice), and alcides lanza himself, manipulating live electronics. The full concert program can be downloaded here in PDF format. It contains some interesting (old) photos, and a scan of the 1959 concert program. alcides opened the evening with a talk and slideshow about the McGill EMS, and the evolution of synthesizers and samplers.
Warming up at the dress rehearsal.
Interestingly, ontem was my first commission for a 'Western-classical' contemporary piece for tabla, and this was the 10th anniversary of the piece. My setup includes two pairs of tabla, 3 tom-toms, 5 temple blocks, a log drum, 3 crotales (though nowadays, I use Sabian Resonating Bells instead), and bamboo chimes. Hard to believe that I used to perform this piece standing up (what was I thinking?). I much prefer this new seated configuration, as it allows me to play the tabla better, and the setup is much less cluttered.
Myself, composer alcides lanza, and singer Meg Sheppard after the performance.
Special thanks to Sean Ferguson, director of the McGill DCS, for the photos.