Each year the ESO selects one (or two) talented students from local high schools to take part in the Young Composers’ Project (YCP). The 2013 winner of this competition is Taran Plamondon of Archbishop MacDonald High School. Taran is an accomplished French horn player and on the basis of the portfolio of compositions he submitted, and the work he has undertaken so far, shows great promise as a composer as well.
The ESO’s Composer-in-Residence, Robert Rival, has been meeting with Taran on a regular basis since early February. Taran will write an original work for symphony orchestra, about five minutes long, to be premiered at the orchestra’s popular Symphony Under the Sky festival (Aug. 30 to Sep. 2 at Hawrelak Park). Below, in his own words, are Taran’s impressions of the YCP after two months.
Until this year I had never taken any sort of composition or formal theory lessons; out of sheer interest and the desire to improve my musicianship did I learn about the various elements of composition. I began composing in eighth grade, without the slightest clue of what I was doing. I have developed a lot since then, and learning from someone who has experience first-hand with commissions and world premieres has really helped me grow as a composer. I have learned plenty about instrumentation, voice leading, phrasing, and even page formatting, while retaining the ability to write in a style which is distinctly mine. We have delved in-depth into Beethoven’s First Symphony
and one of my personal favourites, Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
, in order to examine harmonic structure, instrumentation choices, and to try to “predict” what the composer’s intentions were.
I go about composing just as many composers do – grab a musical instrument, whether it is the piano or my beloved French horn, and simply play. Through the instrument, I attempt to interpret the music I imagine in my head. I draw inspiration mainly from the people I encounter. I will accumulate several of these ideas and record them as a short score on notation software. When this entire “piano grand-staff” piece is completed, I begin the process of instrumentation. It can be tedious but it is a truly worthwhile process once complete.
My work so far, tentatively titled “Overture,” will be performed by Jeremy Spurgeon at the piano workshop this Wednesday, April 24, 2013. I am really looking forward to hearing feedback on what works and what I could do better. I always appreciate different perspectives as it will present ideas I may not have even considered before. I am truly looking forward to it as well as the upcoming months, where we will begin the meticulous process of shaping it into a grand orchestral work!