Emily Hall in Halifax, N.S.

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Miniatures

Miniatures was written in roughly three week’s time for the ARRAYMUSIC Young Composers’ Workshop 2002.  One of four accepted, this month-long residency allows student composers to work with professional musicians and composers in weekly sessions, discussions, and concerts; it culminated in a concert June 2, 2002, at The Music Gallery in Toronto.  

 

Part of the desire was to create miniatures that were each self contained, satisfying objects, but were then arranged as one would arrange a bowl of fruit or a bouquet of flowers: to form a whole, a collection.  Instead of approaching the miniatures in a chronological manner, I see them as one would look at an arrangement of objects. 

 

Of course, music is a slave to time, and the miniatures sound one after the other.  However, as one sees a yellow flower differently if it is placed beside a red apple or against a green pear, our perception of a miniature could change depending on where it is placed. 

 

The piece was partly inspired by an exhibit at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Montreal, a set of 39 black-and-white photographs entitled Notte Oscura (1989) by Quebec photographer Alain Laframboise (b. 1947).  At the time I did not consider their effect on me.  I find this always interesting, almost magical, how things or experiences can resurface in your memory in more powerful ways than the actual encounter. 

 

The series of photographs were displayed in a particular order, a line across a wall (though some appear above one another).  It becomes evident this order is important – we immediately begin to see a dialogue.  But more so what struck me was how Laframboise repeats one photograph somewhere else.  Sometimes he repeats it identically, but at other times there is something different about it – as simple as changing the framing, whether horizontal or vertical.  But, this renewed look makes us see the photo with different eyes.  It is even possible, within the context, that one might not even notice they are looking at something they had seen only minutes before. 

Canadian Composer Emily Hall / Compositeur canadienne Emily Hall

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