Composer Statement

I love writing for singers.

I began coaching and performing with singers in my teens and began conducting them in operas soon after I got my B Mus at the University of Manitoba. For two years I worked in Manhattan with some of the best voice teachers – and therefore some of the best singers – in the world. During the second phase of my opera career I specialized in working with younger singers just breaking into the profession.

I understand how the voice works, I love where it can take us and I revel in the singer’s vocal and emotional palette. When I began composing, there was just no other choice for me than to write for these very special artists.

I am inspired by dramatic poetry.

I spend a lot of time searching for poetry that speaks powerfully to me, and for me.

I have been privileged to work extensively with two of Canada’s most extraordinary writers – Lorna Crozier and Joy Kogawa. The poems may be bold and raw, or understated and contained. Each one has its own unique and exquisite rhythm that I can deeply feel and translate into music. Words are always a point of departure for me – even the instrumental works I’ve composed have their silent sub-text.

I value my wonderful colleagues.

Writing for specific singers and instrumentalists is a gift for any composer. Here in Vancouver there are several artists who have premiered and/or performed much of my music – Heather Pawsey (soprano), Robyn Driedger-Klassen (soprano), Kathryn Cernauskas (flute), AK Coope (clarinet), Rebecca Wenham (cello), Terence Dawson (piano), Rena Sharon (piano) Rachel Iwaasa (piano). I owe them a great deal.