Monday, March 2, 2009

R. Murray Schafer wins the Governor General's award

Congratulations to R. Murray Schafer who has been awarded the 2009 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. Mr. Shafer is a composer and educator who I first encountered when studying the World Soundscape Project. This project was, at least initially, driven by Shafer's studies of noise pollution. I later read his book The Soundscape which extended these ideas into thinking about an evironment's soundscape as a compositional tool or an orchestral component. (I've tried to use some of these ideas in my own compositions, with much less success that those of Shafer.)

Many of his ideas are included in what I think is his most famous composition, The Princess and the Stars. This piece is based on Native American folklore and must be performed around a lake, therby incorporating the natural soundscape of the lake. In fact, it was once performed in nearby Banff National Park. I've heard that a bootleg recording of that performance resides somewhere on the University of Calgary campus.

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