Professor Robert Hasegawa, Associate Professor of Music Theory at the Schulich School of Music, is currently a William Dawson Scholar and involved in a number of research projects. He is a proud advocate of contemporary music, with his research interests encompassing musical timbre, spectral music and transformational theory.
This year he has been busy organizing the International Conference on Mixed Music Pedagogy (ICOMMP), which will be the first event of its kind: a four-day research-creation conference on the pedagogy of mixed music. Led by artist-researchers and scholars at McGill University and the Université de Montréal, the conference will include public workshops, research colloquia, and concerts featuring guest artists and lecturers from Canada, the United States, France, and Portugal.
Professor Hasegawa took a moment to talk about his own experiences with mixed music, and the inspiration behind the event. In this Q&A, he also offers insight into the three free-admission public concerts happening during the conference weekend:
What exactly is "mixed music"?
"Mixed music" (or in French, musique mixte) is musicians' shorthand for pieces that combine traditional acoustic instruments with electronic sound sources. The first mixed pieces were fixed recordings of synthesized sounds to be played along with by live performers, but today mixed compositions often are based on "live electronics" that transform and respond to the sound of the musicians in real time.
What was your own first encounter with mixed music?
In fact, the first mixed music piece I heard was Pierre Boulez's ...explosante-fixe..., which will be performed by the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble as the centrepiece of this conference! I was an undergraduate music student at the time, and heard Boulez conduct the piece himself (with the Ensemble Intercontemporain and flutist Sophie Cherrier) at Carnegie Hall. This concert had a huge influence on me, and steered me towards studying the rest of Boulez's mixed works as well as other composers' music incorporating electroacoustic sounds.
Tell me about the inspiration for organizing and hosting this conference:
As my McGill colleague Philippe Leroux observed, practitioners of mixed music tend to focus on specific techniques and technologies, but we rarely talk about how to teach this information to our students. The conference grew out of this idea of considering how the pedagogy of mixed music: the strategies that composers, performers, technicians, and scholars can use to pass along their expertise.
What would be your conference highlights, for newcomers who are curious about mixed music?
Our conference includes three concerts, at McGill, Université de Montréal, and Le Vivier, any one of which would be a great introduction to what's going on in mixed music today. In addition to the Boulez piece, the programs include compositions by four invited composers Nina C. Young (United States), Miguel Azguime (Portugal), Bruno Gabirro (Portugal), and Bertrand Dubedout (France). All of these concerts are open to the public and free.
What are you personally excited about this weekend?
This conference will bring together some of the world's top experts in creating and teaching mixed music: in addition to the composers mentioned above, we'll also have contributions from Mikhail Malt, Gilbert Nouno, and Alain Bonardi (Paris), Laurie Radford (Calgary), Christopher Dobrian (University of California, Irvine), and the founders of the annual SPLICE Institute, a program in Michigan that trains performers and composers in mixed music. We've received a generous grant from SSHRC (the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), which has made it possible to invite the Sond'Ar-te Electric Ensemble, a leading group for mixed-music performance centred in Lisbon. They'll play music by Miguel Azguime and Bruno Gabirro, with guest musicians from McGill: Guillaume Bourgogne, Fabrice Marandola, and Elisabeth Boudreault.
It's also been exciting to see how this topic brings together so many different parts of Montreal's own contemporary music community. This event is a co-production of the Schulich School of Music, Université de Montréal, CIRMMT, and Le Vivier. Mixed music has become a central topic in music creation today, and this event showcases a lot of different aesthetics and approaches. We're also hosting a workshop for primary and secondary school students, led by Emmanuelle Lizere and Suzu Enns, both experts in teaching this repertoire to younger performers.
What would be your top three recommendations of pieces that use mixed media for readers to have a listen to?
Our three concerts will give a wide-ranging tour of some of today's mixed-music practice. Here's a quick preview:
Pierre Boulez's ...explosante-fixe... is a landmark of the mixed-music repertoire, and uses electronics to process the sound of three solo flutes. Our concert on November 17 will feature McGill's Contemporary Music Ensemble led by Guillaume Bourgogne, with Hannah Darroch, Naama Neuman, and Marilène Provencher-Leduc playing the flute parts. We'll be joined by Gilbert Nouno, who will control the live electronics.
You can watch it here:
Pierre Michaud from the Université de Montréal is one of our closest collaborators on this event, and the concert on November 18 will include his new work ... n i e n t e ... for string quartet with electronics and video. This preview video is an excerpt played by the student performers who will play in the concert:
One of the works to be played by the Sond'Ar-te Electric Ensemble on Monday is Bruno Gabirro's but I have many friends and some of them are with me, which takes its title and inspiration from Leonard Cohen's song "The Partisan." It's a beautiful piece that uses the electronic elements to dramatic effect.
If you are interested in attending any of the ICOMMP concerts, you can find out more information online - all are free admission:
Concert One: Saturday November 17th, 7.30pm (pre-concert lecture, 7pm)
Pollack Hall, Schulich School of Music, McGill University - Find out more
Concert Two: Sunday November 18th, 7.30pm
Salle Claude-Champagne, Université de Montréal - Find out more
Concert Three: Monday November 19th, 8pm
Amphithéâtre – Le Gesù - Find out more
View the conference program online to find out more about all of the events happening during ICOMMP 2018.