Interview: Robert Aitken with Norma Beecroft
This interview includes a discussion of the first five years of New Music Concerts' performance series in Toronto as well as commentary about two featured works by Claude Vivier and Peter Maxwell Davies. This episode of Music of Today - the first in a series of broadcasts of live new music events from across the country - aired on April 18, 1976. Aitken described the growth of the new music community across Canada from Montreal's Société de musique contemporaine du Québec ( SMCQ) to New Music Concerts to other series throughout the rest of the country.
New Music Concerts celebrates its 35 th Anniversary this year (2006) and continues to nurture performers and audience for contemporary music activities through the excellence and diversity of its programming as well as its involvement in presenting the finest contemporary composers and ensembles from around the world.
INTERVIEWEE Robert Aitken
Robert Aitken began composition studies with Barbara Pentland in Vancouver and then at the University of Toronto with John Weinzweig. As the first student admitted to the Electronic Music Studio of the University of Toronto, he became familiar with developments in electronic music and composed a number of prominent electronic works. The first work which established him as a composer in the eyes of the concert public was his Concerto for 12 Soloists and Orchestra which was performed by the Toronto Symphony in 1968.
Since that time he has completed a number of commissions for such organizations as the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the CBC, the National Youth Orchestra, the York Winds, IRCAM and the Elmer Iseler Singers. Composition time has been at a great premium due to his career as a flutist and his administrative responsiblities as artistic director of the Advanced Studies in Music Program, Banff Centre (1986-89); New Music Concerts, Toronto (1971-present); Music at Shawnigan (1981-1990); and from 1988 until 2004 was Professor of Flute at the Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg, Germany.
INTERVIEWER Norma Beecroft
Norma Beecroft has enjoyed an active life in music, as a composer, producer, broadcaster and administrator. Beecroft studied composition at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood) with Aaron Copland and Lukas Foss, the Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Rome) under Goffredo Petrassi, and at the University of Toronto with Myron Schaeffer. Many of Beecroft's compositions combine electronically produced or altered sounds together with live instruments. She regards her use of electronic music as an extension of vocal and instrumental sounds rather than a contrast of timbres.
Beecroft has also enjoyed a long association with the world of broadcasting. While at the CBC she held the positions of script assistant, music consultant, talent relations officer, national program organizer, and producer. In 1969 she began a freelance career as producer and commentator on contemporary music. She was the host of "Music of Today", and her freelance work included documentaries about Canadian composers.
Beecroft has been active in the promotion of Canadian and contemporary music in addition to her broadcasting and composing career. She is a former President of both the Canadian Music Associates (the Toronto concert committee of the Canadian League of Composers), and Ten Centuries Concerts. In 1971, she co-founded (with Robert Aitken) New Music Concerts, and was its President and General Manager until 1989.