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Greenhouses

Biography

I was born in 1959 and I grew up with music all around me. When I was very young, I heard a lot of am-radio fare, and thanks to the tastes of my older sister by the time I was 10, I was a huge fan of bands like Santana and Steppenwolf, etc (I was basically weaned on the Woodstock soundtrack). All of that changed the first time I heard a string quartet.

One Sunday on CBC-TV, I heard Ligeti's 2nd String Quartet. I was mesmorized and spent the rest of my teens listening to as much classical music as I could. My love of rock music never diminished though, it merely transformed into a voracious appetite for bands like Gentle Giant and Yes. I picked up a guitar when I was 15, not so much for the urge to be a guitarist, but mostly to be able to play the music I was hearing in my head. I played for hours a day and became a fairly proficient, albeit self-taught, guitarist.

My very first ambitious piece was Symphony #1, where I used texts from HP Lovecraft and a huge "Planets-like" orchestral ensemble. Inevitably, my lack of orchestrational knowledge lead me to abandon finishing the actual orchestrations, but by 1977, I had written all the themes and developements.

In 1979 I moved out to Vancouver and played bass in punk bands (my first paying jobs). For several years I worked playing bass and guitar in various original and cover outfits, all the time writing modern classical music for my own enjoyment. I wrote an awful lot of chamber music and studied as many scores as I could lay my hands on.

In 1983 I decided to quit the music "scene" and spent two years pounding spikes for the Canadian Pacific Railway. I worked on an extra gang in the BC mountains (based out of Revelstoke British Columbia) where I lived on outfit cars, moved from job to job, and used hand-tools to repair track and build switches.

By 1985 I had saved up enough money to attend school, and after a strenuous audition, attended Humber College, where I studied composition, arranging, guitar and lastly, orchestration. I spent 6 years there and studied with Ron Collier, Paul Read, Dave Stillwell, Clarke Anderson, Art Maiste and guitarists, Peter Harris, Tony Zorzi, and Mark Crawford.

After graduating in 1991, I worked free-lance, writing orchestrations for various pops concerts, and big-band charts for various Toronto ensembles. As a result of one of the many bands I played with, I met a music consultant at CBC, and shortly afterwards, started writing music for TV. As I was always a fan of the ballet music of Stravinsky, I enjoyed writing program music (music that follows a plot, and whose form is decided more by the unfolding of a story than solely musical considerations). I was also a very big fan of Bernard Hermann, so I took to TV writing quite well and continued to do a lot of it from then until about 2003. Along the way I wrote a ton of concert pieces and was fortunate to have a few played, and to receive commissions from the Canada Council for several string quartets and Symphonies.

As a lot of the work I was doing in TV, was the entire audio design of a show, I found myself combining ambiences, sound effects and music into an integrated whole. More and more it occured to me that I could merge these various disciplines, and in 2003, I basically retired from TV, to dedicate myself to a more Electro-Acoustic approach, where real instruments and electronic manipulations share the stage. As well, I find myself playing a lot more guitar and bass in free-form outfits where improvisation as well as orchestrated parts combine and commingle.

Recently I have been working on a lot of different things and am immersed in a work that uses Sappho's fragmented verses (all that is left of her writings are fragments) with a small electro-acoustic ensemble. Check out the list of works page , or the audio page to hear some stuff.

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