New Year, New Stuff

January, 2015   

Happy new year! It’s been far too long since I last update. Lots of new projects in the oven. Although concert-wise things are relatively quiet for me in the next couple months, there will be a big explosion of music/musical/operatic activity in the spring. For now, I’ll give you a taste of what I’m up to!


Currently, I’m collaborating with a number of super creative composers and writers—Julie Tepperman, Mitchell Cushman, Anika Johnson, Britta Johnson, and Bram Gielen—to create a massive site-specific musical titled Brantwood, which is being presented by Sheridan College’s graduating class. Audiences will be bussed to Brantwood High School, where they will be treated to 100 years of high school life at Brantwood. There are drug busts and cross dressers; lovers and liars; break ups and kiss-ins... and over 10 hours of material!

I have been brought on board as sound designer and will also be orchestrating a ton of the music, paying homage to styles as diverse as orchestral music, ambient, hip-hop, porn-soundtrack and straight up dance-kitsch. In short, this project keeps me on my toes. This show is happening in Oakville in April, and it is truly one-of-a-kind. Don’t miss this!


The Toy Piano Composers are currently in the middle of their 7th season, and we’re gearing up for our third concert, Grit! It features a reprise performance of my piece Boats and Balloons, and we’re excited to feature a work by guest composer Jose Puello. Come check it out!



I have also resumed my collaboration with the TDSB and Continuum. I have been busy visiting classrooms across the city, teaching composition workshops, and helping classes compose their very own works to be performed by Continuum Ensemble in a live performance. It’s amazing fun to see these students’ pieces come to life!


In opera land, I’ve been continuing to plug away at The Moon, and now have a complete draft of the libretto and an early version of the overture. This is an electroacoustic opera, in which the audience will (hopefully) be able to co-mingle with the performers. A very different approach for me, and I’m excited to see how it takes shape. It will feature members of Grex, Nathan Petitpas (percussion), and stage direction by Erik Thor.


Finally, with the short Sleeping Giant—for which I provided some original score—hot off the heals of Canada’s Top 10 Short Films screening at TIFF, I’m excited to announce that I will be scoring the feature film version in the coming months! The film is nearly finished in the editing department (and it is unflinching!), but the music development is in still in very early stages. Still, there are some very exciting collaborations that may happen with this project, so as things develop I will keep you posted!

If you’d like to see some of my upcoming projects for yourself, check out my Concert’s page. There you will find dates, locations, and opportunities to purchase tickets.

Keep warm!

Open Ears Festival

June, 2014

Opera is yet again at the forefront of the many of the things I’ve been up to. A few months ago, a group of amazingly talented grade school kids from my city wrote an opera. I facilitated the composing to some degree, but they were the creators of everything from the libretto to the music to the stage design, and finally, the performance. The result was a hilariously absurd opera entitled The Ancient Relic. Bravo to the kids at QVPS!

In case you missed the triple bill of Regina, Etiquette, and Heather (libretto by Julie Tepperman), you get another chance on June 15th at the Open Ears Festival in Kitchener Waterloo. This will be my second involvement in the festival, and I’m thrilled to be a part if it once again! It’s a double thrill to be involved twice this year, as the Bicycle Opera Project will be performing a re-orchestrated version of my comic short opera a little rain must fall (libretto by David Yee).

It was always the highlight musical event for contemporary music lovers in the city, and it is well worth the trip if you’re from out of town! Regina/Etiquette/Heather will be performed on June 15th at 7:30 PM at the Registry theatre. Get more info here. Bicycle Opera Project will be performing at 3:30 PM that same day. More info here. And be sure to check out the rest of the festival!

Non-opera related: I got a chance to work on an awesome project with Doug Friesen, Continuum Ensemble, and the TDSB. Ten grade-school music classes composed brand new works for the Continuum Ensemble, which was then performed live at A.Y. Jackson, where Continuum was joined with some talented high school performers. I was brought on board to transcribe the music for stands, and it was a thrill to help these kids bring their ideas to life. The concert event was truly exciting! Continuum has done a wonderful write up that details the process that can be read here.

Operatic Interviews

April, 2014

Monica Pearce, Elisha Denburg and I did an interview with Essential Opera in anticipation for their triple bill concert coming up on April 5th. Check it out!

This is one of two concerts where my work is being featured. You can get tickets here.

For the Toy Piano Composers concert Tension/Resolution, featuring the TPC Ensemble and Angela Schwarzkopf on Harp, get info and tickets here!


March, 2014

February—I don’t know what happened. They chose this month as the one to lop off a couple days to adjust the calendar to the Earth’s rotation around the sun, but in my mind, February felt like it was a week long. Way back at the beginning of it, TPC hosted a concert that was the result of their first ever call for scores. We premiered five new works by August Murphy-King, Sophie Dupuis, Robert Taylor, Jason Doell, and Tyler Versluis. I think it was the best turn out we ever had, and it was a big honour to a part of this event!

I recently finished a new work called Coaelescence Variations, which was generously funded by Michael Koerner and Roger Moore through the Toronto Emerging Composer Award. In this piece, I’ve experimented with form, and the way the piece progresses is inspired by board game mechanics. There are—I think—some quirky and fascinating implications that arise out of this. The piece, for one, has a ton of permutations, and so it will never sound the same twice. It is also written in such a way that it is almost impossible to hear all the content that was written for it in a single performance (so the piece never fully “reveals itself”). I’ve never really written anything quite like this, so I can’t wait to hear what this thing is going to be like. If you would like to hear it, then come to the next Toy Piano Composers Concert Tension/Resolution. Saturday April 12th, 8PM, Heliconian Hall.

In other news, Essential Opera is doing a concert performance of Heather, a two scene opera I’ve composed with librettist Julie Tepperman. This is a hilarious and unflinching exploration that explores the issues of cyberbullying. This is part of a triple bill, with operas by two fellow Toy Piano Composers: Etiquette, by Monica Pearce (with librettist John Terauds) and Regina, by Elisha Denburg (with librettist Maya Rabinovitch). It has been so much fun causing all kinds of new music ruckus with Monica and Elisha over the last 5 years, and I can’t wait to share the opera stage with them! This concert is happening Saturday, April 5, also at Heliconian Hall. You can get tickets HERE.

2013 <---> 2014

January, 2014

Happy New Year everyone! I’m looking forward to a particularly busy month of writing! Not much happening concert-wise until the last day of the month, where my piece Walking will be played on the Karen Kieser Prize Concert on January 31st at U of T. Hope you can make it!

I’m honoured to have been part of Musical Toronto’s “Best Concert of 2013”. This show was put on in the Spring of 2013 by Musica Reflecta and the Madeleine Collective, and included Peter and the Wolf, Dean Burry’s Carnival of the Dinosaurs, and my Mini Piano Concerto. I loved being a part of this magical children’s event! Many thanks to Musica Reflecta, Madeleine Collective, and all creative people involved for their hard work, and to John Terauds for the nod! 

TPC Turns 5!

October, 2013

TPC Turns 5! is fast approaching! We’re well under way with rehearsals, and it’s shaping up to be a fantastic show! We are remounting some of our favourite pieces by TPComposers from the last five years, so this is an excellent opportunity to hear music from concerts you’ve missed, or get a second listen. The concert happens on October 12th @ 8PM • Gallery 345, Toronto


Also happening at Gallery 345: Musica Reflecta is doing another children’s show! Their first one was so much fun that they’ve decided to do another one. A wonderful, energetic young pianist will be reprise her performance of my Mini Piano Concerto No. 1, along with a narration of Ticki Ticki Tembo, and a video performance of Peter and the Wolf, created by the unbelievably creative Madeleine Collective.

It’s all happening Sunday, October 20th @ 2PM • Gallery 345, Toronto.


Birthday Shenanigans

September, 2013

Fresh of of Opera briefs, I’m looking forward to a few new projects in the pipeline. The one that’s got me particularly stoked is TPC Turns 5!, a concert/celebration of the Toy Piano Composers 5th birthday, and the start of the sixth season. (Take a moment to think about it; the math works.)

We’ll be showcasing some of our favourite pieces from the last five years, including a number of reorchestrated/reimagined works. We’re also hosting this event at the place where we were born: Gallery 345! Should be a real blast-y-blast!

Get Tickets!

Opera Briefs

August, 2013

I’m currently going through some serious LibLab withdrawal. After all-nighters, and intensive collaboration with 4 wonderful writers—Nicolas Billon, Morris Panych, Julie Tepperman, and David Yee—it’s hard to figure out how to fill my first day off in ten days.

It was an amazing experience, and a bit of a whirlwind. The process of writing so much music in such a short period of time forces you to make quick decisions, rely on your gut, and compose spontaneously. It was really amazing, and I think it’s going to take the next few days to digest it all.

If you’re interested in seeing a few of the 16 operas that were created, they will be staged in the distillery district on September 19, 20, 21, and 22. Head on over to Tapestry’s website for tickets.


August, 2013

In a couple of days, I’m going to be starting LibLab with Tapestry Opera Company. I’m really excited, but I’m not sure what to expect. It’s essentially a 10 day intensive workshop, in which four composers and four librettists are thrown into a room with four fantastic singers, a director, and a music director. In a creative “speed dating” sort of situation, each composer is meant to compose a short opera with each of the librettists in turn, churning out a new work every couple of days. (That’s 16 operas in 10 days.)

I’m not sure how this is going to happen, but brave souls have done it before. I’ve been to quite a few of the resultant concerts from previous LibLabs and some pretty amazing stuff has been done in past years. This year, I’m looking forward to playing my small bit!

SOCAN Foundation Award for A-V Composers

July, 2013

I’m very proud to announce that the SOCAN Foundation has awarded my score for We Ate the Children Last (dir. Andrew Cividino) first prize in the Fiction Category. I’ve also received the second place award for Lucian (dir. Randolph Lizarda) in the Animation category.

I’m honoured to have been recognized for my work, and truly greatful to work with Andrew and Randolph on both of these incredible and imaginative projects! I’ve linked an abridged version of WATCL, which was made for Bravo!Fact, and Lucian.

We Ate the Children Last


Randolph is also an accomplished concept artist and animator. You can check out his artist blog here.

Not so slow days of summer.

June, 2013

What was meant to be a fairly low key summer is definitely turning out to be not the case! I’m thrilled to have been short-listed for the 2013 Slaight Music Residency offered by the Canadian Film Centre and the Screen Composers Guild of Canada. This is a nationwide call for composers to participate in a year of workshops, seminars, and events, connecting composers to leaders in the film industry.

The first week of June was a super blast with the Thin Edge New Music Collective, a group of remarkably talented performers who commissioned a new work from me last December. The new piece, Fluid Mechanics, had its premiere in Toronto on June 8th, with a second performance in Waterloo. We also took the piece to a local high school and presented it to two very enthusiastic music classes.

Finally, the Toy Piano Composers is gearing up for their next season, recently selecting five emerging composers to present for their February concert, To Be Announced. Definitely looking forward to working with these folks!

Copyright © Chris Thornborrow 2014