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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 19, No. 3

Calvin & Hobbes at the Orchestre Métropolitain

by Charles-David Tremblay / November 1, 2013

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“The symphonic suite is composed in five miniature movements,” the composer explains during a phone interview. Musical snapshots such as these enable young people to quickly understand the artistic concept as well as the playful and resolutely modern nature. Depicting various scenes from the strip, each movement represents a picture illustrating the comic strip. In this way, the material is made accessible to young people.

Essentially contemplative, the first movement echoes Messiaen and Bartok; the second one – a scherzo with reference to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture – makes use of the musical palette to produce a musical explosion. Another abstract movement from the suite is dedicated to snowmen, who are recurring figures in the comic during winter periods. A nod to American mass culture is also incorporated by recycling the most common popular music forms, putting them into contrast through the extensive use of dissonance.

The Quebecois composer’s latest piece is not based on a narrative theme, nor does it personify the protagonists using particular themes or instruments. “In fact, between movements, actor Benoît Brière will give a description of each, but there is no narrator as such,” says Champagne.

Duration was the main problem that occurred during the creative process. “Given the audience and the time constraint, it was necessary to condense the material into a compact suite, under ten minutes,” he explains. Otherwise, the composer could have extrapolated it in a longer development.

The program also features Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, two essential works for an introduction to music. “The only similarity to the rest of the program is that I make use of the same instrumentation as Britten; I am very greedy about my instrumentation,” Champagne says.

The latest opus by the composer in residence at the Orchestre métropolitain (OM) is presented on November 27 at the Théâtre Outremont. The composer, excited and pleased at the idea of hearing his composition performed, offers future musicians and music lovers the opportunity to become acquainted with music in another way.


Translated by Karine Poznanski

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