Home     Content     Articles      La Scena Musicale     Search   

La Scena Musicale - Vol. 8, No. 9

The Canadian Music Centre: At the Service of Music!

by Réjean Beaucage / June 4, 2003

Version française...

In 1959, the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) was founded to "promote the music of its Associate Composers, to encourage the performance and appreciation of Canadian music, and to make this music available throughout Canada and around the world." For its 531 Associate Composers, as well as numerous musicians, researchers and music lovers, the CMC plays an essential role in maintaining and generating interest in Canadian music.

The head office of the CMC is located in Toronto, but over time and given the immensity of the territory it had to cover, the organization has established regional offices to better fulfil its mission. Offices were opened in Quebec (Montreal, 1973), British Columbia (Vancouver, 1977), Ontario (Toronto, 1979), the Prairies (Calgary, 1980), and the Atlantic provinces (Sackville, 1989). This year, since the Quebec office of the CMC is celebrating its 30th anniversary, we'll take a look at the various services that it and the other local offices provide.

For composers . . . and others

Presently, there are 133 composers associated with the Canadian Music Centre in Quebec who deposit their scores with the CMC libraries, which now house more than 15,000 published and unpublished items. These scores are printed, bound into catalogues by the CMC and made available for loan, purchase or rental. The Centre pays the composer royalties for each score rented or sold. Musicians can obtain, free of charge, lists of scores -- by specific instrument for example -- and the CMC personnel are also able to make suggestions for developing concert programs. Just making this material available--both nationally and internationally--helps greatly to circulate Canadian music. Copies of numerous concert programs found in the CMC documentation centres hold valuable information about Canadian musical life. The CMC also keeps the biographies of its Associate Composers up to date and makes information about their works available for journalists and researchers, as well as groups preparing to perform a local composer's work.

To better promote Canadian works, in 1981 the CMC founded the Centredisques/Centerdiscs label, which today has more than 60 titles, including monographs exploring in detail the works of Canada's greatest composers. The Performers and Repertory Committee, composed of radio producers, critics, performers and representatives of the record industry from across the country, evaluate the recording proposals of the Associate Composers. The Canadian Music Centre Distribution Service (CMCDS) was established to handle the distribution of Centredisques/Centrediscs recordings as well as those of more than 150 Canadian labels and independent producers, thereby becoming the largest distributor of specialised music in Canada! The Quebec regional manager, Mireille Gagné, has represented the CMC for more than ten years at Musicora (a Paris music show) and her presence there increases the opportunities for Canadian music to be played or heard in Europe. The Internet has greatly increased the number of requests for information about local composers and their works. The useful CMC web site (www.centremusique.ca) will be revamped this month to include audio clips, and visitors to the web site will be able to view scores from a selection of the 150 composers who are members. Over the next few years, all members will have access to this service.

The CMC also offers a re-recording service to performers, composers and groups who need a demo. CMC personnel will transfer recordings from just about any medium to CD and will make any number of copies; obviously, this service is not free, but rates are very reasonable.

Until recently, composers wishing to become CMC members had to apply to the national committee, but now the Quebec office has a regional selection committee that is more representative of the community; in April the office handled some 22 membership requests from composers in all sectors including electroacoustic music and musique actuelle, an active area in Quebec. The profile of the "average composer" has changed since CMC was founded, and some (electroacousticians, for example) do not even use paper to compose. More and more self-taught composers are making their music heard along with their counterparts who graduate from the best teaching institutions. The CMC's criteria for admission as Associate Composer are as follows: five compositions without the support of a teacher and five professional performances.

Membership means more international visibility since the CMC belongs to the International Association of Music Information Centres (IAMIC), a network of music information centres in forty countries.

With the services that it offers, not only to composers but to performers, journalists and music lovers, the Canadian Music Centre has again proven that there is strength in numbers.

 [Information obtained from Mireille Gagné, manager of the Quebec office of the CMC.]

Version française...

(c) La Scena Musicale