Explore the Score—Composers

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce that Sean Clarke, Keiko Devaux, Kathryn Knowles, Julia Mermelstein, and Scott Ross-Molyneux have been chosen to participate in Explore the Score on January 12, 2019.

Learn more about each of the composers below:

Sean Clarke

A portrait of Canadian composer Sean Clarke

Sean Clarke is a composer, flutist, and theorist from Calgary. He completed a doctorate in composition at the University of Montréal under the guidance of Ana Sokolovic and Jonathan Goldman, generously supported by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship. Previously, he studied flute and composition at the Royal Northern College of Music under Peter Lloyd and Anthony Gilbert, and the University of Calgary under Allan Bell and David Eagle.

His works have been performed in France, America, and across Canada, by the National Youth Orchestra, Quatuor Bozzini, Robert Aitken, Land’s End Ensemble, Ensemble Mise-En, Ensemble Arkea, and Project Iso, as well as featured in the World Saxophone Congress and the Canadian University Music Society annual conference. Sean has also written several works for young performers, one of which is published by the Royal Conservatory of Music, and has presented his theory research at national and regional conferences. His theory work focuses on the music of Pierre Boulez and formal function in contemporary music.

As a freelance flutist, Sean has performed in contemporary music festivals in Montreal, Calgary, and Saskatoon, with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Red Deer Symphony, and in concert series including the Société de Musique Contemporaine de Québec’s Série Hommage and McGill University’s Schulich Professional Concert Series.

Keiko Devaux

A portrait of Canadian composer Keiko Devaux

Keiko Devaux’s works have been performed in Canada, France, Germany, and Italy by various ensembles including Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble musica assoluta, Ensemble Arkea, Quartetto Prometeo, and Ensemble Wapiti, among others.

Her approach embraces her love of electroacoustic sounds and methodology by manipulating and distorting acoustic sound with digital tools, and then transcribing/re-transforming these edits back into musical notation and the acoustic realm. Her interests include emotional experience and affect, auto-organizational phenomena in nature and living beings, as well as “genre-blurring” by layering and juxtaposing contrasting melodic/harmonic skeletal elements of highly contrasting sonic sources. The distortion of the temporal, frequency, and timbral attributes allow the blurring between traditional tonal sounds and more electroacoustic-inspired “noise” gestures.

Keiko was composer in residence with Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (2016–18), where, in addition to composing a piece for the ensemble, she programmed and helped design the concert’s concept. She is a laureate of the l’OUM composition prize (2018), the Rotary Club Siena Award (2018) for distinction in her master courses with Salvatore Sciarrino, the Jury and Public prize for the Accès Arkea prize (2017), and of the l’OUM composition prize (2016). She is an associate composer with the Canadian Music Centre, vice-president of the administration board for Codes D’accès, and former organizer of the Montréal Contemporary Music Lab.

Originally from British Columbia, she began her musical career in piano performance studies as well as composing, touring, and recording several albums in independent rock bands. She holds a Bachelor of Music (Écriture) degree and a Master of Music degree in instrumental composition from the Université de Montréal. She has also studied with Maestro Salvatore Sciarrino at L’Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy (2017/18). She is currently pursuing her doctorate in composition and creation under the direction of Ana Sokolovic and Pierre Michaud.

Kathryn Knowles

A portrait of Canadian composer Kathryn Knowles

Kathryn Knowles is a composer, cellist, and writer based in Toronto, Ontario. She is interested in multidisciplinary artistic exchange and in exploring the creative process. Her work is versatile and demonstrates moments of dramatic expressivity and, conversely, moments of intricate wit and humour. She is recognized for her elegant orchestrations and her eccentric thematic material. Kathryn draws inspiration from her day-to-day life, the people she meets, and the places she goes. She uses her music to abstract and express her story as it unfolds.

Kathryn holds Bachelor of Music and Master of International Business degrees from Queen’s University, as well as a master’s degree in music composition from the University of Toronto, where she was awarded the Joseph Armand Bombardier Canadian Graduate Scholarship. During her time at U of T, Kathryn initiated and led the creation of an annual interdisciplinary conference—known as the Multidisciplinary Creative Conference—to showcase artistic creation-based research.

In addition to her work as a composer and writer, Kathryn is the General Manager of the Canadian League of Composers, and a Cello Instructor with Sistema Toronto. Kathryn is a strong advocate for the accessibility of music and art in today’s society and she values the constant pursuit and celebration of knowledge.

Julia Mermelstein

A portrait of Canadian composer Julia Mermelstein

Julia Mermelstein is a Toronto-based composer, originally from Halifax. Her music focuses on detailed tone colour, textures, and gestural movement that reveal evocative, immersive, and subtly changing soundscapes. She extensively works with electronics, blending acoustic and electronic sound worlds in seamless interactions. Her music takes influence from Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and ritualistic tendencies that shape her relationship to form, stillness, and sense of space. Julia’s extensive background in ballet has heavily informed her work, whether choreography is explored with musicians or informing her creative process. Her work has been involved in a variety of mediums that include electronic, chamber music, orchestral, music for dance, and collaborative and multi-disciplinary works.

Julia’s music has been commissioned and performed by leading musicians and ensembles, including Barbara Pritchard, Blue Rider Ensemble, the Array Ensemble, Ensemble Arkea, Quatuor Bozzini, Toy Piano Composers Ensemble, and Windermere String Quartet, among others. Her compositions have been presented at OUA Electronic Music Festival 2017 in Osaka, Japan; NAISA’s Deep Wireless Compilation; The Movement Gallery; Festival of Original Theatre; and Open Ears Festival.

Julia received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree specializing in composition under Dr. Georges Dimitrov from Concordia University, Montreal, in 2013. She continued her studies with composers Linda Catlin Smith, Brian Harman, and Juliet Palmer.

Scott Ross-Molyneux

A portrait of Canadian composer Scott Ross-Molyneux

Scott Ross-Molyneux grew up studying harp, piano, and electric guitar. At age 13, he began writing pop-punk songs for his garage band, then he attended a life-changing concert of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Previously, Scott’s exposure to classical music consisted of listening to his father play Chopin and studying various pieces on his own instruments. It seemed as if orchestral music was divinely inspired—not created by mere mortals. However, during Beethoven’s symphony, Scott realized that another human—just like himself—had conceived this piece. This epiphany spurred him to begin composing his own symphonic scores and led to a decade of passion for orchestral music.

As a harpist, he has performed with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Calgary Philharmonic. But his true passion lies in composition for the orchestral medium. He cites his primary influences as Tchaikovsky, Mahler, and Bruckner, as well as his undying love for metal and pop-punk music. Scott completed his bachelor’s degree in composition and harp performance on scholarship at McGill University in 2015. He is currently based in Calgary, where he finds his creativity thrives amidst the vast skies, open landscapes, and mountain vistas of his home.

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