Toronto composer Andrew Staniland turns Evolution on its ear
In response to CBC Radio/Radio-Canada's new Evolution competition for young composers, Toronto-based composer Andrew Staniland thought he'd translate Charles Darwin's theories into music. But as he worked on his composition for small orchestra, he realised that he was working from the complex back to more simple structures -- turning the famous scientist's ideas upside down.
The resulting three-movement composition, Devolution, was the top winner of the competition on Friday night, picking up the $20,000 Grand Prize as well as the $5,000 Orchestre de la francophonie canadienne prize. Written in the company of four other competition finalists ensconced at the Banff Centre starting March 2, the composition brings together textures and atmospheres in fairly stark ways.
The other winner on Friday was Ottawa-born Vincent Ho, who received the $5,000 People's Choice award for a piece entitled "Nature's Whisper." Each of the five finalists was also given $5,000 commissioning money.
You can see and hear the Ensemble Concemporain de Montreal (under Veronique Lacroix) perform Devolution in an arty music video from the CBC's Evolution website.
John Terauds started at the Toronto Star as a freelance writer in 1988, and has been on staff since 1997. He began writing on classical music in 2001, and has been the full-time classical music critic since 2005.
He is also the organist and choir director at St. Peter's Anglican Church, a parish founded in 1863 in downtown Toronto.
If he's not listening to, writing about or playing music, it means he's either asleep, unconscious, walking his dog -- or all of the above.
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