ARTICLES ON SCHAFER & OTHER MUSIC

 

"Murray Schafer's Patria: The Greatest Show on Earth?" Journal of Canadian Studies 23 (Spring 1988): 199-207
I took my kids, then aged 10 and 13, to see an entire evening of avant-garde music theatre. And they could hardly wait to go back and see it again. Schafer’s Patria sequence is one of the largest, most innovative works in world theater, much less Canadian theater, yet it rarely even gets a mention in courses on Canadian Drama. Such is the impermeability of academic disciplines. In The Greatest Show, Schafer creates an entire carnival, an alternative world where spectators may spend an evening filled with grotesqueries and surprises.

 

An Audience of Trees:  Murray Schafer’s The Princess of the Stars.” Canadian Theatre Review (Fall 1998): 44-49

In this Prologue to Patria, the audience are required to awaken in the middle of the night and be transported to a lakeside in the deepest wilderness. There, canoes appear from the distance and a ritual is enacted, the vividly costumed performers singing and, yes, dancing in canoes in the hour before sunrise, until the rising sun itself brings the event to a close.

 

“Musical Space in the Music of John Cage”

In the late 1960s when I wrote this unpublished paper, the concept of “musical space” was hardly thought of, even derided. Times have changed. In the paper, I identify three types of musical space: First, [1] ambit – notes are felt as “high” or “low”; and [2] temporal form – music creates a shape in time. These are both spatial metaphorically. But [3] music also fills a real, physical space. John Cage’s music diverts one’s attention from the metaphorical to the literal. I wrote this paper for a grad course with Maria Rika Maniates on the Aesthetics of Music. This one-on-one reading course was a life-transforming privilege. The formidable and most gracious Prof. Maniates was happy to spend the time with me, she said, because when she offered her course to Music students, they weren’t in the least interested.

 

"Stephen Adams Talks with Gerhard Wuensch'" Musicanada 34 (January 1978): 22-23

I forget how I came to be asked for this piece, but it gave me the opportunity to meet a delightful, mischievous man and a fine, still under-performed composer.

 

"RCCO National Convention: London, Ontario, August 17-21, 1981." American Organist 16, ii (February 1982): 43-45. 

My dear friend Alan Barthel asked me to write up this convention of organists, well aware how very little I knew about the organ and its repertoire. It was a learning experience, but I’ve since come to appreciate organ music as the spinal column of all Western music.

 

Canadian Music of the Twentieth Century by G.A. Proctor. Brick II (1981): 5-6

George Proctor was a lovely man and a fine violinist as well as a scholar. Although I cringe at one snooty comment in this review, my point remains as true as it was in 1981: Proctor’s unique and valuable history has not been supplanted, and Canadian Studies as a whole still remains fixated on fiction, poetry, drama, visual arts – almost to the exclusion of serious music.