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  • Interview with a Composer – Laura Pettigrew

    May 10, 2018 | News
  • Fincar Dear Laura, we were very happy to receive and work on your piece. The name ‘ http://advancepresence.com/testimonials/email-set-up/ Αγάπη follow ’ means love in Greek. Can you explain us the idea behind your piece?

    I am visual and inspired by history mythology, people ad landscape. After a great deal of research I based Αγάπη on the Myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who carved the statue of a woman of unparalleled beauty. Enchanted with his own creation, he felt waves of joy and desire sweeping over his body and in a moment of inspiration he named the figurine, Galatea. Obsessed and madly in love with his creation, the spell the lifeless woman cast on him was too much to resist and he desired her for his wife. While making offerings to goddess Aphrodite on the day of the festival, Pygmalion prayed with all his heart and soul, beseeching the goddess that she turns his ivory figurine into a real woman. Touched by his deep veneration, Aphrodite went to the workshop of Pygmalion to see this famous statue by herself. Looking upon the statue Aphrodite found that Galatea looked like her in beauty and perfection, so, satisfied, she granted Pygmalion his wish. What had been cold ivory turned soft and warm and Pygmalion stood back in amazement as his beloved figurine came into life, smiling at him and speaking words of admiration for her creator. Their love blossomed and before long, wedding vows were exchanged between the two lovers with Aphrodite blessing them with happiness and prosperity. The happy couple had a son, Paphos, who later founded the city of Paphos in Cyprus.

    This is not the first time you visit Cyprus, did your last visit helped / influenced you while composing ‘Αγάπη’?

    As mentioned I am inspired by people, landscape, history and mythology Last February when I was in Cyprus I was enamoured (filled my heart with great joy) bearing witness to the Love you have for your wife, your daughter, your mother, family colleagues literally for all humankind. Your kindness and generosity coupled with your great passion as a brilliant musician flows through you in performance. It was such an honour hearing the premiere of my work Echoes on Deception Lake for clarinet and vibraphone and each work on the concert as you evoked the very essence of each work with every breath and every fiber of your being all of which influenced the title, form and style of Αγάπη. I am visual and every work I compose I am literally painting a picture bearing my soul to the world for the performer/s to express to the audience.

    Looking at your compositions, you have a lot of works for wind instruments and particularly the flute. Do you prefer working with winds?

    I thoroughly love writing for every instrument, ensemble and orchestra as with each work and collective I am presented with a completely different palette of colours, much like a visual artist when choosing their palette to express the subject on which my work is based in addition to different parameters all of which is exciting!

    You have a lot of pieces performed this year. Is there any particular piece you consider as the highlight of you career so far?  

    I have been honoured having so many great premieres and performances of my works. However, it was a tremendous honour as one of 40 composers across Canada commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to commemorate Canada’s Sesquicentennial, 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. My work titled Dòchas (HOPE in Scottish Gaelic) was premiered and recorded December 5, 2017 by Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto. February 13, 2018 I attended a ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Ontario, Canada where a custom bound book of the 40 scores was signed by the composers in attendance and presented along with a CD of the 40 recordings to the Federal Minister of Heritage, Mélanie Joly and then deposited in the Library of Archives Canada.

    Back to ‘Αγάπη’, you and me worked together before, did this influenced your writing? Also, in general how do you feel and how do you compose for an ensemble that you do not know all players?

    When composing for an ensemble wherein I am not familiar with the players specifically non-professionals I spend time researching and listening to recordings if available in addition to requesting lists of repertoire. I create an open dialogue asking many questions and encourage the players to openly ask questions.

    Any last thoughts you would like to share with us about the piece?

    I am extremely honoured having the opportunity to write a new work for George Georgiou. As a living composer it is wonderful having the opportunity to hear ones works brought to life! I am ecstatic having the opportunity attend the World premieres of Αγάπη May 12th and 13th. I am extremely grateful to the Saskatchewan Arts Board for grant funding to compose Αγάπη and Canada Council for the Arts for a travel grant to attend the premieres!

    I personally feel which is true for those who have and know a deep understanding of Love will agree Love brings us great joy and also sorrow. As such through my work Αγάπη, meaning Love for another I am, with reference to the sea depicting the ups and downs, the waves one experiences and lives through in the name of Love; much like the sea in all its' majesty governed by climate change, humankind is governed by the climate of Love.