Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Taylor MacGillivray: Music brings us together

Many thanks to Talent Trust recipient Taylor MacGillivray for taking the time to share about what her art means to her, her mentors, and more!

You can learn more about Taylor on website and her Youtube channel.

What does receiving a Talent Trust scholarship mean to you? 

Receiving a Talent Trust Scholarship means so much to myself and my art. I’m extremely grateful to have the support of this organization, as I, otherwise, wouldn’t be able to pursue my studies to the extent that I have. I’m extremely grateful to the founders, the board members and the jury members who volunteer their time to support Nova Scotian arts and artists!

What quote best describes your commitment to your art? Why?

If I could quote an entire TED talk, I would; but, for the sake of brevity: Benjamin Zander’s The Transformative Power of Classical Music is everything I aspire to with my music. In this talk he says: “I have a definition of success. For me, it's very simple. It's not about wealth and fame and power. It's about how many shining eyes I have around me.”

The joy of music is that we can come together to create something beautiful, that we can share in an experience, and that we can build community. This transcends the realm of classical music. It could be a community orchestra, a school musical, a garage band, a kitchen party, or even a campfire sing-a-long -- all things we miss dearly, but that we will eventually be able to come back to. Music brings us together. It inspires connection. It brings us delight. 

My commitment to music is one based in fostering connection. I write pieces which aim to bring the composer, the performer(s) and the audience together, collaboratively, to explore what we can create.

Who are your mentors and how have they influenced your art/career?

I am fortunate to say that I’ve had many wonderful mentors during my musical journey. The first is my high school band teacher, Nathan Beeler. The school band program was foundational to my understanding of music-- and to some degree, life. Without his support and encouragement I would not have pursued music beyond the band program. With the joy that music brings to my life, I’m extremely grateful that he encouraged me to follow my passions!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my composition professors. Jerome Blais, my first composition teacher, encouraged experimentation: an essential element of the compositional process. With the exploration, he also taught simplification, the ability to communicate your ideas clearly; to both the performer and the audience.

Another one of my mentors is Peter Togni, another amazing composition teacher. Peter taught me about the human side of composition. About being an artist in today’s day-in-age, and about writing music with beauty and compassion.

Teaching and mentorship is a fundamental part of the arts. I’m incredibly thankful that these people are willing to dedicate their time to helping foster young artists and talent. 

What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

Currently, my biggest accomplishment is having my composition Radix, performed by Symphony Nova Scotia. This was a piece I wrote for my friend and percussionist, Noah Garnier for a concerto competition. This piece is the longest and largest I’ve undertaken, and was, therefore, quite daunting to write. I was honoured when the Symphony offered to perform it at some of their community outreach concerts last January! 

What program/s are you doing this summer and how have they helped grow your practice?

Last summer, I participated in two programs: The first was the Tuckamore Young Composer Program.This program runs in conjunction with the Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival. Due to the pandemic, it was adapted and held in a virtual format. This program was quite rewarding as we got to meet weekly with the director, Andrew Staniland, as well as the other composers, and discuss all things related to composition. It’s always helpful to discuss your craft with others, as you can learn so much from their experiences and help trouble-shoot your own process, particularly in a domain as isolated as composition, and particularly during a pandemic!

At the end of the program, my piece was premiered virtually by pianist Patrick Cashin. The piece is titled A Trilogy of Curses, Interesting Times, and a recording of the performance can be found on my Youtube page. 

The second program I attended was the Lunenburg Academy of Musical Performance’s (LAMP) Composition Academy. This program was held in-person (with strict safety protocols in place), and was two weeks of masterclasses with composers, masterclasses with performers, composition, rehearsals and at the end, a concert! I learned so much from this program. It has really informed the way I approach the creation of a composition and the way that composition will be interpreted by performers and the audience. 

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