Composer Keiko Devaux on the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music

Keiko Devaux’s ‘Arras’ won the award in 2020, and has since seen multiple performances and awards

The Violin Channel had the privilege of reuniting with Canadian composer Keiko Devaux, since she won the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music in 2020.

The 2022 Azrieli Music Awards Gala Concert will take place on October 20, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. ET – and will feature the world premieres of the 2022 Azrieli Music Prize winners.

In 2020, you won the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music. What stage of your career were you at when you won this title? How have things changed for you since then?

When I won the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music, my career was starting to take off and I was getting recognition and working on my doctorate at the University of Montreal. Since then, I have completed my doctorate and won the Prix Opus and the JUNO for classical composition of the year for this same commission. It has been very successful and my career continues to grow, for which I am very grateful.

What has this piece meant for your career?

I think that in addition to having such wonderful financial support to be able to really develop, create and work on a piece with such a high caliber ensemble, this award awarded a top notch recording of a piece for great together, which is just very difficult – to achieve the goal, especially financially, for most emerging and even established composers. This opens doors for different areas of recognition in his career like the JUNOS.

Do you think differently about your composition work after writing “Arras”?

“Arras” allowed me to take a step back several times, to hear the piece and to work with several very talented ensembles and conductors. It allowed me to really: 1. create a complex piece that synthesizes a lot of my ongoing ideas and take them to a different level and 2. hear a piece evolve and take on different nuances and layers as it has been played many times in a short period.

Has obtaining this prize opened doors for Arras to perform outside the competition?

Yes, he did. Apart from the four different performances it received as part of the prize activity, it was later performed again by the New Music Concerts Ensemble and conducted by Brian Current. It was then reprogrammed and performed again by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne in Montreal in a co-presentation with Le Vivier, then most recently last summer it was programmed by Jonathan Crow of the Toronto New Music Festival and performed at Koerner Hall . I know he has at least a few more performances to come in the next year, and maybe even an orchestral arrangement 😉

Stay tuned!

Can you describe your most recent inspirations? Have they changed in the last two years?

My most recent inspirations always come from the same world of memory and experience as a primordial common point. However, more recent work over the past two years has looked at more specific inspirations such as certain organisms – such as desert plants that wither to near death and then rise again, or the changing behavior of creatures under -marines due to noise pollution. .

What advice would you give to young composers trying to build their careers in today’s landscape?

Be yourself. Be bold. Be loving. Be vulnerable. Always stay curious.

How important are commission prices for a composer at the beginning of his career?

They are very important. I would say that commission prices are important for composers at all stages of their career. It’s so hard to make a living as a songwriter. It’s really rewarding and a gift to be able to do this, but it’s absolutely necessary that the composers and the voices are heard, supported and stimulated like this.

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