Every year, the Montreal International Musical Competition commissions a Canadian composer to write a five-minute piece that every candidate in the quarter-final round is required to perform. This year's imposed work for voice and piano is by John Estacio, who has been listening (and tweeting) with enthusiasm from the balcony of Bourgie Concert Hall this week. CBC Music asked him a few questions about his new piece, Daybreak.
Where did the text come from?
The text was written by John Murrell especially for this competition. I've written three operas and a cantata with John. I enjoy living with his words – they are always filled with colour, life and utmost sincerity.
How did you approach the challenge of writing a song that will be performed by all the different voice types in the competition?
This was an interesting challenge. I chose to set it for one voice type, keeping in mind the high and low tessitura. The competition required that the aria be transposed for all the voice types. So I made five transpositions. I had to move some of the piano figures to higher octaves with each lower transposition so the accompaniment didn't sound too growly.
What are you personally looking for from the candidates performing this song?
There are a number of different emotions conveyed in the piece. It begins expansively with the sun slowly rising on the land. The narrative changes to interior emotions as a young couple, pioneers of Canada's West, walk out to see the land and discuss their new life in their new land. I will be interested to see how the competitors interpret the text and convey the emotions and nuances of the music and the words.
There is a special prize of $5,000 awarded for the best performance of imposed Canadian work: the name of the winner will be revealed at the MIMC gala concert (Friday, June 8), and you can tune in to hear their performance of "Daybreak" on CBC Radio 2's In Concert — as part of a special broadcast of highlights from this year's competition — on Sunday, June 10 at 11 a.m. (11:30 NT).
Montreal International Musical Competition on CBC Music
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on May 30, 2012