Creative Activities at BU: Dr. Andrew MacDonald releases new album

Creative Activities at BU: Dr. Andrew MacDonald releases new album

Dr. Andrew MacDonald, who retired last year after 34 years in the Department of Music at Bishop’s University, is known for his contributions to contemporary Canadian classical, jazz, and electronic music, as an educator, composer, and performer. In December 2021, he was appointed to the Order of Canada for his extraordinary contributions to the Canadian nation. Moreover, his compositions have won many prestigious prizes, including the Best Classical Composition JUNO Award in 1995.

In March 2022, Centrediscs and Naxos released his 20th album, Music of the City and the Stars, in which he performs the electric archtop guitar alongside the Quatuor Saguenay, composed of violinists Marie Bégin and Nathalie Camus, violist Luc Beauchemin, and cellist David Ellis. While the album is currently available on digital platforms, the physical copy will be released at the launch concert in Bandeen Hall at 8 p.m. on June 9th, 2022. Free tickets can be reserved at the Centennial Theatre box office and donations for humanitarian relief in Ukraine will be accepted at the door.

Music of the City and the Stars CD Cover

Music of the City and the Stars features two new compositions by Dr. MacDonald. The opening work, Lyra, is a musical examination of the constellation Lyra set in seven movements. The piece opens with Hermes’ invention of the lyre as his gift to Apollo, and follows it through the magical hands of Orpheus as he encounters the Argonauts, Eurydice, Hades, and finally the Bacchants. The work closes with Zeus placing the lyre in the heavens in memory of the great musical wizard. Exotic string writing and electronic effects applied to the guitar create an eerie and timeless atmosphere. The album’s companion work, Restless City, features both concerto-like exchanges and intimate expressive passages. Set in three substantial movements, this jazz-inspired composition pays homage to bebop legends Charlie Parker, Tadd Dameron and Thelonious Monk.

This work was made possible in part thanks to a Bishop’s Research and Creative Activity grant, which are funds awarded for clearly-defined research projects or creative activities likely to result in peer-reviewed dissemination.  Although the electric guitar and the string quartet are well represented in their respective repertoire fields, there is only a handful of compositions where they are heard together as one ensemble, explains Dr. MacDonald. One of the artistic questions I wished to investigate was how to successfully combine acoustic and electronic sonorities in a meaningful way. These two disparate sound worlds come together when the string quartet engages in extended bowing and pitch manipulation techniques while the guitar takes on electronic extensions of its sonority.

We hope to see you at Bandeen on June 9th!