A Great Mess with Linda Catlin Smith

Josh Thorpe and composer Linda Catlin Smith listen to and discuss unusual music. We hear two of Smith’s recent works for piano quintet (piano and string quartet) as well as piano and cello, performed by Quatuor Bozzini and Apartment House. Topics we touch on include: time and stillness, dance, ethics and compositional decisions, dance, layers, messes, tuning, string quartets, orchestration, variation, pieces that just do one thing, rondos, melody, flat operas, constantly restarting…

We also listen to work by other composers. These include: Charles Ives’ Orchestral Set #2 part 1 An Elegy to Our Forefathers; Lili Boulanger, Elle était descendu au bas de la prairie from Clairieres dans le ciel; and Rudolf Komorous’s Tango: Second Tanka. Linda Catlin Smith and Josh also discuss Maurice Ravel, Erik Satie, Morton Feldman, and Allison Cameron.

Composer Linda Catlin Smith grew up in New York and lives in Toronto. She studied music with composers Rudolf Komorous, Martin Bartlett, John Celona, Michael Longton and Jo Kondo at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Her work has been performed internationally by BBC Scottish Orchestra, Arraymusic, Vancouver New Music, Apartment House, Bozzini and Penderecki Quartets, Eve Egoyan, and many others.

If you enjoy this show, consider listening to the interview with Martin Arnold.

portrait of Linda C. Smith

Full bio:

Linda Catlin Smith was born in New York, and lives in Toronto. She began her composition studies in high school in NY, with composer Allen Shawn, and continued her music study at SUNY Stony Brook. In 1977, she traveled to Canada to study composition and theory with composers Rudolf Komorous, Martin Bartlett, John Celona, Michael Longton and Jo Kondo at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. As a performer, she studied piano with Nurit Tilles and Gilbert Kalish at SUNY/Stony Brook, and with Kathleen Solose in Victoria, where she also studied harpsichord with Erich Schwandt. She moved to Toronto in 1981, where she co-presented, with painter Anna-Marie Cobbold, a new music series at Mercer Union Gallery. In 1986, she was invited by Morton Feldman to attend his lectures, as a guest, at SUNY/Buffalo, NY.

Drawn to an ambiguity of harmony and narrative, her work is informed by her deep appreciation of the work of writers and painters, such as Virginia Woolf, Cormac McCarthy, Cy Twombly, Giorgio Morandi, Mark Rothko, Agnes Martin, and Joseph Cornell, among many others. Her works have been commissioned and performed by many soloists and ensembles in Canada, the US and abroad, including: BBC Proms (BBC Scottish Orchestra), Victoria, Vancouver and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies, Tapestry New Opera Works, Arraymusic, Vancouver New Music, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Evergreen Club Gamelan, Societe de Musique Contemporaine du Quebec, Bozzini, Del Sol and Penderecki Quartets, Fibonacci Trio, Duke Trio, Sabat/Clarke Duo, and many soloists including Eve Egoyan, Louis Goldstein, Philip Thomas, Colin Tilney, and others. Her works have been recorded by: Another Timbre, World Edition, Arraymusic, Eve Egoyan, Evergreen Club Gamelan, Barbara Pritchard, Les Coucous Bénévoles, others. Her lecture “Composing Identity: What is a Woman Composer?” is published in Descant Magazine (#107) and Musicworks (#80).

Many of her compositions were supported by commissions through the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council and the Laidlaw Foundation. In addition, she was awarded several individual artist grants from the Canada Council. Her work Garland was awarded the Jules Léger prize in 2005. In 1997, she received the prestigious Hunter Foundation Award for Emerging Artists, and in 2003 a Chalmers Fellowship. She has created several of her works while in residence at the Leighton Studios of the Banff Centre for the Arts. In addition to her work as an independent composer, she was Artistic Director of Arraymusic, one of Toronto’s major contemporary music ensembles, from 1988 to 1993. She was a founding member of the multidisciplinary performance collective, Urge, (1992-2006). She has taught composition privately and at Wilfrid Laurier University (1999-present).