Alexina Louie (Canada) has composed in all major musical genres for Canada’s most highly regarded soloists, chamber ensembles, new music ensembles and orchestras. Many of these works are now standard repertoire, especially her many works for piano which are frequently performed by students and professionals alike. Perhaps most well-known of these works is piano piece Scenes From A Jade Terrace, commissioned by Jon Kimura Parker. Not only has Louie composed works for the concert hall, she has also written major works for theatre, including opera and ballet. In collaboration with choreographer Matjash Mrozewski she created Wolf’s Court, a new work for The National Ballet of Canada which was premiered in June 2007 in Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. In 2007, Earth Cycles for accordion was performed on tour in Austria and Serbia, culminating in a performance at the Music Biennale in Zagreb.
Her works have been broadcast and performed in Europe, Asia, Russia and North America. As composer-in-residence of the Canadian Opera Company, Alexina Louie had her full-length opera, The Scarlet Princess premiered in concert by the COC (Canadian Opera Company) in April 2002. Recently, Louie’s music has received an abundance of performances in 2008/2009 season alone, during which she was guest composer on two major orchestral tours – of Nunavik with Kent Nagano, musicians from the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Inuit Throat Singers who performed her newly commissioned piece Take the Dog Sled; and of Western Canada with Pinchas Zukerman and the National Arts Centre Orchestra who commissioned and performed her composition Infinite Sky With Birds. This season also saw the premiere of Pursuit, a new concerto for string quartet and orchestra commissioned by The Toronto Symphony for The Tokyo String Quartet.
The list of eminent conductors who have performed her music includes Sir Andrew Davis, Leonard Slatkin, Alexander Lazarev, Charles Dutoit, Günther Herbig, Pinchas Zukerman, Kent Nagano, Peter Oundjian, Carlos Kalmar, James Judd, and Ingo Metzmacher.
She won several awards and recognitions for her creative output: Grand Prix at the prestigious 43rd Golden Prague Film Festival (2006) for TV domestic comic opera Burnt Toast, which was preceded by the successful five minute “tragic opera buffa”, Toothpaste (www.toothpastetv.com); The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal; an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary in 2002. In 2005 she was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of Canada’s highest civilian honors.
Fastforward, for piano (2008)
Fastforward is the third piano solo written in my most recent keyboard style. I affectionately refer to Put On Your Running Shoes, In A Flash, and now Fastforward as “avant-garde boogie-woogies”. Quick, a little “tongue-in-cheek”, and a little bit “sassy”, the works have, as their basis, different patterns of ostinatos in the left hand over which appear jazz-like riffs which are characterized by sharp accents and syncopated rhythms. Fastforward begins with a slow introduction before the appearance of the “break out” left hand ostinato. The work is laced with many accents which are meant to be played in an emphatic manner reminiscent of certain jazz idioms. Although Fastforward is virtuosic and technically challenging (a blizzard of notes, handcrossings at fast tempi, frequent time signature changes), it is meant to be light-hearted and amusing, particularly given its lovingly irreverent takes on improvisatory jazz style. Commissioned as the imposed piece by the 2008 Concours Musical International de Montreal, such a work is meant, by its very nature, to challenge the performers. Each pianist is given the same limited amount of time in which to learn the piece. As such, it should help the jury members assess the musical capabilities of the successful candidates. Most importantly, in composing any music, it is my goal to amuse, entertain, move, and enlighten the listener as well as the performer.
Fastforward is dedicated to my daughters, Jasmine and Jade.