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Feb. 26, 2018

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“The arts engage people’s emotions in ways that can be very powerful,” says Stephanie Orlando (BMus ’15). “This can be overt, or very personal. An artist can use their craft to bring awareness to global issues, or simply create a work that makes you think differently or question things about your reality.”

Stephanie, whose composition Nightscape (2018) for four hands will be featured as part of the Music at Noon with junctQin keyboard collective in Maureen Forrester Recital Hall on March 8, describes her composition work as fresh, eclectic and edgy. Her former piano teacher, Elaine Lau, a member of the Laurier Faculty of Music and junctQin keyboard collective, will be playing her composition. “It feels like I’ve come full circle,” she says. “I really admire the interest that the junctQin keyboard collective has in working with living composers. I saw them perform many times while I was a student at Laurier, and it was always my aspiration to collaborate with such a forward thinking ensemble.”

Stephanie has been very active in the field of music composition since graduating from the Faculty of Music at Laurier, where she focused on piano. She went on to complete a Masters of Music in Composition at the University of Toronto, and currently works full time at the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN). During her days off, she composes.

Many of her first compositions were for friends, such as her score for a play written by a staff and performed at Monsignor Doyle Secondary School in Cambridge in April 2017. She has collaborated with Toronto-based choreographer Kylie Thompson to create a 25-minute work for seven dancers, which premiered on January 26, 2018. One of her compositions was performed by the Toronto-based saxophone duo Stereoscope at the Canadian Music Centre on February 22, and her next project is composing a duo for soprano and flute to be performed in May. When she’s not working or composing, Stephanie enjoys live music ranging from the symphony to contemporary music to a live band.

Her time at Laurier definitely played a role in Stephanie’s current success. “Each teacher I studied with had an influence on me,” she says. Stephanie studied composition with Peter Hatch, Glenn Buhr and Linda Catlin Smith, as well as her piano studies with Lau. “They were all amazing and each taught me different things about my craft. Elaine was definitely a huge influence as well. She introduced me to a lot of contemporary piano repertoire, which is part of what got me interested in composing.”

 She describes Nightscape, the piece that is to be performed on March 8 at Laurier, as a composition that explores “new sounds and how they blend with the traditional sound of the piano.” She acknowledges that although piano is her primary instrument, she rarely composes for it. “I feel like I have the weight of 500 years of repertoire in my back! With Nightscape, I began with the question ‘How can I make an old instrument sound new?’” The piece is written to be played by four hands – the first player conventionally playing the keys, and the second playing the strings, using a variety of different materials including a superball mallet, guitar pick and aluminum foil.

This unconventional composition reveals a lot about Stephanie’s underlying creative philosophy: use your unique perspective to bring fresh energy to what has come before. “A lot has been said through musical composition, and there is still so much more to say. My advice to student composers at Laurier is that you have a unique musical voice, and nobody can write exactly like you. I think young composers need to embrace that.”

“Your musical taste is a very personal thing, and I think that is what gives your music an edge.”


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