Tim Brady and Instruments of Happiness perform works by Bach, Brady, Lennon and McCartney.

Following the huge success of 100 guitares with Instruments of Happiness during the 2015 edition of MNM, festival Artistic Director Walter Boudreau, presented project designer, Tim Brady with a new challenge: why not 150 guitars? The composer/guitarist, fond of large-scale projects, agreed to enter into the spirit of the game, conceiving a new event for this atypically sizeable ensemble which includes around thirty professional guitarists and more than one- hundred “community” guitarists.

On the program: Tim Brady’s major work, excerpted from Bach’s Art de la fugue along with several works by the Beatles. Adapted for more than 150 electric guitarists of all ages and levels, will be scattered throughout the Basilica of Saint Joseph’s Oratory.

Come meet our musical guides!

You are invited to St Joseph’s Oratory from 2:30 pm to discover the unique aspects of the programme with our friendly musical guides.

English translation / adaptation: Peggy Niloff

Participants

Program

Coproduction MNM — Bradyworks — L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph, en collaboration avec la CSDM et l’École d’hiver internationale en médiation de la musique (P2M).

Bach, Brady, Beatles

As a composer and musician, I’ve listened to an awful lot of music over the past 62 years. Some good, some bad, but there are certain composers I keep coming back to. Two in particular come to the fore for this somewhat unusual concert:

Bach — I’ve spent years listening to and playing (on electric guitar) his six solo violin Sonatas and Partitas, which are possibly the most amazing solo music ever composed. The Art of Fugue provides a similar listening experience, perfectly balancing form and emotion, but for multiple instruments.

The Beatles — I’m a baby boomer, this is the music of my youth, but it is also the music that started to question the line between popular and art music. Is there a line? If there is, where is it? What is it? Who decides? What does this line mean to the listener? To musicians? This artistic questioning is very clearly presented in the last two pieces from the 1968 White Album: the experimental sonic tapestry that is Revolution #9, and the hauntingly beautiful lullaby Good Night (sung by drummer Ringo Starr).

The classical rigour and tradition of Bach and the revolutionary popular invention of The Beatles create the context for my own work As Many Strings As Possible, Playing: Symphony #9, for 150 electric guitars, divided into 6 spatialised groups.

I’ve been writing music for multiple electric guitars since 1986. Initially I was using the recording studio (playing all the parts myself) and later, starting in 2002, with live ensembles. But it was the experience of the first performance of Instruments of Happiness100 guitares, in March 2015 at the Festival MNM where I really understood the power and potential of the medium. Since 2015 I have written several other large, spatialised multiple guitar works, and the medium seems to me to have the same impact and expressive power of any orchestral music — it is immersive music at its best. I just use 150 guitars instead of violins, trumpets, flutes, etc.

The 150 guitars are divided into 6 groups. Group one (front) is 16 professional guitarist, but the other ensembles feature primarily community guitarists, of all ages, levels and backgrounds, bringing this love of the instrument and passion for creative music to this project.

Symphony #9 is in 4 movements — like a real symphony (Beethoven would probably recognise it!). The first and third movements are about sound moving slowly in space — listen not just to what is being played, but where it is being played, and how it moves in both space and time.

The second movement features a smaller group of 16 professionals (group number 1, in front), and is very rhythmically charged and exhilarating. The fourth, and final, movement combines a strong, relentless pulse in group number 1 with the sonic spatialisation of the rest of the ensemble, bringing 150 guitarists together to reflect the balance form and emotion from Bach with the experimental sonic tapestry of the Beatles. And a bit of Brady thrown in for good measure.

Many, many thanks to the team that put this production together, but most especially to the 150 guitarists who have so graciously given their time and talent to help create this performance.

Tim Brady — artistic director — November 2018