Darren Sigesmund on the Mosaïque ProjectInterview
What does Canadian music sound like? It’s a question that the members of Ensemble Made in Canada address with their newly commissioned Musical Mosaïque, a suite for piano quartet written by 14 different Canadian composers who make a musical nod to a particular province, territory, or region of the country.
Toronto-based jazz trombonist and composer Darren Sigesmund is one of these 14 composers, and he evokes Prince Edward Island in his first work for piano quartet. We spoke with him about his musical aesthetic, and what it means to be a part of this very Canadian project.
What does it mean to you to be one of the 14 composers creating this musical mosaïque?
The quartet has chosen quite a diverse and accomplished group of composers to be a part of the musical mosaïque. For me, it’s an honour to be asked by EMIC to compose a piece for their project. As a jazz musician, this is a great opportunity to collaborate with classical musicians and be a part of a very dynamic project that will be featured across the country.
What possibilities do you hear in the piano quartet ensemble? How will you approach composing for the Ensemble Made in Canada?
The piano quartet offers a lot of wonderful textural possibilities that I haven’t explored previously. I’ve tried to treat the instruments somewhat more as equal voices such that each one is featured throughout the composition. Since my piece is based on Prince Edward Island, I decided to incorporate a fiddle percussion technique known as “chop”. It’s a common technique in folk music that expands the role of the strings beyond their melodic and harmonic roles. So as a result, the strings create rhythmic accompaniment that supports the groove-based theme.
What message or statement do you hope to bring to this multi-genre musical suite?
I hope that the sounds in the piece convey a sense of PEI on some level.
What do you think are some misconceptions Canadians may have, or assumptions they may make about where you’re from, and your musical style? How do you hope to clearly represent yourself?
Although the piece is written for a classical ensemble, I composed using my own sensibility as a writer. Classical music is very much a part of my sound world, and there are similar compositional concepts that cross over into jazz and vice versa. It merely comes down to articulating those ideas on paper. Working with EMIC in rehearsal helped me considerably to clarify and revise different aspects of the composition. They rock!