The Scene


Brian Harman

Brian Harman
Tor Sandberg.

Brian Harman (b. 1981) is a Canadian composer, teacher and writer, and is currently the president of the Canadian League of Composers. His music has been described as “three-dimensional, maybe four-dimensional” (Arthur Kaptainis, The Gazette) and “effective and chilling” (Richard Todd, Ottawa Citizen). Harman’s music is frequently inspired by extra-musical elements, such as architecture, human speech, modern dance, technology and concepts of ritual. He has collaborated extensively with artists in other disciplines (performance artist Nina Arsenault, choreographer/dancer Geneviève Bolla, visual artist Danilo Ursini), and has written for a wide variety of media: orchestra, wind ensemble, choir, chamber ensembles, song cycle, opera, solo piano, theatre, modern dance, film and live electronics.

Brian was recently a finalist in the RCM’s 21C Festival video competition. In 2013, he worked closely with Georges Aperghis on a new percussion trio at Austria’s Impuls Festival, and was a featured composer in the SOUNDLAB podcast series. His orchestral work Supposed Spaces was selected as part of Canada’s 2013 submission to the ISCM’s World New Music Days, and was a winner in the 2012 SOCAN Foundation awards. In 2011 he was a winner in ISCM’s International Vocal Music Competition, resulting in a commission from Vienna’s Wiener Jeunesse Kammerchor, and received an honourable mention for his work Gregarious Machines in the CLC’s 60th Anniversary Composition Competition. In 2009 he was a finalist in the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra Composition Competition. He toured Canada with the Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal+ as part of their Génération 2008 program, and in 2004 he was a finalist in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s New Creations competition.

Harman’s music has been performed across Canada, the US, England, Austria, and Japan, and by such ensembles as the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, New Music Concerts, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal+, VivaVoce Montreal, 5-Penny New Music Ensemble, and Codes d’accès. He has also collaborated with various festivals and organizations: he is part of the creative team for Nu:Nord (Montreal/Oslo/London), was a visiting artist for Cluster Music and Integrated Arts Festival (Winnipeg), and was a guest artist and lecturer for the Montreal Contemporary Music Lab 2012. He has developed youth composition workshops for Conservatory Canada and the Ottawa Chamber Music Society.

Harman received his Doctor of Music (Composition) from McGill University in 2012, where he studied music-architecture relationships in his dissertation. Among his composition teachers are Denys Bouliane, Brian Cherney, Larysa Kuzmenko and Chan Ka Nin. His research focuses on 20th/21st Century Canadian music, especially that of Ana Sokolovic and Claude Vivier. His analysis of Sokolovic’s Géométrie Sentimentale was published in Circuit in February 2013. He has taught extensively as a sessional instructor, teaching assistant and private theory/composition teacher.

Harman was recently elected the president of the Canadian League of Composers, and became an Ontario-region Councillor with the CLC in 2013. He is also an associate composer with the Canadian Music Centre. He has participated in various international workshops and residencies, including Impuls (Graz, Austria, 2013), Ostrava Days (Czech Republic, 2011), Rencontres de Nouvelle Musique (Domaine Forget, 2007) and the National Arts Centre Composers Programme (Ottawa, 2006). He has received grants for his compositions and research from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the SOCAN Foundation, the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, and the Fonds de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture.

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