Sunday 13 December 2009

Celebrating 90 Years of Udo Kasemets

Udo Kasemets has written many pieces of music during his 90 years on the planet, including ambitious translations into sound of the works of eminent poets and scientists. But he says he is still looking for the answer to the most basic question about his art: What is music?

“I don't really want to be considered an accomplished composer, or something like that, because I'm still learning," he says, during an interview between rehearsals for his fraCtal fibONaCciERTO, which New Music Concerts is performing at the Betty Oliphant Theatre Sunday. “I still haven't got my answer, as to what music really is, and this is probably why I've had this long life."

“I thought it was important for a conductor to know what music is from the inside out, to know how it is made and put together," he said. “And that meant learning composition."

Kasemets walks with a cane, his speech is slow and his hair is snow white, but his capacity for wonder is that of a small child. “Fascinating" is one of his favourite words.

If anyone is able to take in the show today at the Betty Oliphant in Toronto, please do send on my regards and birthday wishes, and prepare yourself for a musical experience like no other. John Cage said that he only learned to play chess so he could hang out with Marcel Duchamp; truth be told, I only learned to create computer gear so I could hang out with Udo, which was every bit like hanging out with all three of them at once! :)