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Norman (Alec) Symonds - Composer Information

NORMAN SYMONDS (1920-1998) was born in Nelson, British Columbia. Mountains, the sea and Duke Ellington were, in that order, his first outside influences.

At eighteen, he became a naval cook and when that was over, a clarinetist in a dance band. Finally he became a leader in a group of like-minded musicians (composition-jazz) which helped to launch his career. His successes include: the group and the Dave Brubeck Quartet playing at "Jazz at the Festival" in 1957 at Stratford, Ontario, and his Concerto Grosso for jazz and symphony which was invited by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and performed on CBC Radio by the Ron Collier Quintet and the CBC Symphony under Victor Feldbrill. This involvement later led to Symonds becoming what he called ' a protagonist in the CBC arena' where he enjoyed the action and participated in both media.

A decade passed and Symonds got restless and decided to take a camper across Canada to explore the country for five months. He found much inspiration in the form of landscapes, legend, fact and fiction in what he described to be 'a haunted country'.

Symonds had written major works for the Toronto Symphony, the National Youth Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He had also done numerous feature productions for both radio and television (CBC).

Symonds: "It was the music of jazz which propelled me into a career. And though I never learned to play it well -- too interested in the writing -- I did come to feel it deeply and respect it greatly. In regard to technique, I've learned that from the doing; mainly from all those pieces which, for one reason or another, didn't work! To sum up, I am what might be called a romantic realist -- and I bet I'm going to regret that remark. But that's about as close as I can get to a summing-up, in a couple of words."

1988 / 99

CAPAC, Canadian League of Composers

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