Sooke first heard of Carmyn Slater about three years ago when she won top place in the intermediate division for the B.C. Registered Music Teachers Composing Competition.
In 2012, the 13-year-old Journey middle school student.composed a Jewish Klezmer ensemble called Echoes from Montreal, an original work for a solo instrument or any combination of instruments.
She has won any number of national competitions in her 13 years. She was playing the piano and composing music since the age of four and said it all comes easily to her.
Recently Carmyn, now 15-years-old won in “What’s the Score!” a competition through Turning Point Ensemble. For consideration, composers were required to submit a cover letter outlining some of their aspirations, and one to two recent scores accompanied by recordings. Thirty submissions were submitted for consideration, and the jury of established Canadian composers (including BC’s James Maxwell and Ontario’s Linda Catlin Smith) felt the level of application “impressive”.
Carmyn receives an award of $500, and the opportunity to create a new work for Turning Point Ensemble, as well as also benefitting from the group cohort of the slightly older winning composers.
The Sooke News Mirror contacted this busy young woman via email and asked her the following questions:
SNM – What piece did you compose for this competition?
CS – I sent two compositions for this competition. “Balance Imbalance” and “Sleuth.”
SNM – What instruments were featured?
CS – The instrumentation for Balance Imbalance was a piano trio: piano, violin, viola and cello. Sleuth was the second piece I submitted. It was written for violin, trumpet, French horn and bassoon. This set of instruments was chosen by vsNEW. My inspiration came from listening to pieces for the bassoon. I really liked its quirky nature and I composed a melody that made use of its mysterious yet bouncy sound. Then, I built the rest of the piece around that.
SNM – What was your inspiration?
CS – I had listened to lots of modern, rhythmic compositions before composing these two pieces and a lot of my inspiration came from that. I wanted to experiment with the same kinds of rhythms and motives as those composers had. In both these pieces, I tried to use new techniques that I had never tried before.
Balance Imbalance consisted of a lot of shifting rhythms and time signatures.
For Sleuth my inspiration came from listening to pieces for the bassoon. I really liked its quirky nature and I composed a melody that made use of its mysterious yet bouncy sound. Then, I built the rest of the piece around that.
SNM – How do you find time to compose, play instruments and study?CS – I usually do most of my composing during breaks in school. It’s hard for me to fit in composing with the practicing and school work I have.
SNM – Who do you most admire in the musical realm?
SC – I admire a wide variety of composers. Everything from Bach to Stravinsky, and some modern Canadian composers such as Jocelyn Morlock and Rodney Sharman. I don’t have a favorite. However, I love to play pieces by Debussy and Gershwin.
SNM – What music do you listen to and what is you favourite band/singer?
CS – I listen to all kinds of music, but I’m particularly fascinated by bands who are experimental and have some electronic elements. Radiohead is probably my favorite band, though.
SNM – What do you plan to do once you graduate?
CS – I plan to attend university for piano performance and composition. I hope to compose for film or theatre one day. I might want to teach piano, as well. UBC or Berkeley are good universities that I’m considering for the future.
Aside for the music aspect of her interests, she also enjoys art and creative writing.