After seven years of Olympic construction, it’s fair to say Vancouverites know a little something about jackhammering and piledriving.
So when the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra premieres 2010 Traffic Jam, a playful ode to the cacophony of Olympic construction by UBC student composer Jared Miller, expect everyone in the house to recognize the source material.
Miller, whose short composition will be performed by the VSO on Dec. 5 at the Orpheum, says his piece was inspired by the daily impact on people’s lives by major Games-related construction projects such as the Canada Line, Olympic Village, Convention Centre and Whistler Highway.
“I wanted to capture the bombastic sounds and emotions coming from the construction and traffic, says Miller, a fourth-year UBC School of Music student who had plenty of time to think about his masterpiece as his commute inched along Cambie St. during the Canada Line dig. Concert-goers can expect trumpets imitating car horns, real sirens and other literal effects, he says.
The 20-year-old Miller is the youngest of five emerging composers from across Canada selected by the VSO to compose orchestral music inspired by the 2010 Winter Games – and one of two from UBC. With funding from the B.C. government, each winner gets their music performed by the symphony at least twice and receives an $800 honorarium and a professional recording.
Miller wrote his piece over four months earlier this year. He says the biggest challenge was keeping to the VSO’s desired length of around three minutes. “If you are composing for a full orchestra, that’s like summarizing a 60-page Master’s thesis paper down to one page,” he says.
The second UBC student to win a VSO 2010 commission is Ryan Trew, whose work will premiere at the VSO’s Cosmic Masterpiece performance on March 13, just as the Paralympics begin.
While Miller’s piece explores the earthly delights of Olympic roadwork, Trew’s composition Starlike is celestially inspired, drawing parallels between the 400th anniversary of Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei’s first cosmic discoveries and how the Games may impact the world’s understanding of Vancouver.
“The Games will illuminate Vancouver’s virtues and our challenges,” says Trew, 30, of his lush, ethereal work. “Like Galileo’s telescope or any major world event, the Games are forcing us to question ourselves and our priorities, helping us to face a new self-perception as a city.”
For tickets to Miller’s and Trew’s Dec. 5 and March 13 premieres, visit: vancouversymphony.ca.
UBC is a host competition venue for 2010 Olympic hockey and Paralympic sledge hockey and UBC Robson Square, the university’s downtown campus, will house unaccredited international media.
Learn more about UBC 2010 research, education programs and venues at:
UBC School of Music: music.ubc.ca
Ryan Trew’s MySpace: myspace.com/ryantrewmusic