John Plant, composer

Click here to edit subtitle


view:  full / summary

...instead of Russian and flamenco....

Posted by John Plant on September 4, 2015 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (1)

I have been deliciously, insanely busy this summer. Many of the projects I envisioned for my 'retirement', such as learning Russian properly and taking flamenco lessons, have been put on indefinite hold.

Ma il furto non m'accora - the loss doesn't disturb me, as Rodolfo sings to Mimi in a different context - because they've been utterly supplanted by the joys (and occasional agonies) of making music, writing it and performing it.


It's my immense good fortune to be...

Read Full Post »

Opera Nova Scotia presents I will fly like a bird

Posted by John Plant on May 28, 2015 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

In July of last year I received a most welcome phone call from Dr. Walter Kemp: Opera Nova Scotia was planning to stage  'I will fly like a bird', my opera about the Robert Dziekanski tragedy, composed to Andy Wainwright's poignant librettoAnd nine months later, on Tuesday, May 5, the rehearsals began! From May 9 we rehearsed every day, with a last-minute break on Victoria Day; staging rehearsals, music rehearsals, first separately, then together. The intensity whi...

Read Full Post »

Pecorino, Proust, and Performance

Posted by John Plant on March 14, 2015 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (2)

Tonight I was eating a piece of pecorino cheese, and remarking to my wife how the smell reminded me of my childhood - specifically, the milk-house in our neighbour's barn in rural Pennsylvania, where I played - innocently enough! - with Judy and Anne, the farmer's daughters. This sparked a memory of how their mother organized a surprise farewell party for me, as we were about to move to southern New Jersey, just as I was entering seventh grade. All my classmates were there, and they chipped ...

Read Full Post »

November news

Posted by John Plant on November 24, 2014 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been working on 'Insomnia,' for soprano, saxophone and piano, a co-commission from saxophonists Michael Couper and Dr. Jennifer Bill. It's a setting of poems from Marina Tsvetaeva's cycle of the same name. I think of it in some ways as a sequel to 'Canciones del alma,' another hymn to the sacred wild beauty of night. My own Russian is rudimentary - my 'retirement project' of learning Russian seems to be in abeyance, due to the regrettable shortage of hours in ...

Read Full Post »

Concerto p.s.

Posted by John Plant on May 15, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Of the many thoughtful and gratifying comments of people on hearing my Concerto, that of my old friend Beverly Leys holds a special place.  It is a response of such depth and insight - the sort of response a composer dreams of - and it shows such uncanny insight into what it felt like to compose the work - that I cannot resist (with her permission) the temptation to quote it in full: 

"What a wonderful way to return to Wyoming, still with snow flurries, a few snowb...

Read Full Post »

Concerto for Orchestra

Posted by John Plant on April 23, 2014 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Seventeen years ago Wanda Kaluzny commissioned my first orchestral work, dreams in the mirror, a setting of E. E. Cummings, performed in what was then the Erskine and American Church in Montreal. Last week they premiered my Concerto for Orchestra, commissioned in celebration of the orchestra’s fortieth anniversary, in Salle Bourgie: a magnificent new concert hall resulting from a ravishing transformation of the same building, now part of the Musée des B...

Read Full Post »

Kitchen Party, Coastal Voices, Piano Quintet, ECMA

Posted by John Plant on March 5, 2014 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

      My copy of ‘Kitchen Party’ has just arrived in the mail.  I’m writing this to the strains of ‘Dream Kitchen,’ a haunting work by Steve Naylor for flute, percussion and live processed electronics, the sixth of seven works on the CD, which emerged from the wonderful 2013 Shattering the Silence Festival (see my blog with that title below).  I’ve been listening straight through this beautifully conceived project, which a...

Read Full Post »

Thoughts on my Concerto and the Bishop project

Posted by John Plant on October 26, 2013 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (1)

From a letter of Giuseppina Strepponi to her husband Verdi , 3 January 1853:

…'And you haven't composed anything? You see, you do not have your poor Livello in a corner of your room, tucked away in an armchair, saying to you 'This is beautiful, Wizard (one of her nicknames for him). This is not. Stop, play that again. This is original.'  (Mary Jane Matz, in her magnificent biography of Verdi, translates 'Livello' as 'Pest' - which is baffling, since the word see...

Read Full Post »

End of summer reflections

Posted by John Plant on September 16, 2013 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

It strikes me that in describing the enchantment of my first operatic experience, Rigoletto at Philadelphia's Academy of Music in 1958, I haven't spoken enough about the shimmering wonder installed by that magnificent structure in gold and red velvet, with the kaleidoscope of marble and mirrors of the corridors  - and the subsequent, subtler enchantment of the dowdier, more earthy, creaky wooden staircases that led to the amphitheatre, where I sat when I bought my own tickets....

Read Full Post »

Our Russia cruise

Posted by John Plant on June 5, 2013 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (2)

Our Russian Cruise

May 15-29, 2013


Jocelyne and I have signed up for a Viking river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg, with a two-day 'pre-extension' in Moscow...  Here's a day-by-day chronicle of the experience:


May 15

    Let's start at Moscow Airport (Domodevo), a scene of teeming chaos which somehow filters itself into a sort of line-up - which, contrary to all expec...

Read Full Post »