Meet Composer Katerina Gimon

On April 22, Phoenix Chamber Choir will be putting on what may be the most unique concert to date. The performance will take place at a gorgeous garden venue, versus a church or concert hall, as a part of a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Phoenix is excited to premiere not one, but two original works, both by young composers commissioned by Phoenix: Timothy Cunningham and Katerina Gimon.

Named as one of Canada’s hot 30 classical musicians under 30 by the Canadian Broadcasting Company; composer, improviser, and vocalist Katerina Gimon’s uniquely dynamic, poignant, and eclectic compositional style is rapidly gaining her a reputation as one of the most distinctive emerging voices in contemporary Canadian composition and beyond.

Gimon’s music has been described as “sheer radiance” (Campbell River Mirror), “imbued…with human emotion” (San Diego Story), and capable of taking listeners on a “fascinating journey of textural discovery” (Ludwig Van). Gimon’s works have been performed across Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia at prominent events such as ACDA Conferences (National and Regional) and Choral Canada’s Podium Conference, as well as at renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, Orpheum Theatre, and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

We recently talked with Gimon about this upcoming piece entitled “Through the Storm” commissioned specifically for Phoenix’s Earth Songs concert.

What inspired you to write “Through the Storm?”

“When Nicholle [Andrews] and I first met to talk about the commission we bounced a number of ideas back in forth to do with nature and the environment (since the concert was for Earth Day. Environmental music has always been something I’ve been drawn to). We also wanted something striking and energetic so these were my starting points!”

At the time I was learning a lot about the state of [British Columbia’s] endangered old growth forests and deforestation and thought I might do something in this realm. But in my exploration of this idea (and falling down the rabbit hole of curiosity) I ended up coming across some interesting information that sparked the idea for the “Through the Storm.” What I discovered was that the stress of storms actually causes a tree’s roots to grow stronger. I thought this was a beautiful image and metaphor for the inevitable obstacles and challenges in life – weathering the storm and coming out stronger as a result.

Which composers inspire you/ do you seek to emulate?

This is a tough question… in terms of choral/Canadian composers, the one whose music always stuck out to me growing up is that of R. Murray Schafer. His pieces were always my favourite to singing growing up in choir: the textural aspects, beautiful notation, and soundscapes/environmental influences. And for fun, today I’m enjoying listening to Ukrainian experimental folk group DakhaBrakha.

What do you hope audience members take away from your piece at the Earth Songs concert? 

I hope audience members feel energized and inspired to weather the storms in their own lives!

What are you listening to right now in you’re spare time?

Again, DakhaBrakha. This concert is great place to start with them. This is a tough question as I’m what some would call an ‘omnivorous’ listener! I listen to music from all kind of different genres/realms, depending on the day and such. tUnE-yArDs, Regina Spektor, Sufjan Stevens,  and Joni Mitchell [to name a few.]

Intrigued listeners may find Gimon’s most recent work on Soundcloud, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.