Born: May 24, 1947
Country: Buffalo, New York, U.S.A.
Studies: SUNY, Buffalo (B.M. 1969, M.M. 1971)
Michael Horwood was born in Buffalo, New York, on May 24, 1947. He studied music composition and theory at the State University of New York at Buffalo with Lejaren Hiller, Lukas Foss, and Istvan Anhalt, receiving his Bachelor's and Master's degrees (1969, 1971). In 1971, he moved to Canada and from 1972-2003 was a professor of music and humanities at Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto. During the latter half of the 1970s, Horwood formed Convergence, an improvisation ensemble in which he played piano and percussion. In 2003, he retired from teaching and moved with his wife to Cowley, Alberta.
His more than seventy compositions constitute a kaleidoscope of the traditional and the avant-garde spanning a wide variety of contemporary idioms including twelve-tone, theatre pieces, electroacoustic (both live and pre-recorded), jazz, minimalism and neo-romanticism. He has written for conventional ensembles, unusual instrumental combinations and even flexible scoring. Among his most successful works have been those which involve extra-musical concepts such as his chamber works Birds (1979) and Nervous Disorder (1988), the electroacoustic work Motility (revised 1986) and the orchestral works Amusement Park Suite (1986), National Park Suite (1991) and Symphony No. 2, Visions of a Wounded Earth (1995).
Horwood seems content writing in any genre and, similarly, feels a composer today should be able to adapt and create in a variety of styles. From all the deliberate variety in Horwood's music, a few personal traits have tended to emerge. One of these is an acute sense of sonority, the knack of exploiting the unique ranges and timbres of his instrumental forces, whether in solo or combinations. This use of instrumental sound is occasionally coupled with an overt sense of theatricality or humour, even in his non-theatre works.
Since the late 1980s, many of Horwood's compositions have returned to his original interest in Romantic period music. Thus, the more global interest in neo-romanticism is seen by Horwood as not only welcome, but concurrent with his own creative goals. In 1995, he completed a co-commission (through the Canada Council) from four Canadian orchestras for his most ambitious work to date - a fifty minute choral symphony, Symphony No. 2, Visions of a Wounded Earth, with texts from eight Canadian poets on the state of the environment. The year 1996 saw the commission (through the Windsor Symphony) of a short chamber orchestra piece on the theme of "morning", Do You Live for Weekends?, as well as the uncommissioned, Symphony No. 3, Andromeda. Another multiple orchestral commission (through the Ontario Arts Council) followed in 1997, the piano concerto Intravariations, for pianist Mary Kenedi. Later that year the Festival of the Sound (Parry Sound, Ontario) commissioned him for Quartzite Dialogues, a work for narrator and wind quintet. In October 1999, Horwood brought forth the short piano work, T + I = Ewigkeit, based on a theme by Wagner. In 2000, he adapted the interludes from his second symphony as an independent orchestral work, Three Interludes. A new version of his early Concerto for Double Bass and String Orchestra was issued in 2003. In 2006, two commissioned works (through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts) were composed: Fragments, a duo for any two treble clef instruments for the St. Crispin's Chamber Ensemble, and Piano Sonata (Preludes, Elegy and Dances) for Mary Kenedi. Four orchestral works (Amusement Park Suite, National Park Suite, Intravariations and Symphony No. 1) were released in July 2007 on an Albany Records CD (TROY943) with Ian Hobson, Joseph Kubera and the Sinfonia Varsovia under the title Suite and Serious. Piano Sonata (Preludes, Elegy and Dances), funded by a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts was premiered in October 2008 by commissioner Mary Kenedi during the Les Amis concert series at Gallery 345 in Toronto. Piece Percussionique No. 6 (2008) was commissioned by the Toronto Percussion Ensemble for Horwood's complete percussions works CD. The 2008 Western Canadian Music Awards nominated Three Interludes (ERM Media, Masterworks of the New Era, Vol. 10) as best classical composition of the year and the Suite and Serious CD (Albany Records) was nominated for best classical album of the year. In 2009, the Calgary Philharmonic performed Do You live for Weekends? during a two-day new music event in Calgary called Hear and Now. Horwood's all-percussion CD, Percussionique, performed by the Toronto Percussion Ensemble, was released on Albany Records (TROY1122). Recent performances over the past few years include three US performances of Residue, one US performance of National Park Suite, four US performances of Amusement Park Suite, two performances of Piano Sonata (Preludes, Elegy and Dances) (Toronto and Calgary), and an excerpt from Symphony No. 1 (US). National Park Suite placed in the final round for the 2012 American Prize in Composition under the category orchestra-professional. A limited edition Lp on Bennifer Editions (No. 129) of a live 1979 performance by Convergence was released in July 2012.
Works for Percussion
5,3,4 - Percussion Septet; Wind Ensemble
Dynamite - Multiple Percussion; Piano
Little Bow Piece - Percussion Octet
Mathematics - Multiple Percussion - graphic notation
Microduet No.1 - Multiple Percussion - Bass Drum; Oboe
Microduet No.2 - Multiple Percussion - Guiro; Flute
Microduet No.3 - Multiple Percussion - Almglocken; Tuba
Microduet No.4 - Multiple Percussion - Suspended Cymbal; Double Bass
Microduet No.6 - Multiple Percussion - Ladder Ratchet; Saxophone
Microduet No.7 - Multiple Percussion - Triangle; Trombone
Microduet No.8 (Armistice Music) - Multiple Percussion - Tam Tam; Violin
Microduet No.9 - Multiple Percussion - Sleigh Bells; Viola
Piece Percussionique No.1 - Percussion Sextet; Piano
Piece Percussionique No.3 - Percussion Trio
Piece Percussionique No.4 - Percussion Quartet
Piece Percussionique No.5 - Percussion Duo; With Tape
Piece Percussionique No.6 Requiem - Percussion Quartet
Residue - Vibraphone; Tuba
Suite for Accordion and Percussion - Multiple Percussion; Accordion
The Shadow of Your Drum - Percussion Duo