Jason Nett - Composer and Guitarist
From a blank page to a symphony
An interview article by Rosemary Phillips, 2006
INTRO: I’m stumped; a blank page. Where do I begin to write about such an amazing artist – Jason Nett, composer - whose latest composition 'Symphonia Brevis' was featured on CBC Radio’s “In Performance” on September 28? Maybe if I go over my notes, walk around a bit, make a pot of tea, and wait for the muse...
After the successful performance of Jason Nett’s short work 'Sol' in Nanaimo in April 2006 (a real coming home event for this Woodland School graduate), he was commissioned by the Vancouver Island Symphony to create a new symphony for launching the 2006-07 season “In to the Music – A Symphonic Rite of Passage.”
Just as this writer was stumped with a blank page, so too was Jason for his symphony. “I took July and August off to write the piece,” explained the cool, leather-clad, motorcycle-riding multi-talented composer. “I’d get one idea one day, work on it and the next morning it would be different. One Saturday night I just gave up, picked up my guitar and started playing what came to be a violin piece based on a blues riff. I knew that was it and went with it”
The result is 'Sonic Blue'. “The piece is very up-tempo, very rhythmic, something you would find in blues-rock guitar today,” Jason continued. “To date it has been the most difficult and yet the most satisfying composition for me. When I got going it was very easy. It was just the getting started that was difficult. I had too many ideas for that blank page.”
The 'Sonic Blue' world premiere was the opening music for the VI Symphony’s “Bowfire” concert on Saturday, October 21, followed by Beethoven’s Violin Concerto Opus 61 performed by Lara St. John, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. “Beethoven and Bach are my favourite idols,” stated Nett. “It feels like an honour to be included in the same program. I am familiar with Beethoven’s music. In some commissions I’ve been asked to not be too big. Beethoven is definitely not wimpy so this gives me the freedom to be BIG. It’s fun and fresh. As the season opener 'Sonic Blue' says, ‘Here we go!’”
Jason is creating a whole new trend in symphonic music. Said one admirer of his work after hearing 'Symphonic Brevis' – “I heard sounds that I’ve never heard come out of an orchestra before.” Maybe it’s Jason’s origins in rock’n roll, and his studio work in San Francisco for rock and pop? Another fan said, “Hey Man… Good Symphonia. I love the rock influences in your music but you’re doing some really sophisticated classical things too... I’m mightily impressed.”
His work has restored audience faith in new composers. “I’m not into the weird atmospheric stuff. I like rhythm. I try and write music that I like to listen to myself,” said Jason, who began composing classical music the moment he started hearing it. “It’s very worked out and schematic.”
As yet 'Sonic Blue' remains unheard except in Jason’s mind, and in the mind of artistic director Marlin Wolfe as he reads the score in preparation for conducting the work. “Orchestras and musicians have played Beethoven many times. The first violinist knows what each instrument is doing, but when they play 'Sonic Blue' they will have no idea what the French horn is doing.” The VI Symphony musicians will find out when they come together for rehearsals the week of the concert.
(Because this was a world premiere, audience members who were inspired and wanted to hear more of the work were not be able to. Instead, Jason offered “Excerpts from a Diary,” his new CD being launched in The Port Theatre that same evening. “That’s the dilemma of the new composer,” he added.)
'Excerpts from a Diary' has been in the works for five years now. “It’s guitar music, for guitar quartet. It all started with a commission from the Vancouver Guitar Quartet in 2001. I am actually playing all the guitar parts. It’s neat but a little scary because it’s so personal. This way I get to give the audience my music to take home.”
The page is now full, here and on Jason’s music sheets.”
For more information visit Jason Nett's web site.
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