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Man of the Month Before – John Korsrud

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

June’s Man of the Month is:

John Korsrud

Here’s a little bit about him:

John Korsrud (b. Regina, 1963) is a Vancouver composer, band leader, trumpet player and educator. In 1990 John formed his 20-piece ensemble, The Hard Rubber Orchestra. This ensemble has released two CDs, toured across Canada several times and to Europe, produced TV specials, operas, arts ice shows and avant raves. They are the recipient of the 2005 Alcan Arts Award, the largest arts award in Canada for creation. As a composer, he has been commissioned by The Vancouver Symphony, The CBC Radio Orchestra and, most recently, The American Composers Orchestra in New York that premiered his trumpet concerto at Carnegie Hall featuring himself as soloist. He has composed for almost every Vancouver dance company, and his film and documentary scores have earned him Leo and Golden Sheaf Awards. In 2001 John was awarded the Canada Council’s Joseph S. Stauffer Prize for Music, Liturature and Visual Arts, and in 2003 was the second Canadian to be awarded a fellowship to the prestigious Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy. John graduated from UBC in 1990, did post-grad work in The Netherlands and has been a frequent participant at The Banff Centre for the Arts. John teaches at Capilano University and Vancouver Community College.

And here’s how he answered my 6 questions about creativity:

What does it mean to you to be creative?
It changes all the time. It use to be about confronting audiences and making sure after a show the performance would be with them well after it was over. I never wanted to create a show someone would forget. I was really interested in pushing boundaries, doing something new, challenging conventions. But more recently I think the economic climate has pushed me into taking much of the edge off my shows, and to make them somewhat more accessible and audience friendly. I still want to do world-class work, but I’m trying to find a healthy middle line between being exploratory and accessible.

What triggers your creativity?
Mainly, other people’s art. I still love music as much as I ever did. I love the visual arts. I have a healthy competitive side that helps me want to create the best work. I like to do most of creative work late at night. I day dream alot, then when it’s time to compose I write as quickly as possible. My sure fire method for coming up with ideas are going for long walks or jogging. I bring a pad of paper with me. If I get home without at least one good idea, I keep walking or jogging until I do.

What hinders your creativity?
Nothing really. I’m not as obsessive as I use to be. Lately I’m having lots of fun not being an artist. I’m still busy and creative, but I don’t have that obsessive tunnel-vision I use to have. So perhaps maybe I’m a little less creative and edgy, but my hair falls out a lot less and am happier. But what hinders making the visions into reality? Arts cuts don’t help. I only hire the very best musicians and artists. The world deserves this and these talented dedicated artists need to have their incredible voices heard. I try to create a forum for these artists to strut their stuff. Because I often employ musicians and rent performance spaces, etc., financial cuts to the arts has forced me to ask fellow artists to contribute and volunteer more of their time, and to find spaces and ways of advertising that require less money. You do what you have to do.

What’s the wildest journey your venturesome spirit has taken you on?
I went through a series of epiphanies from about 2002 to 2006. Going from a very dark depression, to feeling very free and grateful for everything, and understanding that I will always be happy. Today my life is very energized and fun. Like everyone, I have good days and not-so-good days, but I realize I have to practice being happy and contentment much like I practice my music. I realize I’ve been very fortunate to make a living as a musician, as an artist! My life is blessed.

We’re all very fortunate…our country has an excellent standard of living, plus we’re in the most beautiful city and province in the world.

What does being bold and provocative mean to you?
I try my best to present something people have never seen or heard before while still making a world-class musical statement.

What’s next for you?
I just finished music scoring an art gallery installation for filmmaker Brian Johnson that will be installed this summer.

I’m presently creating music for Karen Jamieson Dance’s “Collision”, part of Dancing on the Edge Festival (at the Roundhouse July 14-17).

I just returned from a scuba trip in Thailand with my partner, where I got certified and did 28 dives. We are looking for a similar trip next year, perhaps Indonesia or Egypt.

And here’s some music that inspires John’s creativity:

Gyorgy Ligeti (contemporay classical)
Art Tatum (pianist from the 1940’s)
Fletcher Henderson (big band from the 1920’s)
Amon Tobin (contemporary dance electronica)
Miles Davis album Bitches Brew (1969)
Jordi Savall’s album Tous Les Matins Du Monde (early music)
Eddie Palmieri (latin/jazz)
John Coltrane album Crescent, Arvo Part (meditative contemporary classical)
Orcar Peterson album Night Train (swinging 60’s jazz)
Frank Sinatra album Songs for Swinging Lovers (swinging 60’s vocal & big band)
Earth, Wind & Fire album All’n’All (70’s funk)
Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (1913),

Be sure to check out John’s website.

Thank you John for your sounds and drive!

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