“What’s Opus:Testing?”

O:T is a free music writing workshop open to musical authors of all flavours in the Toronto community and beyond. Since its inaugural session in June 2014, the Canadian Music Centre has generously hosted and supported this community music program. Creative production is comprised of Ontario regional director Matthew Fava, and Musica Reflecta co-directors Will Callaghan and Anastasia Tchernikova.

“How does it work?”

On a regular basis we offer a new combination of instruments or voices to be the subject of a sketch, a short piece or a vignette (30 seconds to 5 minutes in length). OPUS: TESTING is an experimental safe space to try new things. The object is to encourage musical creators to expand their professional network, and explore new territory in their writing. Participation is voluntary, and any artist is encouraged to submit proposals (you can join the workshop remotely through video conferencing). .

Summer 2017 Assignment: Tower & Helm

Musica Reflecta and the Canadian Music Centre invite you to participate in OPUS: TESTINGan open and safe space for artists to explore, collaborate, and create. We are pleased to be co-presenting this edition of Opus Testing with Roy Lee, who plays the carillons at the Metropolitan United Church and at the University of Toronto (Soldiers’ Tower Carillon).

Summer 2017 Assignment: Tower & Helm

Deadline: May 23, 2017

Performers: Roy Lee, Carillon (Soundcloud)

Although a rare instrument in Canada, the carillon has the ability, and tacit permission, to fill public spaces. In the hands of a capable player the bells can achieve a range of colour and emotion. Despite its pervasive sound, a majority of people experience the carillon ambiently, deriving their own meaning as they listen with the sounds in the foreground or background.

What do the sounds of carillon intone for you? We invite artists to propose short works for carillon that explore the personal meaning suggested by the bells. What happens when you write a piece for yourself, knowing that thousands of people might have a passing encounter with it? How does your piece function in amongst the din of the Toronto soundscape? We are open to various interpretations of the assignment.


  • Tuesday, May 23: Deadline for proposals
  • Monday, May 29: Confirmation of participants
  • June: tours of the Carillon Tower(s), Recital attendance opportunities:
    • Tuesday, June 13: 6:00-6:30pm Soldiers’ Tower Carillon Recital, 6:30pm-7:00pm tour and demonstration of the carillon
    • Additional recital times will be circulated to participants
  • July 31: Submission of pieces
  • August-September: one-on-one rehearsals
  • Late September: Workshop presentation: Friday 7-8pm, or Saturday 7-8 (exact date will be determined)

Proposal Process:

  • Using our online form, artists are invited to submit a short concept proposal (200 words max) by the deadline. Let us know what ideas you would like to explore in your piece, and why you are interested in working with Roy Lee and writing for carillon.
    • Please include a link to some sample of your existing work (soundcloud, bandcamp, youtube, vimeo, etc)
    • Your proposed piece can be presented as a graphic score, instructional score, or using conventional notation
    • Any artist is eligible to apply. We can facilitate video conferencing with remote participants.
    • Musica Reflecta and Roy Lee will assess proposals. We will try to facilitate inclusion of all submissions. Proposals are largely chosen on a first-come first-serve basis. Our focus is on your written proposal, while technical and aesthetic assessment of any submitted piece is secondary
    • To hear and see the Soldiers’ Tower carillon being played, you can reference the Tower’s youtube page. Participants will receive additional instruction and resources to support the composition process
    • While you are preparing your piece, please be mindful of the restrictions on rehearsal time. Technically challenging pieces may be excerpted at the discretion of the performer for the reading. Pieces can range from 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
    • All participants are invited to gather for the no-stress reading and discussion on —bring your ears and friends!
    • Accessibility information: attendance for a carillon recital is fully accessible, however the carillon towers are not fully accessible (there are long sets of stairs up and down). Please notify the organizers if this is a concern for you, and we can address ways to support your participation.

For information, contact: musicareflecta@gmail.com OR mfava@musiccentre.ca

OPUS: TESTING is an experimental safe space to try new things. We encourage musical creators to expand their professional network, and explore new territory in their writing. Participation is voluntary, and any artist is encouraged to submit proposals (you can join the workshop remotely through video conferencing).

Proposal samples: Opus: Testing proposals for pieces can be specific, or general, and your finished piece can evolve from what you propose. Here are some examples:

  • This assignment makes me think about another “bell” that was in the background for me, and many other Canadians: the dominion observatory time signal from the National Research Council which used to intone the top of the hour “exactly” on CBC radio. The long dash following ten seconds of silence. I propose a skewed arrangement of the beeps and dashes. I’m definitely thinking about the Carillon as a short-range radio tower.
  • I can only think of Metallica when I hear bells (For Whom the Bell Tolls). Ride the Lightning was a formative album for me in a few ways. I definitely feel closer to that album than I do to Ernest Hemingway’s novel, although the latter served as inspiration for the song. Even though my listening has wandered quite a ways from 80s metal I can’t shake the association. I want to take inspiration from the soloistic qualities of metal I was listening to when I was younger, subject those ideas to various musical treatments in my writing, and hammer out 2-3 super-short movements/etudes for carillon. I promise I won’t just do a Metallica arrangement…Metallica probably wouldn’t let me get away with that. Ha.
  • I would like to write a short Threnody for a friend. Given the history of the tower as a memorial, I feel it would be appropriate to explore similar emotional territory but on a personal level. I would propose a 3 minute piece that would play with the presence/density of sound, and natural decay.



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