Prof’s composition wins competition

Professor Frehner’s “Lila” wins national award

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Professor Paul Frehner

Jon Purdy

KING OF COMPOSITION. Western Professor Paul Frehner was recently awarded the National Claude Vivier Prize for Best Canadian Composition at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal’s International Composition Prize.

The saying “Those who can’t do, teach,” doesn’t apply to Western music professor Paul Frehner.

On Jan. 10, Frehner’s piece “Lila” was awarded the National Claude Vivier Prize for Best Canadian Composition at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal’s International Composition Prize. Frehner’s piece was chosen from nearly 250 entries submitted by composers from 45 countries.

“I was really happy to have made it to the finals,” Frehner says. “It’s a really great honour.”

The award is named after one of Canada’s best composers, Claude Vivier.

“I love [Vivier’s] music very much, so to win the award that has been named after him is a great honour,” Frehner says.

Frehner’s interest in music developed when he was young.

“I think I was always interested in music, but I don’t know if I was always interested in writing music,” Frehner says. “I remember [as] a little kid, I never had music lessons and I never played any [instruments], but I used to scribble [musical] notes on the paper and I would ask my Mom what I wrote.”

Frehner’s skills developed further in Grade 5, after his brother purchased an electric guitar and began teaching him how to play. After commencing formal studies in piano and guitar, Frehner decided to continue his musical education by pursuing his bachelor’s degree in music and obtaining a doctorate in composition.

Before coming to Western, he worked as a freelance composer.

“Working as a composer, I was trying to get commissions, and trying to find an ensemble that might want me to write music for them,” Frehner says. “Every project would be quite varied and it was rare that I would be working with the same people every time.”

Frehner draws inspiration from a variety of sources.

“There are many things that inspire me,” he says. “Other composers’ work that I admire, different folk music, popular music, jazz and rock and roll.”

An Internet job posting drew the Montreal composer to London. He began teaching theory and composition at Western last September.

“It seemed like an interesting thing to do, to be in an a new environment and teaching at a university level with students who are genuinely interested in what they’re doing,” Frehner says. “It provides me with an opportunity to work with students and to continue writing.”

Frehner encourages students pursuing a career in composition “to work really hard at it, apply for many things and not get too down if some things that you apply for don’t come up, because the next thing might work out.”

Frehner’s award-winning composition “Lila” will be featured on CBC Radio Two between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. this Sunday.

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