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John Plant

JOHN PLANT was born in Yonkers, New York, on November 13, 1945. He emigrated to Canada in 1968 and became a Canadian citizen in 1973. He studied composition with George Todd at Middlebury College (Vermont), where he also pursued intensive literary and classical studies. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow in comparative literature at Harvard, he interrupted his studies in order to evade military service. Emigrating to Canada in 1968, he studied composition at McGill University with Bruce Mather and Charles Palmer.

His works reflect his intense love of literature, languages, and the human voice. He has set texts in classical Greek, Latin, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian and English. Plant states that his aim is "to transform the rich tapestry of sound, rhythm and resonance which I find within the text into a pulsating lyrical entity."

A series of works for choreographers Peter Boneham and Jean-Pierre Perrault of Le Groupe de la Place Royale culminated in the dance-operas What Happened, The Collector of Cold Weather; and Faustus: An Opera for Dancers. These works were premiered at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and subsequently performed on tour throughout Canada, England and France.

The voice of mezzo-soprano Jocelyne Fleury has inspired a series of works for voice and various instrumental formations, including the Molinari and Claudel Quartets, the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, the Talisker Players, l'Ensemble du Jeu Présent, Ensemble Phoenix, Ensemble Prima: Invocation to Aphrodite , in the world of zero , dreams in the mirror, Romance sonambulo , Canciones del alma, La notte bella, and Babel is a blessing.

His opera, The Shadowy Waters, was first performed at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall in February 2005. He is now at work on a setting of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem Sandpiper for soprano Suzie LeBlanc.

A compact disc with Jocelyne Fleury and the Quatuor Claudel, released on the SNE label includes his cantatas Canciones del alma and Invocation to Aphrodite, as well as his transcription of Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder. A new CD, with Fleury and L’Ensemble Prima conducted by Mélanie Léonard, will be released in 2009.

In 1996 he and Fleury co-founded Voicetheatre. Plant taught composition and music history at Concordia University from 1993-2008; he retired in 2008 to devote himself to composition. He lives by the ocean in Nova Scotia.

Feb. 2009

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Canadian Music Centre