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L’année 2009-2010 aura été riche et faste pour le compositeur, pianiste et éminent pédagogue Gilles Tremblay. Pour ses 50 ans de créations, c’est toute la communauté de la musique contemporaine québécoise, créateurs et interprètes, qui soulignait l’importance de l’œuvre de ce pilier dans une grande Série Hommage  initiée par la SMCQ et ses partenaires. Au fil des quelque 55 concerts et événements qui mettaient tous au programme une œuvre de Gilles Tremblay, plus de 40 000 personnes auront entendu sa musique, un véritable cadeau ! La SOCAN soulignait aussi cet anniversaire en remettant à Gilles Tremblay le Prix Jan V. Matejcek pour la nouvelle musique classique à son récent gala.

Comment donc s’est senti Gilles Tremblay en réentendant les œuvres qui ont jalonné sa carrière ? « J’étais très heureux de pouvoir entendre à nouveau des pièces récentes, mais aussi plus anciennes, qui ont été composées il y a plus de 30 ans !, explique Gilles Tremblay. Mais ce qui m’a réconforté le plus, c’est d’avoir été joué par d’extraordinaires interprètes, et de constater que mes œuvres ont bien traversé le temps. » Mais ne venez pas lui parler de bilan, bien que ces anniversaires puissent inciter à le faire. Gilles Tremblay est peu nostalgique. « Je préfère continuer à chercher et à développer ce que j’ai fait. »

Le riche parcours de Gilles Tremblay s’inscrit en effet dans la continuité : ses débuts sous l’enseignement des maîtres du Québec (Claude Champagne, Jean Papineau-Couture, Isabelle Delorme, Jean Vallerand et Germaine Malépart), son passage marquant en Europe auprès d’Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen et Pierre Schaeffer, ses séjours au Moyen-Orient et le choc des sonorités balinaises. Entre autres. Et c’est sans compter les 35 années où il a enseigné la composition et l’analyse musicales au Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal, transmettant du même coup aux compositeurs qui forment aujourd’hui la relève, un héritage des désormais anciens, ceux qui ont forgé l’éclectique musique du XXe siècle.

Tradition et modernité
« Il est vrai que j’ai toujours eu beaucoup d’affinités avec la musique de Messiaen. Ce qui extraordinaire, c’est qu’il a ouvert les portes de son jardin intérieur à ses élèves en les laissant absolument libres. Ces élèves n’ont pas fait ensuite du sous-Messiaen, au contraire, ils ont fait leur musique, mieux, plus largement. Et Messiaen vibrait à cette dimension essentielle où s’édifiait un amour profond pour la spiritualité, la nature et le son, ce qui rejoignait plusieurs de mes propres fondements. » Gilles Tremblay explique aussi, qu’à l’instar de Messiaen, il a fait musicalement, sans vouloir techniquement le faire, le lien entre la tradition et la modernité. « Ce lien s’est imposé de lui-même parce que j’aime profondément ces musiques du passé. Le chant grégorien, par exemple, est un modèle pour la mélodie, et à mon avis, c’est là qu’on retrouve la plus belle mélodie créée en Occident. Messiaen lui-même était très amoureux de plusieurs musiciens du passé, Bach, Mozart et le chant grégorien, et les faisait connaître aussi, tout en écrivant de la musique foncièrement moderne. »

 

La vie qui bat
Quand on demande à Gilles Tremblay à quoi il est resté fidèle toute sa vie dans son acte de création, au fil de ses quelque 60 œuvres en carrière, la réponse relève d’une sagesse qui traduit la grande lucidité de l’homme de 78 ans : « Quand on compose, on est témoin de la vie. C’est la vie elle-même qui est toujours présente et qui ressort différemment dans l’acte créateur selon les compositeurs et les époques. Prenez l’exemple de John Cage qui a été très contesté parce que les gens n’ont pas compris tout de suite sa musique. Il a pourtant toujours été un grand témoin de la vie… C’est le moteur de mon inspiration. J’ai voulu faire des œuvres qui étaient témoins de la vie qui nous entoure. Je ne sais pas si j’ai réussi, mais c’est toujours ce que j’ai eu en tête. »

Gilles Tremblay a connu, dans la dernière année, un ennui de santé alors qu’il a subi un accident vasculaire cérébral. Il s’est voulu rassurant : « Je vais bien. Évidemment, ça m’a un peu ralenti, et j’ai dû repousser plusieurs projets. Mais j’ai recommencé à jouer du piano; je reprends depuis quelque temps la musique de Debussy que je redécouvre avec un grand plaisir : les Préludes notamment, comme Voiles, Le vent dans la plaine ou Des pas sur la neige. Il y a quelque chose de très grand dans sa musique. Voilà un compositeur qui était vraiment à l’écoute de la vie. »

Bien que l’année hommage à Gilles Tremblay tire à sa fin, on pourra réentendre des extraits de son opéra L’eau qui danse, la pomme qui chante, et l’oiseau qui dit la vérité (2009) le 14 mai 2011 alors que le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne donnera un concert explorant les 20 ans de créations de l’organisme Chants Libres.

 

 

 


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Each June, we hold our Annual General Meeting, where we report and reflect back on the previous year. This year’s AGM was held in Toronto, on June 16th, and with member meetings also held in Montreal, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Nashville, SOCAN works hard to keep a strong connection to its members, and strives to be open and transparent. While some items here may seem like old news, throughout this column, we’ll look back and review SOCAN’s activities in 2014. In that 2015 is an election year, this year’s AGM also included an announcement of the 2015-2018 SOCAN Board of Directors. More on that below.

2014 was an exciting year for SOCAN, celebrating our 25th year as a performing rights organization (PRO) in Canada.

Continuing down SOCAN’s path of reinvention, there were many changes and innovations throughout 2014. Among them was the unveiling, at our 25th annual SOCAN Award Gala, of the new award to celebrate major special achievements of our members.

SOCAN’s tagline is “Music. People. Connected.,” and that simple phrase really captures what SOCAN is all about. Connecting people to music, and ensuring that we’re all fairly compensated for its use, is something that we’re passionate about, and it’s a concept we fight diligently to protect. It’s no coincidence that the first thing SOCAN is about is music, and what could be more appropriate than to have the world’s first music award that is also a musical instrument. As both a trophy and an instrument, “The SOCAN” is truly a thing of beauty.

Another major activity during the year was all of the work undertaken in transforming the SOCAN Montreal office, both in preparation for moving to its new premises in early 2015, and in some reorganization and staffing changes. We were pleased to see Geneviève Côté, a former publisher Board member from Montreal, come aboard as SOCAN’s first Chief Quebec Affairs Officer. Replacing Geneviève on the board, according to our previous election results, we were happy to welcome Patrick Curley from Third Eye Music.

SOCAN has seen a year of activity on the copyright front, both with the Copyright Board of Canada and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), who have been busy with actions that affect us as songwriters and publishers in the performing rights organization world.

In Canada, the Copyright Board issued rulings on Tariff 22.D regarding audio-visual (AV) works on the Internet, which had a very positive impact for SOCAN. For T-22.D.1, regarding online AV services, tariffs were confirmed at 1.7 percent for 2007-2010 and 1.9 percent for 2011 to 2013. These tariffs, in addition to other parts of Tariff 22, brought in more than $12 million in 2014. As a result, throughout 2014, our Tariff, Licensing and Distribution committee and Board approved a new audio-visual internet distribution pool to facilitate distributing these new online AV revenues.

In the U.S., we’ve been closely monitoring the situation with ASCAP and BMI, who have to work within the decades-old consent decrees, set by the DOJ, to attempt to protect the market from potential anti-trust concerns. These consent decrees and recent court decisions have been creating problems for publishers and the PROs, with regard to publishers’ abilities to withdraw certain rights and negotiate direct deals, with the rate courts insisting on “all or nothing” relationships between the publishers and the U.S. PROs. This is an evolving situation, and while we continue to actively investigate the potential impact of these actions on SOCAN, we’ve also been examining opportunities for us to be able to thrive in the changing landscape.

Throughout 2014, SOCAN continued down its path of innovation and modernization by further developing our BEST (Business Enterprise Solution for Tomorrow) computer system in order to deal with the explosive data requirements necessary to track the billions of performances in the digital world. The first parts of the system, the Financial and Issue Tracking modules, were deployed in 2014. Ongoing work will see Licensing, Repertoire and Performance information functions handled by BEST in the near future, with the entire system being fully operational by the end of 2016.

In addition to these activities, as part of the ongoing annual work of the Board of Directors and its standing committees: Executive Governance; Risk Identification & Management; Tariff, Licensing and Distribution; and Membership, we engaged in a multitude of tasks, including monitoring and reviewing budgets and forecasts; managing SOCAN’s investments and other financial activities; conducting a 360-degree evaluation of the CEO’s performance; engaging in a thorough Board and peer assessment; overseeing our many member events, including our AGM and awards ceremonies; and reviewing our communication strategies, policies and activities.

Finally, through its affiliation with SOCAN, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) saw its footprint increase with its new website launch as well as the rollout of music education content, in association with Magic Lantern Media, based on the songs already inducted into the CSHF. This initiative will teach the value and cultural significance of Canadian music and, specifically, the impact of songs and songwriters. The CSHF also announced a new partnership with CBC Music allowing for monthly song inductions with original new videos of contemporary artists performing inducted songs, beginning in 2015.

All in all, SOCAN, its Board and staff, had a very active and transformative 2014 and through our efforts and many changes, we continue to shine as a leading performing rights organization in the world.

Now that we’re half way through 2015, it’s clear that much of the work of the last year has helped pave the way for the exciting activities that will continue to be reported on throughout this year. As it is an election year, I’d like to welcome our new Board of Directors, a full list of which can be found here on the SOCAN website. I would like to specifically thank two of our outgoing directors, Songwriter Jim Vallance and Neville Quinlan of Peermusic, for their important contributions to the SOCAN Board over the last three years. And while there are many familiar faces among our returning directors, I’d also like to officially welcome the newly elected directors Robert Ott and Safwan Javed. With such a varied and distinguished group, the 2015-2018 term is sure to be an exciting one. We’re all excited to get started!


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From now on, Words + Music will be an online-only magazine.

We’re turning the page completely from print to our more flexible, timely and fulfilling digital edition, bringing with it even more benefits for our members, licensed businesses and anyone interested in accessing interesting, high-quality content about the increasingly exciting and successful Canadian music scene.

The online-only edition will be more open and available than ever before, with opportunities for readers to comment on each story. They’ll also benefit from instant, worldwide distribution: the online edition is available and easily accessible to anybody in the world with an internet connection, on any platform (smartphone, tablet, laptop, home computer, etc.), anytime, anywhere.

You’ll be able to read much more timely stories, posted when ready.

The ratio of those SOCAN members desiring coverage in Words + Music to available editorial space in the print magazine was about 20-to-one, so sometimes even SOCAN members who were clearly worthy of coverage were unable to receive it. The advent of the online-only edition, with no space limitations, will allow us to not only cover more of these laudable SOCAN members, but also expand our coverage to include music users Licensed to Play by SOCAN. We’ll simply be able to bring you more information.

With the quarterly print edition, you had to wait three months before reading about your fellow SOCAN members, which could render some of the magazine content a little dated. In the online edition, you’ll be able to read much more timely stories, posted when ready, so that we’re even more current and relevant to the passing scene.

Our costs for the printed magazine, both the English and French edition (Paroles & Musique) – which include design, printing, postage, and other expenses – were very high (several hundred thousand dollars), and increasing every year. Except for contributor and photographer fees – which, while among the best in the Canadian music industry, comprise a very small portion of those costs – that money can now be put into our members’ hands instead.

The cost to the environment was far greater with the print edition as well. In 2013 alone, we printed about 1.6-million pages, sacrificing a significant number of trees. Online, we don’t have to destroy any of them, and we avoid the environmental impact of running a printing press to create more than 50,000 copies and ship them across our vast country.

For the past two decades, SOCAN has always embraced the digital world to better reach our members, in new ways, wherever they are. Our social media numbers more than 30,000 followers; our website (at socan.ca), digital magazine, (at socanmusic.ca), SOCAN blog (at socanblog.ca), and online annual report (at socanannualreport.ca) bring more news and information to more readers and viewers than  ever; and we’ve also introduced mobile versions of our website and online magazine. Moving the magazine completely to online is just the latest step in our necessary adaptation to technological change. We expect that Words + Music online, which will be redesigned in 2015, will provide an excellent end-user experience.

There are those who, understandably, feel sentimental about holding a paper magazine in their hands. But paper is slow in reporting, expensive to produce, limited in editorial space, restricted in distribution, and environmentally wasteful. It only makes good sense to move exclusively into the online world, so that we can commit more time and resources into making the digital version great.

We’re closing the book on print, but the story continues, even better, at socanmagazine.ca. Thanks for being a part of it, as we turn the page to the next chapter.


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