Undoubtedly, the period beginning in 1985 and ending around 1991 will certainly go down as the ‘golden age’ of electroacoustic composition at the Université de Montréal. That six-year span would see a cluster of future internationally-renowned composers like Gilles Gobeil, Robert Normandeau, Stéphane Roy and Alain Thibault walk the same corridors and share studio time. Other composers like Michel A Smith, Denis Saindon, and Daniel Leduc would also realize outstanding works in their respective specialization (Multimedia, Live Electroacoustics, and Radio Art). Why, come to think of it, Christian Calon, though not a student, was working in the music library during some of those years!
The fact that this was indeed a unique period is confirmed with the release of Alchimie (alchemy) and Amore (Love), two short-duration CDs (+/- 40 min). Mario Rodrigue and Roxanne Turcotte were also part of that illustrious group, and though there names may not be familiar to readers of Contact!, their work is as rich and polished as that of their former classmates.
Rodrigue’s Alchimie contains 5 acousmatic (solo tape) works covering an 8-year period. The first piece, Tilt (1986), is a short, dynamic ride in an imaginary pinball game. Chosen as best overall work in the 1986 CBC National Competition for Young Composers, it contains most of the elements that one finds in Rodrigue’s latter works: rich inharmonic tones (bells); tonal chords (pads) and progressions; short repeated rhythmic patterns; and most of all, lots of movement (dynamic stereo panning, montage). Of the remaining four works, it is Cristaux liquides (1990) that stands out, with its very colourful blend of anecdotal and abstract sound objects. Like Calon, Gobeil and Normandeau, Rodrigue’s work has been influenced by cinema, and virtually all of the works on Alchimie provide the listener with finely-crafted, vivid examples of ‘cinema for the ear.’