Last but not least, the series is completed by two contrasting albums credited to British Columbia-born Cassandra Miller, one featuring commissioned and other pieces played by Apartment House musicians, the other string quartets played by Montréal’s Quatuor Bozzini. It is pleasing to note that both albums feature cover paintings by Lance Austin Olsen.
Miller has twice been the recipient of the Jules-Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, Canada’s highest honour for composition. For years, her works have been performed across the world. In September 2018, she took up the post of Associate Head of Composition (Undergraduate) at London’s prestigous Guildhall School of Music and Drama. All of which makes it quite remarkable to discover that these two albums are the very first recordings to be issued featuring her music.
Taken together, the two albums illustrate exactly why Miller has been honoured and heard around the globe. Across the spectrum, from Mira Benjamin’s solo violin piece For Mira, through the enchanting string quartets, up to the duet of Charles Curtis’ cello with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Miller’s music gets it right; it feels like it is part of a tradition without being unduly shaped by that tradition or kow-towing to it.
The Canadian Composers Series is such a significant event that it makes sense to appreciate it as a whole without drawing comparisons between the ten albums in it. Hopefully, this series has opened doors for the eight composers in it and for the many more who could just as easily have been included. On the basis of it, there is a strong case for further album releases by Canadian composers, either as another series or as one-offs. History has been made.