Jérôme Blais

Associate Professor, Composition; Canadian Studies - Cross Appointment

Jerome Blais

Related information


Email: jerome.blais@dal.ca
Phone: 902.494.3037
Fax: 902.494.2801
Mailing Address: 
Room 510, Dalhousie Arts Centre, 6101 University Avenue
PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
 
Research Topics:
  • Composition
  • Improvisation
  • Performance Practices
  • Canadian Music
  • Folk Music
  • Music theory

Education

  • BMus (McGill)
  • MMus (Montreal)
  • DMus (Montreal)

Research & creative activity

Dr. Blais' works, which feature a unique encounter between traditional composition and improvisation, have been performed by several individuals and ensembles, among which are Suzie LeBlanc, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ), Janice Jackson, Symphony Nova Scotia, Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, Rosa Ensemble of Amsterdam, Quasar Saxophone Quartet, Bozzini String Quartet, Bradyworks, Array Music, Continuum, Upstream, suddenlyLISTEN, Motion Ensemble. He has been invited as featured composer by festivals such as Newfound Music in St. John's, Newfoundland, Shattering the Silence in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and Ok.Quoi?! in Sackville, New Brunswick. In 2010 he was keynote speaker at the Canadian University Music Society’s annual congress. Recent prestigious performances of his works include Es ist genug! by Canadian pianist Ang Li at Carnegie Hall in New York City as well as in Hong Kong, and an excerpt of his song cycle Songs for Milena (dedicated to the memory of Czech journalist Milena Jesensnká) by Janice Jackson and Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal. The complete song cycle was premiered by Ms. Jackson and Symphony Nova Scotia, conducted by Bernhard Gueller, in January 2015. In October 2018, cellists Norman Adams and Nicola Baroni performed his work Soliloque 04 at the Venice Biennale. Other recent works include Licks, performed by the Dalhousie Symphony Orchestra, and In D, performed by violinist Mark Fewer, pianist Walter Delahunt and cellist Adrian Brendel. In January 2019, Blais’ multimedia show Mouvance, based on contemporary Acadian poetry, was premiered by soprano Suzie LeBlanc, cellist Norm Adams, percussionist D’Arcy Gray, guitarist Jeff Torbert and clarinetist Eileen Walsh. After its premiere, the show has been presented in Québec and will be recorded as a studio album on the label Centerdiscs. In the fall of 2021, new arrangements of songs from Mouvance will be premiered by Christina Haldane and Carl Philippe Gionet (soprano and pinao), and by Suzie LeBlanc with the London Symphonia (London, Ontario).

Dr. Blais is currently working on new compositions for soprano, recorder and harpsichord, to be presented at the Festival International the musique Baroque de Lamèque (New Brunswick) and with the Plaisirs du Clavecin concert society in Gatineau, Québec. He is also working on a series of short pieces for piano.

Teaching       

  • Music Theory I (MUSC 1201)
  • Music Theory II (MUSC 1222)
  • Introduction to Composition (MUSC 2210)
  • Composition 1a and 1b (MUSC 3211-3212)
  • Form and Analysis: The Second Viennese School to the Present Day (MUSC 3221)
  • Tonal Counterpoint (MUSC 3284)
  • Composition 2a and 2b (MUSC 4211-4212)
  • Topics in Canadian Music (MUSC 4362): Francophone Singer/songwriters in Canada
  • Contemporary Techniques (MUSC 4280)

Selected Publications

  • Interviewed by Philipp Reisner, in Volume 38 of Intersection: Canadian Journal of Music (2018).
  • 3 Improvisations. Keynote address for the annual meeting of the Canadian University Music Society (MusCan), Regina, June 4, 2010. Written text published in Intersections, journal of MusCan, vol. 31, no 2.
  • Dr. Blais’ music has been recorded on the following CDs: “Live Wired” (2015), by the Acadia New Music Society, “Social Sounds” (2013) by oboist Catherine Lee, “Between the Shore and the Ships” (2012), with soprano Helen Pridmore and clarinetist Wesley Ferreira, “Piano Atlantica” (2010), by pianist Barbara Pritchard.
  • “Music Under the influence: On la nécessité extérieure in the Music of John Rea”, paper presented at McGill University, as part of a symposium on the work of composer John Rea, January 2016.
  • His work on musical notation is the subject of a paper in Composer au XXIe siècle: Pratiques, philosophies, langages et analyses (Paris, Vrin, 2011).

Awards and honours

  • Dr. Blais' research and compositional activities have received funding from major agencies, such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Fonds pour la formation de chercheurs et l'aide à la recherche (FCAR, now FQRSC), the Conseil des arts et des letters du Québec (CALQ-Quebec’s Arts Council), Arts Nova Scotia and the Canada Council for the Arts, including a New Chapter grant for the show Mouvance in 2017, and a Concept to Realization grant for the production of a studio album for Mouvance in 2021.
  • His show Mouvance has been nominated for an Éloize Acadian cultural Prize in 2021.
  • Arts Nova Scotia Established Artist Recognition Award, 2017.
  • His works Mouvance and Rafales, for solo oboe, were nominated for ECMA’s Best Classical Composition of the Year in 2013 and 2014. Mouvance is included on the 2013 East Coast Music Association (ECMA) Award winning Best Classical Recording Between the Shore and the Ships.

Full Biography

After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory at McGill University, Jérôme Blais obtained in 1995 a Master's degree in Compositional Techniques at the University of Montreal, where he completed his doctoral studies with Michel Longtin and Reno De Stefano in 2004. His research dealt with the integration of improvisation into the compositional process.

Jérôme Blais' works have been performed by several professional ensembles, among which are Norman Adams (Halifax), Array Music (Toronto), Bozzini String Quartet (Montreal), Bradyworks (Mtl), Continuum (Tor.), Simon Docking (Hfx), Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, D’Arcy Gray (Hfx), Wallace Halladay (Tor.), Corey Hamm (Vancouver), Janice Jackson (Hfx), Hank Knox (Mtl), Ang Li, Mindful Flower Gamelan (Wolfville), Motion Ensemble (New Brunswick), Musica Nova (Lennoxville), Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, Barbara Pritchard (Hfx), Quasar Saxophone Quartet (Mtl), Jeff Reilly (Hfx), Rosa Ensemble (Amsterdam), Symphony Nova Scotia (Hfx), Marcia Swanston (Hfx), Ziya Tabassian (Mtl), Toca Loca (Tor.) and Upstream Music Association (Hfx).

He has been invited as featured composer by festivals such as Newfound Music in St. John's, Newfoundland, Shattering the Silence in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and Ok.Quoi?! in Sackville, New Brunswick. He also performs as a pianist and improviser, notably with saxophonist Jean-Marc Bouchard.

Recent prestigious performances of his works include Es ist genug! by Canadian pianist Ang Li at several locations in Canada, in the United States, including at Carnegie Hall in New York City as well as in Asia. And an excerpt of his song cycle Songs for Milena (dedicated to the memory of Czech journalist Milena Jesensnká) was performed by Janice Jackson and Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, conducted by Airat Ichmouratov. The complete song cycle will be premiered by Janice Jackson and Symphony Nova Scotia, conducted by Bernhard Gueller, in January 2015.

Blais is also an active music researcher and regularly presents the results of his research in conferences: he was recently invited as keynote speaker by the Canadian University Music Society (CUMS), for their annual conference in Regina, Saskatchewan (June 2010), and he participated in the Journée d’étude en improvisation at University of Montreal (October 2011). In 2008, he contributed a chapter on Canadian composer John Rea in the book Compositional Crossroads: Music, McGill, Montreal, published at McGill-Queens University Press. His work on musical notation is the subject of a paper in Composer au XXIe siècle: Pratiques, philosophies, langages et analyses (Paris, Vrin, 2011).

His research and compositional activities have received funding from such agencies as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds pour la formation de chercheurs et l'aide à la recherche (FCAR, now FQRSC), the Conseil des arts et des letters du Québec (Quebec’s Arts Council), the Canada Council for the Arts and the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Culture Division.

His works Mouvance, based on a text by Acadian poet Gérald Leblanc, and Rafales, for solo oboe, were nominated for ECMA’s Best Classical Composition of the Year in 2013 and 2014. Mouvance is included on the 2013 East Coast Music Association (ECMA) Award winning Best Classical Recording Between the Shore and the Ships.

Jérôme Blais’ main current research and creative project is a major song cycle based around the work of Canadian anthropologist and folklorist Marius Barbeau (1883-1969). The work, entitled (Un)Forgotten Voices – Le Tombeau de Barbeau, will consist in a full-length multi-media concert and will be premiered in 2016 by Janice Jackson and some of Halifax’s finest musicians, including Norm Adams, D’Arcy Gray, Lukas Pearse and Sue Sayle.

In addition to his composition and improvising activities, Dr. Blais taught harmony, composition and orchestration at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Music and at the University of Sherbrooke’s School of music from 1998 to 2004. He is Professor of Composition and Music Theory at Dalhousie University in Halifax since 2004.