Canadian Music Centre (CMC) B.C. director Sean Bickerton (left to right)

Canadian Music Centre breathes life into local music scene

Some of the earliest memories Christopher Reiche has are sitting at a piano and playing music.

Some of the earliest memories Christopher Reiche has are sitting at a piano and playing music.

When he was roughly six years old, Reiche would attend piano lessons once a week with an elderly woman who taught lessons out of her basement.

He would learn to play songs such as Mary had a Little Lamb and Old MacDonald Had a Farm. At the end of the lessons, Reiche would receive a sticker or candy as a reward.

Unlike some children, Reiche enjoyed the experience and challenge of learning new pieces week after week.

As he grew up, his love for music continued to grow. Heading into university, Reiche decided to dive into a new world — that of composing.

“It’s a very rewarding experience. For me, I really enjoy the act of creating and making something new that hasn’t been made before,” said Reiche, noting he likes taking risks in his pieces. “There’s an exciting part of bringing something that’s brand new into the world. It’s also a very exploratory process for me.”

Since then, the 33-year-old Burnside Gorge resident, has created more than 100 pieces that have been brought to life by various musicians. While most of his work can be categorized as new music in the classical music genre, he describes his work as “experimental,” and in some cases, uses unusual objects as instruments.

For example, some of his more unique works include a piece called Strange Alchemy, which was performed last year in Vancouver, and was written using water, glass objects and salt as instruments.

In another piece, three performers used three pieces of paper to make sound, called Inconsistencies #1.

“People usually do have a firm grasp that there’s people within the popular music world and the band scene creating music. What people don’t realize is that there’s still people writing new music in the classical music scene,” Reiche said.

“When people are learning classical music, they’re spending lots of time with composers like Beethoven and Bach, and they don’t often realize that there’s people writing music for your instrument alive and actively today.”

Reiche is part of a new creative hub in Victoria. The Victoria Creative Hub (920 Johnson St.) is a partnership between the Canadian Music Centre in British Columbia and the Victoria Conservatory of Music. It will offer a lending library with musical scores mainly from Vancouver Island composers and pedagogical materials, an online listening library, workshops, and a composer in the classroom program for children.

Teachers looking for a piano piece for a student entering a competition or professionals will have access to the library. Reiche’s job as the Victoria engagement leader will be to help others find music that meets their needs.

According to Sean Bickerton, B.C. director of the Canadian Music Centre, over the past three decades, Victoria has become a hub for musical composers such as Rudolf Komorous from Czechoslovakia, and Martin Bartlett from London, England.

“Those composers created a Renaissance of new music here in Victoria that is unique almost in the country,” he said.

“The reason we’re doing this (the creative hub) is to recognize, celebrate, engage and support what’s already taking place here — these amazing artists, this amazing movement. People are doing extraordinary things.”