Professor wins Juno

Queen’s Professor awarded for classical composition

Queen’s School of Music Professor and Juno Award winner Marjan Mozetich says, “I hope to write to the very day I die, and above all I hope to still write significant music to the end.”
Queen’s School of Music Professor and Juno Award winner Marjan Mozetich says, “I hope to write to the very day I die, and above all I hope to still write significant music to the end.”

Queen’s School of Music Professor Marjan Mozetich recently won the 2010 Juno award for best classical composition of the year for his piece “Lament in the trampled garden.”

“I was very pleasantly surprised with the win,” he said.

Mozetich has taught composition at Queen’s for 19 years. Although he has been nominated for many other awards for classical music, most notably the 2001 CBC nomination for best selling classical music album, this is his first Juno award win.

“Winning the Juno is obviously a huge honour. I did not expect to win because I had been nominated for two songs in the same category,” he said adding that his piece, “Angels in Flight,” was also nominated.

Mozetich said CBC commissioned him to write “Lament in the Trampled Garden” for the 1992 Banff International String Quartet Competition.

“It was the mandatory Canadian work that all semi-finalists had to play, which was a huge honour.”

His piece was nominated this year because compositions are eligible for Juno awards based on when they are recorded not written.

Since learning to play the piano at nine, Mozetich said he has lived life dedicated to his passion for music. He said he first aspired to become a composer at 17, and studied composition at the University of Toronto.

“Really I just had an innate passion for music, particularly in my teens,” he said. “I was drawn to classical specifically because my brother was into Elvis and rock and roll, and my passion was a reaction to this.”

Mozetich said his composition process involves torment followed by ecstasy.

“I write at the piano, first playing to inspire myself and to get thematic material, and then I plod through it,” he said. “I’m a slow writer. It took me a month to write Lament.”

He said classical music provides people a different kind of satisfaction than other genres of music.

“I write the kind of music that seems to satisfy people on a spiritual and emotional level and makes them think inwardly. It’s a satisfaction that modern pop music seems unable to quite fulfill,” Mozetich said. With one Juno under his belt, and international recognition within the classical music community, Mozetich said he doesn’t plan to stop composing any time soon.

“I hope to write to the very day I die, and above all I hope to still write significant music to the end.” Associate Dean of the School of Music, John Burge said Mozetich is a caring and sensitive teacher.

“I’ve known Marjan for over 30 years and he’s very dedicated to his craft and creativity. This passionate intensity is strongly reflected in both his personality and music,” said Burge.

This is not the first Juno award won by a School of Music instructor.

Retired professor Istvan Annhault won the award for classical composition of the year in 2004 and Burge won it last year.

“It is really unheard of for two composers from the same university to win this Juno in two consecutive years. And when you add Professor Annhault, Queen’s has been very well-represented,” he said. “Locally speaking, both Queen’s and the Kingston community are very supportive of the arts and as composers, we have certainly benefited from this.”

Burge said winning a Juno can do more for the school than the individual.

“It offers a lot of credibility, and awards do count in terms of publicity and media, which really helps with advertising, but both Marjan and I agree that these awards do nothing to change the music we write.”

Although these awards show the strength of Queen’s School of Music Burge said budget cuts continue to threaten the School of Music. He feels the Queen’s administration is not finding a way to let the School run the way it needs to run but still finds hope in the dire situation.

“To be a composer is to be a perpetual optimist,” he said. “I simply can’t imagine that the fine arts and the School of Music particularly won’t have a strong place at Queen’s.”

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