Bio for programs:
Timothy Corlis began studying composition at the age of eleven under the tutelage of his Anglican choir director, Dr. Giles Bryant. These earliest writing assignments were given as punishment for being a tardy chorister, but soon became such a regular occurrence that they fostered Corlis’ keen interest in the craft. He later went on to study composition and choral directing under Dr. Leonard Enns and to develop an early career in the lively choral community of Waterloo (Ontario) and its surroundings. These roots instilled in him a continuing sense of music as an important aspect of community life. He also views music as a strong power for social change.
His compositions are frequently performed across Canada to critical acclaim – Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written, his large-scale choral composition to words by Margaret Atwood, was nominated for a 2009 Juno award for best classical composition of the year. His music is also often championed by performers further afield, including performances in Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Japan, and more recently a New York City, Carnegie Hall premiere with Noel Edison and the Elora Festival Singers. In the media, he has been described as “a composer of great depth and passion, not to mention a pristine polished craft.” (WholeNote Magazine, Toronto). Corlis holds a B.Sc. in Science (Physics) and Anthropology from the University of Waterloo, an M.A. in Social and Political Thought (York University) and an M.Mus. in Composition (University of Toronto) where he worked with Chirstos Hatzis and Ka Nin Chan. He also holds a D.M.A in composition from the University of British Columbia where he studied under Dr. John Roeder and Dr. Stephen Chatman.
As an academic, he has taught as a lecturer and assistant professor of music theory at Canadian Mennonite University and at the University of Waterloo, Conrad Grebel University College. He has received numerous commissioning grants from regional, provincial, and national arts granting councils. He is published as a researcher with peer reviewed publications including topics related to spectral analysis and the music of J.S. Bach, also cognitive neuroscience and corporate performance. His more recent research with Dr. James Enns and Dr. Grace Lorocci focuses on autism and music in young children.
Quotes from reviews:
“Immortality, by Timothy Corlis, was for this listener, the highlight of the evening. A crowd-pleaser from start to finish, it is a work with something for everyone – driving energy, brilliance, spine-tingling moments, sublime beauty, and a build-up to a climax that explodes before fading away.” (Jeffrey Williams, New York Concert Review, March, 2014 – reviewing A Cappella Next, Carnegie Hall)
“One of the truly beautiful pieces presented in this program, Silent Dawn, is a composition by Timothy Corlis. The composer’s intent was to convey the sensation experienced witnessing a winter morning just before sunrise. The words and music create that sense of stillness and inspire the audience to feel the sense of viewing an ethereal sky. The Elmer Iseler Singers performed the piece as one would imagine the composer could wish – with an encompassing sense of peacefulness and calm.” (Valerie Giles, The Prince George Citizen, March 23, 2012)
“A haunting tribute to the experience of a winter morning just before sunrise, titled Silent Dawn by Timothy Corlis, captured the spirit of that everwhelmingly still, silent time utterly and captivated the audience entirely.” (Christine Pilgrim, reviewing Elmer Iseler Singers’ performance, Vernon Morning Star, March 14, 2012)
“Timothy Corlis’ Raven and the First Men honours Bill Reid’s sculpture of the same title (which appears on the back of the Canadian 20 dollar bill). This five-part composition is very fine work – warm and accessible, variously textured in keening, quivering, squalling, droney sonics puncutated by pizzicatos and wonderful glissandos that surge in wave after wave of music to an exciting climax. Standing ovation for this work commissioned by the WMCT. The music is beautifully synched to a film in which the camera pans slowly over the golden-toned textures and furrows carved into the wood of Bill Reid’s sculpture.” (Showtime Magazine, Nov. 26, 2010)
“The audience reaction was instantaneous. Leaping to their feet – the collective excitement communicated something extraordinary – a very special moment with a very special piece, and a secure sense that local boy, Tim Corlis, had arrived on the international stage . . .” (Steven Preece, reviewing the Missa Pax, Elora Festival Singers, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, July 17, 2009)
“Timothy Corlis is a composer of great depth and passion, not to mention a pristine, polished craft . . . It is twenty-five of the most intense minutes of listening you are likely to experience.” (John S. Gray reviewing the album NotesTowards, Whole Note Magazine, September, 2008)
“The stated aim of the recording project is ‘to speak out against the injustices of our modern world in a way that is uniquely possible through music and poetry.” It’s a lofty but necessary goal in these troubling times. All I can say is mission accomplished” (Robert Reid reviewing the album NotesTowards, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, July 10, 2008)
“Corlis’s own superb compositions were the highlight of the evening. His Hodie Christus featured a whisper-sung chant in dancelike rhythm as backdrop to a more angular melodic line. Gradual buildup finally swelled into a radiating Gloria in excelsis, bursting with vigour and truth. It was Corlis’s final piece of the performance O Great Mystery, however, that resonated the spirit of the evening. The audience enthusiastically responded to Corlis’ call to sing a chant which alternated with glorious choral themes and variations. This mesmerizing call and response provided a unified feeling of reverence, calm, and peace; and as the dynamics swelled, unity and power. Ultimately, it was a fitting finale and also a symbol of the many voices that together made this a unique blending of art, community, spirit and compassion.” (Steven Preece, Reviewing the concert, A Voice in the Wilderness, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Dec. 18, 2006)
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