Beach composer offers serious new music

Rarely do we get CDs of serious ‘new music’ compositions for review, but recently Beach guitarist/composer David Occhipinti dropped off his latest recording, camera, for us to listen to. Beachers may be more familiar with Occhipinti as a jazz guitarist (he recently appeared with Mike Murley at the Music For the Soul, Jazz & Reflection Series). David Occhipinti's camera

But for new music lovers, Occhipinti is known as a jazz instructor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music and as a composer. He follows in the large footsteps of other U of T-based composers such as John Weinzweig, John Beckwith and members of the group called Array (John Fodi, Gary Hayes and Marjan Mozetich). Their music has a dedicated audience, and has put Canada on the ‘serious music’ map.

New music, for the uninitiated, can be atonal, without rhythmic structure and, let’s face it, at times eerie. So much of the music is dependent on colour; using the sounds of an instrument, or combination of instruments to evoke an image in the mind’s eye.

On camera, Occhipinti mixes guitar improvisation with a chamber orchestra for an interesting effect. The Banff Suite (for guitar, clarinet, bassoon, marimba, viola, cello, and bass), for example, features five individual ‘pieces’ with names such as Nimbus, Morning Rumble (after Mt. Rumble in Banff National Park), Bourgeau (another mountain near Banff) and Summit and Cirrus. Occhipinti mixes acoustic, Spanish, and electric guitar playing with various members of his ensemble to give the listener an aural tour of Canada’s oldest national park.

In the Metamorphosuite (for guitar and string quartet) there are seven pieces around the theme of metamorphosis. Two other compositions, Fortuna Major and Geometric Farms, round out the recording.

Instrumentalists contributing to this recording include Max Christie, clarinet; Steven Dann, viola; Andrew Downing, bass; Amanda Goodburn, violin; David Hetherington, cello; Beverley Johnston, marimba; Nadia Mackie Jackson, bassoon; and Aline Homzy, violin.

You can order camera through David’s website at

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