A conversation with David Archer

David Archer is a Vancouver, B.C.-based composer, and he's the winner of our 2015 Young Composers Competition! We're excited to debut his piece "Flame and Shadow," at our upcoming concerts. By day, David works part-time gigs and is the communications coordinator for the British Columbia Choral Federation, which is responsible for promoting choral singing in the province.

How did you choose to write your piece in the way you did?
I’ve always been inspired by the stars and the night sky. The stars are a spectacle, showing us the vastness of the universe that we are only beginning to learn about. However, looking way out there also feeds feelings of insignificance and aloneness. It’s a reminder of both peace and pain. 

While writing "Flame and Shadow," I imagined myself out in the wilderness, on a dark hill, away from the cares of the world, but alone with my thoughts. The voices weave a tapestry of contemplation over the words “Alone in the night...” They eventually build, evoking “beating hearts of fire” in all their majesty, celebrating the infinite skyscape. Maybe we aren’t as alone as we thought?

What is your favorite thing about the piece you wrote?
I like the way I used the line “Alone in the night on a dark hill”, which is how the piece begins and ends. On the last two pages, that melody is gently passed through all the voice parts in counterpoint over an ethereal drone. I think it brings across the “alone” idea pretty well … but we’ll see! 

What are you most looking forward to about hearing the Six Degree Singers perform your piece?
I’m looking forward to hearing the choir’s interpretation of my score. Since the premiere is in May, this piece is still an experiment, and that always makes it exciting. It is a surreal experience to hear someone perform your music for the first time — it gives me chills, in a good way.

Describe your musical background and interests.
I got my start as a composer in high school when I wrote and recorded the score to a local short film. That sealed the deal for me, and I was off to music school. At the University of Alberta I studied composition, theory, and piano, and I became heavily involved with choral music. Since then much of my writing has been for choirs. I’ve written for church, community, and chamber choirs primarily. I’ve often been involved with church music. And I spent a few years as a solo pianist in a hotel, which is a really fun job!

What musical challenges do you still hope to take on?
Along the way, I want to stay honest with myself as I write new music. So far I think I’ve done a good job of that, but it is always a challenge. Creating a work of art can expose us to things we would sometimes rather not think about. (The dark, alone places, for example.) But this is what helps us create meaning. More specifically, I want to keep writing more choral music, with more new pieces and arrangements. I would also like to write a large-scale work for choir and orchestra.