Owen Pallett: Reinterpreting the Orchestral Genre

OWEN PALLETTCongratulations to Owen Pallett for making the shortlist for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize! Pallett seems to be all over the headlines these days. Who knew a young University of Toronto graduate from Mississauga could experience such heights of international orchestral fame?

With one Polaris Prize under his belt from the 2006 album He Poos Clouds, Pallett has chosen an unconventional career for a modern classical composer and dived head first into vast regions unknown to the pop and video game music worlds. In turn, he’s brought new waves of modern orchestration to the centre of the public stage.

Pallett devoted a large portion of his career to writing music inspired by video games. Under the pseudonym “Final Fantasy,” Pallett wrote the song “An Arrow in the Side of Final Fantasy” which integrates the familiar tune from “Super Mario 2: 6 Golden Coins.” He also composed a tribute album entitled Heartland to the famous video game series Final Fantasy. You can hear HPO’s trumpet lead Mike Fedyshyn and David Pell principal trombone this album.

Pallett rehearsing his "Violin Concerto" for the TSO's New Creation Festival

Pallett rehearsing his “Violin Concerto” for the TSO’s New Creations Festival

Pallett’s chamber/pop album He Poos Clouds won the 2006 Polaris Music Prize and references the eight schools of magic in the fantasy and role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. He kindly donated winnings to bands he deemed deserving of a monetary leg up in the music business. HPO principal second violinist Bethany Bergman was also in the orchestra ensemble for Pallett’s album.

Indie/rock band Arcade Fire have also turned their eyes toward Pallett’s talent as he provides the band’s string arrangements. He’s even played violin with the Grammy winning group. In addition, his work with Arcade Fire on “The Moon Song” for the film Her garnered an Oscar nomination at the 2013 Academy Awards.

Arctic Monkeys’ front-man Alex Turner and The Rascals’ Miles Kane had Pallett create the orchestration and conduct the London Metropolitan Orchestra for their supergroup The Last Shadow Puppets. He also contributed remixes for bands Stars, Grizzly Bears and Death from Above 1979.

Pallett still composes for large orchestras, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra and London Barbican commissioned his Violin Concerto as part of TSO’s week long 2013 New Creations Festival. He also provided a dynamic arrangement of Basia Bulat’s music that that highlighted the best of our very own orchestra. Bulat was also shortlisted for the Polaris Prize this year.

Side-note: check out Owen Pallett’s arrangement of Basia Bulat’s music here:

Pallett isn’t the only one doing exciting duos with indie groups! We’ve had unique collaborations with C.R. Avery and Hachey the MouthPEACE over the years and are thrilled to continue to perform with independent local artists like Thought Beneath Film at Supercrawl in September.

Take a look back at our performance with C.R. Avery at Supercrawl in 2012:

Here’s a look at Owen Pallett’s performance of “He Poos Clouds” with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra:

owen pallett video

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