Owen Underhill and Arne Eigenfeldt

SFU composers make musical waves

November 14, 2007

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By Stuart Colcleugh

Composers and SFU contemporary arts professors Owen Underhill and Arne Eigenfeldt have been making some very sweet music lately — and attracting high-profile accolades.

Underhill brought home the Outstanding Classical Composition award last month from the Western Canadian Music Awards for his piece Canzone di Petra for flute and harp.

The piece was recorded in 2006 by Heidi Krutzen, principal harpist with the Vancouver Opera, and flautist Lorna McGhee, formerly principal flute with the BBC Symphony, on their album Krutzen/McGhee Duo (Skylark). Canzone di Petra is based on one of Dante’s rime petrose (or stone poems), which the composer describes as a song without words.

Eigenfeldt, who teaches music technology, is also in the limelight. His original score for Ballet British Columbia’s (BBC) In and Around Kozla Street will be featured as part of the dance company’s "Elemental Brubeck" performance at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Nov. 22-24.

The BBC’s website ( notes: "Set to Arne Eigenfeldt’s haunting, melodic score, In and Around Kozla Street touches on the desperate lives of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. And Dance International observes: ‘Backed by Vancouver composer Arne Eigenfeldt’s taut score, Kozla Street is a masterful study in heroism and frailty."

The two composers are no strangers to international recognition. Eigenfeldt’s work has been performed at festivals in Europe, Canada, the United States and the Far East. He has received awards from the Canada Council, the Performing Rights Organization of Canada and the Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers of Canada, and has received commissions from dance companies in Canada and Europe.

Underhill, who teaches music composition, conducting and theory, earned a Juno nomination for best classical composition with Love Songs, a track from his first solo CD, Celestial Machine, which the Globe and Mail described as "a beautiful disc, from one of the most thoughtful and effective West Coast composers."

He also co-wrote the music for Ballet B.C.’s first full-length narrative ballet The Faerie Queen.

Underhill’s upcoming premieres include a clarinet quintet written for Francois Houle and the Bozzini Quartet, which will be performed Nov. 6 at the Cellar in Vancouver, and World of Light for tenor and orchestra, to be performed by the Vancouver Symphony, April 26-28, 2008.

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