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Eugene Martynec


Eugene Martynec is a Canadian musician, composer, conductor, and record producer. Martynec first came to prominence as a guitarist in the Toronto group Bobby Kris & The Imperials in 1965. After leaving the group he went on to form Kensington Market in 1967 with singer/songwriter Keith McKie, bass player Alex Darou and drummer Jimmy Watson. Martynec also played acoustic guitar, bass and synthesizer on Lou Reed’s 1973 album Berlin, as well as providing the vocal arrangement on “The Bed.” As a producer he won the Juno Award for Producer of the Year for his 1981 work on Bruce Cockburn’s “Tokyo” (from the album Humans) and on new wave band Rough Trade’s hit “High School Confidential,” which was one of the first overtly lesbian-themed Top 40 hits in the world.

Martynec is known for his versatility, composing and recording with pop groups, orchestras, and in visual and live theatre settings. He is trained in electronic music, composition, and orchestration from The Royal Conservatory of Music (1970–1975) and has been awarded Canada Council for the Arts and Toronto Arts Council grants for music composition. His most recent interests are around improvised music, composing live electro-acoustic music, as well as with adding visual components to his improvisation performances. Martynec is well traveled and has lived and performed abroad, notably living in Beijing for two years where he performed in Yunnan Province with Yan Jun (a sound artist, critic, poet and organizer) and in Beijing at several music and art festivals. From 2007-2010 he was based in London, England where he performed with the London Improvisers Orchestra and with various other small ensembles throughout Europe. Upon returning to Toronto in 2010, he organized and formed the Toronto Improvisers Orchestra. Martynec remains a key player in the Toronto improvising community.

In this audio-interview, musician Eugene Martynec identifies the functionality and ideals of his group, the Toronto Improvisers Orchestra. He explains techniques behind conducted improvisation languages and hand signals for conducting improvisation. In addition, he talks about pedagogical devices that he uses to direct an improvising ‘community-like’ orchestra in Canada. The interview was conducted in 2011 by Sandro Manzon, a young composer/ pianist/ improviser, who was an ICASP URA at the time.

Manzon’s compositions encompass a wide range of musical traditions, having written works for various musical situations including chamber ensemble, orchestra, turntables with ensemble, traditional/experimental folk groups, etc. He is also the founding member and Artistic Director of the band ‘Edges’ who is dedicated to performing and creating experimental and contemporary music of many sorts.

Improvising as a Community: An interview with Eugene Martynec of The Toronto Improvisers Orchestra

A full transcript of the interview is available here.

For more information on The Toronto Improvisers Orchestra please visit their page on Array Music.

There is a curious yet enormously fruitful duality in the way that improvisation plays on our expectations and perspectives.

– Tracey Nicholls