Deirdre Piper | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Deirdre Piper

Deirdre (Jane) Piper (b David John; referred to by that name until 1996). Teacher, composer, organist, choral conductor, pianist; b Truro, Cornwall, England, 2 Mar 1943, naturalized Canadian 1991; ARMCM 1963, GRSM 1964, B MUS (Manchester) 1965; PH D (Manchester) 1968.

Piper, Deirdre

Deirdre (Jane) Piper (b David John; referred to by that name until 1996). Teacher, composer, organist, choral conductor, pianist; b Truro, Cornwall, England, 2 Mar 1943, naturalized Canadian 1991; ARMCM 1963, GRSM 1964, B MUS (Manchester) 1965; PH D (Manchester) 1968.

Piper began piano studies at 7, organ at 12, and at 14 assumed an organ post at the Congregational Church in Newport, Isle of Wight. Piper studied organ and cello at the Royal Manchester College of Music with Eric Chadwick and continued organ study at the University of Manchester with Brian Runnett. In 1966 Piper undertook a summer course in electronic music at the University of Toronto with Gustav Ciamaga and Hugh Le Caine, and in 1968 completed a PH D thesis under Hans Redlich entitled "Musique concrète in Paris (1948-52) and elektronische Musik in Cologne (1950-56): a comparison of theory and methodology."

As Teacher

In England Piper taught 1968-71 at the University of Manchester, establishing and directing a small electronic music studio - the first such university studio in England - and taught 1971-2 at the music department of Huddersfield Polytechnic. Piper settled in Canada in 1972 to join the music department of Carleton University, and founded its electronic studio in 1974 and a student contemporary music group (directing it 1983-4, 1986-9, and 2008). Piper was chair of the department 1980-4 and supervisor of performance studies 1994-2007. As a teacher, Piper specialized in 20th- century music theory, history, and composition, and in 2003 was the recipient of Carleton's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences teaching award.

As Performer
Piper appeared frequently on CBC radio as piano accompanist and organ recitalist, and appeared 1986-2004 with soprano Gloria Jean Nagy in the duo Cantabile. The duo was heard on local CBC radio and in 1990 performed songs by Gustav and Alma Mahler in a three-part CBC radio documentary on Mahler.

As Composer
Piper's commissioned compositions have included Passacaglia on a Royal Theme (1978, electronic) for Espace Musique; the music-theatre work Aradara (1981) for soprano and vocal octet for the TV Ontario series 'The Music of Western Civilization;' Concertino for String Orchestra (1983) for CAMMAC (Canadian Amateur Musicians/Musiciens amateurs du Canada); Canticles of Asaph (1984, choir and small orchestra) for Highgate United Reformed Church, London; Diversions (1997, saxophone quartet) for Jean-Guy Brault and Saxart; Postlude on "Royal Oak" (2002, organ) for the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO) Ottawa; and Personae (2005, clarinet and percussion) for CONTACT contemporary music. Other compositions include Concert for Eight (1978) for chamber ensemble; Songs to Shiva (1979, rev 1991) for mezzo-soprano, baritone and chamber ensemble; Reflections (1980) for clarinet and viola; Abstraction I (1982, rev as Reflections II, 1985) for two pianos; Creation Dances (1987) for organ; and Sonata: für Elaine (1989), dedicated to and premiered by pianist Elaine Keillor in Ottawa 31 May 1991. Piper's works have been performed by such ensembles as the Esprit Orchestra (Trisagion: In Memoriam SF, 2004) and the Penderecki Quartet (String Quartet, premiered 2003), and have been broadcast on CBC radio and Carleton University's CKCU FM. The composer's 45-minute music-theatre work, The Seven Questions (1985-91, with text by Leofwin Luke) received Carleton University's Marston LaFrance fellowship in 1989.

As Organist and Conductor

Piper has conducted community choirs, was music director and conductor 1977-83 for the amateur orchestra Musica Jocosa, has been organist and choirmaster at St Stephen's Presbyterian Church 1985-9 and St Matthias Anglican Church beginning in 1989, and has accompanied many choral groups, including the Canadian Centennial Choir 1984-6.

Committees and Memberships
Piper was a founding board member of Espace Musique and its president 1982-4; lectured summers 1986-9 and 1997 for the Ottawa chapter of the RCCO, becoming president in 2008; was president 1992-4 of the National Capital Suzuki School of Music; and served 2000-3 on the board of directors for the Association of Canadian Women Composers.

Deirdre Piper is a member of the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN); the Canadian League of Composers; and beginning in 1999, an associate of the Canadian Music Centre.


Works prior to 1996 were composed under the name David Piper:

The Names of Yaweh. 1990. Soprano, mixed chorus. Ms

Three Poems from the Sanskrit. 1990. Voice, piano. Ms

Khoreia. 1992. Clarinet, violoncello, piano. Ms

Sarum: variations on an advent chant. 1993. Organ. Ms

Sing A New Song. 1996. Organ, mixed chorus. Ms

Trisolde. 1997. Piano (four hands). Ms

Trisagion: In Memoriam SF. 1998. Orchestra. Ms

Fantasy. 1999. Viola. Ms

String Quartet. 2000. Ms

Canticles for Evening Service. 2001. Children's chorus, organ. Ms

Triptych. 2004. Cello, piano. Ms

Symmetries. 2006. Flute, viola, cello. Ms

Odes of Solomon. 2007. Voice, piano. Ms

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