JASMIN LACASSE ROY
Looking for a truly unique blend of the old and new in classical guitar? Jasmin Lacasse Roy's consummate musicianship draws on a wide range of inspiration: from Hendrix to Debussy and back. As a composer of startling originality, his style plays with the boundaries of expectation, reimagining the repertoire in fresh and surprising turns. As both a composer and performer, Jasmin's work features hints of Glass and Rachmaninov, though he's a firm believer that neoclassical music isn't only for the keyboard. His eclectic mix of vintage aesthetics and modern flavours do away with old Edwardian sentiments in favour of imaginative contrasts that evoke a vibrant cosmopolitan scene. You won't be finding his work in your local record store's dusty pile of classical guitar vinyls anytime soon. His musical aesthetic is a sumptuous combination of ease and activity that invites both attentive listening and immersed contemplation.
MILE END METEORS
January 27, 2022
Description of the Album
An eclectic homage to Montreal's Mile End district, home to a vibrant tapestry of musicians, painters, tech start-ups, fancy scientists and, indeed, Jasmin Lacasse Roy. This album is a love-letter to a neighbourhood that deeply inspires him with it's laid-back atmosphere imbued with artistic energy. It's Jasmin's favourite neighbourhood, and the sights and sounds he hears as a resident are woven throughout this dialogue of images. A dialogue with the people, real and imagined, who populate his quotidian scenery. The work pours out with an intense and concentrated narrative force that nevertheless connects with an audience that might now share his love of Mile End. A dexterous juxtaposition of images and musical ideas come together for an album that sounds like an impressionist painting. Reflecting on his early inspiration for this album, Jasmin wanted each piece to "shine with a lively and fleeting glow like a meteor leaving behind short luminous trails as it enters the atmosphere."
1. While waiting for the golden hour
The golden hour, beloved by photographer and cinematograph, is the period shortly after sunrise. This music was composed before the sunrise when I was, for no reason other than for the pleasure of it, waiting for the golden hour to arrive. In this composition I use unusual tonality combinations for the contrasting sections and I use a blues chords progression mixed with impressionistic harmonic coloration for the main theme.
2. Cast iron rhapsody
For this piece of music the title came to me first, I was inspired by the outside cast iron stairways which Montreal is famous for. To fit the title I wanted a theme that represented the strongest and texture of cast iron. This composition was finish in a tumultuous time in my life, maybe that is why the ending is what it is, bitter-sweet. The musical form of this opus is a rhapsody, which isa one-movement work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods, colour, and tonality.
It is the combination between the words impetuous and itération. Being impetuous is characterized by being animated by an impulsive and raging movement. In mathematics, an iteration designates the action of repeating the same process in an attempt to obtain a solution. This is exactly what is « Impetuositeration », it is impetuous and it repeat the same process over and over again. But no définitive solution is obtain. The melody which is the basis for this work can only be played on the odd fret number. Has a challenge I wanted to come up with the composition that could only be played on the odd fret number. Like on the piano where they have composition just for the white keys or just for the Black Keys.
4. L’épisodique vague à l’âme de Nosferatu revient le hanter
“The episodic gloominess of Nosferatu returns to haunt him” is a Dali-esque surreal representation the inner fight of a Nosferatu that periodically grow guilty of doing what the world is accustom of him. As if he were jaded of being trapt in his own persona. Try to guess who wins that innerbattle in the end? The blood thursty or the remorseful Nosferatu?
5. Les aventures du cowboy de la rue Clark à la tavern Mile End
150 years ago, a big part of the Montréal island was mostly farmers and cowboys. That was the case in the Mile End district. And near where I live there used to be, 150 years ago, an infamous Tavern called the mile end tavern. So “The Clark street cowboy at the Mile End Tavern” is the story of an imaginary cowboy narrated by the music. First he is galloping in the field, mud splashing besidehim, and after his day of work he goes to have a drink at the infamous Mile End tavern. After a few drinks he get into trouble with some other cowboys and they want to fight him. But after some rumbling he managed to escape and then he’s caught in a Storm. Luckily, he manage to find a barn as a shelter, he lies down on that pile of hay and fall asleep. In his sleep he dreams about a mysterious girl he had seen in an other town. He suddently wakes up, get back on his horse and ride into the sunrise.
This composition is a dreamy, impressionistic méditation during a nightly Promenade in the Mile End. The title is a portmanteau of “melody” and “divagation” and it is made with a silly musical motif that should not be as catchy as it is. This illogically catchy motif is then developed by a series of modulation and transformation just to return in its simplest and most eloquent form.
7. Against Elise
This composition is inspired by the famous « fur Elise » by Beethoven. Like Fur Elise, my composition is a rondo, which is a musical form that alternate choruses and verses. For the chorus in « Against Elise », I decided to invert the direction of the melody of the chorus of Fur Elise, so whenever the melody goes up in Fur Elise it goes down in « Against Elise » with exactly the same interval and vice versa. And for the 2 versus I did a more mathematical music that uses different sequences of numbers. Sequences that are inspired by the golden ratio for the first verse and waves of growing numbers for the second verse.
8. The nostagic chronicales of count Rachmanula
In Montreal and in the Mile End district particularly, there are still many traces of Victorian era architcture. Which I think makes a great archytectural contrast with modernity. So as tribute to that era, I wanted this composition to be like a victorian picture of an old east european count in his old, dusty victorian mansion reminiscing about his past adventures while sipping a glass of Brandy in front of his fireplace. Vaguely inspired by Late 19ecentury East european classical music for the character of the introduction and in the way I superposed tonalities in the middle part. For the main theme, which appears at the beginning and at the end, I wanted a melody that sounded familiar to everybody and gave them the impression they’ve heard it before.
9. Mile End Winter
In memory of a night in the Mile End neighborhood where after a snow storm rain had covered everything with ice. This arctic decor in contrast with the victorian architecture style of the neighborhood gave us the impression of being in an other dimension. The musical form is basicly a rondo but sometime part of phrases are missing as if they were covered by the snow.
10. Midnight disco lounge
Montréal has always been a town with a predominant nightlife. Musical work composed to encapsulate the spirit of a singular night in a Discotheque that inspired me this composition. In this piece of music the tonalities and modulations are blurred so that we can move between tonalities without abrupt changes.
Influenced by the blues as well as impressionism, Jasmin's musicality vibrates at a unique timbre. His prime motivation for creating new music is in order to try something new, something different. It's true what they say that you shouldn't let your schooling get in the way of your education, and that's why his classical training only adds to his sense of freedom on stage, informing his celebration of the classical canon with his sense of obligation to the contemporary. What's the point of evoking the past if it can't reverberate in the present? Jasmin wants his audience to feel and see the story as he does. Even when there's a slightly eccentric touch to his tone (an inspiration he draws from the artiste Salvator Dali), his style of performance is delivered with stoic charm—a la Buster Keaton. He sees the beauty in classical traditions of the past as something that has a right and vivid place in the present, albeit with a modern twist.
Aside from his career on the guitar, Jasmin is also a notable scholar. As a graduate from the Montreal Conservatory of Music, followed up with a doctorate from the University of Montreal, he's practically a scientist on strings. For him, music is not merely a theoretical matter; as a performer, he's been celebrated on numerous occasions for his artistry on the instrument. Here are just a few of the competitions that he's had the great fortune of winning one of the top prizes: the Montreal Grand Prize of Guitar, University of Louisville Guitar Competition, Road Island guitar Competition, IFA Altamira Competition of China and Canadian Music Competition. Notably, in 2008, Jasmin was honoured with the laureate of a grant from the Council of Arts and Letters of Québec. Despite these accolades, he remains grounded to his craft via a career as a teacher, including professorship at the University of Montreal and the Montreal Conservatory of Music in 2014, with many other teaching opportunities prior to these. His authenticity and passion for music, coupled with a genuine enthusiasm for sharing his art with the public, is what keeps Jasmin coming back for more with every new recording and performance.