Saskatchewan-raised composer Nicole Lizée up for a Juno

The composer has never been afraid to bring pop culture into classical concert halls.

Composer never afraid to bring pop culture into classical concert halls

Nicole Lizée is nominated for composition of the year for her work on the album Bookburners. (Submitted by Nicole Lizée)

Saskatchewan composer Nicole Lizée is nominated for composition of the year at this year's Juno awards for her work on the album Bookburners.

Lizée is a composer who takes live acoustic performers and mixes them with processed vocals and turntable beats. Her inspiration comes from MTV, rave culture and 1960s psychedelia. She's never been afraid to bring pop culture into classical concert halls. Her Juno nomination shows that her daring style has paid off. 

I remember the days of lining up for the physical copy of a record or a CD.... And opening it up, and seeing the artwork, and smelling it and playing it from beginning to end.- Nicole Lizée

"It means a lot," she said, pointing out that in classical composition there's only the one award category at the Junos. "To be selected among the great wealth of talent in this country is a great honour for sure." 

The title Bookburners references censorship. Lizée wanted to address the book burning that has happened throughout history and continues in some countries to this day. 

Lizée said the album also pays tribute to the death of analogue. She wants to keep it alive, and she does so in this record by including vinyl, rather than digital files and by having the artwork for the album done by a silk screen artist. 

"I remember the days of lining up for the physical copy of a record or a CD ... And opening it up, and seeing the artwork, and smelling it and playing it from beginning to end," she said. "It's sort of an experience that is lost now."

She's been composing with a turntable since the 1990s. She considers the sound on par with any instrument, she said.

"For me to not use it, there would be a hole in my orchestration."

Lizée admitted she was surprised by her nomination, but said she thinks it might show more recognition for the kind of mixed music she and others are creating. 

"There's a place now for these kind of merging genres and experimentations."

The Juno awards are on tonight in Calgary at 7 p.m. EST.

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