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John Mark Sherlock: Biography

John Mark Sherlock
1970 -
Region: Ontario

John Mark Sherlock

Living in Toronto, John Mark Sherlock studied composition at the University of Western Ontario with Jack Behrens, Arsenio Giron and David Myska. His works have been played by many of Canada’s finest performers and ensembles, including Arraymusic, the Burdocks, Critical Band, Ergo Ensemble, Eve Egoyan, Linda Catlin Smith, NUMUS Ensemble featuring the Penderecki Quartet, Rick Sacks, and Stephen Clarke. Sherlock has also written original music for dance or had works used for choreography by Marie-Josée Chartier, Heidi Strauss, Darryl Tracy, Allen Kaeja, Sylvain Emard, Gerry Trentham, Jessica Runge, Barbara Lindenberg, Gillian Komarda, Shannon Cooney, and Susanna Hood. With composer eldritch Priest, Sherlock formed the ensemble neither/nor, which has presented a series of 3-day “festivettes” which have featured composer-performed concerts, bringing together participants from Toronto, Montreal and Victoria.

Sherlock’s aesthetic has been described as “radical innocuousness.” He has said of his own work: “After things were completely dismantled by the music of the 50’s and 60’s, we don’t have much left to work with without treading over the same ground...I’m just holding on to the floating detritus; the flotsam remaining after it all went down. I don’t mean this as a negative; it’s more a factual statement as to the way I see my work in the context of recent history. I like to think of my music as the pursuit of failure. While everyone is trying to avoid failure, I’m pursuing it: failure as possibility so as to transcend failure. This leaves nothing to worry about. Utopianism...in the past I consciously constructed poetic analogies: metaphors connecting the physics of colour with those of sound. But ultimately, I believe some music is more abstract than others and to work towards that end is my purpose.”

John has, at various times, received the kind support of the Toronto Arts Council Laidlaw Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and the Chalmers Foundation.

Nov. 2006


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