Mark Armanini is a native Vancouverite. He studied composition with Elliot Weisgarber and piano with Robert Rogers at the University of British Columbia graduating with a Master’s degree in 1984. In 2000 ‘Fingertips to Freedom’ co-composed with pianist Paul Plimley was premiered at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival with the CBC Orchestra under the baton of Armanini’s longtime musical collaborator John Zoltek. In 2001 yangqin virtuoso Vivian Xia performing his ‘Concerto for Yangqin’ was a finalist in the Edmonton Symphony’s Canadian Concerto Competition. Mark is currently co-Artistic Director of the Vancouver Intercultural Orhestra(VICO) Producer of the BC Chinese Music Ensemble and is on the music faculty of Capilano University.
Vancouver, on the rim of the Pacific, is often thought of as an adolescent, as cities go, still free to reinvent itself. It had been a fortuitous environment for Mark Armanini to grow up in.
Before he reached his teens, like many, he reached for a guitar, and for many years played electric and acoustic bass. Formally he studied oboe and piano. Later, at the University of British Columbia he studied piano with Robert Rogers and composition under Elliot Weisgarber; known for drawing inspiration from more than just western music. Mark graduated with a Master’s degree in 1984 and was quite prolific in the years after UBC, composing works for small ensemble and orchestra, voice, and choral groups.
Vancouver began changing, first with the rush of Expo’86, and then in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square. Vancouver became a destination for many Asian artists. This gave rise to some Asian ensembles in the city, and often the same artists would collaborate with others in Vancouver’s already diverse music community. Mark began to explore these instruments, these new voices. Having played in bands in his youth, he appreciated the group dynamics in some of these emerging ensembles. His compositions in the 90s began to feature Asian instruments.
Mark’s pipa concerto ‘…of Wind and Water’ was performed by Qiu Xia He and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the opening of the Chan Centre for Performing Arts. In 2001 yangqin virtuoso Vivian Xia, performed his ‘Rain in the Forest: Concerto for Yangqin’ was a finalist in the Edmonton Symphony’s Canadian Concerto Competition.
In 2002 the BC Chinese Orchestra, Jin Zhang, conducting, premiered two orchestral works – ‘goldfish’ and ‘Calm Water’. The Sacred Music Festival commissioned Incense and Flowers: a double concerto for Yangqin and Harp with Vivian Xia, Heidi Krutzen and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Zhuo Rai-shi, conducting.
Four concerti with Asian instruments and symphony orchestra were recorded in Riga, Latvia with the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra during the summer of 2003. Mark traveled to Beijing and Shanghai in November of 2003, as guest of the Chinese Musician’s Association. This visit, as part of the China/Canada Composer Exchange, included performances and meetings in each city.
Mark is a founding member and Past President of the Vancouver Pro Musica Society. He served as President twice, his first term was from 1987-1991 and his second from 2001 to 2005. For six years he served as VP of Programming for the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. In 2008 sponsored by the Canada Council Mark travelled to Wuhan China to study and compose for the Marquis Yi bells , one of the most important and famous Chinese musical treasures .
In 2009 and 2010 , as guest composer, Mark travelled to Amsterdam to attend the Atlas Academy , an intercultural orchestra workshop where his interest included composing and learning about many middle eastern instruments.
His many commissions include Spirit House ( Now Orchestra/VICO), 1000 Butterflies(Dr. Lee and Mamiko van Horne) Fingertips to Freedom( co-composed with Paul Plimley)(Coastal Jazz and Blues Society) Blues for Pipa(Qiu Xia He) Rain in the Forest( Vivian Xia and the BC Chamber Orchestra)
Armanini’s discography includes recordings by Qiu Xia He,
|Vivian Xia, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, Paul Plimley,Kate Hammett-Vaughn, Laudate Singers, Silk Road Music, Vancouver Chinese Ensemble, and the Orchid Ensemble .Mark Armanini is forging a particularly Vancouver style of music, born from his inner response to the city’s changing surroundings. He has developed an ear for these instruments, using a palette of both western and eastern instruments and musical styles to their best effect.|
Ellie O’Day 2003