Archive » Arts and Entertainment

Musician and composer shares his journey into the arts

December 22, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

We often hear the music in a play, movie, or other production that sets the tone of the scene and creates a mood, but not often do we think about the amount of hard work, late nights, and incredible talent that goes into writing a music score.

For musician and composer Marek Norman, music has been his lifelong passion and he continues to evolve in his career.

Marek’s most recent work, something he refers to as a “play with music,” titled Ballycroy, debuted in Stratford on Nov. 5 and had a terrific response from everyone who attended.

Ballycroy is Marek’s musical interpretation of an event that happened in the town of Ballycroy, Ontario in 1875. Ballycroy is now a ghost town situated just off Highway 9, east of Orangeville. While a few of the original buildings remain, the town is lost to history.

Marek’s production brings alive the memory of three young women who perished in a mysterious fire at one of the town’s hotels.

The production is just the latest creation in Marek’s noted career in music.

Marek’s journey to Ballycroy follows years of training and decades of professional musicianship, acting, and composing.

“In the last ten years, composing has been the dominate aspect of my career,” Marek explained. “I started as an actor in B.C. I grew up in Vancouver. For the first 15 years of my professional life, I was more of a performer than I was a composer or songwriter. I kind of morphed into that as my passion for writing grew.”

Early in his career, he performed on television, playing the piano and singing. He had his own television shows, including Drop In, where he was the Vancouver host of the show.

“It was kind of an Elton John, Billy Joel kind of thing that I did for a good number of years in Vancouver,” Marek said. “I was starting to flirt with songwriting back then and I enjoyed it very much. The more I did it, the more I discovered I had a passion for it. That grew even further to writing for instruments, either orchestra or concert bands, and things of that sort.”

Marek took the next step in his career when he and his wife Barbara moved to New York.

He found his place in the music industry, writing for TV shows and radio. He wrote almost 1,000 jingles over a decade.

After dedicating so much time to the craft, one day he realized he had taken that career as far as he could. He decided to focus on writing for theatre and concert music.

“It just started to grow and grow,” Marek said. “My work diminished as a performer and my work grew as a composer. My passion and comfort level as a composer now is really strong. So I think this is probably how I will spend almost all my work time until I stop working. Most of my projects have been commissioned or suggested by people, and more often than not collaborate with writers. Of all the things I’ve been lucky enough to do over the years, I felt for me personally, that Ballycroy was the most satisfying of all of my personal projects, where I wrote the script and libretto as well, and the music and orchestration.”

The path of Marek’s career has allowed him to work with and beside many respected people in the music industry.

He considers it a special time when he was able to study with Gordon Delamont – a highly regarded music educator, composer, and trumpeter in Toronto.

“I studied with him for three years, and it was the most creative, most stimulating and inspiring three years of my life as a composer. I was able to apply those three years of study to my work, and nothing that I’ve written in the past 35 years has been put down on paper without having a great deal of Gordon’s voice in my head.”

While many musicians have started scoring music on their computer, Marek keeps it old-school and continues to write on sheet music with a calligraphy style of writing notes.

“I love to transcribe my work by hand,” Marek explained. “It’s a dying art. I find it incredibly satisfying and meditative work. I’m one of the last surviving people who goes to the trouble of copying out their scores by hand.”

Marek and his wife Barbara have now settled in Stratford and have become a part of the community.

His passion for music and composing is as strong as ever, and after the success of Ballycroy, it will be worth watching to see which notes and words he puts to paper for his next production.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.