Meet the Composer: Clinton Ackerman


Clinton Ackerman has a diverse artistic practice working as a composer, sound designer, and music educator. He has an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on music and social work from the University of Regina. Collaboration is central to Clinton’s creative practice and he has enjoyed composing/designing for many theatre productions around Saskatchewan, making music in schools, and working with different communities. His music has been played across the country from Victoria to St. John’s. As a community-engaged artist he facilitates creative arts programming with youth for the holistic benefits the arts promote. This past year Clinton launched Pantala Arts Lab, an arts ed company that brings together his values as a creator, community artist, and educator. He is excited about what the future holds for this new initiative.


What is Clinton Working On?
There are two projects I’m working on that I’m very excited about. The first is supported by a SK Arts Independent Artist Grant. My son William was gifted a book called “The Lost Words,” when he was born. It’s a collection of “spells” that conjure nature words that were removed from the Oxford Youth Dictionary and replaced by tech-related words. Words like raven, willow, and otter. I’ll be setting these poems, or spells, into a series of miniatures for voice, piano, and tape. But! Over the next year I won’t just be writing music, I’ll be travelling to every ecoregion in the province recording the acoustic environment to create a soundscape that accompanies the piece. The project has already taken me to some fairly remote parts of Saskatchewan, and I already feel more deeply connected to this province than I ever have.

The other is a class Pantala Arts Lab ran last year that we’ll be running again this fall called “Compose Yourself!” It’s a class where high school students compose music for a quartet of RSO players – Christian Robinson, Hyon Suk Kim, Simon Fryer, and Chris Kayler. From October to April last year I had the privilege to help four young composers write their first pieces of music. I also got to know them a bit through the process, and what makes something like this so special is seeing their voices come through in their music, and sometimes those voices are surprising! You get to see a side of someone you may not get to otherwise when they can speak with sound instead of words. Facilitating a program like this also reminds me to make space and listen to the voices of young people in our communities – they have a way of looking to the future with a hopefulness we sometimes lose from the haze of the hustle (at least I had), and I for one am looking forward to the future more than ever after working with those young composers.