Jan Järvlepp was born in Ottawa, Canada of Finnish and Estonian parents in 1953. He began playing pop guitar at the age of 12 and took up cello in high school, along with bass guitar and harmonica. At the University of Ottawa, McGill University, and the University of California, San Diego he majored in composition while developing his skills as a cellist. His composition teachers were Luis de Pablo, Alcides Lanza, Will Ogdon, and Roger Reynolds. At university, he realized that he was not on the same wavelength as his Modernist composition professors. Once outside of the university environment, he turned his back on the avant-garde Modernism that he was rigorously trained in and began composing in a newer postmodern style of neo-tonal music that would not have been acceptable among the academics.


Järvlepp returned to Ottawa in 1981, having completed his doctoral studies at UCSD. He joined the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and has been active as a composer, teacher, freelance cellist, recording technician, and as a contractor for chamber music groups. He has delved deeper and deeper into the world of pop-influenced "classical" composition resulting in a series of accessible tonal compositions that continues to this day. He has composed over 80 works for various types of ensembles.


His music has been broadcast and performed around the world. His best-known piece, The Garbage Concerto, has been performed by dozens of orchestras, conductors, and percussion ensembles in many countries. A serious work, it is a concerto for percussion ensemble and orchestra where the soloists' instruments are constructed out of recycled garbage. This is an example of Järvlepp's interest in using unusual combinations of instruments in his works.



Photo: Claudette Bockstael




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