About

Born in 1968 in Quebec City, Canada, Francis Ubertelli began studying composition under Armando Santiago at the Quebec Conservatory. He later studied under Franco Donatoni and Azio Corghi at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, taking classes with Ennio Morricone, Philippe Boesmans and Luciano Berio. He graduated in 1996.

A few years later, following the death of his mentor, plagued by a profound aesthetic crisis combined with an extended nervous exhaustion, he quit music. He published his first novel in France, an essay comparing ongoing social changes with the 9/11 attacks, which he witnessed.

In 2015, he returned to music following the birth of his son and a chance encounter with an old acquaintance. He studied at the University of Toronto under Gary Kulesha and earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2020.

Francis Ubertelli has written numerous works for chamber ensemble and received grants and commissions from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Monte dei Paschi di Siena in Italy, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, the Istituto per le Opere di Religione, Arraymusic, the Charm of Finches flute quintet, the Sounds of Silence Project, the Thelema Trio, the Fibonacci Trio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Alizée flute ensemble, the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, ensemble Champ d’Action, the Ministère des Affaires culturelles de la Communauté française de Belgique, the Alcan string quartet and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. His music is played in Canada, the United States and Europe.

His works aim to blur the lines between a more traditional approach to writing techniques and futuristic gestures of the avant-garde compositional process. To that end, traditional musical materials subtly invoke eras of standard Classical repertoire, often nested within a single gesture enhanced in a large-scale periodicity, yet which never rely on the cultural conventions built up around these materials. Pitches present themselves in a hierarchy of importance, expressly giving precedence to the gesture—the gesture being that philosophical object passing by, through which the light of a form intuitively shines.

— Ses œuvres visent à brouiller les lignes entre une approche plus traditionnelle des techniques d’écriture et des gestes futuristes de l’avant-garde et des procédés compositionnels. À cette fin, le matériel musical traditionnel invoque subtilement l’ère du répertoire classique, lequel se niche au sein d’un geste unique augmenté d’une périodicité à grande échelle, mais qui ne repose jamais sur les conventions culturelles construites autour de tels matériaux. Les fréquences se présentent à l’intérieur d’une hiérarchie de l’importance, donnant la préséance au geste—le geste étant cet objet philosophique qui passe et par lequel la lumière d’une forme brille de manière intuitive.

À neuf ans, fasciné à la fois par le piano de Pollini dans Beethoven et les premiers albums de Yes, les plafonds de Michel-Ange et le faste de la cuisine toscane, il appréhende les sentiers cognitifs dominants de la synesthésie desquels émane lentement une minutieuse culture musicale, philosophique et culinaire qui touche à tout. Jugeant de l’insuffisance des mots pour eux-mêmes dans la création littéraire, horrifié par le déconstructionisme, il étudie la composition avec Armando Santiago au Conservatoire de musique de Québec, ainsi qu’à l’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia à Rome auprès de Franco Donatoni et Azio Corghi, en prenant de nombreux cours avec Ennio Morricone, Philippe Boesmans et Luciano Berio; il gradue en 1996 —

Recognition

Karen Kieser Prize in Canadian Music 2019 for “Quartetto 2” – award winner, University of Toronto, Faculty of Music, May 2019.

Most Distinguished Musician for “Madrigale Fatima MMXV” – honorary award, 2016 IBLA Foundation Competition, New York, August 2016.

Finalist – International Composition Competition “Maurice Ravel” 2015–16 Second Edition, Novara (Italy). Certificate of recognition “Category B”: Chamber Music with Fatima Madrigale MMXV, April 2016.

Semi-finalist – International Composition Competition “Maurice Ravel” 2015–16 Second Edition, Novara (Italy). Certificates of recognition “Categories B & C”: Chamber Music with Fatima Madrigale MMXV and Delirium Potastis, April 2016.

Accomplished Musician 2002 for “Demain(s)” for piano, violin and cello – certificate of recognition, IBLA Foundation, New York, July 2002.

Millennium Scholarship, Government of Canada, May and September 2000.

Canada Council for the Arts commissioning grant, February 2000.

3rd price ex æquo – 11th Canadian Broadcasting Corporation National Competition for Young Composers, string quartet category; certificate of recognition with Quartetto 1, February 1997.

Canada Council for the Arts international studies grant, January 1995.