Born in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1933, and widely considered Canada’s leading living composer, Raymond Murray Schafer is also a librettist, educator, writer, and “soundscape” theorist. Schafer composes for symphonies as well as chamber orchestras, solo instruments (he has even composed a piece for snowmobile), and vocalists. His compositions have played throughout the world. Schafer’s operatic cycle Patria—a masterwork almost forty years in the making—consists of ten episodes, plus a prologue and an epilogue. The prologue The Princess of the Stars and epilogue And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon (also known as the Wolf Project) comprise an eco-theatre where Schafer places his opera in the Canadian wilderness, and the wilderness is, in turn, directly incorporated into the work. The “Wolf Project” is a week-long camping and performance venture that seeks to erase the line between life and art. R. Murray Schafer’s books include My Life on Earth and Elsewhere, Patria: The Complete Cycle, The Tuning of the World: Toward a Theory of Soundscape Design, Wolf Tracks, On Canadian Music, and Ear Cleaning: Notes for an Experimental Music Course. Schafer is married to Eleanor James, who was the leading mezzo-soprano at the City Opera of St. Gallen in Switzerland for six years, and then the leading mezzo-soprano at the Gartnerplatz Theatre in Munich, Germany for fourteen years. In 1983, James experienced the work of Murray Schafer, and they subsequently became frequent collaborators. I had the opportunity to speak first with Murray Schafer and then with Eleanor James at their home in Indian River, Ontario, on September 1 and 3, 2012.
Schafer, R. Murray; James, Eleanor; and Standing, Sarah Ann, "Eco-Theatre" (2014). CUNY Academic Works.