Peter Hatch: Forest for the Trees

November 5, 2021 / ISCM


Composer and music curator Peter Hatch (b. 1957) has composed works in a large number of genres, from orchestral and chamber music to instrumental theatre, electroacoustics and installations. Known for his interest in revitalizing the listening experience, Hatch’s compositions are both heady and playful, profound and humorous. His works are performed and broadcast internationally and has been featured at festivals such as the ISCM World Music Days, the Darmstadt Ferienkurse fur Neue Musik, Montreal’s Espaces Improbable, the Vancouver New Music Festival, the Vancouver Early Music Festival, and by organizations such as Aventa, Soundstreams, Arraymusic, the Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton, Windsor, Victoria and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies and by members of the Berlin Philharmonic. Hatch’s music been recorded on numerous compact discs under the CBC Musica Viva, CMC Centrediscs, Conaccord, CBC and Artifact labels. As well as his compositional work, Peter has been very active as the artistic director of new music ensembles and festivals. He founded NUMUS Concerts in 1985, and the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound in 1998, two organizations that have continued to thrive years after their beginnings. Peter was Composer-in-Residence with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony from 1999-2003 and Arts and Culture Consultant with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics from 2011 to 2013. From 1985 to 2017 Peter was a Professor at the Faculty of Music, Wilfrid Laurier University, where he was University Research Professor for the 2006-07 academic year and is now Professor Emeritus. Peter now makes his home in the Gulf Islands on the west coast of Canada.

About his 2013 composition Forest for the Trees for string quartet, Hatch has written:

The expression “we can’t see the forest for the trees” describes an inability to be able to step back and see a situation because of being absorbed in its details. It takes on special significance in an era when the air we breathe and our abundance of natural resources (including forests) are endangered by our short-sighted vision as a society. This short-sightedness also tends to prevail in our personal lives, where our “age of distraction” makes it difficult to see the bigger picture of how the moments in our days connect. My work is a wish for a clearer appreciation and understanding of our actions on a larger scale so that we can then help to ensure that we can have both trees and forests in the future. Forest for the Trees is dedicated to the memory of my father, who showed me the beauty and wisdom of countless forests and trees.




The International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) is a premier forum for the advancement, dissemination and interchange of new music from around the world. Through ISCM, our members promote contemporary music in all its varied forms, strengthening musical life in their local contexts and making their music and its creators known to world.