True North was premiered on December 11, 2008 by Wallace Halladay in Toronto. The composition of the work was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Orientation points such as ‘north’ are often thought of as secure, objective places – however, they are in fact in a constant state of flux. Magnetic north is known to have moved over 1000 kilometers in the last century, and even true north as defined by the position of Polaris moves due to the changing of the earth’s axis. And such is the case with music - tastes and standards, what is popular and what is not, what is or is not a masterwork - while they seem static and even objective, are subject to similar swings and flux. Everything is moving – nothing is still. The score calls for the performer to play within a circle of microphones aligned to the 4 magnetic compass points. Each microphone corresponds to a speaker in a surround sound system, giving spatialization control directly to the performer. The accompanying electronics feature live processing and sound file playback featuring many non-musical sounds: oil dripping, door ajar alarms, and automobile engines trying and failing to start. There is also a cameo recording of a well known (but secret) Canadian Opera star.