Composer, pianist, and educator | Bullfrog Power green champion
Between passion for change and passion for music, Frank Horvat seems to have struck a balance.
“Music is so many things for me,” says the Ottawa-born musician and composer. “Among them is the ability to bring social awareness to important issues.”
As a classically-trained pianist composing contemporary works, Horvat’s passion for music is matched by his enthusiasm for pursuing societal issues like social justice, mental health and environmental awareness. He gives his audiences the time to get out of their every day and reflect in this fast-paced world.
He discovered the power of sound to heal just over a decade ago on his Green Keys Tour. The entire tour was bullfrogpowered and Horvat aimed to make the tour as environmentally low-impact as possible, hoping to set an example for other musicians. “I wanted everything I did on the tour to act as an example of how people can still pursue their dreams and ambitions without hurting Mother Nature in the process,” he explains.
The Green Keys Tour took him around North America, with sustainable modes of transportation, performing his 60-minute meditative piano piece, Earth Hour. These collective experiences with audiences, immersed in the dark for an hour, listening to the sounds emanating from the piano, created a powerful collective energy in the room and have impacted his work and outlook ever since.
The means in which music can blur the sense of time and space has always fascinated him. This creative guiding force has inspired one of his latest albums, Happiness in a Troubled World, an ambient electronic album that is based on the teachings of The Dalai Lama.
Horvat’s compositions have been featured on over a dozen albums on labels including ATMA Classique, Really Records, and Centrediscs. With composition premieres on four continents, his works have been showcased internationally in theatre, feature films, and radio/TV networks including the CBC, CBS, Discovery, HBO, Vice & Bravo.
Some of his environmental projects include the album, For Those Who Died Trying (“the resulting [musical] tributes are poignant” – BBC Music Magazine), and the social media awareness campaign #music4HRDs that musically looked at the stories of 37 environmental human rights defenders (HRDs) who were murdered in Thailand. Almost 50 string quartets from around the world participated in this awareness campaign sharing their performance of a movement from the album with their social media followers. Participating quartets included: Juilliard String Quartet, Merel Quartet, Mivos Quartet, Utrecht String Quartet, and Zemlinsky Quartet, as well as members from symphony orchestras around the world including the London Symphony.
“Frank Horvat is one of the most inventive songwriters to come out of the contemporary scene in Canada. Horvat’s work is exquisitely eventful and almost insidiously effective,” wrote The WholeNote Magazine in 2017.
Horvat considers environmental impact in all his decisions from eating organic and local, and avoiding plastics whenever possible, to where he invests his money, to living with less stuff including living carless, and of course powering his home and composing studio with 100% green electricity.
Despite all of his contributions, however, Horvat feels he isn’t doing enough. “Sometimes I think, ‘All I do is music. How does that help anything?'”
Seeing as we are a visual world, Frank Horvat’s Youtube channel is full of videos to accompany his music. There are strong environmental messages in these visuals that help tell the story of his instrumental pieces. And, he isn’t stopping here. He has plans for even bigger and more impactful projects ahead. He has been invited to live and work on-board an Arctic Tall Ship to visit the Arctic Archipelago and learn from scientists onboard. This expedition is set sail in 2022. “I’m really looking forward to the potential of the music that will come out of this experience and the opportunity to find new collaborators and partners who are also passionate about our planet and using art to help build an exciting new future.”
Horvat has been a bullfrogpowered customer since Bullfrog launched in 2005. “My wife and I are proud to see it grow,” he says. “There were less than a hundred customers when we first signed up. And now, seeing Bullfrog increase its membership, green the grid, and expand all across Canada; that it is really exciting.”
Bullfrog Power speaks with musician Frank Horvat
Bullfrog Power visited Toronto musician Frank Horvat at his home to discuss his work, his environmentalism and why he decided to bullfrogpower his home with green electricity.
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