Five Minutes With: Vancouver New Classical Composer Rodney Sharman

When composer Rodney Sharman was 21, he swore to himself that he’d never do anything other than music to make a living. For over 40 years, he’s kept that promise.

Rodney began composing at age 10 while growing up in the small town of Biggar, SK. As a kid, he taught himself to play recorder, flute and oboe, and took clarinet lessons. He made a first attempt at writing for orchestra around age 13, but lacking proper score paper he drew his own and copied it at school.

At 15, Rodney began composition lessons with Murray Adaskin in Victoria. Since then he’s become an internationally celebrated composer. He’s won the Kranichsteiner Prize in Germany, the CBC Young Composers Competition and the Walter Carsen Prize, among many others. He’s been resident composer for the Vancouver Symphony, the Victoria Symphony and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

He’s closely collaborated with choreographer James Kudelka and film director Atom Egoyan and has a PhD from the State University of New York. He’s an all-around musical mensch who loves mentoring young composers and supporting the work of his contemporaries.

Rodney’s instrumental music often blurs distinctions between harmony and timbre. He writes operas and cabaret songs. He loves to explore historical Western music (operas by Wagner and Mozart, works by Schumann and Scarlatti), transforming musical artefacts into something new.

Rodney remains totally engaged with the sense of possibility that creating music offers – that transcendental experience when the ego disappears and there’s nothing but the music to let him know what to do.

Rodney Sharman
Photo by: SD Holman


Rodney Sharman


New Classical


I started writing music at the age of 10

# of Albums:

52 individual pieces on 40+ albums

Latest Album:

Known and Unknown – solo piano works by Rodney Sharman – Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, pianist (Redshift TK539)

Latest Single:

Paramorph Collective – All we’re made of is borrowed

Latest Video:

Favourite musician growing up:

Deceased? Ludwig van Beethoven. Living? Igor Stravinsky (yes, I loved Classical music). Igor Stravinsky’s death in 1971 was the first celebrity death to upset me. I knew his music first from Glenn Gould’s CBC television show, “Music to See”.

Favourite musician now:

So many, changing with the day and my interests. Recently pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, countertenor Reggie Mobley,

Guilty pleasure song:

“Where Do You Start”, sung by Shirley Horn.

Live show ritual:

I need a few minutes of quiet time both before and after I arrive at a venue and before I walk onstage. I take the time to access my “inner tempo”. I do not have perfect pitch, but am blessed with the ability to feel and count beats per minute (metronome marking) accurately.

Favourite local musician:

Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa

EP or LP?


Early bird or night owl?

Neither, alas! More of a late-morning person.

Road or studio?


Any shows or albums coming up?

Known and Unknown (Redshift TK539)

Where can we follow you?

Website | Instagram | YouTube


Rapid Fire Local Questions:

What is your favourite local restaurant?

My very favourite, The Ugly Dumpling, is no more, alas. Current favourite is The Pie Shoppe

What is your favourite street in your city and why?

Commercial Drive. It’s the “high street” in my neighbourhood. I am a foodie and love to cook, the quality and variety of produce, wine, etc. is great, also for organic produce, Liberty wines, and the excellent bakeries.

What is your favourite park in your city and why?

Lynn Canyon Park – I love to hike. It’s relatively close and has so many hikes of varying lengths and levels of difficulty.

What is your favourite music venue in your city?

Pyatt Hall

What is your favourite music store in your city?

Long and McQuade


About Emilea Semancik 143 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: