The Lighting Design featured in the above photo is by Logan Swain

Kelby [he/him] has performed across Canada and abroad with leading musicians from North America & Europe. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Percussion Performance from UVic and has trained under master percussionists and with leading Canadian institutions such as the Banff Centre for the Arts. His projects and performances include CBC Radio, CBC Television, the Great American Songbook Trio, the Kelby MacNayr Quintet, and NPR. He previously composed music for two Opera Out of the Box Productions.

It’ll Come to Me is underscored by a fantastic jazz trio: Alfons Fear on trumpet, David Santana on guitar, and Kelby MacNayr on bass and drums. Kelby MacNayr is also the composer for the play’s score. We wanted to learn more about the inspiration for the music in the show and the process of composing. Recently, we were able to connect with Kelby and ask him some questions…

Have you ever scored a play before?

Yes, I have had the opportunity to work in performance settings that involve a mix of genres with theatre and music and dance. Two that really challenged me to connect musical and emotional intention with movement or acting/text was working with a company called Out of the Box Productions on two productions, one called Othello: the Third Taboo, and the other is called the Sound in Silence.

For one of them I had the pleasure of scoring a piece for 23 large-sized pitched ceramic flower pots, and we even took it on the road! *smiles*

What was the experience of composing the music for this show? Did Christian Martin or Matthew Payne give you a specific direction or themes to work with?

My experience was, and is, because I am still changing things and refining and coming up with new ideas – which I’m sure we will be doing until closing good night! – is one of pretty joyful imagination.

Matthew and Christian have basically invited me into the project and given me free reign to imagine and create anything that speaks to me. There are existing characters and locations and scenes of chorus which inform the nature of the composition and then there is the element of negotiating the stage and directing cues which pertain for us as musicians, to entrance and exit points and how that relates to projection, lighting and sound effects.

Matthew and Christian did not give me any specific direction however I am constantly in discussion with both of them speaking either about the nature of a scene or a particular character in the play so that I can better understand how it exists in their vision and then invite my imagination to express that in music.

Where did you get inspiration for the show? Are there any particular musicians or pieces which influence your work?

My inspiration for the show comes from the play itself, from Christian’s imagination for the play and Matt’s expression and contextualization of that storyline and the characters, themes and places within it. Each scene and each character provide the fuel and direction for the music. I basically just sit down or walk around and think about the scene or the character and just try to listen to what my inner ear translates. If I’m not feeling into music and then I try to write it down or work it out on paper.

There were not any particular composers who I sought out to influence this work but, the way I imagined the scenes and characters suggested a particular pallete of timbre and tono ideas. The composer Horace Silver kept on sneaking into my work!  I would write a blues or a boogaloo and then find that I was accidentally re-writing one of his songs and have to start over again!

There are also lots of sections that did not call for a jazzy interpretation and for some of the drum set pieces I’m not really sure where the inspiration comes from although on a grand scale, it is roughly analogous to what happened in the movie Birdman, which was part of Matthew’s first inspiration and bringing me on board if I’m not mistaken.

In certain sections, I don’t think I draw from them, in particular but Arvo Part and Dave Douglas probably influence some of the writing in their open minded embracing of texture and drama.


You can watch Kelby MacNayr and here is compositions in It’ll Come to Me showing from November 20th to the 28th with performances at 4:30 on Sundays and 7:30 otherwise. You can purchase tickets here.