Kristofer Maddigan – 2017 Member of the Year

“Definitely not. This is way out of my comfort zone.”

A graduate of the Glenn Gould School, where he studied with John Rudolph and David Kent, Kristofer Maddigan is principal percussionist of the National Ballet Orchestra, and performs with a wide range of groups including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Hannaford Street Silver Band, and the Esprit Orchestra. But he had never written a three-hour big band score for a video game – until two long-time friends aked him to do just that. They persisted, he relented, and the resulting game, Cuphead, was a major hit that sold a million copies within two weeks of its release and was one of the top new games of 2017.

Cuphead received many nominations for its score, including most recently being named Best Music at the BAFTA Games Awards. But there’s no doubt that it’s more than a typical game soundtrack; it was released as a deluxe four-LP vinyl box set, spent thirteen weeks on the Billboard Jazz charts, and received a Juno nomination for Instrumental Album of the Year.

Visually, Cuphead is inspired by cartoons of the 1930’s, and the score echoes the same era. Its Ellington and Joplin-inspired tracks feature some of Canada’s top jazz musicians – a total of 42 musicians performed on the soundtrack, including featured soloists John Johnson, Alex Dean, Mike Murley, Steve McDade, and Al Kay. Kris credits the assistance of John Herberman, saying, “He taught me everything I know,” and says of game developers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, “It was they who quit their jobs and remortgaged their homes to finance the making of the game, and it was also they who shared (importantly) paid for our dream of hiring real musicians.”

The Toronto Musicians’ Association salutes Kris for his remarkable accomplishments and is delighted to name him our Musician of the Year for 2017.