Category: 2009 |

Portrait 1: New Music in the Canadian Choral Landscape

February 27, 2009 — Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal

Presentation Notes — Workshop given by Patricia Abbott, Executive Director, ACCC

ACCC Profile

  • Founded in 1980 as the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors; named changed to Association of Canadian Choral Communities in October 2008
  • Artistic Mission statement: ACCC is an organization that promotes the art of choral music by supporting conductors, choirs, choristers, composers, and the choral industry.
  • The Mandate of ACCC is:
    • to support and encourage participation and excellence in choral music at all levels by providing training, resources and the exchange of information for choral conductors and choral musicians from all facets of choral life (community, school, university, church and professional);
    • to encourage the composition and performance of Canadian choral music;
    • to cooperate with organizations of similar aims to create a higher profile for choral music at a provincial, national and international level.
  • Membership (open to anyone with an interest in choral music): more than 550 individual members across the country, the majority of whom conductors (conducting an average of 2.3 choirs and 98 choristers on a regular basis); affiliated members — all choirs that are members of a provincial choral federation; in all, representing some 38,000 people in Canada involved in choral music

Interest in New Music

Canadian choirs of all types and of all skill levels love to sing Canadian choral music and regularly commission new works because:

  • choral conductors are always seeking new repertoire
  • many competitions, such as the CBC Radio Competition for Amateur Choirs, require original Canadian works as part of the program submitted (as well as works in French); CBC competition also features a contemporary music category (in 2008, more than 160 choirs entered the CBC competition)
  • choral music conferences such as provincial and national choral music conferences strongly encourage the performance of Canadian works
  • assessment criteria for grant applications to government bodies for concert and recording projects often include an emphasis on programming Canadian works
  • Canadian choirs record and travel, and regularly include Canadian music in their recordings and tour programs

Of Interest to Composers (Projects / Publications / Events)

  • ACCC holds a composition competition every two years, alternating between original works and arrangements (deadline for the 2009/2010 competition is June 1, 2009)
  • the National Youth Choir (organized by ACCC) always performs a commissioned work plus the winning entry in the composition competition
  • the ACCC biennial national conference for choral music, Podium, often features composers in residence and composer reading sessions (next Podium conference: May 2010, Saskatoon)
  • the ACCC publishes a journal, Anacrusis (three times a year), which features a new resources and repertoire column
  • since 2002, ACCC has published a volume in the Recommended Canadian Choral Repertoire Series every two years (Volume 5, featuring Seasonal Favourites, to be published in 2010)
  • publication of ACCC’s Professional Directory helps with networking in the choral milieu
  • the National Choral Awards honour outstanding accomplishments in several categories every two years, including a category for Outstanding New Choral Work (deadline for 2010 Awards is February 15, 2010)
  • Other choral composition competitions in Canada: Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Competition (Choirs Ontario), the Amadeus Choir’s annual Christmas Carol and Chanukah Song Writing Competition (, Guelph Chamber Choir’s annual Young Composer’s Competition (ages 16-35., Harmonia Choir of Ottawa competition for choral pieces using Canadian texts (
  • choirs across Canada, both professional and amateur, children and adult, regularly commission new works, either with the help of commissioning grants or with the help of sponsors
  • Canadian choirs often devote entire concerts to Canadian music

Advice for Composers, from the Perspective of a Choral Conductor and Choral Administrator

  • while the range of sounds which can be produced by a human voice are almost limitless, choir budgets are not — works for a cappella choir or choir with piano, organ, one or two solo instruments, small percussion instruments, small instrumental ensembles are more likely to be performed and repeated than works requiring massive instrumental resources
  • amateur choirs generally need more lead time and rehearsal time to prepare a work for performance, but can deliver an excellent result nonetheless
  • when writing for SATB choir, avoid/limit divisi in the tenor and bass parts (there are almost never enough tenors….)
  • there is a need for more a cappella works with French texts for SATB, SSA and TTBB choirs, as well as both a cappella and accompanied works with French texts for young voices (unison, two-part, three-part, SAB)

Canadian composers actively writing for choirs

(not an exhaustive list!): Lydia Adams • Allan Bell • Allan Bevan • John Burge • Stephen Chatman • Timothy Corlis • Eleanor Daley • Malcolm Edwards • Jeff Enns • Leonard Enns • John Estacio • Malcolm Forsyth • Paul Halley • Stephen Hatfield • Derek Holman • Rupert Lang • Ramona Luengen • David McIntyre • Donald Patriquin • Jonathan Quick • Imant Raminsh • Sid Robinovitch • R. Murray Schafer • Mark Sirett • Stephen Smith • Brian Tate • Nancy Telfer • Peter Togni • Michael Unger • Jon Washburn • Ruth Watson Henderson …

Canadian choirs who regularly record Canadian works and who hold workshops and reading sessions for young and emerging choral composers

(not an exhaustive list!): Vancouver Chamber Choir • Elmer Iseler Singers • Pro Coro Canada • Phoenix Chamber Choir • Elektra Women’s Choir • Chor Leoni Men’s Choir • Shallaway Youth Choir • Amabile Choirs of London, ON • Toronto Children’s Chorus • University of Alberta Madrigal Singers • Halifax Camerata Singers • Prairie Voices • DaCapo Chamber Choir …

Recordings Heard in the Workshop

  1. Micma’q Honour Song — Lydia Adams (Leslie Music Supply) — for SSA choir, optional hand drum (also available for SATB) — recorded by the Toronto Children’s Chorus, Jean Ashworth Bartle, dir. (CD: Songs of the Lights: Live in Australia and New Zealand — Marquis Classics 81253 2, 2000)
  2. Pensive on Her Dead Grazing — Stephen Smith (unpublished manuscript, — for TTBB choir and piano — recorded by Chor Leoni Men’s Choir, Diane Loomer, dir. (CD: Circle of Compassion — Cypress Choral Recordings CCR0702, 2007)

Portrait 2: with Katherine Carleton

Portrait 2: Audience Development in Orchestras

Friday, February 27, 2009, from 2:30 pm to 2:45 pm

With Katherine Carleton — Executive Director, Orchestras Canada (Toronto)

(The following is the complete talk, provided by Katherine Carleton)

I’m going to start this presentation with the words of four people far wiser than I.

Clive Gillinson, former managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra and current CEO of Carnegie Hall: “anyone who embarks on education programming today in the hope that they’ll sell more tickets tomorrow is going to be bitterly disappointed. This cannot and must not be why you do this work.”

Alan S Brown, an American arts researcher who has been behind some of the most thought-provoking work being done today on the nature of the relationship between artists and performing arts audiences, in a report to the Knight Foundation’s Magic of Music Initiative: “There is a lot of evidence that participatory music programs — including instrumental lessons and choral programs — are correlated with later attendance and ticket buying at orchestral concerts. In fact, 74% of audience members surveyed in the largest ever piece of research done on orchestra audiences in the US reported that they had been or were still active makers of music. Traditional “exposure programs”, such as orchestras’ concert hall offerings for children, however, seem to have little long-lasting effect on later behaviour.”

From a paper entitled Mission Unaccomplished: the place of education and learning in our national and regional performing arts and cultural organizations, by UK thinkers Sara Robinson and Teo Greenstreet:

“Why is it as producers and presenters of art, we choose to make clear distinctions between those events and activities that sit under the education banner and those that don’t? The distinction raises some fundamental questions about art and its audiences. do some of us need educating more than others? Are our core or main stage programs devoid of educational value? Is it beneficial to separate art from learning? And is this separation merely an issue of language and terminology, or is there a cultural hierarchy in play, creating the distinction?”

And finally, from critic, composer, blogger Greg Sandow, from a recent blog posting:

“I’ve noticed that, broadly speaking, people take two positions on the future of classical music. Classical music is fine, some of us think, but the culture around us needs to be taught (or re-taught) to understand it. This view has some clear advantages. Classical music, if this view is correct, doesn’t have to change. In all the things that matter most — the repertoire, how the repertoire is played, what concerts are like — it can continue just as it is. But we’ll need to do more education. This is the remedy this view proposes, the plan for fixing classical music’s problems, the way to find a new audience. We need to teach people to understand classical music. We need to explain its complexities. We need, in short, to teach people how to listen. Once we’ve done that, the music will speak for itself. Its value will be obvious to everyone.

This position has disadvantages, of course. It’s hard to change an entire culture. There’s a danger that we’ll sound preachy, or superior, even patronizing. If we hold the hardcore version of this position — the version in which we think that the culture at large is mostly crap, that people don’t think, aren’t creative, have short attention spans, and listen to music that’s little more than junk — then what can we say to them? Do we go out in the world, and tell people that their musical taste is terrible? That’s not likely to work.

The second approach is more or less the opposite of the first. In this view…the classical music world has created all the problems it might face. The culture around it has changed, not for the worse, and classical music hasn’t kept up. The repertoire hasn’t kept up, the way concerts are presented hasn’t kept up, the way we relate to our audience hasn’t kept up, the way we talk to the world hasn’t kept up. So what we offer, as time goes on, appeals to fewer and fewer people.

The advantages of this approach should be obvious. It gives us power over our future. Or at least it puts the means for change in our own hands. If you take the first view, and want to restore music education…that’s a brave and noble goal (which those of us who hold the second view would happily support). But it’s not something we can control. We need school systems, government, parents, and the public to join our campaign. We need government and school boards to come up with some money. Maybe they’ll do that, and maybe they won’t. There’s always a chance that we’ll mount a fabulous campaign, and not get very far. But if we decide to change the way we ourselves do things, who can stop us? Our changes might or might not work, but if they don’t work, we can tweak them, or try something else. What we do is entirely up to us.”

There: having shared those thoughts from people far wiser than I, let’s talk about what some forward thinking Canadian orchestras — and the musicians who are at the heart of the work they do — are actually doing in the area of community engagement programming these days. Warning: this is a highly selective report, I’ve not been able to identify every program offered by every Canadian orchestra. And I’m also focusing on the programs that seem to contain the potential for an authentic reciprocity of exchange between professional artists and the citizen-artists they engage with. As a result, I’m focusing on two major programming modalities: Creative Music programs and Performance Oriented programs.

Here’s a small sample of the programming initiatives I’ve turned up

Creative Music Initiatives

The Victoria Symphony is now in the third year of a program they call VSNew, where a small ensemble of Victoria Symphony musicians and the composer in residence (previously Tobin Stokes and Anna Hostman, now Rodney Sharman) work with a group of generally high school-aged composers to workshop and polish new pieces for the ensemble. It’s a highly interactive and iterative process, with everyone having the opportunity for feedback over a period of weeks as the new pieces are developed. Ultimately, a recording is created of the final version and they’re also performed as part of a pre-concert presentation at a selected Victoria Symphony concert.

The Niagara Symphony’s associate conductor Laura Thomas leads a series of composition workshops with grade 5 students in the Niagara region each year, that involve 6 classroom visits, encounters with Niagara Symphony musicians and the creation of a short piece of music that is ultimately scored for the full orchestra and performed for the student audience.

A number of musicians of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra lead creative music workshops over a period of several weeks in Toronto area schools through the TSO’s Adopt a Player program, designed for grades 4-6. The students start with simple rhythm games, and move on to melodic development, and ultimately create and perform a 5-10 minute work with their adopted player. One TSO member, bassist Tim Dawson, is now targeting his creative music workshops to corporate audiences, selling them as fun lessons in careful listening, teamwork and creativity.

Performance Orientation

There are some traditional models of performance oriented engagement activities. For instance, many of our member orchestras (or at least their musicians) have close relationships of long standing with youth orchestras, universities and conservatories in their regions.

A number of orchestras and orchestral musicians have taken this a little further in recent years.

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra offers four different performance oriented programs as part of their annual education offerings:

  1. Adventures in Music (education concert series)

    500 — 1500 grade 4-6 students perform with the WSO in a choir / recorder group / string group / movement or choreography / artwork / composition. The choir and movement aspects switch off from year to year and the other aspects are almost yearly

  2. River East Transcona School Division Outreach Concert

    (An annual concert presented with the schools in the division) Involving a 200-voice Grades 4-6 choir, a 400-voice Grades 10-12 choir, the Senior High School Band (30 students), and various student soloists from the division

  3. Rising Stars Concert

    (This just happened last night!! — The feature piece being Carmina Burana.) Involving a 300-voice high school choir, 57 youth orchestra members, and 3 students soloists

  4. University Orchestra Mentorship Program at University of Manitoba

    About 10-15 of our musicians are involved in the mentorship program with the university orchestra, attending regular rehearsals and working with the students

Since 2007, the OS de Trois-Rivières has offered a master class day to secondary school music students in their region. The day is coordinated by a musician member of the orchestra, and here’s what they say about it: Cette activité a pour but d’encourager la relève en offrant une journée intensive de formation à des élèves de niveau secondaire (4e et 5e) qui sont inscrits à un programme de musique. L’optique est d’offrir cette activité comme une reconnaissance du talent et du travail assidu des élèves, une sorte de prime au mérite. Les participants ont ainsi l’occasion de travailler la technique de leur instrument et l’interprétation de quelques extraits du répertoire symphonique.

Les élèves participants se répartissent en section, selon leur instrument, avec un maximum de huit élèves par groupe. Chaque équipe est animée par un musicien de l’OSTR qui propose aux élèves un programme de travail adapté afin de les faire progresser dans l’apprentissage de leur instrument. À la fin de la journée, tous les élèves se réunissent en orchestre et jouent ensemble une pièce qui a été arrangée spécialement pour eux.

My final example of a performance oriented program is about a program that has little or nothing to do with the school system or with school-aged people. It’s also only indirectly connected with the local orchestra — although it’s hard to see how you could operate one without the other.

It’s a program in my home town of Peterborough Ontario, population 70,000, where approximately 300 seniors — led by resident professional musicians and retired school music teachers — take part in a franchised not for profit music program called New Horizons, which originated at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester New York and has inspired programs for seniors who want to play a band or string instrument right across North America. My mother, at age 71, is a keen participant in the New Horizons program, playing her French horn and double bass in a wind ensemble, concert band, adult string orchestra, brass choir, and horn quintet, and performing in solo recitals from time to time. As well, she’s taking a sight reading class, a jazz rhythms class and a course on “unpopular music, from medieval to contemporary.” When I phone my parents, my father now answers the phone, and he usually tells me that my mother is out at a gig. I’m heading back to Toronto right after this session because my mother is performing tonight at a concert in honour of International Horn Day, an event invented by the Canadian Opera Company’s principal horn player, Joan Watson, that brings assembles high school and university horn players, the horn sections of most of the professional orchestras in Southern Ontario, and a wild array of adult amateur horn players as well. I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen, or what it’s going to sound like — but that might not actually be the point.

The point is: we are, almost all of us, hardwired for music. And if we, the people who “care” about it most aren’t also its biggest exponents, then this living thing risks being lost.

Sure, there are restrictions facing any orchestra that wants to explore this work:

  • the perceived tensions between artistic excellence and excellence in community engagement work;
  • the fact that few if any North American orchestras actually assess musicians’ interest in or capacity for their skills in leading community engagement work before they are hired;
  • the issue that relatively few music schools provide any kind of training that would help young musicians acquire the skills necessary to lead this work effectively;
  • the reality that it can be hard to lead change in the midst of a global economic meltdown.

But it’s my suspicion that the orchestras who invest in this work now will simply be in a better place in the future.

Case Study 1: by Nancy Evans

Case Study 1: Learning and Participation in the Context of a Contemporary Music Ensemble

Friday, February 27, 2009, from 10:45 am to 11:15 am

With Nancy Evans — Education Manager, BCMG (UK)

(The following is the complete talk, provided by Nancy Evans)

I would like to start by thanking you for inviting me here today and to say how delighted I am to be able to share with you the learning and participation programme of BCMG, that is, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. I will be sharing:

How it evolved
Its values
Its purpose
The actual programme
Its relationship to other music education providers
Future possibilities

Before I do this I’d like to tell you a little bit more about BCMG. BCMG was formed 21 years ago by Simon Rattle and members of the CBSO to perform 20th and 21st Century music for smaller scale forces. It was the first such group to be formed from within an orchestra in the UK. Though we still share a building and many of the same musicians we have been, for a long time, an entirely separate organisation. However, the relationship to the orchestra is an important one — the sense of ensemble and freshness of the musicians approach flows directly from the fact that core members of the group play together in the CBSO. The benefits flow both ways — with the musicians taking their BCMG experience back into the orchestra. The group was born into a unique culture in Birmingham created by Simon Rattle that had fostered an audience with an appetite for adventurous new music.

The group presents a concert series at our home the CBSO Centre. We tour nationally, having particular relationships with the Barbican Centre in London, the BBC proms and the Aldeburgh festival, and internationally. In 2008, the group performed two concerts at Carnegie Hall and in 2002 was the first contemporary western music ensemble to tour India under the auspices of the British Council. As well as having Simon Rattle as our founding patron BCMG has artistic relationships with Thomas Ades, who was music director for a while, and our three current AIA — composer John Woolrich, Conductor Oliver Knussen and composer, conductor and creative director Peter Wiegold.

At the heart of BCMG’s mission are core values of excellence, engagement, quality relationships, supporting artists and innovation. These affect every part of the groups work.

I was appointed in 2000 as BCMG’s first education manager prior to which the group had run one or two education projects a year based on repertoire and, had a relationship, as ensemble in association, with the University of Birmingham. The programme is managed by myself on three days a week assisted by our education trainee which is an annual one year appointment. As well as managing the programme I am responsible for the learning and participation programme’s strategy and for devising projects in collaboration with artists and educators.

Many things have informed our learning and participation strategy. I have always felt passionately that our learning programme must clearly reflect the ethos and identity of the group and that it should be fully integrated with the other activity of the organisation. This has never meant to me that all projects need to be repertoire based. Instead it integrates in the sense that everything we do supports people’s engagement and involvement with contemporary music and by the fact that the fundraising, press and marketing resources of the group being as much at the disposal learning and participation programme as much as the performance programme. Integration also means using the resources of the group in the best possible way, that is, our expert musicians and our links with composers. Our creative music making projects are led by composers, not necessarily those whose music we perform but those with excellent ME experience (and of course many composers are teachers too) and by animateurs who have a particular interest in new music.

The musicians of the group obviously play a very important role in the programme. Despite a large number of the musicians in the group being drawn from the CBSO, who have there own extensive learning and participation programme, most had not been part of that, choosing instead to do BCMG as an extra to their contracted orchestral work. Our musicians lead very busy lives and instead of training them to be workshop leaders we have had an ongoing professional development programme of creative musicianship known as Creative Exchange led by composer/creative director Peter Wiegold. This programme challenges traditional notions of the separation of the role of composer, conductor and performer. It builds on the musicians existing musical virtuosity and has made them more musically flexible — able to respond to the different contexts they find themselves in. The programme has also become a stream of activity in itself leading to public performances. At key points this journey was shared with our audience allowing them to see/hear the creative process evolve in front of them. The latest manifestation of the programme, funding pending, will see BCMG musicians creatively devising music alongside Chinese and Arab musicians — seeking out ways at making authentic connections with other art musics without becoming fusion. There is no obligation upon BCMG musicians to take part in our learning and participation programme though nearly all will come into contact with it through concerts for young people or through playing student compositions.

What has also been important to consider is how BCMG, despite being a small organisation can have impact, and it was clear that this was not to be achieved by doing lots of different projects with lots of different people. We have something unique to offer and it was important that what we offered complemented or offered alternatives to other music education provision in the city. Developing partnerships has been very important in this. The programme is funded partly by public funding with the rest coming from trust and foundations.

Initially this talk was given the name ‘Creative Music Audience Development’. The primary mission of BCMG’s learning and participation programme is not audience development in the conventional sense. What BCMG’s learning and participation programme does is offer people, particularly young people, is a variety of opportunities to engage: with BCMG; with the music we play; and, with contemporary classical music in general, not just through being an audience. All the people who engage with BCMG as participants or as audience members are important to us. In the early years of orchestral education programmes in the UK, for many, audience development was a primary aim, aware of dwindling audiences for classical music. That is not a view that is held generally held now or at least the idea of project being attached to a programme immediately to fill the concert hall is not there.

Pierre Boulez once remarked that the orchestra was ‘an ensemble of possibilities’. I like that. A big difference for BCMG (and other contemporary music ensembles) compared to a symphony orchestra is as well as the ‘community of musicians’, as Ernest Fleishmann, former managing director of the LA Philharmonic put it, we have networks of composers, many of whom are willing to share in different ways their creative processes (whether through direct involvement in projects or not) and a steady stream of new works reminding ourselves of art as adventure, an ongoing discovery, and a living art form. These are unique resources to learning programmes, to schools and to influencing music education in general.

At BCMG we have projects which are more clearly audience development projects — our Sound Investment scheme, where individuals purchase sound units (each costing £150) towards the cost of commissioning a new piece is as much a audience development initiative as it a fundraising one — for a sound unit the investors get advance news about the commission, are invited to rehearsals and have their names in the score. There are about 295 active investors at the moment and many have come back time and time again as well as getting their friends involved. Another example of audience development projects are our rural tours and urban tours where we tour smaller programmes to community venues in rural and non-city-centre locations. These are free and informal and often have a composer or two present — we have even had a commission written on one of these tours! Our new series of Insight events which include interviews with composers and conductors as well a creative music-making workshops also allow our adult audience to gain a deeper understanding of the music we play.

What we all want at BCMG is for workshop participants to become audience members and audience members to become workshop participants and all those experiences to be deeply engaging ones. For a time in the UK one felt there was a culture that held that to be an audience member was somehow a passive experience. Of course both being an audience member and a workshop participant can be equally engaging or not. There is no hierarchy of experience they are just different and we strive to bring the same care and thought to all. Through all it is the quality of the musicianship and engagement that matters.

Audience development encompasses everyone who comes into contact with BCMG’s work. It is the responsibility of everyone at BCMG.

Aims of the Learning and Participation Programme:

  • To be a contemporary music learning resource
  • To create and support opportunities for active involvement in contemporary music
  • To make the understanding and connection with the music BCMG performs a deep and rich one
  • To develop and nurture reflective practice

This translates into 6 strands of activity:

  • Young people as composers
  • Young people as performers
  • Young people as active listeners
  • Developing practice
  • Commissioning new music for young people as performers and an audience
  • Wider community participation

I’d like now to illustrate how these strands are manifest in projects. Many projects cross over the different strands and respond to one or more of the aims. All the time we are striving to make connections between different projects and sign post young people from one to another.

So…the projects we run…… For some years I have been developing our out of school hours programme. This started with a project called Music Maze. Music Maze is a day-long creative music making workshop for 30 young people age 8 — 11 years. The workshops happen about once a month and take as their stimulus repertoire from upcoming BCMG concerts. The project is led by myself and composer Liz Johnson. It is the only project at BCMG that I actively lead. We are not trying to get the young people to recreate the works from the concert but trying to encourage them to think like composers. All music created in the performance is performed to family and friends at the end of the day. Young people who take part in the workshop are offered a free ticket and concessionary one for an accompanying adult to the BCMG concert. At the concert they have front row seats, a specially designed programme and a juice and biscuits reception at the interval.

After some years of this project we realised that we had to do something for those young people who became too old for the project and now run in parallel the Zigzag Ensemble for 12-13 year olds. This project, unlike Music Maze, requires the young people to play an instrument (of any kind) and read a little notation. The focus here is playing as an ensemble and devising music together often through improvisation. When the young people become too old for this we have a third project called Feel the Buzz which again focuses on composition and improvisation. These two projects are part funded by Birmingham Music Service (the organisation responsible for instrumental lessons across the city and a variety of youth ensembles) because they do not provide this kind of creative/improvisation opportunity elsewhere.

Our Music Maze free tickets approach had some success in encouraging young people try our performances as well as coming to workshops but we were aware that many barriers still prevented young people from accessing our concerts — particularly as they happen in the evenings. This led us to developing our Family Concerts now in their third year. Though there are some very good family concerts the format can often be tired with music put together for thematic rather than artistic reasons and a celebrity presenter instead of someone who can really communicate about the music to the young audience. We wanted to present the music we cared passionately about in a more family-friendly way. We were clear from the start that we would make no concessions on the music we chose — the first concert included music by Xenakis, Frank Zappa, Andreissen, Tansy Davies and a new work by John Woolrich and the last, Luciano Berio, Oliver Knussen and a new commission from Errollyn Wallen. All the concerts have included at least one world premieres. What we have done is bring in elements of theatre, animation, CGI and film to illuminate the experience and thought carefully about the whole experience from the moment the children enter the centre. A whole new audience for BCMG has emerged, but many of our existing audience come too…..! Each concert has been unique and we feel we on are own journey to discover what works well. As well as great feedback from the young people we were very lucky in getting national broadsheets to review the concerts with the Guardian giving it 5 stars. Next year we will also present the concerts at the Barbican in London. There are very few models to look at in terms of contemporary music concerts for young people and I look forward to share ideas with you over the next two days.

As well as presenting the concerts to a family audience they are also repeated for schools. The schools audience also receive a day-long in school creative music workshops exploring music from the concert. For most of these young people it will be the first time they have ever been to a concert,

This leads me onto talking about other school-based projects. One of the most simple, and someone said to me old fashioned of these is Sequenza that takes its name from the Berio Sequenzas for solo instruments. Despite being simple I think it is very effective. A BCMG musician and composer give a series of 5 or 6 workshops. The young people (age 15 -18) write solo works for the BCMG player. These are notated — some in traditional notation others as graphic scores. The resultant compositions are then recorded and made into a CD. Working with professional musicians, who can play anything you ask of them, allows the young people to sculpt the sounds they are looking for in real time with the musician giving continuous feedback and demonstrating the full palette of sounds and possibilities available. The young people are encouraged to articulate/communicate their ideas precisely verbally or on paper. The result is the YP write with sophistication and complexity that would never be possible just for other classmates and make massive progress in a short space of time. There have been some exceptional compositions created.

You may look at our UK music curriculum and think how lucky we are that composition has such a prominent place but teachers often feel very unconfident about teaching it and it is often reduced to a painting by numbers exercise with one week the young poeple writing a blues and the next a raga. A desire to have curriculum that embraces many music’s can mean that the creative element/process of composition is lost. Therefore our projects have an important part to play in supporting teachers.
The pedagogy of composition is an area we have been exploring for some years. A number of years ago we brought together a thinktank of composers, teachers and educators (including the schools music advisor for the city who we continue to work with). The group spent four stays exploring questions of pedagogy through dialogue and practical activity. This resulted in a new resource which has been used in teacher training across the UK and is downloadable from our website. What we learnt from this process and the subsequent feedback from teachers informed and continues to inform our work in schools.

Having given the world premieres of over 100 pieces commissioning is at the heart of BCMG. This has been extended to commission music for young musicians to perform which of course is not a new idea — Bartok, Berio and Britten all wrote for young and non-professional musicians with composers such as Peter Maxwell Davies continuing this. Through our partnership with Birmingham Music Service we commissioned two pieces for chamber orchestra plus a concertante group of BCMG musicians. One of which you heard at the start was Cutting a Caper by John Woolrich and the second was Manivelles by Tansy Davies. In a more unusual project exploring the connections between the science of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and music, we commissioned three string quartets for intermediate to advanced string players (inspired by the science). We also ran a project for a few years called Top Score in which composers were invited to collaboratively creative new pieces for primary school classes.

One of the reasons for doing this is that there is so little music of this kind being written for young people and therefore they are a very unfamiliar with its sound worlds may be only encountering tem when they go to music college. However, such music does exist and we have had presented two concerts in which young and non-professional musicians played alongside BCMG musicians. Many musicians who took part were drawn for previous projects and partnerships, in particular many from the Birmingham Music Service. In the second concert entitled Mouth Feet Sound, over 100 saxophonists (as you can see from the picture (taken during rehearsal)) performed La Bocca, I Piedi, Il Suono by Salvatore Scarino, 4 wind bands (the Birmingham Schools Wind Orchestra, Birmingham Symphonic Winds (a amateur ensemble), the Birmingham Conservatoire Wind Orchestra and a young professional group Telford New Symphony Orchestra Winds and performed Luciano Berio’s Accordo. In this piece the bands at placed on bandstands at compass points with the audience walking around. The piece mixes written music with excerpts from operatic repertoire (as Italian street bands used to play) where only the key is specified!

I see our contribution in the patchwork of music education provision in Birmingham (with a hope our influence also extends further) as:

  • Supporting and promoting creativity within the music curriculum
  • Enabling young people write way beyond what could normally be achieved
  • Offering young people opportunities to engage with professionals who they would otherwise not come into contact with thus raising aspirations and opening up other life possibilities
  • Developing practice through bringing together composers and educators
  • Offering alternative music-making opportunities not found elsewhere, in particular, creative music-making ensembles

Of course there are ongoing challenges some of which I have already touched upon

  • Lack of confidence in teaching composition element of curriculum
  • A curriculum where composing can be reduced to painting by numbers
  • A crowded curriculum where music is not given priority despite masses of evidence on the positive effect of music
  • Enough composers and musicians who take this work as seriously a their performing
  • Perceptions of new music
  • Funders need for constant innovation which mitigates against refining models and taking models into the core of our offer
  • Developing a reflective culture within a culture which is used to turning up to the gig and then going away again
  • Balancing responding to needs and reaching more young people (there are 67 secondary schools and 327 primary schools in Birmingham) with depth and impact.

The things I’m thinking about at the moment are:

  • Finding new ways for young people’s voices to be heard in our planning
  • How I can raise the profile of BCMG’s programme, share project models and thus be able to influence and challenge more
  • Explore the possibilities digital has to offer
  • Evaluate/research more thoroughly our project models through collaborations with researchers and higher education institutions

When I started at BCMG integrating the Learning and Participation Programme was the big thing but as I look back at the work I have realised that the role of the Learning and Participation Programme has to been to also expand what BCMG does, what it stands for and how it engages with people as well as significantly influencing what was previously the core of BCMG’s activity.

The mission of the group has widened as a result of our developing Learning and Participation Programme instead of being becoming an appendage to our performance programme.

Thank you very much for listening — I’m very happy to take questions now or please come and find me during the conference breaks.

Nancy Evans
Feb 2009 Montreal

Case Study 3: Music From Scratch

Friday, February 27, 2009, from 3:45 pm to 4:00 pm

With Jerry Pergolesi — Artistic Director, Contact Contemporary Music (Toronto)

(The following is the complete presentation, provided by Jerry Pergolesi)


Music From Scratch is a free, week-long summer workshop for youth presented by Contact Contemporary Music in association with University Settlement Music & Arts School. Community members with and without musical training are engaged in the process of creating music. The workshop provides a means for participants to explore alternative ways to be creative with music, that involves listening to their environment in a different way, and to organize their thoughts in new ways in order to convey their (musical) message. Together, participants in the workshop, along with artists create works that explore their environment and personal lives. Participants are given several new tools with which they are now able to think creatively in order to express their own realities.

Music From Scratch

In partnership with University Settlement Music & Arts School, Contact Contemporary Music presents “Music From Scratch”, a free, week-long workshop for young people between 15 and 21 years of age. Guided by professional Canadian composer Juliet Palmer, participants engage in creative listening, writing, vocal, movement, graphic and improvisation exercises leading to the performance of a series of collaborative sound works. The creative process is facilitated by the CONTACT ensemble; professional musicians well-versed in improvisation and experimental music. Palmer’s approach is rooted in acoustic ecology and a belief in the innate human capacity for creativity. Through a multi-sensory engagement with our natural and urban environments, participants develop new skills and the confidence to take risks both as listeners and creators. Emphasizing acoustic sound and face-to-face interactions, we step outside the virtual worlds, which increasingly occupy young people’s attention. The workshop develops a greater awareness of human impact on natural systems, diverse social structures as expressed in musical forms and an openness to new artistic expression.

I was fortunate enough to experience the week-long Music From Scratch workshop in July of 2007. As a recent graduate from Memorial University’s School of Music, I was interested in immersing myself in a musical opportunity that combined individuals from diverse backgrounds with varied musical skill levels. The workshop was a great opportunity to explore music from many perspectives and its level of economic accessibility ensured that many views were represented. I left the workshop with a renewed love of music, many ideas and many more friends. Opportunities such as this are few and far between — I think that anyone, no matter their age or occupation, would benefit from participating in Music From Scratch.

Allison Corbet

Community members with and without musical training are engaged in the process of creating music. The workshop provides a means for participants to explore alternative ways to be creative with music, that involves listening to their environment in a different way, and to organize their thoughts in new ways in order to convey their (musical) message. Together, participants in the workshop, along with artists create works that explore their environment and personal lives. Participants are given several new tools with which they are now able to think creatively in order to express their own realities.

Participants are invited to meet daily in a rehearsal setting where works are created and developed throughout the week-long workshop, culminating in a final concert presentation. Although there is a concert scheduled to present the resulting works, the focus of this project is the richness of the experience, participating in the creative process, exploration and collaboration that will be afforded to learners of all ages and artists alike. Each participant was also given a recording of the final concert (see support material).

Participants are encouraged to “join” the ensemble as performers, however it is not a pre-requisite that participants play a musical instrument or have musical training in order to participate in the project. Participants are invited to take part in “open rehearsals” featuring works such as Riley’s In C and Ann Southam’s improvisatory Throughways, challenging learners to re-think what they know (or might think they know) about structured composition.

The objectives of the workshop are:

  • To create a forum for artists and community members to exchange ideas.
  • To provide community members who may or may not have musical training the opportunity to be creative and present musical works that tell their stories and empower individuals.
  • To create new musical works which reflect present realities while maintaining a universal appeal
  • To broaden the scope of new music organizations’ reach into the community in a significant and meaningful way.
  • To engage youth in a community based art/music project during the summer months to encourage collaboration, learning and musical experimentation

Music From Scratch offers youth an opportunity to explore new ways of expressing themselves; new ways of listening and engaging with music, art and their environment. For artists, the workshop is a new forum to reach out to the community, in particular, youth who are future music and art creators, listeners and supporters.

The new music community needs this kind of workshop to connect with people outside of its regular support base. Participants come from all walks of life with various levels of exposure to music… most have little or no knowledge of contemporary music. This is a small but significant step in connecting and building links to the community at large.

Part of Contact Contemporary Music’s mandate is to engage audiences and make contemporary music accessible and available to everyone. New, experimental music is at the forefront of musical creative expression. Many popular artists of today owe the existence of their careers to the research and experimentation of “contemporary” musical pioneers who created works and musical genres that have now entered into our popular consciousness.

Music From Scratch is unique in that the program integrates composers, musicians and community members at the same time, so that the response to ideas is immediate, allowing for further exploration, change in approach or further development of ideas instantly. We were able to literally place a group of people from different backgrounds and various levels of musical experience (from no experience to music PhD’s) and have them exchange ideas in a cooperative way where all participants are treated equally.


Progress is measured through daily exercises, trial of ideas (with immediate feedback from the ensemble) and daily discussions as to how the workshop was affecting the participants. The program ends with a performance that is open to the public but is more focused on family and friends. Participants are encouraged to document their progress throughout the project in order to contribute to a survey to help evaluate our effectiveness and success in delivering the program.


In July 2007, Contact Contemporary Music instigated a workshop called Music From Scratch, enlisting youth to collaborate with composer Juliet Palmer and members of the CONTACT ensemble in a free week-long workshop. This workshop was at capacity in its first year, and challenged participants to hear their world and communicate in new ways. We created music collaboratively using various unconventional techniques such as graphic notation, improvisation and found objects… people with no musical training side by side with professional artists, communicating, collaborating and creating. Our goal was to broaden the scope of our organization into the community. The success of the program far exceeded our expectations.

Music From Scratch was featured in a full-page article in the Toronto Star (music critic John Terauds actually participated in the workshop), leading to an inquiry from Sheridan College to create a similar workshop for early childhood education teachers, so that the same experience can be had by teachers and passed on to younger children.

The participants of the workshop also created a “Music From Scratch” Facebook group that is growing, and is an extremely positive indicator of the success of the workshop. Members of the group have begun exploring other new music groups on Facebook, My Space Music, and other internet sources. This forum is also a way for Contact Contemporary Music to keep in touch with participants and reach out to the community through the internet. The Facebook group is driven by workshop participants, not the organization, so it is organic in its structure and growth.

Case Study 7 by Tawnie Olson

Case Study 7: Composing With Young Musicians

Saturday, February 28, 2009, from 10:00 am to 10:15 am

With Tawnie Olson — Composition Instructor, ACES Educational Center for the Arts (New Haven, CT, USA)

(The following is the complete presentation, provided by Tawnie Olson)

Good morning! My name is Tawnie Olson, and today I am going to offer a window into one approach to contemporary composition pedagogy by describing some of the things I do as a composition teacher at the Educational Center for the Arts (hereafter ECA), an arts magnet high school in New Haven, Connecticut.

ECA was founded in 1973 with the idea of providing an intensive arts education to students in Visual Arts, Music, Theatre, Dance and Creative Writing. It is a half-time interdistrict magnet school, which means that our students complete their academic coursework at their sending schools in the morning and then are bussed to us in the afternoons. Our 300 students come from 23 different school districts and we have a very diverse but well-integrated student body. An unusual feature of ECA since its inception is that our teachers are not arts educators but “teaching artists” who teach a few hours a week at ECA and maintain active professional careers as artists at the same time.

The ECA Music Department offers courses in music theory and composition on Mondays and Wednesdays, and rehearses large and small ensembles on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students are placed in theory classes based on their coursework and their scores on placement exams that are given at the beginning and end of each year. All students in level two theory or above (just over half of our students) are placed composition classes. My colleague, Jeff Fuller, teaches two classes in songwriting and jazz composition, and I teach two classes in classical composition. Most students study with both Mr. Fuller and myself, regardless of whether they are more interested in jazz or classical composition.

Over the course of four years of teaching composition at ECA, I have begun to develop my own approach to composition pedagogy, and I will discuss three aspects of this approach today. Namely: the use of contemporary compositions as models, the creation of frameworks that encourage students to use new techniques while allowing them creative freedom, and the importance of creating opportunities for collaborative projects, performances, and the recognition of student work.

Part I

Over the years at ECA, I have observed that students have an easier time composing when they have a clear framework within which to work. Most (though not all) students are not very familiar with new music, and I have found that having students study contemporary compositions and write short pieces using they techniques they learn is enormously helpful to them.

I do this as follows: I begin by giving the students a copy the score of the work at hand and asking them to listen to a recording of the work. They are given several questions to answer, questions that may focus on the form, extra musical meaning or (when improvisation is involved) the performance of the work. If possible, we then perform the work in class. Next, the students compose short works in which they must use or freely adapt the concepts we learned from the work studied. We then play and discuss student works in class.

I’d like to show you an example of one of these listening assignments, in which the students studied “Les Moutons de Panurge,” by Frederick Rzewski. This is a piece that is designed to make the performers lose their place in the music (they are, in fact, told not to try to rejoin the rest of the group when they get lost, but to continue boldly along the path they fall into), and that raises a real challenge to anyone who wishes to perform it. Since we planned to play this work in class and write and perform works based on it, I wanted students to think about how we might perform it convincingly. I therefore asked the students to listen carefully to 8th blackbird’s performance on their recording. The music that you’ll hear as you look at the assignment is Hommage ˆ Rzewski, written by one of the students and performed by the class.

[Play and Show example]

[Next slide]

Since we spend about half of the year working from models like this, I take a lot of time and care in selecting the works we study, and I’d like to briefly summarize the criteria I use in choosing these pieces.

  1. I believe that it is helpful for students to be able to draw connections between works, so each year I group works around a common theme. For example, we spent one year examining Minimalist, Post Minimalist and Totalist works, and the next year we looked at experimental and aleatoric composition.
  2. When choosing works for study, I also try to find pieces that accomplish a particular goal in such a clear way that, with some help, students can grasp how the composer constructed the piece.
  3. I furthermore look for pieces that — regardless of their aesthetic — have a direct and visceral appeal, both for myself and for the students. This means that, for example, when introducing students to graphic scores, I often start with R. Murray Schaffer’s “Snowforms,” because it is a work that is beautiful both to look at and to listen to, and whose aims are accomplished in a clear way. Once students have heard and appreciated that work, I can introduce them to a piece like Morton Feldman’s “Projections IV,” which tends to be more difficult for students to enjoy or understand.
  4. The identity of a piece’s composer is also an important factor in its selection. The vast majority of the works we study in the advanced class are by living composers, and I make a point of including works by women, visible minorities and Canadian composers in both my beginner and advanced classes every year. I never discuss this aspect of my selection process with the students, and — interestingly — so far they have remarked upon my use of Canadian music, but they have never once commented on the inclusion of living, women or non-white composers. It seems perfectly natural to them that the New Music world should be just as diverse as our classroom.

You will observe that I have not made any mention of canon in the list of criteria above. I’ve made the decision that, as I am teaching a composition course and not a history course, the class should study pieces that are most helpful to the students as composers, rather than those that are deemed to be “representative” or “important.”

Part II

One concern about using existing works as guides for student compositions might be that students could be denied the opportunity to develop their individual voices as composers, and that their creativity could be stifled.

I have tried to avoid that danger in the following ways:

  1. First, I try to focus on technique rather than style or genre. In my beginner class, for example, students can — and do — write in any idiom they wish (classical, jazz, rock, etc.) provided they make use of the concept we’re learning about (say, irregular meters or the Phrygian mode).

In my advanced class, students must use the process or technique in the piece we’ve studied, but they are free to creatively interpret or alter what they have learned.


Here, for example, you can see two responses to Terry Riley’s In C. The student on the left followed Riley’s example closely in composing short melodic cells that the ensemble moves through and repeats according to the rules he devised. You’ll notice that the student added two new rules of her own at the bottom, but otherwise she stayed quite close to the model.

The second student, however, dispensed with Riley’s eighth notes and — more importantly — with any clearly defined rhythm. (Unfortunately, we did not record these works, but I can assure you that when we played them through in class they sounded quite different.)

I would also like to mention that in the second half of the year students in both the beginner and the advanced classes compose larger works. In those pieces students are given even more freedom to choose what they write, though I do ask them to use at least one concept we studied in the first semester.

  1. Another approach I have found helpful in freeing students to find their own voice and take ownership of their own work is for me to hold the reins of authority very lightly. I let students know that they are free to disregard my suggestions for improvement so long as they come up with a change that they like better. I also structure most classes so that, when students bring in new work, we all gather around to follow the score as it is performed and the students take turns offering feedback and suggestions. Beginner students often need coaching on how to make their comments specific and helpful; it is hard work for them, but they grow enormously as musicians as they try to learn how to fix something that doesn’t quite work. An advantage of this approach is that there is often a class consensus about what needs to be changed (though usually not about how to change it), which makes it easier for individual composers to accept that they need to make revisions, and builds up the other students’ confidence in their own ears and instincts.

Part III

Of course, once students have written all of this music, it needs to be performed! There are three different forums in which student works are performed during the year: informal recitals during school hours, collaborations with other departments or with professional musicians, and the New Music Festival.

  1. The majority of student compositions are performed by the students themselves at informal concerts set aside for them. These concerts take place during school hours, and the entire music department (and some parents) attend them. With rare exceptions, every student has a piece performed at these concerts. Computer music is played over loudspeakers, but instrumental music is always performed live; we have NEVER used midi as a substitute for live performance. Students write music for their classmates and they learn from their first pieces that they are writing for people they know, who have specific strengths and weaknesses, and not for a machine or for some platonic ideal of a trumpet or a clarinet.
  2. Writing for beginner and intermediate performers does place limitations on our student composers, so we have also sought out opportunities to have students write for professional musicians. We don’t have money for this in our shoestring budget, but two years ago the American Composers Forum provided funds to have a professional bassoonist give a workshop on composing for bassoon and perform student compositions. This year, we received a grant from the ACES foundation to have a professional string quartet — the Haven Quartet — workshop and perform compositions created by our advanced composition students.

[Play Yoni’s piece]

This spring the Maenad Ensemble is also going to do a workshop/performance of works by our beginner students.

  1. Collaborations with other departments also provide students with fruitful opportunities to have their music performed in front of new audiences. In my first and second years at ECA, for example, my beginner composition class collaborated with the sculpture class to create music for sound-making sculptures. In the second year, some of the advanced dance students created partially improvised choreography to go with each piece.

[Show Louis image and piece]

  1. Student works are incorporated into the regular music department concerts as well. Advanced students write works for the small ensembles in which they play, and some of those works are performed on the spring small ensembles concert, a formal evening event.
  2. Three years ago, the Music Department started our annual New Music Festival. This monthlong series of events includes presentations and masterclasses by living composers like Martin Bresnick, Alvin Lucier and Joan Panetti, an evening concert of music by living composers performed by both student and professional musicians, and it also includes an evening concert devoted entirely to the performance of student compositions. The students regard it as a special honour to have their music included on this concert, and it tends to spur them to take more care on their compositions and it also bolsters their self-esteem and their sense of themselves as composers.
  3. As part of our NMF, we also offer composition prizes, which are divided into beginner and advanced categories and adjudicated by three composers from outside the department who do not know the students. The winners are announced with dramatic fanfare at our Small Ensembles Concert, and the first place winners have their pieces performed during the Large Ensembles concert at the end of the year.

Case Study 8: The Importance of Music Education In Our Classroom

Saturday, February 28, 2009, from 12:00 pm to 12:15 pm

With Ann La Plante — General Manager, Alliance For Canadian New Music Projects

(The following is the complete talk, provided by Ann La Plante)

The mandate of Alliance For Canadian New Music Projects is to promote the study, performance and composition of Canadian contemporary classical music. We do this of course with our Contemporary Showcase Festivals that currently run in nineteen centres across Canada. These festivals are run on a master-class format, where the student learns two pieces of music composed by a Canadian composer and the adjudicator works with the student to understand and enhance the performance of the piece. We like to say that there is no such thing as a bad performance, just varying degrees of excellency. Each student comes away from their particular class with high self esteem and a greater understanding of the pieces that they have chosen. The adjudicators talk about the composer as well as the music. There are no marks. We have been doing this since 1970, when a group of music teachers got together and decided that an exclusive contemporary Canadian music festival was needed. Personally I think we do this very well and we have many examples of successful ex participants. Scott StJohn, Jean Stillwell, Stewart Goodyear, Nathan Bartley, Yval Fichman, Kevork Andonian, Measha Brueggergosman and composer Roger Berg are among the many participants that were scholarship recipients from former festivals.

Other programmes that we do are:

Student Composer Workshops

An established Canadian composer leads a group of young people of all ages, in composition techniques over two weekends. The assistant to the composer is one of our students that have come through this programme and gone on either to composition or performance. This programme is done in this format in Toronto and Ottawa. We adopted this format after doing this programme for two years at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Calgary, Edmonton and Langley have a similar programme that they include in their Contemporary showcase festival.

Composition Class

Students submit unperformed compositions under a pseudonym in three different classes depending on age. An established Canadian composer has been employed to adjudicate these compositions and provide instructional comment. Most of these compositions in the past three years have come from students in High School music programmes. Eugene Astapov who was the finalist of the Vancouver Symphony Olympic Competition was the winner again this year.

Choral Workshops

We encourage school choirs to come together with an established Choral leader who works with them in a master-class environment to enhance their learning and performance of Canadian Choral music.

Composing in the Classroom

We provide an established Canadian composer and an assistant (a pianist)

to go into the classroom for five to six periods and teach composition. The content depends on the age of the students and the grade. We have done this programme successfully for four years now in Grades 9 to 12. The composers we have used are Dr. Andrew Staniland, Maria Molinari, Alice Ho and Juliette Palmer.

Orchestral Workshop

Three year ago I realized that there was very little opportunity for High School orchestras to perform for established conductors. I approached Maestro Mario Bernardi and he agreed he would adjudicate a workshop of Canadian Orchestral music. This has since become an annual event that co-insides with our Toronto Contemporary Showcase. Year two was with Maestro Victor Feldbrill and year three was with Maestro Gary Kulesha as clinician/adjudicators. This workshop has been extremely successful.

And recently thanks to the Trillium Foundation we have added two new programmes —

Composing in the Classroom/Orchestral Workshop

The Composing in the Classroom and the Orchestral Workshop went so well that when I was contacted by a member of the Kingston Community Orchestra about a possible competition for their regular programming, I suggested that we have a class of music students at the High School level compose a piece of music for their Orchestra and that Maestro Gary Kulesha would do an adjudication and conduct the piece. Dr. Andrew Staniland and Thompson Egbo Egbo went to the Napanee Secondary School for classes that totaled twenty hours and worked with twenty-six young musicians who composed a piece called “The Spark”. This was performed as part of the regular programming in November. Maestro Kulesha talked to all of the young composers before the performance and then worked with the Orchestra in an impromptu rehearsal. It was an amazing performance. If you could have seen the looks of sheer joy on their faces after the performance — it was very gratifying. This programme will be replicated in several communities in Ontario. I would like to play “The Spark” for you at the end of the presentation if there is time.

Opera in the Classroom

For four or five years I have been looking for a programme to take into the classrooms of elementary school children and especially children that might not have a lot of formal musical training. Opera in the Classroom was a result of Colleen Murphy King and Thompson Egbo Egbo and his work with young people in a summer camp at Regent Park in Toronto. For twenty hours Colleen Murphy King, as librettist, Dr. Andrew Staniland, composer, Amber Ebert, director (from Tapestry) and Thompson Egbo Egbo, a musician, work with a class of young people to compose and perform an opera. We have an opera singer (from Tapestry) come in to show the students how to express emotion with their voices. The students come up with the ideas and then the librettist writes a libretto. The students and the composer then compose the music. The students audition for the roles and rehearse. They then perform the Opera for their classmates and parents. We have completed one school with a group of Grade 4 in Toronto and are in the process of finishing a second school in Brampton with a group of Grade 7/8. I am attaching the finished score for the Grade 4 level students from Firgrove Public School in the handout. It is worth noting that Eric Schwindt has taken on the role of composer in the Brampton school. Eric came up through our Composition Class programme.

In 2002 Dr. David Gordon Duke and I completed a partial cross country tour of workshops for teachers and students. We were in Saskatoon, Regina in Saskatchewan: Winnipeg, Manitoba: North Bay, Toronto, Kingston, London, Mississauga, Niagara Falls, Kitchener Waterloo and Dunnville in Ontario: Calgary, Alberta and Langley, British Columbia. During this tour I realized that reaching young people meant reaching teachers and we feel that we have achieved this in a small way. As part of the tour we commissioned six young emerging composers across the country. It is interesting to note that Vincent Ho was one of these emerging composers and now he is a finalist in the CBC Composition Competition. Eric Schwindt, who is currently working on the Opera in the Classroom programme, was another.

The future of Canadian classical music lies with our young people. We need to encourage and stimulate them starting in kindergarten and keep all of the opportunities open all the way up to University level. Not all of these young people will go on to be established composers and performers but they will be audiences and hopefully when they are spending their entertainment dollar they will look for a Canadian work. When I see young people performing and composing I feel that it signifies a message of hope for our country that will strengthen the ties of our many cultures. Music softens. Music brings people of all ages and cultures together. It is important that we as an artistic community encourage these young people and let them know that their drams and ideas are important. The sound of classical music will change as our new Canadians bring their culture to their compositions. It is important that we embrace this concept. As Alexander Rappoport said after one of our Student Composer Workshops — “Wouldn’t it be awful if we looked back on this century and realized that no new music had been created”.