ACWC composer, music publisher, and benefactor Roberta Stephen was honoured with a reception at The GRAND in Calgary on June 2 following a performance of Ghost Opera by Association of Canadian Women Composers member and 2017 Roberta Stephen Award winner Veronika Krausas. Stephen received both an ACWC Honorary Life Membership, presented by ACWC Treasurer Janet Danielson, and a Violet Archer Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by John Reid, the Prairie Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre. The reception was attended by a number of Roberta’s colleagues and supporters including ACWC member Hope Lee an her husband David Eagle. Roberta explained how her own experience as a composer led to her idea for the the scholarship: when she finished her training as a composer in her late thirties, she said, there was “nothing for her.” She was, however, able to establish her career through great perseverence, entrepreneurship, and organizational skill. In addition to the tributes to Roberta Stephen, the reception included the official announcement of the 2019 award winners, Laura Hawley and Maren Lisac; and Laura thanked Roberta personally via FaceTime from Edmonton during the reception tributes. The ACWC gratefully acknowledges the gracious contribution of Roberta’s four children in assisting with the reception plans and helping with transportation.
Canadian composers Laura Hawley (left) from Edmonton and Maren Lisac (right) from Montreal are recipients of the 2019 Roberta Stephen Composition award.
Laura Hawley is a composer, choral conductor and pianist. She holds an M. A. in music theory from the University of Ottawa, and has also studied composition at the Banff Centre. Hawley was the founding artistic director of the Hypatia’s Voice Women’s Choir, and winner of the National Council of Canadian Muslims Community Builder award for her work, “Live, Love, Share.” She is regularly commissioned by some of Canada’s most distinguished choirs, including the Elektra Women’s Choir, the Canadian Chamber Choir, and the Avanti Chamber Singers. Now residing in Edmonton, Hawley will use her award to further her development as a composer through private studies with Dr. Allan Bell, focusing on instrumentation. She hopes to explore innovative ways of combining instrumental and choral ensembles, and to write chamber and orchestral works.
Maren Lisac is a composer who lives in Montreal. A graduate of Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts, her works have been performed by the Dissonant Disco Collective and the Saxophilia Quartet. She plans to use the award for Bad Mirrors, a collaborative work for JUNO Award-winning guitarist Gordon Grdina and live electronics which will be premièred at the 21st-Century Guitar Conference in Ottawa this August. Bad Mirrors will feature the guitar tuned in an approximation of the Indonesian pelog scale, a scale related to the order of the universe, with distorted reflections of the guitar sounds manipulated by Lisac in real time through playback software. The work will thus be a sonic commentary on how distorted views of reality give rise to extreme ideologies.
The Roberta Stephen Award offers support to a Canadian woman composer aged 36 or older for professional development such as further studies, conferences, or workshops, or composers’ festivals. Established by Calgary composer and publisher Roberta Stephen, the award is administered by the Association of Canadian Women Composers.
Watch for news of upcoming ACWC Toronto concert on July 17, 2020.