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.
The ACWC Art Song Concert – in honour of Rebekah Cummings (1980 – 2019) – occurred on Saturday, May 18, 8:00 pm at Conrad Grebel Chapel/University of Waterloo, Ontario. Clarisse Tonigussi, soprano & Narmina Efendiyeva, piano, performed music of 9 ACWC composers: Rebekah Cummings (The Way I Dream), Jana Skarecky (Green and Gold), Carol Ann Weaver (Timbrel in her Hand), Edith Covach (Cultivo una Rosa Blanca and Hoy lo Llamo Mi Pago), Christie Morrison – also singing – (Tooth or Consequences), Nephenee Rose (I Break with the Quiet), Karen Sunabacka (Shhh), Julia Jacklein (Three Summer Songs) & Fiona Evison (Evening Prayer).
ACWC/AFCC commemorates Rebekah Cummings (1980 – 2019), our beloved friend and ACWC composer who passed away on March 23 after being diagnosed with cancer in December. Her indelible spirit and imaginative, unquenchable zest for life revealed itself in her superb, sensuous, moving, and deeply grounded compositions which touched all who heard them. Rebekah delighted in “creativity in its various forms, and love(d) to cultivate it in others! Concepts of life, growth, process and transformation tend to be at the heart of [her] creative expression in both art and music, along with themes related to [her] Bulgarian heritage.” As well, she was a gifted visual artist with visionary, playful, compelling canvases. Her Celebration of Life took place Saturday, April 13 at Meadowlands Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, Ancaster, ON. And on the same day, April 13 at 3 pm , ON, the Mercer Duo (Rachel Mercer and Akemi Mercer-Niewoehner) performed a concert of violin and cello duos by six female Canadian composers, with three world premieres, including Rebekah’s “Our Strength, Our Song,” at First Unitarian, Hamilton, ON. Listen to her hauntingly beautiful music, view her art, and read about her compositions.
Mary-Catherine Pazzano has been chosen as the new web manager of ACWC, effective March 1, 2019.
Mary-Catherine Pazzano is a vocalist and music educator based in Kitchener, Ontario. At home in both classical and jazz worlds, Mary-Catherine’s performance highlights include: Birdland (NYC), various venues in Harlem, the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival, The Rex (Toronto), and Jazz Bistro (Toronto). She has also toured New Zealand, and has been a soloist with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Mary-Catherine has been lucky to share the stage with jazz notables such as Billy Stritch, as well as the world-class chamber ensemble Penderecki String Quartet. Mary-Catherine holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Music and Drama from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Education from University of Toronto/OISE.
Find out more about Mary-Catherine at: marycatherinepazzano.com.
Augmented Trio Promotions presents a 75th birthday celebration of the music of Canadian (and Victoria!) composer Leila Lustig. ACWC composer Diane Berry is also featured on this concert. Leila Lustig’s life’s work is writing expressive and poignant music for the human voice, often in atypical combinations with other instruments, and frequently on her own texts. This concert will feature Marnie Setka-Mooney, soprano; Diane Berry, flute; Erik Abbink, saxophone; Nathan Friedman, clarinet; and Kathryn LeGros, piano. More information here. Tickets are $15 on-line, or at the door