In 2021, the ACWC/AFCC will celebrating 40 years since its inception in 1981. This is a time to look back to the past as well as look to the future of the organization and of the music of Canadian women.
We find ourselves in a difficult and unique time to be planning such a celebration. Whole seasons of concerts and events have been cancelled with no clear idea as to when they will return. But this organization is full of creative, energetic people so there will be no shortage of ways to celebrate. Regional concerts are being planned, for when they can occur, due to COVID-19. Online forums and events will also be featured, as well as playlists of members’ music.
We will also recognize the Canadian women who were writing music, teaching future composers, and promoting the works of Canadian women even before the founding of the ACWC. Those composers and the women whose energy and dedication formed the organization will be honoured with the inclusion of their music in the playlists and concerts.
If you would like to help support celebrations for the ACWC/AFCC 40th Anniversary, including special concerts, workshops, projects, publicity and online initiatives, please donate by clicking on the link here. Your support would be very helpful! Any donation of $25 or more will receive a tax receipt. Thank you!
Stay tuned here to see ideas about the 40th anniversary as they develop! Send any/all ideas to the ACWC 40th Anniversary Chair Diane Berry, who is also ACWC Secretary.
Brenda Margaret Muller has been chosen as the winner of the 2020 ACWC Initiatives Fund for new creative work projects or compositions. Muller’s project relates to her Riversongs Festival of community-based music, through which she will, in turn, sponsor an award to an ACWC member for a new composition for the Riversongs Festival. The new work will be scored for community orchestra and/or community orchestra and choir. Muller is founder and Artistic Director of the Riversongs Festival, which occurs in Parry Sound, Ontario. The festival, involving Whispering River Orchestra and Community Choir, is tentatively scheduled for August/September, 2020, but will be further rescheduled if required, due to coronavirus.
Muller’s project relates to her Riversongs Festival of community-based music, through which she will, in turn, sponsor an award (named ACWC COMPOSITION AWARD) to an ACWC member for a new composition for the Riversongs Festival. The new work will be scored for community orchestra and/or community orchestra and choir.
Muller is founder and Artistic Director of The Riversongs Festival which occurs in Parry Sound, Ontario. The festival, involving Whispering River Orchestra and Community Choir, is tentatively scheduled for August/September, 2020, with full regard to the coronavirus situation at that time. If need be, it will be rescheduled accordingly. This annual event celebrates authentic Canadian and Parry Sound creative community through music, poetry and art. The small string orchestra produces five to six concerts annually, typically with two in June that bookend this unique week of workshops in composition, string playing, art, poetry, speaking Anishinabek, musical yoga coffee houses, banner painting and a musical Canoe and Sail Regatta. The music from the ACWC will be used to sponsor one of four Riversongs awards for compositions for community orchestra and/or community orchestra and choir. However, ACWC is only sponsoring Riversong’s ACWC-focused award, which will be granted to another ACWC member.
Although the event is traditionally held during Summer Solstice, the upcoming festival is tentatively rescheduled for late August into September, around the fall equinox, dependent on the coronavirus situation at that time.
About Brenda Margaret Muller:
From her roots as a classically trained cellist, Brenda Margaret Muller has gone on to create conceptual events that weave together poetry, music and song. Working as a Musician, Poet, and Song-writer, as well as Artistic Director for the past 32 years, Muller has created inter-arts events across the province, founded and directed the Ardeleana Chamber Music Society, and released 6 recordings with her trio, Ardeleana, including a CD of original cabaret songs, Wolf At My Door, and the first CD to feature only music by Canadian women – Spinners of Starlight (1997). She is the creator of two story operas – Melissa’s Song and Jonathon’s Storm, both of which have toured across the province to the critical acclaim of enthusiastic young people. Muller has commissioned and premiered over 150 works of music by Canadian composers. She holds an Honours degree in Music Performance from the University of Western Ontario, a Mus. Ed and Honours Specialist in Music from O.I.S.E. University of Toronto. She is currently the founder and director of the Whispering River Orchestra, and Riversongs Festival, a 10 day Community Celebration of Music, Poetry and Art in Parry Sound, Ontario.
Information on previous 2019 Initiatives Fund winner, Stephanie Orlando here.
Gayle Young has been awarded an ACWC/AFCC Honorary Membership in November, 2019 for her exceptional accomplishments as an innovative composer, instrument creator/inventor, writer, feminist and administrator. She has been an ACWC member since the very beginning, serving on the ACWC Board for many years. For decades she has edited Musicworks (Canada’s leading publication on new and unusual music). As well she has written extensively on tunings, wrote the definitive biography on Hugh LeCaine (Canada’s principal inventor of electronic instruments), written for our ACWC Journal, and was recently featured in a CMC Presents Concert, along with jaw-harp virtuoso Chik White on November 21, 2019 at Canadian Music Centre, Toronto. Young’s compositions, many of them electroacoustical and/or soundscape oriented, rank among the most highly esteemed Canadian works today. CMC suggests her tonal soundscapes “link natural sound with the musical worlds of tuning and harmony.” (CMC post). A 2018 recipient of the ACWC Roberta Stephen Award, she was able to present her compositions with her new 9-stringed instrument, the Allium, at Visiones Sonores, an annual festival of electroacoustic music held in Morelia, Mexico. (ACWC Journal Spring/Summer 2019, 38-40). All along Gayle Young has championed women’s music as part of her ongoing life work.
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.
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.
Stephanie Orlando has been chosen as the first winner of the new ACWC Initiatives Fund Award, which supports members who are composing/producing new creative work projects. Orlando’s project is titled ‘wave’ is composed for flute, percussion, and electronics. It explores negative thought patterns with an influence of new wave music. The funds will be used for equipment rental and travel to the premiere in New York City in June.
Stephanie Orlando (b.1993) is an emerging composer and pianist based in Toronto. Her music has been performed worldwide by such performers and ensembles as the junction Keyboard Collective, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Penderecki String Quartet, Arcady Singers, The Rosewood Consort, Jeff Stonehouse, and Olivia Shortt. With experience writing for a variety of styles and instrumentation, her catalogue contains works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, piano, voice, and electronics. Stephanie has composed music for a variety of mediums including opera, theatre, dance, and film. Her music is filled with traditional, contemporary and pop culture influences. Stephanie holds a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Music in Composition from Wilfrid Laurier University. She is currently pursuing her DMA at the University of Toronto.
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.