The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir launched a new Choral Composition Competition for emerging Canadian composers in August 2015. This competition called on unpublished Canadian composers to submit a work, not more than five minutes in length, for SATB or double choir, either a cappella or accompanied by piano or organ. The Choir received 28 submissions from composers across the country.
In December a jury of four leading choral musicians met to discuss the compositions and awarded the Debbie Fleming Prize for Choral Composition to Stuart Beatch of Regina, Saskatchewan for his work Psalm 100. Beatch receives the cash prize of $1000 and his work will be premiered at the TMC’s Choral Conductors’ Symposium free concert at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church on Saturday, January 30, 2016 (www.tmchoir.org/FreeConcert).
The Jury was impressed with the quality of submissions and also awarded an honourable mention to Nicholas Kelly of Penticton, BC for Spring Wind. This work will also be performed at the Symposium concert.
The compositions were assessed by a jury of four musicians: Noel Edison, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Artistic Director and Conductor of the Elora Festival Singers; Timothy Corlis, a composer based in British Columbia; Mark Sirett, a conductor, composer and teacher based in Kingston, Ontario; and Mark Vuorinen, a conductor and university professor based in Kitchener, Ontario.
The TMC’s Symposium concert in 2016 is an event that speaks to the vibrancy of Canada’s choral music scene. It brings together emerging conductors (who study with Noel Edison for a week, conducting the TMC and the Elora Festival Singers), with these new compositions by emerging Canadian composers. The concert is free and will also be webcast live across Canada and beyond at livestream.com/TMChoir/Symposium2016.
The winning composer, Stuart Beatch, is currently living in Regina, Saskatchewan. He has completed studies in music education at the University of Regina (BMusEd, 2013) and composition and theory at the University of Alberta (BMus, 2015), with plans to pursue graduate studies in composition in 2016. With a particular focus in the choral medium, his music has been performed by vocal and instrumental ensembles across North America. Beatch’s music comes from a passion for the simple and traditional, often contrasted against relentless rhythms and chaotic harmonies. Recent commissions have included works for the National Youth Choir of Canada, the Bridge City Brass Band (Saskatoon, SK), the University of Regina Clarinet Choir, and the Greenall High School Choir (Balgonie, SK).
The prize is made possible by a donation from Debbie Fleming, a TMC alumna who sang in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for 40 years and who retired from the Choir in June 2015. The TMC is grateful for her commitment to the enrichment of the TMC’s education program and to the growth of Canadian choral music.
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