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Thank-you to our 2020 National Award Judges!

Our judges for the 2020 National Performance Awards are Cheryl Duvall, Matt Poon, and Stephen Runge.  Read more about the judges below.

Cheryl Duvall

Toronto-based pianist Cheryl Duvall has established herself as one of Canada’s foremost contemporary music interpreters, immersing herself in a wide variety of compositional aesthetics and collaborative endeavours.

In 2012, she co-founded the “adventurous and smartly programmed” (Musicworks Magazine) chamber group Thin Edge New Music Collective. Since their inception, they’ve commissioned over 70 works, mounted lavish multidisciplinary productions such as Balancing On The Edge, and collaborated with leading performers like Charlotte Mundy,  Jason Sharp, Ensemble Paramirabo (with whom they recorded an album.) They’re also widely noted for their direct engagement with composers, and their tours and residencies across Europe, and in Japan and Argentina have positioned them as ambassadors for Canadian music abroad.

Her lucid sense of contour, evocative sonic and emotional presence, and boundless versatility make her both a dynamic soloist and in-demand collaborator.  Recently, Duvall has begun gathering commissioned works from cutting-edge artists from Canada and beyond, including Victoria-based composer Anna Höstman, whose music is the subject of her debut solo recording, Harbour, a highly acclaimed album released in January 2020 on the Redshift Record Label.  Harbour has been featured on the CBC radio and was chosen as the #1 Modern Composition Recording of 2020 by UK’s ‘The Wire’ Magazine.

In 2016 her formidable skill was recognized with a nomination for the KM Hunter Award. Duvall also regularly performs outside of contemporary music spheres, notably with American violinist Andrew Sords, and accompanying the renowned Oakville Choir for Children and Youth, with whom she has toured, recorded and competed internationally (with gold standings). She operates a full private teaching studio, is a member of the College of Examiners with the Royal Conservatory of Music, and adjudicates piano competitions across Canada.


Matt Poon

Pianist and composer Matt Poon advocates music of our time by performing, creating, researching, and improvising.  His dedication has granted him awards including first prize and prize for best performance of commissioned work in the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition, first prize in the American String Quartet Composition Competition, and first prize in the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra Open Call for Works.  Matt has received Canada Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council grants, and he was listed on CBC/Radio-Canada as one of the “30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30 in 2016”.

As a laureate of the E-Gré Competition, Matt performed a 10-city concert tour across Canada and a debut concert in Italy promoting contemporary piano music, including his own composition and repertoire with extended techniques written by Canadian and International composers.  Matt performed in multimedia productions, as a pianist-performer for Hong Kong Exile (Vancouver) touring across Canada, Asia, and Europe, including the Gaudeamus Muziekweek, and as a pianist-improviser for Volcano Theatre.  As a former member of Tactus and the Contemporary Music Ensemble at U of T, Matt premiered chamber works by Hong Kong and American composers at the Manhattan-Hong Kong festival, and performed chamber works by established Canadian and International composers.  Matt was featured in part of the “Young Artist Overture” series by Soundstreams Canada, and as a composer-performer at the Stone NYC and the Integral House.

Matt holds a MM in Performance and a MM in Composition from the Manhattan School of Music, and a BM from the University of Toronto.


Stephen Runge

Praised for his sensitivity and versatility, pianist Stephen Runge has been heard from Victoria to Halifax as soloist and collaborative artist. Stephen has been broadcast nationally on CBC Radio Two and La Chaîne Culturelle de Radio-Canada, receiving special recognition as soloist and for his frequent performances of chamber music and art song. In recent seasons he has shared the stage with artists such as violinists Jasper Wood, Andréa Tyniec and Kerry DuWors, tenor David Pomeroy, mezzo-sopranos Krisztina Szabó and Patricia Green, and pianist Adam Sherkin, and has appeared as soloist with the Regina Symphony Orchestra and the Mount Allison Chamber Orchestra. Stephen has recorded all the major works for solo piano by Robert Schumann, an album of solo piano works from 1917, and a recital of English art song with countertenor Daniel Cabena. 

Holding a Doctorate of Music in Piano Performance from l’Université de Montréal, Stephen also holds degrees from the University of Victoria and The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, he is in demand across the country as teacher, adjudicator, and clinician. Stephen is on faculty at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, where he is currently Head of the Department of Music, Associate Professor of Piano, and Director of Mount Allison Local Centre Examinations in Music. In recognition of his outstanding teaching, research, creative activities, and service, Mount Allison has awarded him a Paul Paré Excellence Award in 2010, the J.E.A. Crake Award for excellence in teaching in the Faculty of Arts in 2014, and the Paul Paré Medal in 2020. 

A Composer’s Letter by Andrew Balfour

Every year, we invite a Canadian composer to write an open letter for the program pages of the Contemporary Showcase Festivals taking place across the country.  This year’s composer is Andrew Balfour.



Thank you to ACNMP for giving me this opportunity to reach out to all of you in these uncertain times. The wide, all-encompassing impact of COVID 19 has touched our lives and careers in all ways, and the uncertainty of the future is certainly frightening. At the same time, I feel that that we are on the cusp of exciting and monumental changes to the landscape of music-making of all genres. I dislike labels to different styles of music, such as classical, rock, jazz, country, folk etc., and I sometimes feel that we have to break down the barriers of these labels to go into the true spirit of our creativity and to ascend beyond the boundaries of the Euro-centric approach to music-making.

There are new and undeniable changes in the future of music-making, and that may be unsettling for so many that are steeped in the old traditions of composing and performing contemporary music. The old institutions such as symphony, opera, ballet, choral, chamber are already trying to adapt to this future, and I feel that perhaps COVID 19 has presented us with an opportunity that has been a long time coming. We already knew long before the virus that major changes were vital for the survival of these institutions. This time is important for us to communicate, listen, collaborate, reach out and most importantly respect each other as we go down a new path of music creativity and production.

As a composer, this presents monumental changes; we have to be up to these challenges of ever-changing landscapes -social, economic, cultural, environmental, and, even political considerations.  The creative voices of our music, dance, theatre, literature are more important than ever at this time. Society will always need the voices and vision of artists.

I feel that collaborations and multi-medium explorations will be important for our future creativity. Thinking outside the box seems more vital than ever. As we have been locked down for some time for the past 6 months – and most likely seem destined to some more of social isolation – we can take this time to reach out and communicate, study and listen to what other artists are doing and how they are approaching their own creative projects.

For so long, we have been led by the institutions of performance and funding by THEIR definition of what we have to do in our creative silos. I feel that it is time to take back the idea of innovation, outside-the-box creativity, and collaborations. This is our time.

Our voices are more important than ever.  Music performance and production, at least in the form that we have been brought up with, have changed forever. I feel that is a good thing.  It will break down barriers and make more opportunity for artists in a multicultural country, such as ours, to tear down the layers of hierarchy in the arts and focus on the creativity of our wonderful and important art.

Most importantly, no matter what, my last thought is this: Be true to yourselves, be true to your music-making and your spirit.

Be well, be safe, and be true.

Chi megwiich!!

Andrew Balfour




ACNMP seeks Volunteer Treasurer!

The ACNMP seeks an energetic and self-motivated individual to work with the Board of Directors and Contemporary Showcase Coordinators in the volunteer capacity of Treasurer.

Job Title: Treasurer

Job Location: Toronto/Mississauga

Job Description: 

This volunteer position, also a Board member position, is responsible for the day to day financial transactions of the organization. Working with Board members and Canadian regional centre coordinators, typical transactions include making and logging deposits, issuing cheques and issuing receipts for donations. 

On a quarterly basis during the Board meeting, the Treasurer will report on the financial activities and health of ACNMP. Annually, the Treasurer will coordinate with an external Accountant to prepare and audit the year end statements. These audited statements will be used to prepare the annual mandatory tax filing. The bulk of the transactions occur around the time of the regional Contemporary Showcases typically held in the fall across Canada. The work is concentrated around October through February and the weekly requirement is several hours during this peak time. The “off season” between March and September require minimal maintenance where a few hours are required per month.

Desired requirements:

-CPA, student or member

-Microsoft Excel, Access

Please send cover letter and resume to apply for this position:

About ACNMP:

The Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects (ACNMP) is an organization dedicated to the promotion of Canadian contemporary music. Throughout our history, it has been our mission to encourage teachers to teach Canadian contemporary music, to motivate students to study and perform this music, and to encourage Canadian composers to write music for students of all levels from the most junior to the paraprofessional.

Our Mission

To commission, promote, and preserve Canadian contemporary music as a cornerstone of our national heritage by fostering its performance among students, teachers, and performers through education, festivals, and workshops.



Thank-you to our 2018 National Award Judges!

Our judges for the 2018 National Performance Awards are Pei-Chen Chen, Coral Solomon, and Cathy Yang. Read more about our judges below.

Pei-Chen Chen

The Taiwanese- Canadian pianist Pei-Chen Chen made her debut at the age of fifteen with the Hsin-Tien Symphony Orchestra, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.5.  Pei-Chen has received numerous awards and scholarships throughout North America and Asia.  She is an enthusiastic soloist and is equally passionate about chamber music.  Pei-Chen is a founding member of LeeChen Piano Duo.  They recently won Second Prize and Best Performance of the Required Work at the 2018 North West International Piano Ensemble Competition and Third Prize in the 2018 United States International Duo Piano Competition.

 Pei-Chen is passionate about both performing and teaching piano.  She has teaching experience throughout Taiwan and Canada.  Her students have received outstanding results from the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Examinations and placed at many national and international competitions.  She is a senior piano instructor in the Piano Pedagogy Program at the University of Toronto (U of T), Montcrest School, and her studio. 

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Pei-Chen had studied piano with Dr. Chia-Wei Chung and Dr. Hsaio-Fen Chen.  She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Piano Performance at National Taiwan Normal University and her Master Degree from U of T in Piano Performance and Pedagogy.  She is currently pursuing her DMA in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at U of T under the tutelage of Dr. Midori Koga. 


Coral Solomon

Israeli born pianist, Coral Solomon has been praised for her “distinct sensibility” and “original view” (Radio Romania Musical) and has performed numerous solo recitals throughout Canada, USA, Italy, France, Spain, Romania, and Israel. She has been awarded several prizes at competitions and has been frequently interviewed by several North American and European television channels. Coral has participated in intensive international summer festivals such as the Pianofest in the Hamptons (Long Island, NY), the Morningside Music Bridge Institute (Calgary), and the Toronto Summer Music Institute.

Coral moved with her family to Toronto in 2004 and has been a student at the Young Artist Performance Academy of the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has completed her undergraduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music and her Master’s degree at Boston University, under the tutelage of Antonio Pompa-Baldi and Pavel Nersessian respectively. Coral is currently pursuing her Doctoral of Music degree in piano performance at the University of Toronto with Enrico Elisi, on full scholarship. 

As an active member in her community, Coral has been invited to adjudicate several music festivals and enjoys collaborating frequently with instrumentalists and singers in concerts. She holds a teaching assistantship position at the University and maintains a private piano studio at her home in North York.


Cathy Yang

At the age of 7 Cathy Yang started her musical career with Prof. Zhaoyi Dan in China. Soon after she immigrated to Canada and continued her musical journey with Vladimir Niurenberg in Toronto. Her professional musical studies were completed with Prof. Ilja Scheps at the University of Music and Dance Cologne (Germany) with a Masters degree in piano performance. While in Canada, she participated and received prizes in many regional piano festivals and also in the nation-wide Canadian Music Competition. 

In May 2006, she was invited by the Vladimir Spivakov International Foundation as one of two representatives from Canada to participate in their music festival Moscow Meets  Friends. Performing in the Central Music School in Moscow, Russia, she shared the stage with some of the most talented young musicians from around the world. In 2010, Cathy won the third prize in her age category at the International Piano Competition Vila de Capdepera in Spain. While in Aachen, Germany she was invited multiple times by the Collegium Musicum orchestra of the RWTH Aachen to perform as the soloist in the piano concertos of Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin. She also performed in Poland with various orchestras. As a member of Aix Alma Trio she toured several times  in Germany.

Cathy lives in Toronto, Canada and is currently working on some innovative piano projects.


Canadian Composers Interview Series with Ruth Watson Henderson

In our new blog series, Canadian Composers Interview with ACNMP board member and organist Matthew Boutda, we endeavour to illuminate the artistic process of select working composers from across Canada.

Ruth Watson Henderson has often been described as a “Canadian national treasure”. She has an international reputation as a leading Canadian composer of choral music, and as an admired pianist and organist.

She has done much to promote the artistry of children through her wealth of compositions for treble voices, using the expertise gleaned over 29 years as accompanist of the Toronto Children’s Chorus under Jean Ashworth Bartle until they both retired in 2007. She has at the same time written a wider spectrum of works for adult choirs –an activity started while she was accompanist of the Festival Singers under Dr. Elmer Iseler.

Her works are commissioned, performed and recorded worldwide, by such well-known choirs as the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Toronto Children’s Chorus, Exultate Chamber Singers, and the University of Toronto choirs. Ms Watson Henderson also writes for piano, organ, and other instruments. Her organ work, “Celebration”, won a worldwide competition honouring the Royal Canadian College of Organists’ Centennial, thus earning the piece a première at Westminster Abbey.

Recognized for her lifetime of service to music, Ruth has been paid many great tributes by the music community.  She received the National Choral Award for Outstanding Choral Composition for “Voices of Earth”, and the Distinguished Service Award by the Ontario Choral Federation.

Matthew: Tell me a bit about your musical background.

Ruth: I got started very early on! My mother was a church organist and so I started playing the piano when I was 2, and by the time I was 4, I was making progress. I was very fortunate to study with Alberto Guerrero and we had wonderful classes where his students came to play for each other. Glenn Gould was a contemporary of mine who didn’t like to socialize! He was quite the character!

Matthew: What is your fondest musical memory?

Ruth: I got to play something at Carnegie Hall when I was studying at Mannes in New York City. I was also an usher there and able to hear all sorts of concerts.

Matthew: What is your inspiration for composition?

Ruth: I learned almost everything I know from accompanying fine choirs and sitting through their rehearsals. You learn a lot when you are playing for rehearsals because you can listen to all of the individual lines. I started working with Elmer Iseler, playing for the Festival Singers and singing through rehearsals with him was just wonderful because I could hear how the counterpoint moved and fit together.

Matthew: How has your musical style changed?

Ruth: It hasn’t changed a big deal, but it depends on the choir I am writing for! For example, I could write more counterpoint for professional choirs. For amateur groups, I tend to be pretty straightforward. For me, everything depends on the text. Before I write anything, I try to get a good text, which is where my ideas derive from.

Matthew: How often do you compose now?

Ruth: I don’t compose as much anymore, but I still keep up my playing! The fingers work much faster than my brain these days!

Many of Ruth’s works for piano, organ, and choir are included in our Contemporary Showcase syllabus, including this one for Treble Voices: