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2021 Ann Southam National Awards – Senior Award

Congratulations to pianists Charlotte Giraudeau of Calgary and Esther Zhu of Saskatoon!  Charlotte and Esther are this year’s co-recipients of the Ann Southam National Award – Senior Award. Below is Charlotte’s winning performance of ‘I Leap Through the Sky with Stars’ by Alexina Louie and Esther’s winning performance of ‘Memories in an Ancient Garden’ by Alexina Louie.

Call-for-Scores: String Works

The Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects announces a Call-for-Scores of works for strings (violin, viola, cello, or double bass, for solo or solo with accompaniment) for inclusion in their Contemporary Showcase Syllabus.

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 is 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.

Contemporary Showcase

Presented annually by ACNMP for the past 53 years, Contemporary Showcase is a national non-competitive festival featuring 100% Canadian contemporary works taking place in fourteen centres across five provinces. Contemporary Showcase is wholly educational and inclusive, and aims to develop and disseminate Canadian compositions. 

ACNMP has compiled a wide-ranging and varied syllabus of over 2,200 Canadian works for a variety of solo instruments (from piano to double bass to soprano saxophone) and ensembles (from brass quintet and string quartet to full-sized choirs and wind bands) spanning over 100 years. These works are scrutinized pedagogically by ACNMP’s repertoire reviewers and divided into different levels for students to study, present and perform in a master class format for expert adjudicators.

Call-for-Scores: Strings 2021

Submissions to the Contemporary Showcase syllabus should ideally:

  • Have musical, educational, and pedagogical value for both teacher and performer
  • Contain new ideas or techniques introduced or presented in a novel or interesting way
  • Strike an appropriate balance between composition length and difficulty, keeping the skill and ability level of the intended performer in mind
  • Represent and/or contribute to the cultural fabric of Canada

Composers must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Please carefully read submission details from the documents below. Fill out and submit to

Deadline is December 31, 2021.

Submission for Syllabus Evaluation Form

Submission for Syllabus Evaluation Form FILLABLE

*Please note that an ACNMP Membership is not a requirement to submit to the Call-for-Scores; however, the membership fee does help off-set our administrative costs.

A Composer’s Letter by Maria Corley

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 Maria Corley.

Greetings from Lancaster, PA, where I’ve lived for about twenty-two years. I’m honored that ACNMP invited me to reach out to you. As I write this, the world truly feels crazy, making the arts even more important to our sanity. Kudos to ACNMP for tirelessly championing the new music that is carrying us forward, and kudos to each of you for being vessels through which this music lives and breathes.

I moved to Amish country after six years on the faculty of Florida A & M, a historically black university in Tallahassee; and six years before that in New York City, getting Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in piano performance from The Juilliard School. I’ve spent a lot of time in the United States, but I was shaped by growing up in Leduc, Alberta, a community just outside of Edmonton. My parents are immigrants from Bermuda and Jamaica (where I was born). There were about three thousand people in Leduc when my dad became one of the town’s two dentists. Only a handful of Leduc’s residents were black, and some of the others weren’t always welcoming. My childhood helped me to learn that fitting in is sometimes impossible, and attempting to do so can be personally detrimental.

In my family, playing the piano was mandatory. Luckily for me, I didn’t mind at all. My mom insisted that we study classical music but also exposed us to hymns, calypso and spirituals. My dad’s favorites included Bob Marley, great jazz singers (like Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald) and popular music luminaries (like Ray Charles, and Simon and Garfunkel). In addition to the songs we heard on the radio, my friends and I imbibed as much African American popular music as we could. I didn’t dwell on a hierarchy: I remain awe-struck by Beethoven and Stevie Wonder in equal amounts, for the same reason -both of these great geniuses touch my core.

Given my eclectic musical tastes, I suspect my zigzag life comes as no surprise. I’m a solo and collaborative pianist, organist, teacher, composer, writer, life coach, and voice actor. I spin a lot of plates, but they aren’t random: The through-line is communication, without limits, or “shoulds.”

Shaking off limiting thoughts isn’t always easy. While I have extensive experience as a musician, my compositional training lasted a year, when I was about 13. Because of this, my self-identification as a composer is very recent, even though I’ve actually been either composing or arranging (often as I go along), for quite a while. Somehow, I bought into the idea that I hadn’t earned the right to say I was a composer. The thing is, if you compose, you’re a composer, whether or not anybody else knows about it, or likes it. As in all things, it’s only by doing that anybody learns and grows.

This statement also applies to the art of interpretation. Every piece of music gives us a chance to not only learn and grow, but also to explore. We may feel an instant affinity with the terrain, we may grow to love it later on, or we may never feel at home, however, the experience of exploration allows us to discover more about not only music, but ourselves. Whether I’m creating my own music or translating someone else’s “dots on a page” into sound, I strive to share a story, an emotional landscape, a miniature world that connects with the listener, even if my only audience is me. I hope that each of you will find the process of inhabiting the musical worlds that await you exciting, fulfilling, and joyful. If you strive to do your personal best, the process may be challenging, but the rewards are many.

I mentioned avoiding “shoulds,” but here’s an exception: music should be healing, both to the musician and to anyone with whom it is shared. I fervently hope that each of you will be fortunate enough to find the truth in this statement for yourselves.

Warmest Regards,

Maria Thompson Corley