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Jan. 23, 2003, Gazette

Faculty member headlines
international music festival

Dr. Clark Ross


St. John's and its twinned city of Waterford, Ireland, will have a new cultural connection thanks to a festival of contemporary music being held in Waterford from Jan. 24-31. The New Music Festival is organized by the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and the Garter Lane Arts Centre.

Dr. Clark Ross, a faculty member in Memorial University's School of Music, has been chosen to be composer-in-residence at the prestigious week long event.

Dr. Ross says that he is pleased to be able to participate in this event, which will see him spend two hours per day teaching students at the WIT about the intricacies of musical composition. He said the rest of the time will be spent playing and performing music while forging new professional relationships with the musical community in Waterford and Ireland generally.

"I am looking forward to meeting the students and faculty with whom I'll be working," Dr. Ross said. "I am excited about making connections in a part of the world in which I have no connections."

Related to his presence at the festival is another link between the two places. Dr. Ross helped create the guidelines for a composition competition which will be open to students from Memorial students and students from WIT. The prizes for the award winning entries are in the 2,000 and 3,000 Euros range. The competition includes three categories: small orchestra, solo piano and solo voice with a small a group. "The prizes are substantial in terms of composition competitions in Canada for people at this level. I expect that some of the students I will be interacting with at the festival will be entering this competition and I hope to provide feedback to them about their efforts."

Dr. Ross has already garnered some media attention having done an interview with Irish radio on his visit. Dr. Tom Gordon, director of Memorial's School of Music, is pleased that one of his faculty members is getting this kind of international recognition.

"The interesting thing is that, when we think about the links between Irish and Newfoundland music, we tend to focus on the traditional," Dr. Gordon explained. "We sometimes completely overlook the fact that Ireland has a vibrant avant-garde music scene with many festivals like this one in Waterford. Newfoundland and Labrador, with activities like Sound Symposium, is also seen as a leading force in contemporary music. The fact that Clark was selected from among other composers around the world is a signal that the activity in contemporary art music here is widely respected in many respects it's better known beyond our shores than it is here."

Dr. Ross is only one of several interesting cultural connections to Waterford and to Ireland. In the musical vein, Anita Best has visited the city to share her knowledge about traditional Newfoundland music. Ms. Best has been working Dr. Beverly Diamond, the university Canada Research Chair in Traditional Music. In addition, historian Dr. Peter Hart, also a Canada Research chairholder at Memorial, has Irish history as his research focus.