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Tuckamore curtain ready to rise

Festival infuses school with pool of new talent

By Jeff Green

Performance halls and classrooms tucked away in the School of Music – and throughout St. John’s – will be bustling with activity as Memorial once again hosts the annual Tuckamore Festival, one of Atlantic Canada’s leading summertime chamber music programs, from Aug. 11-24.

The festival is the brainchild of artistic directors Dr. Nancy Dahn and Timothy Steeves – both of whom are well-known faculty members in the School. Memorial partly sponsors the two-week festival.

Since 2001, a stream of talented young pianists and string players not only take part in master classes and private lessons with renowned musicians but get a chance to participate and perform in workshops, and concerts.

The festival has also proven to be an effective means of recruiting young talent from this province and other regions to the school. Its goal is to offer the students – who range in age between 16-24 – an opportunity to immerse themselves in an intimate educative experience, honing their repertoire of chamber and solo music.

Upwards of 20 young artists will take part this year.

And they’ll be in good company.

This year’s roster of faculty and guest artists includes the Miró Quartet, a well-known American chamber group, the acclaimed Canadian Duke Trio, violist Rennie Regehr, violinist Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio, and Andover Educator Jennifer Johnson.

Dr. Dahn and Mr. Steeves will also perform, as will Dr. Vernon Regehr, an assistant professor of Cello Studies and conductor of the Chamber Orchestra at Memorial.

Students get practical experience and a chance to play side-by-side with respected performers and educators.

“One of special things about Tuckamore is the way in which we integrate and combine the educational with the professional aspects,” said Dr. Dahn. “We expect a lot from our young artists – not just as keen, bright, talented students but also as performers. Their performance skills and skills as chamber musicians are put to the test repeatedly during the festival – in noon-hour concerts, master classes, and evening concerts. While they get lots of guidance from our faculty and guest artists we really offer them the chance to learn by doing and mentoring with the older artists.”

She said those who’ve followed the festival since 2001, also get a chance to see the development of the young performers.

Meanwhile, this year marks the first season that the Tuckamore Festival is commissioning a new work of chamber music. In collaboration with CBC Radio and the Ottawa Chamber Music Society, organizers have commissioned the first violin and piano duo from prolific Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer.

Dr. Dahn and Mr. Steeves – who perform as the group Duo Concertante – will give the Atlantic Canada premiere of the piece on Aug. 14. This performance, along with works by Schubert, will be broadcast on the CBC Radio’s Sunday Afternoon in Concert on Aug. 24.

As in previous years, the Tuckamore Festival takes place at a number of locations in St. John’s with concerts set for the D.F. Cook Recital Hall and the Petro-Canada Hall at Memorial. A number of other concerts will take place at various venues in the capital city.

To find out more about the Tuckamore Festival visit