Music faculty member gets Juno nod
By Janet Harron
Last year’s Juno award ceremony was a great event for the city of St. John’s. It also proved to have a huge residual benefit for Memorial’s School of Music.
Dr. Clark Ross, a faculty member who teaches music theory, composition and electronic music, recently received the School of Music’s first Juno award nomination, in the category of Classical Composition of the Year.
He was inspired to submit Last Dance, a tango-based composition for piano, as a result of the buzz surrounding the 2010 Junos in the capital city, where he took part in a School of Music concert of works created by last year’s classical composer nominees.
Encouraged by a producer at the Canadian Music Centre’s Centrediscs label (which produced Canadian pianist Barbara Pritchard’s CD Piano Atlantica on which the recording appears), Dr. Ross says the nomination has meaning on several levels.
“It’s gratifying,” he said. “Being a composer is like being a writer – it’s sort of a lonely profession and you have to believe in yourself. Every now and then, it’s nice to have an external body reinforcing that belief. Plus,” he laughed, “my kids are proud of me!”
So is the School of Music’s director Dr. Ellen Waterman.
“Clark Ross is a wonderful creative artist, and this Juno nomination reflects his importance on the Canadian music scene,” she said.
The nomination for Last Dance is one of only two Juno nominations for Newfoundland and Labrador artists in 2011. Great Big Sea is also nominated in the category of Group of the Year.
Dr. Ross was originally commissioned to write Last Dance by Memorial University pianist Dr. Kristina Szutor through the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. Born in Venezuela to Canadian parents, Dr. Ross, who has taught at Memorial for 20 years, drew on his Latin American roots to write the piece, whose outer sections are based on a slow tango or habanera rhythm.
“It’s a musical portrayal of love and loss,” he added.
Listen to the Juno-nominated composition at www.clarkross.ca/Progr-LastDance.htm.
Dr. Ross and his wife, Dr. Jennifer Porter, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, plan on attending the Juno award ceremony, which will be held in Toronto on March 26.
Local classical team Duo Concertante, comprised of School of Music violin professor Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves, also has a connection to this year’s Juno Awards. R. Murray Schafer’s Duo for Violin and Piano, which was commissioned by and written for Duo Concertante, has also been nominated in the category of Classical Composition of the Year. The work appears on Wild Bird, Duo Concertante’s latest CD.