Last years Juno Award Ceremony was a great event for the city of St. Johns. It also proved to have a huge residual benefit for Memorials School of Music.
Dr. Clark Ross, a faculty member who teaches music theory, composition and electronic music, recently received the School of Musics first Juno Awards 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 St. Johns, where he took part in a School of Music concert of works by last years classical composer nominees.
Encouraged by a producer at the Canadian Music Centres Centrediscs label (which produced Canadian pianist Barbara Pritchards CD Piano Atlantica on which the recording appears), Dr. Ross says the nomination has meaning on several levels.
Its gratifying, he says. Being a composer is like being a writer its sort of a lonely profession and you have to believe in yourself. Every now and then, its nice to have an external body reinforcing that belief. Plus, he laughs, my kids are proud of me!
So is the School of Musics director, Dr. Ellen Waterman.
Clark Ross is a wonderful creative artist, and this Juno nomination reflects his importance on the Canadian music scene, she says.
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. Its a musical portrayal of love and loss, he adds.
Local classical team Duo Concertante, comprised of School of Music violin professor Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves, also has a connection to this years Juno Awards. R. Murray Schafers 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 Concertantes latest CD.