In the spotlight: Memorial artists and alumni collect ECMA nominations

Feb 4th, 2016

By Jeff Green

Pillorikput Inuit: Inuktitut Arias for All Seasons is nominated for an ECMA in the category of Aboriginal Artist of the Year.
In the spotlight: Memorial artists and alumni collect ECMA nominations

A new album funded through a research project based at Memorial has just been nominated for an East Coast Music Award (ECMA).

Pillorikput Inuit: Inuktitut Arias for All Seasons, a collection of solo and duet arias that have been sung in Labrador Inuit churches since the early 19th century, has been nominated in the category of Aboriginal Artist of the Year.

Pillorikput Inuit, which means “Blessed are the People,” features Karrie Obed, the lead tenor in the Nain choir, and Deantha Edmunds, an Inuk who traces her roots to Hopedale, who is a classically trained singer.

Dr. Tom Gordon, professor emeritus, School of Music, is executive producer of the CD.

“This is undoubtedly the first time a classical recording has been nominated in the Aboriginal category,” said an elated Dr. Gordon. “These arias have been reconstructed from the original manuscripts in the collections of the churches in Nain, Hopedale and Makkovik. The music was, for the most part, written by 18th- and 19th-century European composers, but over more than a century of use in Labrador Inuit churches, they have been largely recomposed to reflect Inuit taste and values.”

The project was funded through Dr. Gordon’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Standard Research Grant, as well as the collaboration of the Bruneau Centre for Excellence in Choral Music, Arts N.L. and others. He engaged the Innismara Vocal Ensemble and the Suncor Energy String Quartet to provide the choral and instrumental backups for the recording, which was made in January 2015 in the D. F. Cook Recital Hall, School of Music.

The album was launched last fall during a concert tour of Nunatsiavut communities. Several alumni from the School of Music were involved with the project, including Bill Brennan, recording producer who an instructor in the school; Kellie Walsh, music director; and Steve Lilly, recording engineering.

Dr. Gordon, who was honoured last year with the ECMA’s Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award, says everybody is thrilled with the nomination.

Meanwhile, School of Music faculty members Dr. Nancy Dahn and her husband, Prof. Timothy Steeves—who perform professionally as the critically-acclaimed Duo Concertante—have been nominated for Classical Recording of the Year for their album Mendelssohn and MacDonald Double Concertos. Listen to a selection of concertos from the album below.

“This is a special recording for us because it was done with Marc David and the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. So many players in the orchestra are friends of ours from the community, also some colleagues and quite a few students from the School of Music,” said Prof. Steeves.

“We dedicated the recording to Gerry Germain who passed away last year. He was a huge supporter of the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador, and in particular the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and the Tuckamore Festival. The recording was funded with the help of FACTOR, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, Memorial University and the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra Foundation Inc. We are very grateful for their support.”

Duo Concertante is performing in several European cities this winter, including stops in the United Kingdom and Germany. Prof. Steeves says he’s grateful of the recognition from musical peers.

Several Memorial alumni, who perform with a variety of bands and as solo artists, were also nominated.

Among them are Andrew James O’Brien and Catherine Allen, who perform as the Fortunate Ones, as well as others.

The ECMAs will be handed out in April during a showcase week of music and performances in Sydney, N.S.






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