Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Adam Vincent Clarke: Prélude

Photo credit: Julia Ballardt

We are excited to share new work from former Talent Trust recipient, composer Adam Vincent Clarke.

You can view the video for Prélude here.

About Prélude:

Prélude for Violin and Piano was composed for Belgian violinist Nicolas Dupont, and Russian pianist Olga Kirpicheva in Autumn 2020. This performance was recorded in the Concert Hall of the Koninklijjk Conservatorium Brussel in February, 2021.

About Adam Vincent Clarke:

Adam Vincent Clarke (b.1992) is an Antwerp-based sound-artist and composer of contemporary music. From Canada to Germany to Belgium, he is a vagabond of Canada’s east coast.

Adam is a former recipient of two NSTT scholarships and the Kenneth Elloway Award. Thanks to the NSTT Adam was able to attend the Iserlohn International Guitar Festival in 2015 which gave him his compositional start in Europe. 

Adam draws inspiration through storytelling and folk tradition, often composing with a tone of gewaltsame Schönheit (violent beauty). Adam is currently composer-in-residence with Ensemble Silakbo and co-founder of the dance-theatre company Âmok/Âmok. ‘Y Tú’ (2018) & ‘I don’t (we) know‘ are ballet pieces created in tandem with choreographer Daniel Domenech for the Royal Ballet of Flanders. Adam completed his Masters at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Antwerpen with Wim Henderickx. 

For more about Adam you can visit his Facebook page or his website

Want to hear more about the Talent Trust? Please sign up for our newsletter.

Want to support the next generation of Nova Scotian artists? Donate today! (smile)

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Art Exhibition: Ground Rules: Before and After

Running March 1, 2021 through to April 24, 2021 the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design group show: Ground Rules: Before and After, will feature former Talent Trust recipient Letitia Fraser and other well known artists.

Letitia Fraser was the 2018 winner of the RBC Emerging Artist Award.

From the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design website:

Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design, in collaboration with Parks Canada, is pleased to announce the opening of Ground Rules: The Before and After, an exciting collaborative exhibition based on an experiential learning residency program in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

The four-day residency program took place in spring 2019, in the spectacular Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Fourteen Nova Scotia artists with diverse backgrounds explored new ideas inspired by the natural landscapes of the Highlands, while interacting with scientists, park interpreters and creative leaders.

The Ground Rules residency provided participating artists with the opportunity to explore new ideas and ways of working in their medium, connect to their individual heritage and discover how scientific processes shape the natural world.

Other participating artists are:

- Marla Brenton

- Abigail Hann

- Rebecca Hannon

- Wes Johnston

- Laura Kenney

-  Jeighk Koyote

- Frankie MacAulay

- Meghan MacDonald

- Alice MacLean

- Juliana Scherzer

- Alison Uhma

- Kate Ward

Want to hear more about the Talent Trust? Please sign up for our newsletter.

Want to support the next generation of Nova Scotian artists? Donate today!  (smile)

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Violinist Marc Djokic: Solo performance with Orchestre classique de Montréal

Join former Talent Trust recipient Marc Djokic as he performs a solo concert with Orchestre classique de Montréal on March 30 at 8.30 p.m. (ADT). You can find more info about the performance here.

Marc was the recipient of the 2002 Raymond Simpson Award and the 2003 Lieutenant Governor's Award.

About the performance:

The concert will begin with an Italian delicacy, Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso in D minor, under the baton of Xavier Brossard-Ménard, the OCM’s current assistant conductor. Maestro Boris Brott will then take to the podium to lead two songs by Indigenous Canadian composers: Barbara Croall's Zasakwaa (There is a Heavy Frost) for mezzo-soprano and solo flute, and Tomson Highway’s Some Say a Rose. Both pieces will feature the sumptuous voice of internationally renowned Quebec mezzo-soprano, Julie Boulianne.

The heart of the concert will be a celebration of Astor Piazzolla’s 100th birthday, as the OCM presents the composer’s renowned Cuatro estaciones porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) featuring talented violinist and OCM concertmaster Marc Djokic. To round out the season-themed evening, the OCM will perform La primavera (Spring), the first movement of Vivaldi’s beloved Concerto No. 1 in E major, better known as The Four Seasons.

About Marc (from his website):

Marc Djokic is a Canadian violinist and winner of the 2020 ECMA Classical Recording of the Year, the 2017-2018 Prix Goyer. Among other distinctions, he is a Prix Opus laureate and former Canada Council Instrument Bank recipient. Djokic is concertmaster of l’Orchestre classique de Montreal. His recently released collaborative albums, Andre Mathieu musique de chambre and The Spirit and the Dust, garnered glowing reviews upon their release.

Originally from the Maritimes; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Djokic first and foremost studied with his father Philippe Djokic, one of Canada’s great soloists and a pupil of the master Ivan Galamian. He continued his studies with David Russell, Donald Weilerstein and Jaime Laredo.

In summer 2019 Marc Djokic embarked on his second European tour with solo recitals, chamber music concerts, and masterclasses. From BC Contact to Jeunesses Musicales and Debut Atlantic, Djokic has toured several times throughout Canada as an accomplished chamber musician. As a soloist, Marc Djokic has performed with such prestigious orchestras as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Quebec Symphony Orchestra.

From 2015 to 2017, Mécénat Musica Videos produced more than 45 music videos featuring Djokic and his collaborations, filmed in unique locations across nine provinces.

Marc Djokic has commissioned several compositions with the support of Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Mécénat Musica. In 2018 Djokic co-sponsored and launched the inaugural CAMMAC Composers Competition, and is currently Artist-in-Residence at CAMMAC.

Want to hear more about the Talent Trust? Please sign up for our newsletter.

Want to support the next generation of Nova Scotian artists? Donate today! (smile)

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Scholarship Applications for May 1 Deadline Now Accepted

Applications are now being accepted for Nova Scotia Talent Trust scholarships for studies between September 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022. The deadline is 
May 1 at 5 p.m. ADT.

Apply early so that we can help you improve your application and avoid last minute technical problems. Use Chrome as your browser. 

We advise applicants to read the submission guidelines  carefully and to submit applications early since there are a number of changes for film, music, visual arts, dance, circus arts, literary arts, and theatre this year.

Please let the studying artists in your life know about our scholarship program.

For questions about scholarships and applications please get in touch with our Scholarship Program Coordinator Jackie Dowling at scholarship(at) 

Want to hear more about the Talent Trust? Please sign up for our newsletter.

Want to support the next generation of Nova Scotian artists? Donate today! (smile)

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Talent Trust congratulates ECMA nominees

Congratulations to all ECMA nominees from the Talent Trust.

Past Talent Trust scholarship recipients who received nomination are:

Song of the Year 

Classified - "Good News" featuring Breagh Isabel (Producer: Classified) 

Breagh Isabel is a past Talent Trust scholarship recipient, winner of the Chico Berardi Award and a Talent Trust Board member.

Fans' Choice Video of the Year 

Classified - "Good News" featuring Breagh Isabel (Director: Mike Boyd)

Link to video:

Classical Composition of the Year 

Emily Doolittle - "Doolittle: Minute Études “Excerpts” (Live)". 

Emily is a past Talent Trust scholarship recipient.

Want to hear more? Please sign up for our newsletter.

Want to support the next generation of Nova Scotia artists? Donate today!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Laura Johnston: The Importance of 'Emotion Work'

Thank you to Talent Trust recipient Laura Johnston for sharing her very personal reflections on the last year and her practice.

Laura was the winner of the 2020 Shelia K. Piercey (Legacy) Award.

For lack of a better word, the past year has been interesting. As I write this, St. John’s is at Alert Level 5 due to a recent outbreak. The city is in lockdown. Certain aspects of growth and my struggles during this time can be described as two sides of the same coin, and the intertwining of the two started in June 2020. You see, it was at this time that I met a man. A man with passion, knowledge, and kindness. A man who helped open my mind and my heart. This man is, of course, my voice teacher Neil Semer.

Check out his website and the website for his summer programs!

I will be talking about what I will call “emotion work.” My work with Neil encompasses so much more than this, but as I know now, without it, I would not have been able to make strides in terms of vocal mechanics and artistry. Now, I am not an athlete, but I cannot help but think that my emotion work is akin to aspects of sports psychology. That is, certain mental factors have a direct impact on performance.

The early days of this work were undoubtedly the most challenging. One of the reasons was I simply did not notice what I was feeling. To paraphrase Neil: There are no negative emotions. Emotions are just energies to be felt. Like so many others, I have been led to believe that emotions such as sadness, fear, and anger are bad and something to fix. For clarification, there is a difference between acting on emotion and feeling the emotion. So, when “negative” emotions would arise, I learned to ignore and suppress these feelings in the past. The thing is, if you ignore the emotion, the emotion does not go away. Before I could work with what I was feeling, I had to learn to recognize that it was there.

A section of page 85 of The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris which I am currently reading as part of my emotion work.

I would not be as far in my training if I didn’t have a love of singing. With this is a drive and desire to improve. Cue anxiety, frustration, and fear. To use an example, singing a closed [u] (sounds like oo in the word moo) has been a challenge for me. Neil would call me out, saying, “You are not doing what I am asking you to do. You are not doing the work.” In these moments, I would have thoughts such as “I hope I don’t screw this up” or “Am I actually saying the [u] vowel?” Instead of doing the work and being present in the moment of doing it, I would be trying to do it. Trying to do it is not the same thing as doing it. It took a while to deeply understand this concept. When I hear my voice now, compared to how I sounded before studying with Neil, it is tough to believe it is the same person singing. 

I will be sharing a more recent examples in the upcoming weeks on my Instagram account: @klaurajohnston

Follow me to learn about my progress!

My hard work has been gratifying. I do mean hard work. As most would attest, the past year has been hard. Along with the pandemic of COVID-19, there has been a pandemic of loneliness, depression, and fear. Living in the current global climate has given me a lot to work with in terms of emotion work. There are days I have been physically exhausted because of it. However, if there wasn’t a global pandemic, I believe there would have been different challenges in terms of my development. Performances and programs have been significantly reduced. I have not needed to learn as much repertoire, and my obligations are less. This has allowed me to focus on what I described above and other aspects of my technique.

Voice teacher Neil Semer and soprano Laura Johnston working on French vowel pronunciation.

A great deal of a singer’s work is in isolation. Hours of practice, language study, song analysis, and music listening are generally solitary activities. What is missing now are the times we perform together, how I miss collaboration with other musicians in person and the spontaneous conversations that arise about various works. It isn’t gone completely, but at times it seems as if it is. At times, I feel alone in my understanding and appreciation for the work that I do. The support from Nova Scotia Talent Trust gives me such a sense of validation. To me, it says, “You are not alone. We believe in the importance of arts. We believe in the work that you continue to do. We believe in you.” 

Thank you, NSTT! Your support means so much.

In the summer, I was having trouble recognizing my emotions since I had not spent a lot of time allowing myself to feel uncomfortable feelings. Before any practice session, I was to do about 10 minutes of this before singing. I cannot speak for other people’s experience, but in this first week the flood of emotion was so much that it was impossible for me to sing. By the third day of ugly cries, I contacted Neil to let him know what was happening, and we decided to give that exercise a rest until the next voice lesson. However, this marked the start of the commitment to this aspect of my voice training (and to myself). I am skipping numerous steps in this journey between then and now, but I now spend time checking in with what I am feeling before any singing. Some of my most successful lessons (i.e. committed to doing the work that was being asked and beautiful sounds emerging) were when I allowed myself to be sad or angry and sang through and with that energy.

Want to hear more about the Talent Trust? Please sign up for our newsletter.

Want to support the next generation of Nova Scotian artists? Donate today! (smile)

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Taylor MacGillivray: Music brings us together

Many thanks to Talent Trust recipient Taylor MacGillivray for taking the time to share about what her art means to her, her mentors, and more!

You can learn more about Taylor on website and her Youtube channel.

What does receiving a Talent Trust scholarship mean to you? 

Receiving a Talent Trust Scholarship means so much to myself and my art. I’m extremely grateful to have the support of this organization, as I, otherwise, wouldn’t be able to pursue my studies to the extent that I have. I’m extremely grateful to the founders, the board members and the jury members who volunteer their time to support Nova Scotian arts and artists!

What quote best describes your commitment to your art? Why?

If I could quote an entire TED talk, I would; but, for the sake of brevity: Benjamin Zander’s The Transformative Power of Classical Music is everything I aspire to with my music. In this talk he says: “I have a definition of success. For me, it's very simple. It's not about wealth and fame and power. It's about how many shining eyes I have around me.”

The joy of music is that we can come together to create something beautiful, that we can share in an experience, and that we can build community. This transcends the realm of classical music. It could be a community orchestra, a school musical, a garage band, a kitchen party, or even a campfire sing-a-long -- all things we miss dearly, but that we will eventually be able to come back to. Music brings us together. It inspires connection. It brings us delight. 

My commitment to music is one based in fostering connection. I write pieces which aim to bring the composer, the performer(s) and the audience together, collaboratively, to explore what we can create.

Who are your mentors and how have they influenced your art/career?

I am fortunate to say that I’ve had many wonderful mentors during my musical journey. The first is my high school band teacher, Nathan Beeler. The school band program was foundational to my understanding of music-- and to some degree, life. Without his support and encouragement I would not have pursued music beyond the band program. With the joy that music brings to my life, I’m extremely grateful that he encouraged me to follow my passions!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my composition professors. Jerome Blais, my first composition teacher, encouraged experimentation: an essential element of the compositional process. With the exploration, he also taught simplification, the ability to communicate your ideas clearly; to both the performer and the audience.

Another one of my mentors is Peter Togni, another amazing composition teacher. Peter taught me about the human side of composition. About being an artist in today’s day-in-age, and about writing music with beauty and compassion.

Teaching and mentorship is a fundamental part of the arts. I’m incredibly thankful that these people are willing to dedicate their time to helping foster young artists and talent. 

What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

Currently, my biggest accomplishment is having my composition Radix, performed by Symphony Nova Scotia. This was a piece I wrote for my friend and percussionist, Noah Garnier for a concerto competition. This piece is the longest and largest I’ve undertaken, and was, therefore, quite daunting to write. I was honoured when the Symphony offered to perform it at some of their community outreach concerts last January! 

What program/s are you doing this summer and how have they helped grow your practice?

Last summer, I participated in two programs: The first was the Tuckamore Young Composer Program.This program runs in conjunction with the Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival. Due to the pandemic, it was adapted and held in a virtual format. This program was quite rewarding as we got to meet weekly with the director, Andrew Staniland, as well as the other composers, and discuss all things related to composition. It’s always helpful to discuss your craft with others, as you can learn so much from their experiences and help trouble-shoot your own process, particularly in a domain as isolated as composition, and particularly during a pandemic!

At the end of the program, my piece was premiered virtually by pianist Patrick Cashin. The piece is titled A Trilogy of Curses, Interesting Times, and a recording of the performance can be found on my Youtube page. 

The second program I attended was the Lunenburg Academy of Musical Performance’s (LAMP) Composition Academy. This program was held in-person (with strict safety protocols in place), and was two weeks of masterclasses with composers, masterclasses with performers, composition, rehearsals and at the end, a concert! I learned so much from this program. It has really informed the way I approach the creation of a composition and the way that composition will be interpreted by performers and the audience. 

Want to hear more about the Talent Trust? Please sign up for our newsletter.

Want to support the next generation of Nova Scotian artists? Donate today! (smile)