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. 

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ross Macintosh: From pipe bands to Yo-Yo Ma to U2 to Mozart and Bach

Thank you to Talent Trust recipient Ross Macintosh for taking the time to share reflections on his music with us.

Instagram: @ross.macintosh


What does receiving a Talent Trust scholarship mean to you?

The support of the Talent Trust has meant lot to me, in many different ways. It has helped me with my university education,  private lessons, and summer programs, and has given me opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. This year in particular, it has helped me get some of the equipment necessary to study online and to enter national and international competitions, and also gave me the opportunity to study with a euphonium soloist who I truly admire, which was absolutely invaluable.

What are your earliest memories of your art?

Music was always a pretty constant thing in my house. My parents are both musicians and music lovers, so I was exposed to a wide variety of music ranging from Pipe Bands to Yo-Yo Ma to U2. I also remember having CDs of Mozart and Bach keyboard music as white noise in my bedroom for most of my childhood. In terms of brass instruments, my first memory is playing a CD my dad had of the Empire Brass Quintet playing arrangements of Medieval music (particularly that of Hildegard von Bingen), as well as my aunt and uncle visiting from Edmonton, where they are professional musicians (trombone and tuba, respectively). 

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

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”- Thomas Edison 

There are of course quotes that could describe it from an artistic perspective, but this shows an attitude that I feel is essential to a career in a field as unforgiving as music. This feeling was certainly compounded by some of my work experiences, and I know that it has had a huge impact on everything that I do. 

Are there any unexpected positives that have come out of pandemic related to your art?

Yes! The shift to online learning across the world has created a lot of opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. In the first month of Nova Scotia being locked down I was able to have online lessons with Steven Mead and David Thornton (fantastic professors from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester), and of course with the support of the NSTT I was able to have a series of online lessons with one of my heroes, Glenn Van Looy, in Switzerland.  None of this would have been possible in a normal year. I have also felt very fortunate to be here in Nova Scotia during this time, as I have spent the past four months as a Resident Young Artist at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance. This has allowed me to keep performing throughout most of this time, and to be hearing and learning from some other fantastic young musicians. 

What has been your greatest challenge in relation to your art? Why?

I have probably had more challenges than you’d expect from somebody at this stage of their career.  The main one was an injury I received almost four years ago now; I couldn’t play my instrument for about four months, and it took nearly three years before I felt like I had recovered fully.  On a different level, I think I face the same challenge that almost every artist does in terms of finding their place in the world. But, I read Michael Phelps’ autobiography last year and have found one motto of his very helpful in this regard: “Dream. Plan. Reach.”.  

What aspect of your art/practices 'fills your cup' the most?

I think most aspects of making music help keep my cup full! I get a great boost when I am performing solo or in small chamber ensembles, but that is a pretty small amount of time compared to my daily practice. I would say that my last practice session of each day is what consistently keeps it full, as I always end with a cool-down for anywhere from 20-45 minutes. The great trombonist Peter Steiner calls it “Lip Yoga”, and this meditative end to the day really prepares me for the next day of work.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Nicole Ross: Early memories and reflections of studying during challenging times

Many thanks to scholarship recipient Nicole
Ross for taking the time to share reflections on her memories, challenges and studying during a pandemic.

Instagram: @nicolealiceross

What does receiving a Talent Trust scholarship mean to you?
It has been a huge honour to receive support from the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. This has been a tremendous help in supporting costs related to my final year of studies at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University.

What are your earliest memories of your art?
My earliest musical memory is from when I was about 5 years old and had just started taking piano lessons. I confess that at this age I was not too keen on practicing, so my first memory is of the elaborate ways I would “lose” my piano books when it was practice time. This makes me chuckle now because practice time has since become very special to me!

What has been your greatest challenge in relation to your art? Why?
For me the biggest challenge in music making has always been perfectionism. It can be very tricky for me to find the line between excellence and perfectionism, while also making room for creativity and expressivity.

Are there any unexpected positives that have come out of pandemic related to your art?
In a very big way, the pandemic has made me aware of all of the musical experiences I was taking for granted. Music, especially for singers, is so deeply rooted in collaboration. The first rehearsal I attended after many months of isolation was such a surreal experience. Even with many safety precautions in place, it was so moving to make music with others, and to hear their artistry happening, live, in the room. I wish I could bottle that feeling up and bring it into future rehearsals for inspiration.

How have you managed practicing your art during the pandemic?
It hasn’t been perfect, but I am amazed by the ways we’ve managed to safely rehearse and perform in these COVID times. At school I’ve been able to rehearse with my colleagues virtually or in small groups and then get together to film or live stream performances. I have been very fortunate to work on digital Opera Projects with Opera McGill in collaboration with Tapestry Opera. I’m also looking forward to performing the role of Flora in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw which will be live streamed by Opera McGill at the end of this month. In some ways, rehearsing virtually can be very advantageous because it allows us to collaborate with colleagues from far and wide. I recently had the opportunity to partake in Lucky Penny Opera’s 48-hour opera project, where I worked with Nova Scotian Composer and Pianist Edward Enman (Talent Trust scholarship recipient too) to create a short opera in 48 hours. We were able to create, record and film this piece fully remotely and not even in the same province, which would never have been possible before.

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

"Long-Stay Hotel" ft. Claire Campbell

Last week Vienna D'Amato Hall released the music video for 'Long Stay Hotel', which features Talent Trust recipient Claire Campbell. The video is an "Ellis B House" collaboration with singer/songwriter Vienna D'Amato Hall and director Laetitia Demessence. 

Claire was the recipient of the 2011 Canada Games Young Artist of Excellence Award in 2018.

You can see the video here.

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Congratulation Gavin Fraser: LAMP's Composer-in-Residence


Recently the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance announced that former Talent Trust recipient has been selected as their first-ever Composer-in-Residence. 

Congratulations Gavin!

From LAMP's January 6, 2021 newsletter:

That means Gavin will be coming home to Nova Scotia this Spring and to LAMP where he was the very first (and that year, only) participant in our inaugural Composition Academy. General manager Susan Corkum-Greek remembers wanting to cancel the program when a number of early applicants withdrew, leaving just one emerging artist; even two faculty artists had to cancel at the last moment.

"But Burt [Wathen] was determined," says Corkum-Greek. So Gavin got a week of one-on-one coaching with JUNO Award-winning composer Dinuk Wijeratne, as well as an afternoon with Lunenburg's own David Findlay, a longtime composer for film and television. Gavin has credited the experience, which included creation of the piano-cello duo Broken Vase premiered by Marika Bournaki and Julian Schwarz, as central to his decision to pursue composition as a career.

Gavin went on to complete his Bachelor of Music (Hons) in Voice Performance and Composition at Memorial University, followed by his Master of Music in Composition at McGill. He is currently completing his PhD at the University of Toronto, under the guidance of Gary Kulesha. And every year, he has returned to LAMP for the Composition Academy; in 2020, as program director.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Talent Trust Job Posting: Development Officer


 February 12, 2021

 Nova Scotia, Halifax, remote work possible

Career Level: Experienced

 $15,000 - $20,000 Experience Dependent

 Part-Time Contract (up to 14hrs/week Experience Dependent)



The Nova Scotia Talent Trust (NSTT) is seeking a Development Officer, Major Gifts, enthusiastic about the arts and keen to help the NSTT grow. Over the first four months in the role, the incumbent will learn about NSTT projects, priorities, and key processes.


The Development Officer, Major Gifts, will liaise and collaborate with the board members along with the Executive Director (ED) of the NSTT. Reporting directly to the ED, they will focus on a personal prospect portfolio of up to 100 prospects in various stages of the fundraising cycle. Review and adjust the strategy for major gifts in line with the NSTT’s new strategic three-year plan for 2021-23, and helping the NSTT board and team achieve annual financial targets.


Since 1944, the Talent Trust has provided more than $2 million to over 1,000 Nova Scotians, primarily young people, who have demonstrated talent and potential to become professional artists in theatre, dance, fine craft and design, music, circus arts, media, film, literary, and visual arts. There is no other comparable organization in the country. In 2019, the Talent Trust celebrated its 75th anniversary year featuring former scholarship recipients with a travelling art exhibition, pop-up events in theatre, music, dance, film screenings and more.

The pandemic has shown us even more how important the arts are for our well-being and health. The NSTT was fortunate to support 66 pre-professional artists in 2020 and ensure that this support can continue far into the future. Help us secure the future of a diverse cultural legacy.


Cultivate relationships and manage a personal portfolio of 50-100 prospects, including new, existing and lapsed donors

Personally, solicit prospects for major gifts, planned gifts, and blended gifts of between $10,000 and $500,000 and, with the help of the team, prepare supporting documentation including proposals, letters, one-pagers and grant applications

Develop and execute a strategic plan for major gifts and establish an exact donor cycle from research to stewardship

Identify new individual major gift, corporate and foundation prospects and lead the transition of prospects through the donor cycle from research to stewardship

Develop strategies and work with the Development Committee Chair and Executive Director to advance fundraising needs of the NSTT and maximize major and leadership gift opportunities

Prepare donor correspondence, gift agreements, pledge reminders, gift acknowledgement letters, briefing materials, and project and program profiles for a suite of NSTT initiatives for personal approaches, with the ED, volunteers, and board members' support.

Provide support in the coordination of stewardship materials with major donors and partners regarding the impact of their giving, use of funds and periodic updates as necessary and appropriate

Ensure appropriate and timely communications with donors, including, but not limited to, prompt gift acknowledgements/thank you letters, invitations to special events etc.

Meticulously maintain the donor database (SUMAC) using best practices and procedures for data entry and record-keeping in collaboration with the ED.

Willingness to learn and develop planned giving specific skills and knowledge in keeping with industry best practices

Act as an ambassador for the NSTT in the community; support the execution of and attend major donor events as needed, to cultivate and steward attendees

Develop positive working relationships with the NSTT's program and administrative staff as a member of the NSTT team

Be a liaison with the NSTT Foundation board (Endowment/Legacy Fund)


Experienced in successful relationship building in a high activity charitable/non-profit environment, or demonstrated related experience in an associated field

Demonstrated track record of cultivating, soliciting and closing leadership and major gifts at the $5,000 to $25,000 level or more

Knowledge of the Canadian charitable, philanthropic and not-for-profit sector. Knowledge of the corporate sector an asset

Ability to operate and thrive in a collaborative environment, as well as to work independently with demonstrated flexibility and initiative

Excellent interpersonal, verbal and written communications skills in English; bilingualism will be considered an asset

Proficiency with donor databases and data entry; knowledge of SUMAC specifically will be    considered an asset

Demonstrated ability to interact comfortably, tactfully and effectively with donors, varied internal and external constituencies and a wide range of stakeholders

Ability to think strategically, creatively, and adapt quickly

Detail oriented, focused and strategic thinker, with initiative, passion and energy

Excellent abilities with MS Office including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook

A relevant post-secondary degree or combination of relevant training, education and experience, a CFRE designation an asset  

Ability and willingness to travel occasionally within Nova Scotia


Suppose this position speaks to you, and you are excited about the possibility of joining an arts organization believing in Nova Scotians' creativity. In that case, we want to hear from you. Please provide your cover letter outlining your "WHY", along with your resume and salary expectations to NSTT's Executive Director Jacqueline Steudler at 

While all applications will be reviewed, only successful candidates will be contacted for an interview.

All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence. Interested candidates should send resume and letter of interest to the email address listed above by February 12, 2021.

The Nova Scotia Talent Trust is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in its employment practices. We are dedicated to building a workforce that reflects the diversity of the community in which we live and to providing an environment free from harassment and discrimination for all.

Please note that the salary range for this part-time contract position is $15,000 - $20,000. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Aidan Vaudreuil: Every performance is a breath of fresh air

Deep thanks to scholarship recipient Aidan Vaudreuil for sharing his reflections with us on his art and passion. Aidan was also the recipient of the 2020 Robert George Jackson Award for exceptional commitment and potential in dance.

@aidan.vaudreuil (Instagram Page)

What are your earliest memories of dance?

I always had an interest for the spotlight from a young age. I remember putting on performances for my whole family at least twice a day! I first wanted to take actual ballet classes when I was 8 years old after seeing the nutcracker on the television. I saw the elegance of the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux and immediately asked my parents to sign me up for classes. 

What has been my greatest challenge in relation to ballet?

My greatest challenge would have to be pushing myself too much at times. Ballet is very intense and has very strict guidelines for how movements/variations should be executed. The bar is set so high in the dance world and is constantly being raised. I find myself getting caught up trying to be perfect; it's all I can think about. Ballet isn’t only a physical sport/art form but mindset is very important too. I find myself having a mindset of “never enough” meaning I always need more. It's important to celebrate victories too. I sometimes forget that ballet is more than just perfect technique, it's a way to express emotions and to tell a story. 

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years, in relation to ballet?

I hope to be in a classical ballet company either The Royal Winnipeg Ballet company or another company somewhere in the world; performing and showcasing everything I worked for and working towards. I see myself continuing to push myself but also having a sense of accomplishment. I want to mentor/support other young dancers as others have done for me. I hope to be an inspiration to other dancers as well. 

What aspects of ballet “fills ups my cup” the most?

Being able to do what I love everyday brings me joy. Honestly, all aspects of my art form “fills up my cup” but especially performing. Either it's a ballet or just a teacher watching ballet class. I love showcasing everything I worked for/working towards. I love performing, the lights, costumes, rehearsals, long days, and quick changes all give me butterflies. The thought of people paying to watch me dance is mind blowing. Every performance is a breath of fresh air.

How have you managed practicing ballet during the pandemic?

In the early stages of the pandemic (March-July) everything was online. Which was a big challenge getting used to dancing in my living room. Since everything was online I also had the opportunity to take ballet classes from dancers all around the world and from many world renown teachers. I also started working with my amazing mentor Elizabeth Lamont (Second Soloist with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet) alongside my regular internationally renowned teachers, dancers, choreographers in my professional division classes at the RWB. It was a big challenge to adapt, but I learned so much. In September we started dancing in the studios of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet building, the only downside was dancing with a mask on. It took time getting used to but overtime I built up enough stamina to wear masks during long rehearsals.   

What does receiving a Talent Trust Scholarship mean to you?

Receiving the scholarships allows me to attend the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s professional division school. This program immerses me in many classes including classical ballet, contemporary, modern, character, variations, conditioning, pilates, strength, nutrition, art, and drama. It means that I am supported by the entire establishment and having NSTT believing in my dance abilities. I can’t express my gratitude enough for the support I received by the NSTT. Thank you so much! 

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