Thursday, September 22, 2022

The NS Talent Trust Continues to Invest in Aspiring Nova Scotian Artists

Meet the 2022 Talent Trust Scholarship Recipients 

Having completed the scholarship selection process for 2022, the NS Talent Trust has awarded scholarships to 45 emerging Nova Scotian artists from all over the province who are pursuing studies in Dance, Music, Theatre, Film, Literary Arts, and Visual Arts.
This year's Talent Trust recipients come from Glace Bay, Guysborough, Head of Chezzetcook, Wellington, Fall River, Windsor Junction, Wolfville, Shelburne, Hammonds Plains, Cape Breton, Lyons Brook, Gatineau, Mount Uniacke, Middle and Lower Sackville,
 as well as Bedford, Dartmouth and Halifax.  It is incredible to see aspiring artists hailing from so many Nova Scotian communities.  Many will begin their artistic journeys in schools and programs all around the world, from Winnipeg to Lunenburg to Switzerland. Whatever path they choose, this year's scholarship recipients represent the very best of Nova Scotia's talent.

Beginning with the very first scholarship recipient, Portia White, NSTT scholarship recipients consistently promote and enhance the Arts & Culture sector in Nova Scotia.  With the support of the NSTT, they have the opportunity to perfect their craft with some of the best mentors and programs the world has to offer.  Just as Portia White built a successful career and long-lasting legacy, many other Talent Trust recipients have gone on to do the same - artists like Sandra Brownlee, Breagh Isabel, Brettan Hannam, and Walter Borden.  With over $2.5 million in scholarships to more than 1000 artists since 1944, there are endless stories of incredible creativity, perseverance, and success among the Talent Trust alumni.

Our scholarship recipients are chosen through a thorough and collaborative process by the Scholarship Selection Committee.   This Committee functions independently and is comprised of twelve professional artists representing the six disciplines of Music, Dance, Film, Theatre, Literary Arts, and Visual Arts. The Committee members volunteer their time and expertise to review applications, provide the recipients with meaningful feedback, and name the scholarship recipients based on their skill, dedication and potential.  It is with sincere gratitude to the Scholarship Selection Committee members that we present this year's scholarship recipients.
This year's 63 successful scholarships were chosen from a field of 106 applications over two submission periods ending March 1st and May 1st 2022.

Five scholarships of $2000 each are supported by the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council Nova Scotia Arts Endowment Fund.  This year's recipients are Kaya Panthier, Emily O'Leary, Caroline McKeen, Aidan Vaudreuil, and Hope Salmonson. 

The CN Halifax Community Fund Scholarship
 was established in 2021 by the CN Halifax Community Board.  This $1,000 scholarship goes to Jeremy Hull.

The Curtis Botham Scholarship of $1000 was generously provided by Curtis Botham, past Talent Trust scholarship recipient and winner of the Canada Games Award (2018) and Charlotte Wilson-Hammond/VANS Award (2017).  The recipient of this scholarship is Ada Denil.

Together with our generous donors, sponsors, and supporters, the Talent Trust was able to award $71,000 in scholarships in 2022.  Our sincere thanks go to Arts Nova Scotia, the RBC Foundation, the CN Halifax Community Board, the Craig FoundationCurtis Botham, and our community who have made it possible to provide support to these gifted artists when they need it the most.  

Below is the complete list of the 2022 Nova Scotia Talent Trust scholarship recipients.

 Media Contact: 
 Andrea Urquhart, Executive Director 
 Nova Scotia Talent Trust 
 (902) 492 6801 
About the NSTT
Since 1944, the NS Talent Trust has provided more than $2.5 million in scholarships and special awards to over 1,000 Nova Scotians pursuing careers in the disciplines of Music, Dance, Film, Theatre, Literary Arts, and Visual Arts.  It is the only organization of its kind in the country.

Nova Scotia Talent Trust Scholarship Recipients 2022


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Wednesday, September 14, 2022

"Love, Loss and Exile": a recap of SongFest with Abigail Sinclair

Abigail Sinclair received Talent Trust scholarships in 2018, 2020, and 2021.  She also received the Portia White Award in 2020 and the Sheila K Piercey Award in 2021.  She spent her summer in California perfecting her craft as a soprano, and has shared her experiences with us:

 Hi NSTT Community!

My name is Abigail Sinclair and I am a soprano from Halifax. I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music where I studied with Elizabeth McDonald. 

Like many musicians at a university level, I auditioned for summer programs this year so that I could continue to study in the Summer months. With the support of the NSTT I was very lucky to attend SongFest, an American Art Song Festival held every June in California! I had previously applied to SongFest in 2020 when it was held in Los Angeles, but the Festival was forced to cancel its in-person programming for 2 years because of Covid. 2022 Marked the return of SongFest in person, and their first year running the festival at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) in beautiful San Francisco.

The most intriguing part of SongFest is that it provides young singers and collaborative pianists the chance to study some of the great classics of song repertoire, while still emphasizing the performance of new art song through its composer mentorship program and opportunities to work with living composers on their music. New music is something I have been very passionate about since I started my studies in Toronto, so SongFest felt like the perfect fit for me! Composers on staff at the festival this year included Jake Heggie, Sheila Silver, John Musto, Libby Larsen, John Harbison and David Conte.

Before the end of classes in April I received a call from Rosemary Ritter, the Artistic Director of SongFest, to let me know that I had been chosen to premiere the 2022 Sorel Commission. Each year through the Sorel Organization, SongFest commissions a new work to be premiered as part of the festival. This year’s piece was “Love, Loss and Exile” for soprano, piano and cello by American Composer Juhi Bansal. The text for this five (5) part song cycle was taken from Landays, which are short anonymous poems passed down orally through generations of women in Afghanistan. Beyond my passion for new work is a personal mandate to work with women composers and highlight women’s experiences through music. The opportunity to work with Juhi on this piece was a treasure beyond words. We were able to zoom a couple times to discuss the piece, what stylistic influences and colours were important to bring through in its performance and create a game plan for rehearsals when we met up in person in San Francisco.

I was also incredibly lucky to be going to SongFest with a small contingent of Canadian singers, some of whom I already knew very well, and others I am pleased to say I formed strong bonds with. Sopranos Alexa Frankian, Sarah Richardson and Emily Rocha had all attended U of T with me (Emily took my headshot!) and Soprano Alyssa Bart joined us from the University of Western Ontario. While there I also got to work with pianist Gina Hyunmin Lee, a fellow East-Coaster from New Brunswick who is currently studying at the Eastman School of Music. In addition to the wonderful Canadian artists and Faculty, I also connected and performed with many young artists from Universities across the United States, and I am so grateful for the friendships we formed.

I was a member of the Young Artist program at SongFest, and had two weekly lessons with Amy Burton who is on faculty at both the Juilliard School and Mannes School of Music. I also received coachings with pianists Jennifer Tung and Javier Arrebola. My sessions with these three Faculty members in particular were exceptionally helpful, and made me feel both supported and inspired. I also thoroughly enjoyed my time working with pianist Mark Trawka, who is the Director of Musical Studies at the Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Training Program. I later had the chance to perform “Tornami a vagheggiar” with him in a special arias concert featuring Jake Heggie and Frederica von Stade. 

Other highlights included performing an excerpt from Lili Boulanger’s epic cycle “Clairières dans le ciel” with pianist Maeve Berry for American pianist and conductor, Martin Katz. Katz’s uncompromising approach to the study and performance of art song and his reverence for each piece that was presented to him in our masterclasses really resonated with me. Watching him work with other students changed the way I look at my own process and artistry. Performing for him was certainly a high point, and I encourage anyone to check out his masterclasses online.

While Juhi was in town for the premiere we had the chance to meet up and chat as well as rehearse in person with pianist Yu-Hsin Teng, and Cellist Evan Kahn. It is a rare and special thing to meet someone you click with so instantly, but I was overjoyed to discover a fast new friend in Juhi. This made the process of preparing Love Loss and Exile all the more fun and the three of us had a great time working with her and Canadian soprano Martha Guth prior to the premiere at SFCM’s Caroline Hume Recital Hall.

In between performances, we had some time to explore San Francisco. SFCM was situated right across the street from both the Symphony and the Opera House and a 15 minute drive to Ghirardelli Square and the San Francisco waterfront. One evening, the Canadians and I took a stroll along the waterfront and rode the cable car back uptown which was quite an adventure! We also hiked up to Alamo Square park to see the famous “Pink Ladies” houses from the Full House title sequence.

I am so grateful to the NSTT and the musical community in Nova Scotia for making opportunities like this possible for me. I had a wonderful time in San Francisco and learned so much from both the instructors and my peers. Exposure to artists from different backgrounds with preferences and experiences from my own is something I feel is important to my development, and that of any young artist. My time at SongFest provided just that, and I know that I will continue to work with the musicians I met there for many years to come!

Signing off,



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Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Neptune welcomes back Walter Borden for 60th Anniversary

Happy 60th Anniversary to Neptune Theatre!  Neptune's Anniversary Season officially opens this Friday, September 9 with "The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time" starring Walter Borden.  Through the voices of 10 characters, Walter Borden's solo performance reflects on his experience as a Black, gay man facing the challenges of racism, homophobia, and poverty.

Walter was one of the Talent Trust's earliest scholarship recipients who received a scholarship in 1967 for Theatre.  He went on to join Neptune Theatre in 1972 when he played the title role in the production of "Tartuffe" .  He has performed on stages all across Canada many times since. He has also had numerous roles in films and on television. His last Neptune 
production was in 2019 as Selsdon Mowbray in the comedy "Noises Off".

Walter has been a strong voice and a mentor for African Nova Scotian communities.  In the late 1960s, he helped establish Kwaacha House – an interracial teen-oriented, drop-in and social education centre that inspired young Nova Scotians to seek full equality of citizenship and full equality of opportunity for African Nova Scotians.  

For his long and distinguished career in the arts, Walter Borden has received many awards and honours — including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals and the Portia White Award.  He is a recipient of the Order of Canada and  the African Nova Scotian Music Association’s Music Heritage Award for his mentorship and promotion of two generations of African Nova Scotian musical talent.

For showtimes and tickets to the Anniversary Season opening, click here


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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Bretten Hannam: FIN Film Fest Maker & Mentor

Bretten Hannam received a Talent Trust scholarship in 2006 and has become a successful filmmaker whose films deal with themes of community, culture, and language with a focus on Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ identity.  Their films include "North Mountain" which won Best Original Score at the Atlantic Film Festival and the Screen Nova Scotia Award for Best Feature, and "Wildfire" which premiered at BFI Flare and played at Frameline LGBT Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, ImagineNative, and InsideOut LGBT Film Festival.  

Bretten directed and co-produced the short film "Mawitai'kw" which will be screened during the Atlantic Shorts Program 1 at the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival.  This film tells the story of Two-Spirit people across Wabanaki territory who overcome distance, isolation and a pandemic to unite as a community and share perspectives.  You can buy tickets and see screening dates/times for the FIN Film Festival here

Bretten also hosted the RBC Script Development Program, where four writers were selected by a jury based on their feature film outlines.  The writers then worked with Bretten through virtual weekend sessions and a pitch workshop to prepare to pitch their feature film ideas to a panel of industry professionals at the FIN Makers RBC Emerging Artists Project Script Pitch Event.  Cited by FIN as "one of Canada's top story editors", Bretten continues to impact the film industry with their own films and through the mentorship of other emerging filmmakers.  

Bretten is a Fellow of the Praxis Centre for Screenwriters, Outfest Screenwriting Lab, Whistler's Indigenous Filmmaker Fellowship, and the CFC Screenwriter's Lab.  For more about Bretten, visit their website. 


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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Talent Trust alumni nominated for the Music Nova Scotia Awards!

The Nova Scotia Music Awards recognize the achievements and contributions of our music and industry professionals and leaders from across Nova Scotia over the past year. These awards celebrate the people and companies who are working to build a strong and vibrant Nova Scotia music community.

Talent Trust alumni were well represented in this year's nominations:

Reeny Smith

Nominations: African Nova Scotian Artist of the Year; Musician of the Year

Reeny received a Talent Trust scholarship in 2010 and 2012 for Jazz, and was the 2010 recipient of the Portia White Award.

Tim Crofts (member of Trio Chimera)

Nomination: Classical Recording of the Year

Tim received a Talent Trust scholarship in 2002 for composition and is a member of the Trio Chimera along with François Houle and Norman Adams.

India Gailey

Nomination: Classical Recording of the Year

India received Talent Trust scholarships from 2015 to 2020 for cello. She was also the recipient of the Lih and Marion Kuo Award in 2017 and the Raymond Simpson Award in 2020.

Jennifer King

Nomination: Classical Recording of the Year

Jennifer received Talent Trust scholarships in 1992 and 1993 for piano, and has become established herself as a sought-after talent across Atlantic Canada.

Cassie Mann

Nomination: Musician of the Year

Cassie received Talent Trust scholarships in 2019 for composition and 2020 for music technology. She sings, plays bass and synth with a variety of groups and works behind the scenes as a sound tech, videographer, bass teacher, video editor, and graphic designer.

The Music Nova Scotia Awards will be presented on Sunday, November 6th, 2022 as part of the 25th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Music Week (NSMW). To see the complete list of nominees, please visit the NSMW website.


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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Joyda Parry: the Talent Trust's very first Dance Scholarship

Since 1957, the Talent Trust has given out 540 scholarships to gifted dancers who have gone on to develop their skills and build successful careers in performance and teaching. The very first dance scholarship recipient was Joyda Parry, a ballroom dancer who received the scholarship in 1957. Here is a snapshot into her exciting career.

In the November 1959 issue of Crowsnest Magazine, Joyda Parry's work as a ballroom dancer and instructor is highlighted: 

A large number of Shannon Park children, ages eight to 16, have been enrolled to study dancing under Joyda Parry. These dancing classes are designed for children who have never had any basic training in dancing. The director's aim is to teach, all the necessary fundamentals of ballroom dancing, with a special emphasis on social etiquette. The types of dancing include foxtrot, jive, waltz, folk and square dancing. At the end of the season, the pupils will present a recital for their parents and friends. 

Joyda Parry is an official examiner and member of the Canadian Dance Teachers' Association, a member of the Imperial Society (England), a member of the International Dance Masters' Association (England), and dance adjudicator, Official Board of Ballroom Dancing. She is a fully qualified teacher of ballroom, Latin American, and folk dancing, having studied in North America and abroad. 

Last year Mrs. Parry was chosen to represent Canada in world championship ballroom dancing in London, England. She has been seen many times as principal dancer on the Don Messer and other television shows.

She is also pictured in the September 1960 issue of Ballroom Dance Magazine when she and dance partner Basil Valvasori won first place in the Richardson Cup demonstration at the Star Bell in London.  They attended the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters Instructors' Conference which is described in this article, and gives a snapshot of what this training looked like in 1960: 

Scene was the very grand Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Towers Hotel. From 9 in the morning until 10 at night, a floor full of teachers, from Washington State to Pennsylvania, from Canada to Mississippi, had themselves a great time studying a wide variety of material presented by a distinguished faculty.

During the preceding Training School and in the ensuing Convention there were other ball­room  classes, which added to the faculty list the names of Muriel Mills, Mrs. Theron Mandeville Woolson,  Louis Girard and James Lackey.

Among our hospitable guides were Adele Artinian, who was just winding up  two successful terms as CNADM President: Marie Buczkowski, the association's newly elected President; Edna Christensen,    Sec'y-Treas.; convention managers Don Ford & Jack Wolf­ ram; ballroom chairman Grace V.  Hansen: principal Elisa  Stigler; and, of course, this publication's  Midwest representative, Louise Ege.

Next summer the CNADM is expanding the popular Ballroom Workshop to two days. For the one-day  sessions in Chicago and regional meetings during the coming season, lots of ballroom is promised.

No more can be found Joyda Parry's career just yet, but the search continues! It is amazing to go back in time and get a peek into the artistic journeys of our early Talent Trust recipients!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

"Directing bodies in space to create my own story" - Minuet Charron

Minuet Charron is a dancer and choreographer who expresses her art with an array of styles from ballet to hip hop. She recently attended a Choreography Intensive and has graciously sent us an update to share her experiences there. For more about Minuet, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

"In July, I spent ten days in Dayton, Ohio, at Regional Dance America’s National Choreography Intensive (NCI) as an emerging choreographer. This annual intensive is catered to the creative development and practice of emerging and established choreographers, while it offers a stream  for dancers to train and learn movement from the choreographers. I enjoyed lectures covering the foundations of music history and workshops in choreography and how to create and play with  movement. 

A great portion of the program was Pablo, director of music, teaching us about music and how  that relates to dance. I learned random history tidbits, a few musical terms that kind of sound funny to me (polyphony for one), and communal speculations of what it really means to be an  artist who creates art. 

Every day, we had a specific assignment, commonly associated with the musical era we had  covered that morning. Some days there were restrictions of the movement (e.g. only standing, only gesture phrases), others had specific goals (use of cannons, choosing a theme, partner work), and some gave us specific music pieces/genres to use. Afterward, we’d have about an  hour and a half with a new group of dancers each day to create. At the end of each day, the dancers showcased all the choreographers’ pieces and then we sat down with the directors to  speak about how the process went. 

I think one of the greatest elements of the intensive was that we were just there to play. And I don’t mean that in a lazy, not doing any work kind of way, I mean it in a curious, freeing, creative type of way! There was no weight of perfection on creations. They weren’t expected to be finished nor cleaned from top to bottom. The purpose was to try things and to experiment.  And it truly was a laboratory for us choreographers. Even when there was a dance I’d  choreographed that I thought happened to be lackluster or wasn’t anything like my other work, I still felt satisfied that I did something new … either out of my element, out of my comfort zone, or something I never thought that I would do myself. I think that’s super cool.  

There were twelve emerging choreographers (including myself) and I have never felt so connected to a group of humans in such a short amount of time. Many of them I felt as if I’d  known my whole life. Perhaps it had something to do with being in a room of like-minded  individuals, all very different people when you look at our personalities, likes and dislikes, but  our passion and our creativity is what brought us together. Not a moment was boring with my fellow choreographers; when we had spare time, we created random phrases, improvised for  hours, gave each other little improv tasks, and one day we made our own t-shirts just for the fun of it.  

Penny, the director of choreographer, highly encouraged us to come into each dance rehearsal  with little to no material pre-made. That was hard for me. Coming in, not unprepared, but not  already set in exactly what was going to happen in the studio. She spoke about choreographing and the magic of creation happening in the studio with the dancers, not just assigning the steps and counts you wrote in your notebook to them. It was about trusting your creativity and leadership skills, trusting that you knew what you were doing and didn’t have to rely on over preparation. And then, allowing the dancers to influence the movement. One thing Penny said  that specifically stuck with me was, “You’ve spent your entire life training to dance the way you do. You can’t expect someone else, who has been training their entire lives to dance the way they do, to be able to move like you.” Which is to say, utilize the dancers and their bodies, talents, and styles to your advantage … give them your vision and leadership, while allowing their own  interpretation. As a choreographer, I learned that it’s not about connecting steps together in an eight count but directing bodies in space to create my own story. And to trust my ability as a choreographer along with trusting my dancers’ abilities. 

I learned a lot from my peers. Which, I believe, is a unique experience. I feel special to have had such amazing dancers alongside me at the NCI. One of the most educational parts was conversing about our choreographic processes. I’ve never been in a room full of choreographers before, and I’ve always been so curious about how other people create. It’s truly something that cannot be taught. Sure, creativity can be practiced, honed, guided even. But I don’t think you can teach someone to be creative. It was interesting talking to others who struggled with aspects of  choreography I felt comfortable with and vice versa. And it was amazing to see the growth and  changes that occurred in each of us in only a week and a half.  

Overall, my experience heightened my interest in choreography, and solidified my heart’s need to create art – specifically in dance. A big thank you to NSTT for supporting my choreographic studies this summer!"

To see a video of Minuet's incredible choreography, click here!


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