Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Jane Archibald and Abigail Sinclair: Live from LAMP

Talent Trust recipient and emerging artist, Abigail has spent the last few weeks studying with soprano Jane Archibald, who is also a former Talent Trust recipient, at the Lunenbury Academy of Music Performances (LAMP).

From LAMP:
Enjoy a beautiful 20-minute program featuring singers Rhian Merritt, Abigail Sinclair and Emmanuel Solomon and pianist Ian Tomaz performing works by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Gabriel Fauré, John Duke, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Paolo Tosti. To begin, just click here.

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)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Becka Barker: VANS Mentorship Program

Former Talent Trust recipient, Becka Barker, is one of four VANS (Visual Arts Nova Scotia) mentors for their 2019-2020 Mentor Program.

Remote Possibilities, the 2019-2020 Mentorship Program Exhibition, runs July 8 - August 2 at the Craig Gallery, with a mentee artist talk Saturday, July 11 at 2 p.m. For more information click here.

Becka Barker won NS Talent Trust scholarships in 1999 and 2000 for Super8 and 16mm film. Her work has screened across North America and throughout several countries across East Asia. She focuses on hand processes and collaboration.

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, July 8, 2020

Mike Hirschbach honoured as Remarkable Canadian!

The Talent Trust would like to extend a huge congratulations to former scholarship recipient, and long time friend of the Talent Trust, Mike Hirschbach (Artist Director of Halifax Circus) who has been awarded a Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)

This honour, one of the highest in the country, “has been conferred upon you (Mike Hirschbach) by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, as a testament to your outstanding achievement and service to the nation.”
The citation reads: “In 2005, Mike Hirschbach started the Circus Circle outreach program, a safe space for youth affected by homelessness, street life, addiction, and mental illness. Unique to Atlantic Canada, it allows participants to experience positive and creative recreation, learn new skills, and build self-confidence, all while establishing meaningful connections and increasing resilience".
Mike told the Talent Trust that "at some time, I’ll be invited to the official ceremony where I’ll receive a medal. In the meantime, I keep thinking of all the supportive people who work beside me every day who make this recognition possible; the wonderful teachers I work with at Halifax Circus, the youth who show up every week despite set-backs in their lives to practice, rehearse, invent and create, and my friends and family who’ve been my rocks during both good and difficult times".
For more information about Halifax Circus you can visit their website. You can also learn more about their social outreach program, Circle Circus, by clicking here.
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)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

O Canada Performances!!

A little something special in celebration of Canada Day! 

We hope you enjoy these performances of O Canada performed by Talent Trust recipients:


Laura Johnston bio:
Born in raised in Sydney, soprano Laura Johnston now resides in Prospect Bay. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland studying with voice professor Dr. Caroline Schiller and vocal coach Eldon Murray. Laura is also studying privately with New York’s Neil Semer. Recent performances include: Soprano soloist with Chebucto Symphony Orchestra’s Messiah from Scratch, Casilda in Opera Nova Scotia’s production of The Gondoliers, and Duchess in the MUN Opera Workshop’s production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Will Todd.

Sherry Chen bio:
I began playing the piano when I was six years old. Now, I have been playing the piano for over seven years. I love playing the piano and one of my favorite parts about playing the piano is that there is so much wonderful repertoire to learn. My favorite thing to do as a pianist is performing my music. I think that every performance is an opportunity to improve and showcase my abilities as a musician. Sometimes, I work on difficult sections and passages for a long time in my practice so I have the confidence to play the best I can. As an artist, I like to play works that I connect to, even from the first time I hear it. As a pianist, I find it important not only to simply play a song but to also understand the meaning behind it is.

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, June 24, 2020

Welcome Nicole Heelan and Natalie Wells to the Talent Trust Board

We are pleased to announce the newest board members to the Talent Trust Nicole Heelan and Natalie Wells. We look forward to their new perspectives and support. 

Nicole Heelan
Nicole Heelan is a lawyer at Cox & Palmer. 

"I have had a vast and varied interest in the arts for as long as I can remember. Although I have no proclivity with a paint brush, myself, I have always appreciated the beauty of the visual arts in their myriad forms. I studied piano at the conservatory as a child and have a long abiding love of music. My greatest love, however, is literature. 

To be able to contribute, even in some small way, to the arts in Nova Scotia is an honour."

Natalie Wells
Natalie Wells is a Chartered Professional Accountant at N.J. Wells Inc.

"As a proud Nova Scotian, I recognize the importance of both sustaining and enhancing our arts communities. The Nova Scotia Talent Trust has been instrumental in providing much needed financial support to emerging artists for over 75 years and has truly helped contribute to the growth of Nova Scotia’s arts scene.

I am delighted to be on the NSTT Board and to continue its mandate to help emerging Nova Scotian artists in achieving professional careers in the arts."

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, June 17, 2020

Thank you to our outgoing Talent Trust Board Members

Erin Sparks outgoing NSTT Chair
Our board members play a significant role in the execution of our vision to support the development of talented Nova Scotians in the pursuit of a professional career in the arts. They dedicate countless hours and support the mission of the Talent Trust with their own funds. We're very proud to say that we have a 100% giving Board.

Today, we bid farewell to some of them. We extend our most sincere thanks to these members for their perseverance and the critical level of insight into issues that guide the Talent Trust forward. Your work will never be forgotten.

At our Annual General Meeting, early in June, we said good-bye to our Chair Erin Sparks. Thank you Erin, for four years of leadership, guidance, planning and execution of our 75th anniversary in 2019. We're glad to know that we'll still be in touch through your work as the Executive Director for Debut Atlantic.

Thank you to Joann Fitzgerald for
New NSTT Chair: Joann Fitzgerald
taking on the role as Chair. Joann has joined the board a few years back and has lead the Development Committee for the last four years. She initiated our new brand colours and logo, and supported the Talent Trust with her knowledge in marketing.

We also said good-bye to Peter Guilford. Peter came on board five years ago to help us envision, plan, and execute our 75th anniversary year. We couldn't have wished for a better chair for the 75th anniversary committee. Thank you Peter!

Another big Thank You goes to Leila Kovacevic. Leila was on the NSTT board for twelve years as the Secretary. She spent many hours writing minutes and help fundraise in various ways, opening doors, and advocating for our up and coming Nova Scotia artists. Thank you Leila!

We are pleased to announce the newest members to our team Nicole Heelan and Natalie Wells. We look forward to their new perspectives and support. 
We'll introduce them to you in next week's post.

Thank you to our board members for their dedication, knowledge, and time.

You can find the full roster of our NSTT board on our website. 

Thank you,

Jacqueline Steudler, Executive Director,

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, June 10, 2020

Connecting Family and Gaelic Culture

Sisters, and recent Talent Trust scholarship recipients, Abby and Ella Hanson share their thoughts on culture, family and community.

Question: What are your earliest memories of Gaelic culture in your family or community?

Ella and Abby: “We’ve always loved going to visit relatives in Cape Breton and, during the summer of 2014, we decided to go to the Gaelic College for a weeklong summer camp. While we were there, we took fiddle lessons and Gaelic language class and we began to talk more in our family about our own Gaelic ancestry. Because we loved spending time at the College so much, it was a natural progression into taking more intensive Gaelic immersion courses in addition to fiddle, step-dance, piano accompaniment, and Gaelic song lessons. We spend most of our vacation time in St Ann’s, whenever classes, events, and camps are held”

Question: What program/s are you participating in this summer and how has it been adjusting to studying online during the global pandemic?

Ella and Abby: “We know that all of the camps that we were going to be involved in this year both in Cape Breton at the Gaelic College and in Boston at the Boston States Fiddle Camp are going to be online, but details are still being worked out. Because of having to stay at home, we are going to be continuing with our weekly online fiddle lessons with mentor and teacher Wendy MacIsaac; Ella will also be doing step dance lessons and Abby is going to continue taking piano accompaniment online with performer Mac Morin and Gaelic song lessons with performer Cathy Ann MacPhee. For both of us, as it is for most people, giving and taking online lessons has been challenging but we are grateful that we can at least have something available.”

Question: How is it to study together as sisters?

Ella and Abby: “Sometimes challenging because we have completely different personalities when it comes to practice and performances, but also great because you always have someone to share the experiences with.”

Question: Why do you feel it is so important to share your culture with your community?

Ella and Abby: “We love knowing that we’re a part of such a unique and amazing community of people. Like members of any culture, we are proud of our language, history, music, and traditions and want to share with others; it is so important to learn from one another in order to understand and appreciate what we have in common and what is special about our differences. The Gaelic community is ensuring that their culture and language not only survives but is growing and thriving. Because of connections with the Gaelic College, Gaelic Affairs, and the Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia, we feel like we have an integral part to play. It’s also fun to visit with elementary school kids and introduce them to what it means to be a Gael in Nova Scotia today!”

Abby and Ella Hanson are teenage sisters from Dartmouth with strong ties to Cape Breton and the Nova Scotia Gaelic community. They perform together in the traditional Cape Breton/Scottish Gaelic fiddling tradition; Ella also stepdances and Abby sings traditional and contemporary Gaelic songs. The sisters are partners in their business “Up With Gaelic” and have given Gaelic Culture demonstrations and presentations to community associations, government groups, educators, and over 5000 elementary students in the HRM and surrounding areas.

Ella's and Abby's Performances and Social Media links

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, June 3, 2020

Alex Yang: Practicing during hard times

Talent Trust recipient, Alex Yang, has some inspirational words for other young artists on practicing during these difficult times. To watch his video click here.

(Bio from Alex's family)

11-year-old Alex Yang is a grade six student at Halifax Grammar School, and has been a student of Professor Lynn Stodola since 2015. 

In June, 2019, he won First Place in both piano and violin (age 10 group) in the Canadian Music Competition (CMC) National Final in Calgary, Alberta, and was awarded the overall Grand Prize for all instruments age 7 - 10, having achieved the highest piano mark of 97 in that age division. 

As the 2019 winner of the Chebucto Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, he was invited to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 this past November as soloist for their opening 2019/2020 Season Concert. And he was invited to give a full length solo concert in 2020/2021 Cecelia concert series on December, 2020. 

Recently, he was invited to perform at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, having won the First prize and Exceptional Young Musician prize in the International Classical Music Competition. 

In Feb, 2020 he won the Canadian Sinfonietta Young Artist Competition and played with the Orchestra in the 2020 Young Artist Concert in March. In the 2020 Halifax Kiwanis Music Festival, he received the Gordon Murray Rising Star Award for the third year in a row, the Halifax Ladies’ Music Club Junior Award, as well as the George Fleming Memorial Senior String Award for his outstanding performance in the Festival. 

Alex has been an RCM Gold Medalist (Atlantic Region) in both Piano and Violin, and winner of numerous Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers Association (NSRMTA) trophies and Scholarship Competitions in piano and violin. 

As one of the youngest Nova Scotia Talent Trust Scholarship recipients in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, he was invited to perform a solo recital at Government House at their Music on Tuesday Series in 2018. 

Alex also loves playing violin for school musicals, such as “Seussical” and “Newsies” and singing as a member of Halifax Boys Honour Choir. Alex enjoys music composition as well and recently won First Prize in the 2019 NSRMTA Composition Competition. Aside from music, Alex is a straight A+ student in school academics. In sports, He likes tennis, badminton and swimming, as well as reading, computer coding and computer games.

You can find more form Alex here and here.
Both performances are from the 2020 Kiwanis Music Festival and were marked 98, 97. Due to his stunning achievement on both piano and violin in the festival, he was award the following awards:
1) Rising Star Award in Memory of Gordon Murry
2) George Fleming Memorial Senior String Award
3) Halifax Ladies' Musical Club Junior Award
4) Patricia Bryson Piano Prize: Solo-Chopin-Senior

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, May 27, 2020

Katerina Bakolias: My Grandfather's True Stories

Through the National Theatre School’s Art Apart program former Talent Trust recipient, Katerina Bakolis, has a new project being released on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

About the project:
‘My Grandfather’s True Stories,’ is a radio play by Katerina Bakolias which will be released on May 28th. The play runs 30 minutes in length. 
Its purpose is as a tribute to her grandfather, Alexander ‘Alec’ Gillis, a fantastic storyteller and constant source of artistic support. Katerina hopes that these stories will fascinate listeners, both young and old, and evoke pleasant memories of bedtime stories. “My grandfather paints a perfect picture with his words and from the time I was able to understand him he told me stories. Funny stories, ghost stories, and stories that he promised were true. I’ve selected three of my favourites and retold them in my own words with some added theatrical flare, but I’ll leave it to you to decide if they’re true.” - Katerina #artapart

About Katerina Bakolias:
Katerina Bakolias is a Halifax based performer, playwright, and screenwriter. She graduated from Dalhousie University’s Fountain School of Performing Arts with an Honours in Theatre and has been working in the Halifax film and theatre community ever since. Most recently Katerina has appeared as Eric (Lost Kid) in Neptune Theatre's Holiday Pantomime, Peter Pan. Katerina is the recipient of the ‘Best Performer Award’ in the 2017 Halifax Fringe Festival for her portrayal of Callie in Whale Song Theatre’s production of Stop Kiss. Katerina’s play, ’Til Death Do Us Part had a staged reading in the 2018 Eastern Front Theatre Stages Festival, a workshop in the PARC New Play Readings in January 2020, and was scheduled to be produced in May 2020 as part of the Open Spaces program at Neptune Theatre. It will now be rescheduled due to Covid-19.

You can find the project at either of these links:

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

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

Nancy Dahn on Inspiring Arts Students

Thanks to former Talent Trust recipient Nancy Dahn (of Duo Concertante) for sharing her words of wisdom with emerging artists on how to further their practice! Video might not be visible on all devices.

For over twenty years, violinist Nancy Dahn, University Research Professor and fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, has built an international career in the acclaimed Canadian chamber ensemble Duo Concertante with pianist Timothy Steeves. After their first concert in 1997, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald called them “two packages of musical dynamite that would credit any stage on the planet.” Since then, their over 600 performances at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Roy Thompson Hall, and Shanghai City Theatre have become recognized internationally as passionate, subtle, and brilliant, and praised for “artistry, poetry, and impeccable technique” (La Scena Musicale) in “deeply integrated performances that flow naturally as if the music were being created on the spot” (Gramophone). 

Her twelve acclaimed Duo recordings include the complete Beethoven sonatas which received critical praise in German, Austrian, British and Canadian media and is featured almost weekly on CBC, and the 2017 ECMA winner J.S. Bach Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard. Of the Beethoven recording, Gramophone writes that Dahn and Steeves “do Atlantic Canada proud in this splendid new set” and refers to a “miracle of... knowledge and poetry.” Their recording of Murray Schafer’s Duo for Violin and Piano, which he composed for them, won the 2011 Juno Award for Classical Composition of the Year. 

Passionate advocates for new music, Dahn has created a lasting legacy through a relentless commissioning program, inspiring a total of 66 new works and original arrangements for violin and piano from Canada’s leading composers. The Duo’s CDs Wild Honey, Wild Bird and Incarnation consist entirely of commissioned Canadian works. CBC picked Incarnation as one of the top ten classical recordings of 2017; it also won the 2018 ECMA for Classical Recording of the Year. The Duo’s Christmas album Perfect Light won the ECMA for Classical Recording of the Year in 2019.

Her commitment to working with young musicians gave rise to the annual Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival, which the Duo founded in 2000. In addition to presenting world-renowned guest artists alongside emerging and well-known local talents, the festival offers an inspiring and intensive educational experience for over 20 young chamber musicians and composers. Through this chamber music festival, the Duo has introduced the highest musical standards to the province, developed free enrichment, outreach, and school touring programs and recruited excellent students to Memorial’s graduate programs. 
Throughout her years of artistic endeavours and achievements, Nancy Dahn has maintained a select studio of over 15 violinists at Memorial University. Hired in 1995 with only one string student enrolled at the university, Dahn now draws students from across North America; some have pursued graduate studies at such institutions as The Juilliard School and Manhattan School. She regularly gives masterclasses across Canada, the US and abroad. 

Duo Concertante’s artistic excellence and contributions throughout their 20-year career extend beyond superb musicianship in live performances and recordings to an intense commitment to reaching audiences, passionate advocacy for new music and a deep dedication to mentorship. She also curates and develops extra musical projects which focus on issues surrounding environment, social justice and history. In these regards, primarily through her work in the acclaimed ensemble Duo Concertante, Nancy has demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement as a researcher/performer, teacher and community leader.

For more information on Nancy Dahn and Duo Concertante visit:

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, May 20, 2020

Meet Mollie Oates-Johnson 2020 Talent Trust Ambassador

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”

For Mollie Oates-Johnson (@mllieoj_ballet) this quote, by Jennifer Lee, means never giving up on her goals, despite any fears, obstacles, or uncertainties.

The last few weeks have shown us that art has a special way of bringing us together and helping us to heal during difficult times. And Mollie, now more then ever, is committed to her dreams as she continues to train and dance while sheltering-in.

Mollie Oates-Johnson is a grade 11 student in the Professional Division at the Alberta Ballet School. She previously trained at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts (MCPA), Leica Hardy School of Dance, and Halifax Dance. Past summer intensives include: Alberta Ballet School, Colorado Ballet Academy, Ellison Ballet, the Dallas Conservatory, Canada’s National Ballet School, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. She has been accepted to train this summer in Europe, at the Royal Ballet School and the Dutch National Ballet Academy. Last year, she participated in the Genée International Ballet Competition and the Youth American Grand Prix. She has received scholarships from Nova Scotia Talent Trust (NSTT), Alberta Ballet School, the Society of Russian Ballet (The Marijan Bayer Award), and the School of Dance at MCPA. 

Notable performances include: MCPA’s Alice the Ballet, Symphony Nova Scotia’s The Nutcracker (6 seasons), and Ballet Jörgen’s Coppélia and Romeo & Juliet, as a local participant in both. 

She is excited to be chosen as this year’s NSTT Ambassador and is very grateful for the Talent Trusts continued support.

You can watch Mollie dance and train almost every day on her Instagram stories 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)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

2087 Watches: The One Hour Watch Project

2087! That is how many watches former Talent Trust recipient Lee Yuen-Rapati has drawn since 2014. One hour a day, one watch a day!

About the One Hour Watch Project (from Lee):

'I started the One Hour Watch project partly on a whim whilst finishing my undergrad degree at NSCAD University in 2014. I gave myself a challenge to draw something within one hour for technique practice. At the time I was very keen to learn more about watches, so the subject matter was quickly decided. I ended up posting the drawing online with the number 1 in the comments which meant (to me at least) there should be more to come. After drawing another watch the next day I realised the project would and should become a daily undertaking. Since then I have drawn a watch every single day as part of this project.

The project has also focused on designing original watches rather than drawing existing ones, however I occasionally feature creative interpretations of iconic watches. The one hour limit allows for enough time to explore and draw out an original design but it's not so long that I use up a whole day drawing a watch. The drawings mostly use alcohol based markers along with a few different pens and pencils, these materials allow for quick and dynamic colouring. The One Hour Watch project has allowed me to connect with watchmakers and brands in the industry such as Roger Smith, and MING who have both commissioned sets of watch drawings.'.

For more on Lee's One Hour Watch project visit his website or Instagram

You can also find a live-drawing session of Lee creating here.

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

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Dancer, Carrigan MacDonald, trains through COVID-19

Talent Trust Alumna Carrigan MacDonald shares her story of dancing through COVID-19.

"It keeps us connected and it keeps us in shape", she shared with the Montreal Gazette (Dancers on the cusp of professional career innovate to stay in shape).

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Carrigan started dancing at the age of 4. She danced at Halifax Dance from 2008-2015. She moved to Montreal in the Fall of 2015 to attend École Supérieure de Ballet du Québec, where she is currently training. She has had the opportunity to attend summer programs at schools such as The National Ballet School of Canada in 2011 and 2012, and Arts Umbrella in 2018.

While in Montreal, Carrigan has had the chance to work with companies such as Les Grands Ballets Canadiens for their Nutcracker in 2016, 2018, and 2019 and Rubberbandance for theor production Fils de Ville in 2017.

As a choreographer she has created pieces for École Supérieure's choreography competition, in both their junior and senior versions. Her piece Passion Project won the judges choice award in 2019. In the Fall of 2019 she had the chance to perform a duet choreographed by Gaby Baars at the Opera Gala in Regensburg, Germany.

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!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Reeny Smith supports regional hospitals with her new song 'Survive'

photo: Reeny Smith at
Talent Trust alumna Reeny Smith has a special gift for our COVID 19 care workers. 

From her website

“SURVIVE”, singer Reeny Smith’s inspiring anthem about standing strong in the face of adversity, will be sent out to radio across Nova Scotia next week.  

The resulting air play royalties will be donated to our regional hospitals to purchase much-needed supplies in the fight against COVID 19. 

The campaign was inspired last week by simultaneous calls for Reeny to submit videos to CTV’s Live at 5 Quarantunes feature and to the Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation for their own artist-driven on-line campaign in the fight against the pandemic.

Audience response was strong on both fronts.  The song’s message of resilience and strength resonated and it seemed the perfect vehicle to raise-much needed funds for the fight to contain the disease.

“If ‘SURVIVE' can help people get through these painful and frightening times, I’m happy to to be a part of it…”says Reeny from her home in North Preston. “We all need help to get through this together.”

Thank you Reeny!!!

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!