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

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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.

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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) 

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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.

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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.

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