The dream of recording and releasing music is a common one for all musicians. But for contemporary music composers, this dream was made all the more difficult in July of 2009, when the Department of Canadian Heritage made the decision to reallocate funding away from the Specialized Music Recording Program administered by The Canada Council. The $1.3 million from these programmes were reallocated to FACTOR/ Musicaction, which were, and still are, typically associated with popular music genres.
In 2010, the Freedman Family (Mary Morrison-Freedman and daughters) set up a fund administered by the Canadian Music Centre to try to fill the funding gap by establishing the $1,500 Harry Freedman award for composers to use towards the completion of a recording project. It is not a large sum by any means, but it helps. The fund is in honour of composer Harry Freedman, who passed away in 2005.
This year’s recipient is Andrew Staniland, to support the recording of “Talking Down the Tiger” which will be published by NAXOS on a disc featuring several other solo pieces by Staniland. The winning piece will be performed by percussionist extraordinaire Ryan Scott, and involves an innovative electronic setup that allows for live looping.
This is the second time a University of Toronto Faculty of Music Doctoral Program graduate has won this award. Something in the water perhaps?
Staniland, equally at home composing for acoustic and electroacoustic media, has been described by Alex Ross in the New Yorker as “alternately beautiful and terrifying.” He was also the recipient of the big brother-styled CBC National Grand Prize in EVOLUTION, which pitted composer against composer struggling to write the best piece they could with limited time and resources.
Since winning the award in 2009, Staniland has joined the music faculty at Memorial University in St John’s Newfoundland as professor of theory and composition.
The Award will be publicly presented on March 21 during the NUMUS concert, Clear Music, which will feature a premiere of a piece by Staniland.
If we are to continue to support our young and talented composers, we need more awards like these.
Copeland used the funds to release a sound art piece called “Bats and Elephants,” which premiered at New Adventures in Sound Art’s SOUNDplay festival in November 2011 with Benjamin Thigpen. Caravassilis, before him, used his award to help fund his first CD Visions.
You can read John Terauds’ past interview with Constantine Caravassilis in Musical Toronto here.