22-23 Composer Fellows
Gavin Fraser is a composer, bass-baritone, and educator hailing from Antigonish, Nova Scotia. His music “often balances on a tightrope between static beauty and violence” and has been described as “fresh with pithy modesty” (NY Classical Review ’17). Often inspired by dreams, the ocean, climate justice, and storytelling, Fraser composes for diverse forces, including chamber groups, vocal works, large ensembles, electroacoustic music, and music for film. Fraser’s compositions have been performed across North America and Europe. Most recently, his piece awake my dawn, my fair one was spotlighted in an episode of CBC’s Tapestry (’22), which explored birdsong in urban areas during the pandemic. In 2021, he collaborated with Barbara Hannigan and the EQ ensemble on the new short chamber opera Penelope (’21) and was commissioned by Jonathan Crow for a new chamber work which premiered at the Toronto Summer Music (’21). Fraser has received numerous awards, notably the Karen Kieser Prize in Canadian Music and the 1st place award in the electroacoustic category for the SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers. He’s also received awards from the Land’s End Composer Competition, the University of Toronto’s COVID-19 Global Student Engagement Award, the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Fraser served as the composer in residence at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (’21-’22), as well as their program director and resident composition teacher. He recently completed his doctorate in composition at the University of Toronto.
“It’s honestly been one of the best experiences I’ve had. I had a shorter time period for my fellowship, but I attended every performance weekend from March to my performance in May. In April I ended up running electronics for Zosha DiCastri’s Dear Life. So I got to be on stage with the orchestra running cues from my laptop. Through all this I got to develop a rapport with the orchestra members and they’re just really friendly. They’re such high-level players as well and they all put such a value and emphasis on new music. (…) Abigail is also really amazing – this fellowship is really designed around providing the most practical application of the things we learned. We get meetings with many HPO staff members, giving us a behind-the-scenes view of the orchestra and how that can be helpful for us in creating works for orchestra and getting them performed. There are also non-compositional skills like how to interact with the various orchestra staff and donors, tips on public speaking, and performing for audiences interested in our music. I ended up singing my first Schubert song in 7 years at one of the orchestra’s “Talk and Tea” events. The program really pushes you out of your comfort zone to get you to the highest level of presentation for your work as well as being tied to real expectations that are put on composers. The program bridges the gap in our education as composers and really highlights how to have a career more than anything. And I was able to get all of this in only three months!”– Gavin Fraser (Q&A with Canadian Music Centre)
Cadu Verdan is a Brazilian composer based in Ontario, Canada. He is inspired by feelings or events that are part of the human experience, and interested in the use of texture and colours to express his musical ideas. He was selected for the Fresh Inc Festival 2020 organized by the Fifth House Ensemble, USA, and had the world premiere of his string trio Monomania, a commission made possible by the Steven R. Gerber Trust. He is twice winner of the Classical Music Award of the National Foundation of Arts (FUNARTE), Brazil, the most important award in Brazil for classical music, with this works O peso do Eco (2014) and Sobre a angústia (2016), performed respectively at the XXI (2015) and XXII Biennale of Contemporary Music (2017). Verdan was finalist at Tinta Fresca festival (2015) with his Alucinações cadavéricas for symphony orchestra performed by the Filarmônica de Minas Gerais, Brazil. A graduate of Illinois State University (M.M.) and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (B.M.), he is currently pursuing a PhD in Music Composition at the University of Western Ontario.
“The only other experience I had with an orchestra was in Brazil which was completely different. In that experience, I had to just deliver the score to the orchestra, they had three days of rehearsal, then they played it and then “bye”. With the HPO, however, I get to go back again and again and I get to know all the musicians and the administration of the orchestra, basically everyone involved. I got to talk to donors and patrons and meet other musicians visiting Hamilton. Next year I’ll be giving lectures to the public and be involved in outreach which I’m looking forward to. So far, it’s been really great to be connected to the audience and interact with other humans! (…) In all this, [Composer-in-Residence] Abigail [Richardson-Schulte] has been such a great mentor explaining how to be a person and not just a composer! By that I mean, advising on the ways to behave, how to interact, how to find your opportunities, how to understand the whole picture from the basics to being a real professional. It’s also great to have Gemma New who is so excited about performing new music, which is very rare for a conductor. I’m really grateful to Abigail, Gemma, and Kim [Varian] because as a newcomer to Canada, it’s very hard to get opportunities outside of university and they really believed in me and supported me in an amazing way.”– Cadu Verdan (Q&A with Canadian Music Centre)
21-22 Composer Fellows
Jesse Plessis is a Canadian composer of Métis descent born in British Columbia, currently completing a Doctorate in composition at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. He has been recognized for his “skilled hand at crafting textures that pulse with life,” (Winnipeg Free Press) and has earned multiple awards for piano and composition alike. His musical trajectory was shaped by many mentors along his way, through his studies with Deanna Oye (piano) and Arlan Schultz (composition) at the University of Lethbridge, and Megumi Masaki and Patrick Carrabré (composition). He also studied in masterclasses with Norma Fischer in England and Edith Fischer in Switzerland before completing a doctorate in piano performance at the University de Montréal in class with Paul Stewart. He has performed as a pianist on numerous occasions across Canada and Europe while his compositions have been broadcasted on CBC Radio and performed by musicians across Canada.
Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins
Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins is a composer, conductor and arts administrator originally from Brazil who became a Permanent Resident of Canada in 2019, a decision influenced by her deep involvement with the local community and music production scene in Toronto. Her compositions derive from her interest in using abstract and contrasting sounds to produce medieval-inspired melodies through the instrumental languages of our time. She completed a bachelor’s degree in music composition at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) with Celso Loureiro Chaves, and a master’s degree in music composition at the University of Victoria with Dániel Biró and Christopher Butterfield, where she also received orchestral conducting training with Ajtony Csaba. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in music composition (DMA) at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Gary Kulesha. Her works have been recorded by multiple production companies including Ablaze Records, Redshift Music, Musicworks and Urban Arts Berlin Collective. Her works have also been performed by orchestras and Chambers in cities across North America, South America and Europe.
“The HPO was great and [HPO music director] Gemma [New] is a fantastic collaborator! The orchestra was able to put the piece together in quite a short amount of time, after Gemma New and I discussed a few important points in the score and gestures to be highlighted in the next rehearsals She communicated these points at the beginning of the second rehearsal and the piece came together in 15 minutes! The concert experience was also truly magic: the piece sounded incredible and the musicians played with so much drive, energy and passion! In addition to the rich performance and rehearsal experiences, I also had constant support from Abigail (HPO’s composer in residence), who guided me through an intense process of score and parts editing, who made sure I had a lot of experience with public speaking – through giving interviews, introducing my work from the stage, participating in big outreach events organized by the HPO, and who ensured that I had the space to talk about my piece and myself as a composer.”– Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins (Q&A with Canadian Music Centre)
20-21 Composer Fellows
Arie Verheul van de Ven
Arie Verheul van de Ven is a composer and violist currently based in Toronto. In his recent work, Arie has been exploring geographic relationships and the experience of location through sound. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an exploration of different possibilities of remote music making and creating music that is unique to an online space, furthering his exploration of location and distance through sound making. Arie is currently a Composer-in-Residence with the Gather Round Singers, a community choir that has been regularly meeting virtually since March 2020. Together they have developed two new works: Remote Choir Etudes and In This Moment, both written specifically for virtual performance. As a violist Arie regularly performs with Ontario-based free improv ensemble HARP+ along with harpist Grace Scheele and synthesist Dave Klassen. Their recent project Homecomings was performed remotely over an interactive website developed by creative coder Jamie Christopher Webber. Arie is pursuing his Master’s degree at the Netherlands’ Royal Conservatoire in The Hague where he studies with Peter Adriaansz & Yannis Kyriakides. Previously he has studied with Linda Catlin Smith, Cameron McKittrick, Kaythryn Ladano and Christine Vlajk.
Matthias McIntire is a composer, violinist, violist, electronic musician, improviser and music educator active across a broad spectrum of contexts. Some of Matthias’ recent compositional highlights include a successful Toronto Arts Council commissioning grant to compose a song cycle for self-accompanied soprano/pianist Rachel Fenlon, a new work for violinist Andrea Tyniec, large ensemble and live electronics, first prize in the Costello Composition Competition (Curtis Institute, Philadelphia), as well as performances of his work at New Music Concerts (Toronto), the Canadian Music Centre (Toronto), TEDxUofT, the New Art/New Media Festival (Ottawa), the San Francisco Centre for New Music and at the New Music for Strings Festival (Iceland). Matthias has developed a personal, expressive compositional voice that blends influences from his eclectic background in performance (violin/viola/voice/electronics), Western classical/new music, as well as jazz, fiddle, free improvisation, field recording, foley art and electronic music. Personal expression, connection with others, love of nature, the urgency of climate change and his time spent in places around the world are some of the recurring themes in his pieces. Matthias recently graduated from the University of Toronto where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition under the guidance of Christos Hatzis and Eliot Britton. Equally comfortable in his roles as composer and performer, in classical, new music, and improvised music settings, Matthias is establishing a varied career that keeps him on his toes.
“Hearing my piece ‘Yangon Connection’ brought to life by the musicians of Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra was an amazing experience and the perfect culmination to my time as Composer Fellow with the HPO. I was welcomed into the HPO community and thoroughly enjoyed working with Abigail, the orchestra, and the entire HPO team. I am truly grateful to have had this opportunity!”– Matthias McIntire
20-21 HPO Future Award Recipients
Nathalee Jacques (b. 1996) is pursuing her Master of Music Composition at the University of Ottawa, studying with Kelly-Marie Murphy, where she previously completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Music in 2018. During her undergraduate, she had the opportunity to study with John Armstrong and Frederic Lacroix. Nathalee’s work embodies aspects of her life, creating pieces that are reflective and accessible. She has written solo work and music for numerous ensembles such as chamber ensembles, marching band and string orchestra, and is continuing to develop her electro-acoustic repertoire. She hopes to further expand her focus to reflect on current issues such as feminist issues and reflection and inclusion of the BIPOC community.
“Working with Abigail and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra has been incredible. I had the privilege of participating in a reading session of my work “On My Mind”. The session brought the piece to life and allowed me to realize its potential. I am incredibly grateful for the experience, the numerous mentorship and information sessions with members of the HPO team, and the opportunity to meet fellow musicians and composers!”– Nathalee Jacques
Sophie Dupuis is a composer from New Brunswick interested in acoustic, electroacoustic and interdisciplinary art music. She finds her voice in the picturesque scenery of the Maritimes where she spent her childhood, her attraction to raw electrical sounds and her intense emotional response to art involving the human body and voice. A recent graduate of the Doctor of Musical Arts program in Composition from the University of Toronto, Sophie now works on developing her skills with live and fixed electroacoustics and collaborating with performers on projects for their instrument. Aside from her activities as a composer, she is as a violinist, arranger and music educator in Ottawa and the President of the Canadian League of Composers since 2020. Sophie also holds a Bachelor of Music from Dalhousie University and a Master of Music from the University of Toronto.
“The program really helped demystify what goes on behind the scenes in an orchestra. We heard about finance, marketing, programming, leadership, playing, part preparation by librarians… In addition, having a piece read by an orchestra is absolute gold for early career composers, as chances to hear our works for this formation are few and far in between! I found it particularly helpful to have Abigail as a mentor during the writing process for my piece: she’s very insightful as she has years of experience working with orchestras. We had the opportunity to discuss many aspects of writing, both practical and technical. I felt that it was a great opportunity to experiment with new textures in this safe learning experience, with open-minded musicians who frequently work with new music. Overall, I feel better prepared to work with orchestras in a professional context moving forward!”– Sophie Dupuis
19-20 Composer Fellows
Originally from Aguascalientes, Mexico, Luis Ramirez began an early career as a pianist, and his interest in composition emerged as a consequence of performing contemporary music. He started his Bachelor studies at the Aguascalientes University and in 2012 he received a full scholarship to study at Brandon University in Manitoba, where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and subsequently a Master of Music degree in 2016 studying with Alexander Tselyakov. The following year he obtained a Master of Music degree in Composition with Dr. Patrick Carrabré at the same institution. Luis has been awarded numerous scholarships and has performed across Mexico, Canada, Italy and Serbia. He has had multiple works commissioned, with premieres at the Casalmaggiore Festival in Italy, AugustFest in Manitoba, Festival Cervantino and in Brandon, Manitoba. Recently, his work Chido was premiered by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra during the Winnipeg New Music Festival 2018 as winner of the CMC Prairie Region Emerging Composer Competition, and was awarded the first prize of the Sir Ernest MacMillan Awards of the SOCAN Foundation. An eclectic musician, Luis has toured as a classical pianist, performed Latin-American music in jazz festivals as a member of the Indestructible Band, conducted the Brandon Community Orchestra, presented his academic research at several conferences, and is currently a member of the Amarras Tango Quintet. He is pursuing doctoral studies at York University in Toronto with Randolph Peters.
“The HPO Composer Fellowship program has been an absolutely vital stepping stone in my development as a professional composer. Having an inside look into the dynamics of a professional orchestra has given me a much deeper understanding of what my role as a composer can be in the future. Thanks to this fellowship I have acquired not only musical skills but also interpersonal skills, which have already proven to be crucial in my collaboration with other orchestras. The chance to hear my music and receive feedback directly from the musicians, the director, and the composer-in-residence is one of the most rewarding and insightful experiences one can have as a composer, and working with the HPO has been particularly inspiring because of the diligence and commitment by the performers and everyone involved.”– Luis Ramirez
Andrew James Clark is a multi-faceted Canadian composer currently residing in Toronto. Having pursued graduate composition studies at the University of Toronto and served as the Composer-in-Residence of the University of Toronto’s Wind Ensemble, he is also Artistic Director of Classical Context, a concert series founded by students from the university providing a hybrid of new music and traditional repertoire to general audiences through lecture presentations. Andrew also holds the position of Principal Pianist at Heron Park Baptist Church. His piece The Valley of the Dry Bones was recently published by Counterpoint Library as part of their Young Composers Series and he was also recently granted a conducting apprenticeship with Orchestra Toronto to be carried out during the months of March and April 2018. Recent awards include The University of Toronto’s 2016 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award in recognition of Andrew’s efforts in sustaining a music therapy program for elderly homeless musicians located in the downtown core. He has also been awarded the Gabriella Dory Prize in Music and the William Erving Fairclough Scholarship for graduating with the highest standing in U of T’s Undergraduate Composition Program, while also being the chosen recipient of the CNEF Eamonn O’Loghlin scholarship merited by his writings concerning the negative impacts of consumerism on our artistic culture. Andrew is currently a theory, harmony and history classroom instructor in Scarborough’s Musical World F.A. Group, and a piano teacher at Dixon Hall’s Music School.
“I’m now a completely different person than I was when I first entered the HPO Fellowship program. With the help of Abigail and the HPO staff, I’ve developed a new appreciation for Canadian orchestral music, and a new admiration for those who curate, produce and present it. If I become fortunate enough to establish a career in composition, it will certainly have been a direct result of this Program.”– Andrew Clark
19-20 Additional Reading Session Recipient
The music of Toronto-based composer Paul Alexander Lessard has been heard at concerts and festivals across North America. Originally from south-central Pennsylvania, Lessard has crafted a deeply personal musical language with a uniquely exciting approach to rhythm. He is also keenly interested in videogame music, often choosing to incorporate forms and structures associated with that idiom into his classical works. Conversely, his growing number of video game soundtracks often feature his trademark rhythmic vocabulary. An ever-increasing number of ensembles have read and performed Lessard’s works, including the Winds of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, the University of Toronto Saxophone Ensemble, the University of Florida Wind Symphony, the Catalyst Saxophone Quartet and many others. Upcoming performances include Lessard’s UK debut as the Trinity Laban Saxophones perform his saxophone ensemble works Some Items, Fox Preferred, Penultimate Destination, and the world premiere of Death Stick (composed for Canadian saxophonist Brendan Catalano) at the North American Saxophone Alliance conference in March 2020. Lessard holds degrees in Physics, Saxophone Performance and Composition from the University of Florida and Gettysburg College. His past teachers include James Paul Sain, Paul Richards and Avner Dorman, and he has participated in masterclasses with Dorothy Chang and Toshio Hosokawa.
18-19 Season Composer Fellow
Canadian-born composer Liam Ritz is currently based in Toronto, Ontario. Liam’s works have been performed in numerous festivals and workshops including the 2014 and 2016 Canadian Contemporary Music Workshops, 2016 Scotia Festival of Music, 2017 University of Toronto New Music Festival, 2013 and 2017 Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra What Next Festival and the 2017 Orford Music Academy. Most recently, Liam was awarded the Pierre Mercure SOCAN Foundation Young Composers Award and the William Erving Fairclough Graduating Scholarship for top-standing within the University of Toronto Faculty of Music. Liam recently completed a Bachelor of Music in Composition at the University of Toronto.
As the 18-19 Season HPO Composer Fellow, Liam Ritz was commissioned to write a piece premiered at the Intimate & Immersive concert In the Groove on May 23, 2019.
“One of the most challenging, yet rewarding, aspects of being Composer Fellow has been getting to present and perform in front of large groups of people. As someone who, if left to my own devices, would happily never stand in front of a crowd, it’s been incredibly helpful to be put in situations where I need to speak and present to a larger audience. As I’ve done more and more over the last months, I’ve become more comfortable and confident in those situations and learned to move past the initial anxiety of it and actually begin enjoying the experiences. Because of this, I’ve been able to develop my ability to engage with a broader community and communicate about the work that I’m passionate about.”– Liam Ritz
The Composer Fellowship is generously sponsored by the RBC Emerging Artists Project.