Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra honours three Toronto-area musicians with young composers award

News Jan 24, 2014 by Cynthia Reason Bloor West Villager

An Etobicoke School of the Arts music student was among the big winners at the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra’s (EPO) inaugural Young Composers Competition.

Fifteen-year-old Blaise Gratton, a Bloor West Village area resident, took home the prize for Promising High School Composer Wednesday, Jan. 22 for his piece Tritones and Semitones, which he wrote over two months specifically for the competition.

“It was a great feeling, of course, when I found out I won. I was really happy,” Blaise, who began playing tuba for the EPO in September, said at the Young Composers Competition awards reception Wednesday evening at Westmount Gallery. “I started playing at a very young age and I’ve pretty much always loved music.”

Launched by the EPO last year, the Young Composers Competition was an initiative Jessica Monk and her husband Chris Van Loan hoped might help to encourage youth creation of classical orchestral music.

Both members of the 60-piece EPO – Monk is the orchestra’s principal bass player and member of the EPO board, and Van Loan is a violinist – Monk said the couple recently began thinking “how hard it must be for composers to have their work listened to.”

“So we thought it would be a fun thing to do to create an opportunity for young composers by hosting a Canada-wide competition,” said Monk, who also acted as chair of the Young Composers Competition.

Thom Currie, executive director of EPO, agreed: “I think the spirit of a competition like this is incredibly good for the future of classical music in Canada, created by younger Canadians,” he said. “I think this really speaks to a great future.”

Monk and Van Loan donated the $2,000 in funds for the Young Composers Competition Grand Prize, while fellow board member Judy Allan contributed an additional $1,500 to cover the Runner-Up Prize ($1,000) and the Promising High School Composer Prize ($500).

By the time the competition closed in November, Monk said the EPO had 19 submissions from young musicians aged 32 and under from all across Canada – each of which was judged blindly by volunteer judges Gary Kulesha, a well-known Canadian composer, Dr. Patricia Shand, Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, and EPO’s music director, Sabatino Vacca.

All three judges were “quite pleased with the overall quality of the compositions,” Monk said, noting that none of them had any idea who or how old each of the composers was until the judging process was complete.

“I, too, was completely impressed. I understand the complexity in even what sounds like a simple piece of music – and for someone to conceptualize that and get it down on paper, it’s amazing,” Monk said, “because they’re doing it for all the instruments of the orchestra, not just one. It’s a huge talent to do that – especially at such a young age.”

While Blaise took home the $500 Promising High School Composer prize – 90 per cent of which he intends to save towards his university tuition – this year’s runner-up was Sean King, a 26-year-old University of Toronto grad who earned his Masters in Music Composition. He takes home $1,000 in prize money for his composition, Demon Dance.

And EPO’s ultimate Grand Prize winner of this year’s inaugural Young Composers Competition was 23-year-old York University undergrad Isaias Garcia, for his piece entitled Polish Rhapsody.

Born in Canada, Garcia grew up in Argentina before moving back to Toronto at age 11.

While he didn’t pick up an instrument until high school, it was under the tutelage of Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton’s Andrzej Rozbicki – who would go on to become Garcia’s “greatest influence” – that music quickly became his outlet.

“When I was in high school, I was still improving on my English, because my first language was Spanish,” he said. “So music was essentially my universal language – the way I could communicate with everyone else.”

Now fluent in both English and a whole host of instruments – including the clarinet, piano and saxophone – Garcia is a member of Rozbicki’s Celebrity Symphony Orchestra, and plans to continue on with his musical education at York in the university’s Masters of Composition program upon his graduation later this year.

In addition to the $2,000 in prize money, Garcia will also enjoy having his composition, Polish Rhapsody, receive a full public orchestral performance by the EPO at its upcoming Old World, New World, Out of This World Concert on at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 11 at Martingrove Collegiate Institute, 50 Winterton Dr.

“I’m really excited about that aspect. For a young composer like myself, it’s a great experience to hear your music performed – not only for the fact that it’s being recognized, but you also get an enormous amount of feedback from the musicians themselves,” he said. “I think that’s the most invaluable thing you can learn. I’m still just learning as a composer; composition is something that takes a lifetime to learn.”

For more information about the EPO, go to eporchestra.ca

Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra honours three Toronto-area musicians with young composers award

News Jan 24, 2014 by Cynthia Reason Bloor West Villager

An Etobicoke School of the Arts music student was among the big winners at the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra’s (EPO) inaugural Young Composers Competition.

Fifteen-year-old Blaise Gratton, a Bloor West Village area resident, took home the prize for Promising High School Composer Wednesday, Jan. 22 for his piece Tritones and Semitones, which he wrote over two months specifically for the competition.

“It was a great feeling, of course, when I found out I won. I was really happy,” Blaise, who began playing tuba for the EPO in September, said at the Young Composers Competition awards reception Wednesday evening at Westmount Gallery. “I started playing at a very young age and I’ve pretty much always loved music.”

Launched by the EPO last year, the Young Composers Competition was an initiative Jessica Monk and her husband Chris Van Loan hoped might help to encourage youth creation of classical orchestral music.

Both members of the 60-piece EPO – Monk is the orchestra’s principal bass player and member of the EPO board, and Van Loan is a violinist – Monk said the couple recently began thinking “how hard it must be for composers to have their work listened to.”

“So we thought it would be a fun thing to do to create an opportunity for young composers by hosting a Canada-wide competition,” said Monk, who also acted as chair of the Young Composers Competition.

Thom Currie, executive director of EPO, agreed: “I think the spirit of a competition like this is incredibly good for the future of classical music in Canada, created by younger Canadians,” he said. “I think this really speaks to a great future.”

Monk and Van Loan donated the $2,000 in funds for the Young Composers Competition Grand Prize, while fellow board member Judy Allan contributed an additional $1,500 to cover the Runner-Up Prize ($1,000) and the Promising High School Composer Prize ($500).

By the time the competition closed in November, Monk said the EPO had 19 submissions from young musicians aged 32 and under from all across Canada – each of which was judged blindly by volunteer judges Gary Kulesha, a well-known Canadian composer, Dr. Patricia Shand, Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, and EPO’s music director, Sabatino Vacca.

All three judges were “quite pleased with the overall quality of the compositions,” Monk said, noting that none of them had any idea who or how old each of the composers was until the judging process was complete.

“I, too, was completely impressed. I understand the complexity in even what sounds like a simple piece of music – and for someone to conceptualize that and get it down on paper, it’s amazing,” Monk said, “because they’re doing it for all the instruments of the orchestra, not just one. It’s a huge talent to do that – especially at such a young age.”

While Blaise took home the $500 Promising High School Composer prize – 90 per cent of which he intends to save towards his university tuition – this year’s runner-up was Sean King, a 26-year-old University of Toronto grad who earned his Masters in Music Composition. He takes home $1,000 in prize money for his composition, Demon Dance.

And EPO’s ultimate Grand Prize winner of this year’s inaugural Young Composers Competition was 23-year-old York University undergrad Isaias Garcia, for his piece entitled Polish Rhapsody.

Born in Canada, Garcia grew up in Argentina before moving back to Toronto at age 11.

While he didn’t pick up an instrument until high school, it was under the tutelage of Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton’s Andrzej Rozbicki – who would go on to become Garcia’s “greatest influence” – that music quickly became his outlet.

“When I was in high school, I was still improving on my English, because my first language was Spanish,” he said. “So music was essentially my universal language – the way I could communicate with everyone else.”

Now fluent in both English and a whole host of instruments – including the clarinet, piano and saxophone – Garcia is a member of Rozbicki’s Celebrity Symphony Orchestra, and plans to continue on with his musical education at York in the university’s Masters of Composition program upon his graduation later this year.

In addition to the $2,000 in prize money, Garcia will also enjoy having his composition, Polish Rhapsody, receive a full public orchestral performance by the EPO at its upcoming Old World, New World, Out of This World Concert on at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 11 at Martingrove Collegiate Institute, 50 Winterton Dr.

“I’m really excited about that aspect. For a young composer like myself, it’s a great experience to hear your music performed – not only for the fact that it’s being recognized, but you also get an enormous amount of feedback from the musicians themselves,” he said. “I think that’s the most invaluable thing you can learn. I’m still just learning as a composer; composition is something that takes a lifetime to learn.”

For more information about the EPO, go to eporchestra.ca

Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra honours three Toronto-area musicians with young composers award

News Jan 24, 2014 by Cynthia Reason Bloor West Villager

An Etobicoke School of the Arts music student was among the big winners at the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra’s (EPO) inaugural Young Composers Competition.

Fifteen-year-old Blaise Gratton, a Bloor West Village area resident, took home the prize for Promising High School Composer Wednesday, Jan. 22 for his piece Tritones and Semitones, which he wrote over two months specifically for the competition.

“It was a great feeling, of course, when I found out I won. I was really happy,” Blaise, who began playing tuba for the EPO in September, said at the Young Composers Competition awards reception Wednesday evening at Westmount Gallery. “I started playing at a very young age and I’ve pretty much always loved music.”

Launched by the EPO last year, the Young Composers Competition was an initiative Jessica Monk and her husband Chris Van Loan hoped might help to encourage youth creation of classical orchestral music.

Both members of the 60-piece EPO – Monk is the orchestra’s principal bass player and member of the EPO board, and Van Loan is a violinist – Monk said the couple recently began thinking “how hard it must be for composers to have their work listened to.”

“So we thought it would be a fun thing to do to create an opportunity for young composers by hosting a Canada-wide competition,” said Monk, who also acted as chair of the Young Composers Competition.

Thom Currie, executive director of EPO, agreed: “I think the spirit of a competition like this is incredibly good for the future of classical music in Canada, created by younger Canadians,” he said. “I think this really speaks to a great future.”

Monk and Van Loan donated the $2,000 in funds for the Young Composers Competition Grand Prize, while fellow board member Judy Allan contributed an additional $1,500 to cover the Runner-Up Prize ($1,000) and the Promising High School Composer Prize ($500).

By the time the competition closed in November, Monk said the EPO had 19 submissions from young musicians aged 32 and under from all across Canada – each of which was judged blindly by volunteer judges Gary Kulesha, a well-known Canadian composer, Dr. Patricia Shand, Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, and EPO’s music director, Sabatino Vacca.

All three judges were “quite pleased with the overall quality of the compositions,” Monk said, noting that none of them had any idea who or how old each of the composers was until the judging process was complete.

“I, too, was completely impressed. I understand the complexity in even what sounds like a simple piece of music – and for someone to conceptualize that and get it down on paper, it’s amazing,” Monk said, “because they’re doing it for all the instruments of the orchestra, not just one. It’s a huge talent to do that – especially at such a young age.”

While Blaise took home the $500 Promising High School Composer prize – 90 per cent of which he intends to save towards his university tuition – this year’s runner-up was Sean King, a 26-year-old University of Toronto grad who earned his Masters in Music Composition. He takes home $1,000 in prize money for his composition, Demon Dance.

And EPO’s ultimate Grand Prize winner of this year’s inaugural Young Composers Competition was 23-year-old York University undergrad Isaias Garcia, for his piece entitled Polish Rhapsody.

Born in Canada, Garcia grew up in Argentina before moving back to Toronto at age 11.

While he didn’t pick up an instrument until high school, it was under the tutelage of Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton’s Andrzej Rozbicki – who would go on to become Garcia’s “greatest influence” – that music quickly became his outlet.

“When I was in high school, I was still improving on my English, because my first language was Spanish,” he said. “So music was essentially my universal language – the way I could communicate with everyone else.”

Now fluent in both English and a whole host of instruments – including the clarinet, piano and saxophone – Garcia is a member of Rozbicki’s Celebrity Symphony Orchestra, and plans to continue on with his musical education at York in the university’s Masters of Composition program upon his graduation later this year.

In addition to the $2,000 in prize money, Garcia will also enjoy having his composition, Polish Rhapsody, receive a full public orchestral performance by the EPO at its upcoming Old World, New World, Out of This World Concert on at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 11 at Martingrove Collegiate Institute, 50 Winterton Dr.

“I’m really excited about that aspect. For a young composer like myself, it’s a great experience to hear your music performed – not only for the fact that it’s being recognized, but you also get an enormous amount of feedback from the musicians themselves,” he said. “I think that’s the most invaluable thing you can learn. I’m still just learning as a composer; composition is something that takes a lifetime to learn.”

For more information about the EPO, go to eporchestra.ca