2019 Seminar Features Composer Dr. Jennifer Butler, Borealis String Quartet & artwork from Rennie Museum Exhibition

The Canadian Music Centre is pleased to announce the third annual Jean Coulthard String Quartet Readings, a seminar led this year by Composer Mentor Jennifer Butler, with quartets read and performed by the Borealis String Quartet, inspired by art from the internationally-recognized collection at the Rennie Museum in the historic Wing Sang Building in Chinatown. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Deux Mille Foundation, the seminar is free of cost for all participants.

In addition to the two readings and two performances of the works selected, one participant each year is selected to receive a music video of their work produced by Video Project Leader Thomas Beckman.

Named in honour of one of British Columbia’s most revered and beloved composers and teachers, the Jean Coulthard String Quartet Readings (the name is also an homage to the Vancouver Symphony’s Jean Coulthard Readings) allow emerging composers to gain experience writing for string quartet, along with the invaluable opportunity of having their pieces read, workshopped, rehearsed, and performed by a professional string quartet through sessions facilitated by a professional Composer-Mentor. 

The program’s unique format is designed for composers to receive feedback from both the Composer-Mentor and Borealis String Quartet, allowing them to revise and refine their work several times over the course of the twelve-week seminar.

The 2019 seminar will culminate in a free performance on Saturday, June 15th at 1pm in the CMC’s intimate Murray Adaskin Salon. The world premiere of the works created during the seminar takes place in a concert on Monday, June 17, at 7pm in the stunning galleries of the Rennie Museum. Tickets $25 including reception/ Students $10 with ID / Participants free. (All proceeds benefit CMC BC only.)


  • Museum Tours Arranged via bcregion at cmccanada dot org
  • Deadline for Submissions: end of day, Wednesday, May 1, 2019
  • Introductory Session: Saturday, May 11, 2019, 1:00 pm (Murray Adaskin Salon)
  • First Reading: Saturday, May 18, 2019, 1:00 pm (Murray Adaskin Salon)
  • Second Reading: Saturday, June 1, 2019, 1:00 pm (Murray Adaskin Salon)
  • Friends & Family Concert: Saturday, June 15, 2019, 1:00 pm (Murray Adaskin Salon)
  • World Premiere Concert: Monday, June 17, 2019, 7:00 pm (Rennie Museum) Public Admission $25 / Students $10 / Participants free.


  • Participants in the seminar must agree to attend all sessions
  • Participants must make time to attend one of the Rennie Museum private tours or make other arrangements to see the exhibition
  • To be selected, compositions must reference one of the works of art on display, the current exhibition or the Wing Sang Building
  • Pieces must be revised after the First Reading to be read again during the Second Reading


  1. Submitted works must not have have been previously performed.
  2. Applicants must be BC-based composers in the early stages of their professional careers; however, there is no age restriction.
  3. Submitted works must be scored for the full ensemble of two violins, viola, and cello. Works requiring electronic elements or written for partial instrumentation will not be considered. Deadline for Submissions: Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 5:00 pm
  4. Preference will be given to works five minutes and under in duration.
  5. For this year’s session, compositions must reference one of the works of art on display in the current exhibition or the Wing Sang Building. To this end, free, private tours of the Rennie Museum are available to all prospective applicants (please see schedule above).
  6. A jury of professional CMC Associate Composers and members of the Borealis String Quartet will evaluate the submissions. Decisions of the jury are final.


1. Application packages must be received no later than Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in person or by mail sent to the Canadian Music Centre, 837 Davie St., Vancouver, BC, V6Z 1B7, or by email to bcregion@cmccanada.org  Please submit only paper copies or PDFs (no computer notation software files).

2. Application packages must include the following:

(a) A draft score and parts to be read at the first session. NB: this need not yet be a complete, finished work. Sketches and partial works are permitted at this stage; however, the submitted material must be in a form that can be read by the quartet.

(b) A short biography (100 words maximum), including full contact information.

(c) A short program note for the piece (100 words maximum).


Please direct any questions to the Canadian Music Centre in BC: bcregion at cmccanada.org

About Canadian Music Centre

Founded 60 years ago in 1959, the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) is the catalyst that connects you to the ever-changing world of Canadian musical creation through Performance, Education and Promotion. CMC champions new musical creation and artistic diversity while celebrating and preserving Canada’s rich heritage.

Through our Creative Hub in Vancouver, we present a unique, immersion-experience concert series in the new Murray Adaskin Salon now in its third sold-out season, providing a comprehensive survey of Canadian music seen through the lens of BC-based composers, with each concert featuring an overview of the music of one landmark composer. 

We also offer an extensive public-lending library of Canadian music; a range of composition education and appreciation programs; an awards program recognizing extraordinary contributions to Canadian music; provide creative services and facilities to leading performing arts organizations, orchestras, choirs, teachers, universities, music schools, ensembles, performing artists and conductors; and an exclusive music print and bind service.

About Composer Mentor Jennifer Butler

Jennifer Butler is a composer, teacher, and flutist living in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her music, described as “beautifully remote” (Vancouver Sun), “intimate” (Globe and Mail), and “disquieting” (Vancouver Observer), has been commissioned, performed, and broadcast across Canada, in the United States, Australia, and Europe.

Recent projects include: Songs for Klee Wyck, commissioned by Victoria’s Emily Carr String Quartet; Four Horses, a song cycle written with Peter Anderson for Mark McGregor, Dory Hayley and Adrian Verdejo; The Stars Have Closed Their Eyes, commissioned by Bradyworks for the electric guitar quartet Instruments of Happiness.

She is currently working on a new commission from the Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra for Flutist Mark Mcgregor and the Borealis String Quartet.

About Borealis String Quartet

One of the most dynamic and exciting world-class ensembles of its generation, the Borealis String Quartet has received international critical acclaim as an ensemble praised for its fiery performances, passionate style, and refined, musical interpretation.

Founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in the fall of 2000 and rapidly establishing a stellar reputation, the Borealis has toured extensively in North America, Europe and Asia and performed to enthusiastic sold-out audiences in major cities, including New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Rome, Mainz, Shanghai, Taipei, Beijing, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and, of course, in their home town of Vancouver.

About Rennie Museum
The Wing Sang Building
51 East Pender Street
Vancouver, BC

Rennie Museum is a stunning private exhibition space for contemporary art in the historic Wing Sang Building in Chinatown. The latest exhibit is Spring 2019: Collected Works, a group exhibition encompassing the mediums of photography, painting and film. A portraiture of the collecting spirit, the works exhibited invite exploration of what collected objects, and both the considered and unintentional ways they are displayed, tell us. Featuring the works of four artists—Andrew Grassie, William E. Jones, Louise Lawler and Catherine Opie—the exhibition runs from February 16 to June 15, 2019.

About Thomas Beckman, Video Project Leader, Jean Coulthard String Quartet Readings

Composer Thomas Beckman entered the very first Jean Coulthard String Quartet Readings, was selected to have a music video made of his submission ‘Tango’, went on to become an Associate Composer of the CMC, and is now helping the CMC create a music video for the winner of each year’s seminar. He describes his experience:

“Working with professional ensembles is crucial to a composer’s development. Hearing one’s music live reveals a myriad of technical details that are responsible for the overall success or failure of the work. In these precious moments you have a chance to revise the score, create a better solution, achieve a finer balance, and ultimately understand how to write more effectively for the specific group you happen to be working with. In the case of the Jean Coulthard String Quartet Readings, it is greatly advantageous to be working with the Borealis String Quartet. Their involvement should serve as a great attraction for new composers who might be considering participating in future sessions.”

“There are moments in a musician’s life when the unexpected concert, lesson or in this case, workshop can serve as a turning point in one’s career. The experience of participating in the Jean Coulthard String Quartet Readings significantly emboldened my decision to go deeper into the craft of composing. Musical notes translated into the real thing, and the addictive experience of having your own creation brought to life are powerful motivators for just about any composer. Through this workshop, I met ten other emerging composers, that year’s mentor composer, Farshid Samandari, and of course the Borealis String Quartet with whom I had worked with before on another project.”