Friday, October 25, 2019, marked my 4th Year Anniversary as B.C. Director of the Canadian Music Centre. So I wanted to take this moment to thank the volunteers, donors, composers, concert patrons, ensembles, presenters, musicians, educators, singers, funding agencies, and film-makers who have helped our small team accomplish so much over that time – more than we could ever have possibly hoped on our own. Thank you!

Like you, I believe in the power of music to transform and bring meaning to our lives; to provide solace when needed and to help us make sense of a world undergoing such rapid change. Over the past four years I have seen music inspire extraordinary creativity in young people; bring tears and laughter as well as deep reflection and meaning to our audiences. I’ve watched proudly as the CMC has broadened to become more inclusive, and begun its own journey of reconciliation with First Nations across the country, all of this made possible through the power of music to bridge divides, foster engagement, and create shared understanding.

There’s a lot for all of us to be proud of. Together, we have created a unique new composer-centric concert series here in Vancouver, and have started sponsoring other concerts in Victoria and Penticton. We have launched new composition education programs and expanded others. Brought recognition to composers whose remarkable legacies were fading and to others just emerging into the spotlight. Recognized extraordinary contributions to Canadian music all over the province. Established two annual scholarships for composition. Created the Murray Adaskin Salon and brought it to life.

We have expanded our unique Digital Archive of the history of Canadian music in B.C. Renovated our Vancouver Creative Hub. Better preserved and displayed our art collection. And thanks to the CBC, gave the Barbara Pentland Library a new home in compact shelves with detailed labels making the entire collection more accessible. And we’ve added an electric door opener to our front entrance making our lobby and Adaskin Salon accessible to everyone.

Murray Adaskin Salon Lobby

These are all great things and everyone at the Canadian Music Centre is grateful for your help in making them possible. But I think the thing we should all be most proud of is how much CMC BC is truly a family. Over the past four decades of the CMC’s history in BC there have been five Directors, each of whom has made important contributions. But the family we are privileged to be part of has and will continue to grow and to thrive, and the future we share is bright! As you will see from some of our collective accomplishments below:


Thanks to your generous support, CMC BC has produced and co-presented more than 40 concerts in Vancouver and Victoria since October of 2016, partnering with Queer Arts Festival, Pacific Opera, the JUNOs, UBC Opera, CBC Vancouver, University of Victoria School of Music, Astrolabe Musik Theatre, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival and the Talking Stick Festival.

This season we will present 10 more concerts in Penticton, Victoria, and Vancouver, partnering with the Okanagan Symphony, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Victoria Composer’s Collective, Vetta Chamber Music Society, Oak Bay Music Society, Redshift Music Society, Of The Now Concert Series, UBC School of Music, and the Vancouver Academy of Music, each performance a celebration of the extraordinary creativity of Canadian composers.

Stefan Hintersteininger (Librarian), Robyn Driedger-Klassen, (soprano), Molly MacKinnon (violin), Tawnya Popoff (viola), AK Coope (clarinet), Janet Danielson (composer),Maren Lisac (composer), Marguerite Witvoet (piano), Christine Lin (violin), Daniel Tones (percussion), Luke Kim (cello), Sean Bickerton (BC Director)


Ten schools across the province in Victoria, Vancouver, Salt Spring Island, Burnaby (including the Burnaby Youth Detention Centre), and Prince George have received Composer In The Classroom programs for students at all grade levels.

This landmark program, first conceived by R. Murray Schafer, has been funded by your donations and a generous grant from the Province of B.C., and delivered by composers dedicated to youth and education including Elizabeth Knudsen, Daniel Brandes, Diane Berry, Stefan Hintersteininger, Rodney Sharman, and Thomas Beckman.


3 may be one of the smallest numbers in this article, but this program has enormous impact. Thanks to your support and the generosity of the Deux Mille Foundation, we have been able to deliver three annual seminars in composition free of charge to 28 emerging composers.

Their string quartets were workshopped by the wonderful Borealis String Quartet, and participants were mentored in efforts to rework and improve their pieces by Master Composers Farsheed Samandari (2017), Rita Ueda (2018), and Dr. Jennifer Butler (2019). Kudos, too, to the Maritime Museum, our partner in 2018, and the Rennie Museum, our partner in 2019, for sponsoring concerts of the music composed.

Audience waiting for 2019 Jean Coulthard String Quartet Readings Concert in Rennie Museum


CMC BC has presented more than 50 Barbara Pentland Awards over the past four years, including three Lifetime Achievement Awards, presented to Owen Underhill in 2017, to Maestro Bramwell Tovey in 2018, and to Maestro Jon Washburn in 2019.

Awards of Excellence have been presented to composers, composition students, young performers, teachers, choirs, festivals, ensembles, orchestras, conductors, opera companies, competitions, and music schools across the province.

More recently, the Pentland Prize, an annual $1,000 scholarship for graduate students of composition, has been established thanks to the generosity of an individual donor, awarded to John Stetch in 2018 and Carl Winter in 2019; as well as the Southam Prize, an annual $500 scholarship for women graduate students of composition established this year on International Women’s Day, thanks to the generosity of another individual donor.

Chor Leoni, Artistic Director Erick Lichte (L) with C4 Winners Kevin Pirker, Elizabeth Knudson, Allan Bevan


Our uniquely intimate Murray Adaskin Salon, inaugurated in the fall of 2016, was equipped over the summer with a built-in, four-camera livestream video recording and broadcast studio along with professional stereo recording microphones and new control systems, all fully integrated with the existing A/V projection system.

Along with a new sign formalizing the name of the salon and new directional signs throughout our space, we’ve also added an automatic door-opener to the front entrance, making our performance space completely accessible, thanks to your donations and grants from the City of Vancouver and Heritage Canada.


Over the past four years, the Digital Archive of Canadian music in B.C. has grown from just over 16,000 artifacts to more than 24,000. Created by a team of two extraordinarily dedicated volunteers working for more than a decade — William Orr and Greg Soone — CMC BC’s Digital Archive offers the largest digital collection of artifacts related to performances of Canadian music in BC and performances of music by BC Composers anywhere in the world. This is a unique and invaluable BC initiative that will preserve the legacy of Canadian music in this province and make it available for generations of scholars and researchers for decades to come.


More than 1,500 people subscribe to CMC BC’s bi-weekly Centrepulse newsletter, the go-to listing for performances of Canadian music in BC which also provides information about new recordings, calls for scores, competitions, and other opportunities for composers.


Five documentary films have been produced celebrating the first generation of composers to write concert music on the West Coast of Canada. They have been screened many times since then for audiences in Victoria, Penticton, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver, Burnaby, and Langley. These films were made possible thanks to your kind support and a special grant from the Province of B.C. In addition, we produce a new music video each year for one composition from the Jean Coulthard String Quartet Readings. All of these films and those from our past are available free of charge for viewing on our Vimeo channel.

Opening scene of CMC BC Documentary about Barbara Pentland’s The Lake


We will of course continue the work we’ve been doing all along — presenting concerts; offering educational programs; presenting awards; screening our documentaries — as well as providing the services our patrons depend on:

Murray Adaskin Salon Lobby

In addition, we are about to embark on two major new initiatives:


In early 2019 we plan to convene a series of conversations, asking the new music community to begin a dialogue with Indigenous composers, performers, scholars, and partner organizations under the leadership of Dr. Dylan Robinson, a Stó:lō First Nations scholar and Assistant Professor at Queen’s University who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts.

We will be inviting composers, presenters, musicians,ensembles, and educational institutions to participate in acknowledging the historical legacy of cultural appropriation and negation we have inherited, and to identify and move forward together through a series of actions to forge a new paradigm in solidarity and partnership with our First Nations colleagues and friends based on respectful understanding, the building of meaningful relationships, and true cultural appreciation and collaboration.


Responding to the latest UN Report on Biodiversity which projects a potential devastating loss of species, CMC BC seeks to partner with a major B.C. environ- mental organization on a project titled Change The Culture Not The Planet. Facilitated by Trevor Loke, Lead Development Manager for Western Canada at Tides Canada Foundation and former Vancouver Park Board Commissioner, the project will seek to inspire cultural change. More details will be released in the new year, but the goal will be to harness the power of music to help create environmental awareness, change behaviours, and take action supporting five key areas where constructive action is still possible as identified within the report:

• Protecting Habitat
• Promoting Sustainable Fisheries
• Transitioning to Renewable Energy
• Restoring and Protecting Clean Water • Fostering Native Species