The Canadian Music Centre in BC is pleased to announce the First Annual Elliot Weisgarber Workshops, a free online seminar for emerging composers under 30. Drawing on the success of our Jean Coulthard String Quartet Readings, the Elliot Weisgarber Workshops are grounded in Weisgarber’s landmark work, fusing Western and Eastern instruments and performance practices.

The 2020 Weisgarber Workshops will feature Corey Hamm & Nicole Ge Li’s PEP (Piano and Erhu Project) and Composer Mentor Edward Top who is Head of Composition at the Vancouver Academy of Music.

Ten emerging composers from the province of BC under the age of thirty will be selected by jury of CMC Associate Composers. Free of charge, thanks in part to a generous grant from the Azrieli Foundation to CMC Canada, the two-month seminar will begin with classes on writing for erhu, as well as piano. The workshops will allow emerging composers to gain experience writing for this unique ensemble, along with the invaluable opportunity of having their pieces read and rehearsed under the guidance of Edward Top and will culminate in online video recordings of the final works.

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

Applicants must be BC-based composers in the early stages of their professional careers and under the age of 30.

Application packages must include the following:
At least 2 relevant scores (and recordings if possible) showcasing the composer’s ability to write for small ensembles (duo, trios, etc.) and/or piano. Please submit only digital scans or PDFs (no computer notation software files)
A short biography (200 words maximum), including full contact information.

Application packages must be received online no later than July 17, 2020 by email to

Further Information
Please direct any questions to Jordan at the Canadian Music Centre in BC:

Canadian Music Centre in BC

Founded 41 years ago in 1979, CMC BC produces concerts, operates an extensive public-lending library of Canadian music; creates unique educational programs; runs a prestigious awards program recognizing extraordinary contributions to Canadian music province-wide; provides creative services and facilities to leading performing arts organizations, orchestras, choirs, teachers, universities, music schools, ensembles, performing artists and conductors; and offers a highly-specialized music print and bind service.


Erhu and piano virtuosos Nicole Ge Li and Corey Hamm began PEP (Piano and Erhu Project) in 2011 to explore the fascinating blend of these two iconic Eastern and Western instruments. The blend is not only a tonal and musical one, but also cultural, and PEP is delighted to see composers deal with these elements in such different ways

PEP has had over seventy composers write works since it began. These include such composers as Michael Finnissy, Gao Ping, Si Ang Chen, Terri Hron, Serra Hwang, Roydon Tse, Brian Cherney, Keith Hamel, Dorothy Chang, Stephen Chatman, Chan Ka Nin, Alice Ping Yee Ho, Hope Lee, Jocelyn Morlock, Scott Godin, Remy Siu, Edward Top, Aaron Gervais, Jared Miller, and dozens more. The result is a new and flourishing catalogue of works for piano and erhu composed in the musical languages of the 21st century. This combination of instruments bringing together two of the world’s great musical traditions, now has a unique collection of works for Nicole Ge Li and Corey Hamm to draw from for audiences of the 21st century. PEP CDs Volumes 1, 2, and 3 have been released with critical acclaim on Redshift Records.

Volumes 4 and 5 will soon be on the way. PEP CD Vol. 2 was nominated for Best Classical Recording at the 2016 WCMA. Dorothy Chang wrote Gateways for PEP, the world’s first double concerto for erhu and piano soloists and orchestra, which PEP premiered with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Northwest in Seattle. PEP has toured China, Canada, and the USA and has been featured at SICPP, ISCM, Classical:NEXT, New Music Concerts, Modulus Festival, Sonic Boom Festival, Sound of Dragon Festival, Odyssey Chamber Music Series, and Music on Main Series. PEP is an Ensemble-In-Residence at the University of British Columbia School of Music.

About Composer Mentor Edward Top

Composer Edward Top studied composition and violin at the Rotterdam Conservatoire in The Netherlands. He primarily studied with Peter-Jan Wagemans, but also worked with Klaas de Vries, Peter Eötvös, Pierre Boulez, and Luciano Berio. After living and traveling in the Far East for several years he settled in England in 2003, where he completed a Master’s Degree in musicology at King’s College London where he met with George Benjamin. East-Asian culture remains a predominant presence in Top’s life.

Top is currently the Head of the Composition Department at the Vancouver Academy of Music since 2014. He also maintains a close relationship with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, who commissioned seven, and performed ten of his works when he served as its Composer-in-Residence from 2011-2014. The VSO and conductor Bramwell Tovey played the commissioned work Totem in Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix on a US West Coast tour in 2013. The work Helix, Top’s latest commission for the VSO, was premiered during its centennial season’s opening in 2018, conducted by music director Otto Tausk.

About Elliot Weisgarber, Composer

Elliot Weisgarber was a native of New England where he began clarinet studies as a young boy. He soon discovered his inclination and aptitude for originality so when he furthered his education at the Eastman School of Music he received degrees both in clarinet performance and in composition. His composition teachers at Eastman included Edward Royce, Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. Later he did post-graduate study with Halsey Stevens in Los Angeles and spent a landmark summer in the famous class of Nadia Boulanger in Fontainebleau, France.

For many years he served on the faculty of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro until being invited in 1960 to join the faculty of the newly formed music department at the University of British Columbia. Excited to have been transplanted to the West he quickly set about learning as much as he could about his new home.

His almost instant friendships with producers at CBC Radio afforded him
opportunities to explore the remotest corners of the province, sometimes by floatplane. The indescribable wildness of BC’s vast terrain had an enormous impact on him which he conveyed in soundtracks for several documentaries including From the Mountains to the Sea produced by Imbert Orchard in 1967.

The province’s position as a distant next-door neighbour to Asia nourished a fascination he had long held. He had the opportunity of meeting University of Washington ethnomusicologist Robert Garfias and hearing his gagaku (Japanese court music) ensemble perform at UBC. He became determined to learn to play a Japanese instrument and, being a woodwind player, he decided on the shakuhachi, the vertical bamboo flute. UBC Japanese language professor Kenji Ogawa arranged to have one purchased for him in Japan after which Weisgarber went on to spend his annual academic breaks in Japan studying shakuhachi as well as koto and shamisen. He was eventually granted the status of master in the prestigious Kinko school of shakuhachi, one of the first foreigners, if not the first, to be granted this honour. His 1968 article in Ethnomusicology is still regarded as the subject’s English-language authority.

His profound studies in Japan revolutionized the latter half of his career as a composer. The Japanese experience had appealed to something in his soul that craved simplicity, even asceticism, and melded with his own mature musical style which had already been fueled by an enormous range of interests and a deep love of the musical traditions imparted to him by his teachers. The result was something entirely unique. Few of his works after the mid-1960s exhibit no hint at all of the impact of this culture on his life.