The Year In Review


We are living through an unprecedented time, a true inflection point in world history, with multiple crises intersecting and in many ways overwhelming our ability to process, let alone respond.

If 2020 was a devastating year for the performing arts here in BC (as it was across the country and for people around the globe) 2021 has been a frustrating roller coaster ride, with a third and fourth wave eroding early summer hopes and now omicron replacing delta as the latest worrying development in this pandemic’s endless trajectory.

While the social and economic impact of the pandemic has been felt across the world, the economic impact was hardest on the arts sector of the economy, hitting composers and other independent creators hardest of all. But all artists and cultural organizations experienced an immediate and shattering loss of income, audience, purpose, engagement, and expression.

Simultaneously, issues of social justice, exclusion, systemic racism, and the ongoing toxic legacies of historic genocide and cultural annihilation were seared into our national conscience through the discovery of unmarked graveyards of hundreds, possibly thousands of Indigenous children stolen from their families, their language, their culture, and their land. This raised consciousness was reinforced by the murder of George Floyd, emblematic of so many other brutal killings of black men, woman, and children by police and others, alongside targeted assaults closer to home against Muslims and Canadian citizens of Chinese descent.

The pandemic also exposed economic inequality, leaving so many vulnerable to a loss of employment, shelter, and food while those with more resources were able to retreat into gated luxury. The divide between those who could work from home and those left to risk their lives on the front lines of crucial services — the truck drivers, cashiers, and others keeping our society fed and cared for, and the heroic medical workers and front-line responders who repeatedly risked everything to save the rest of us without adequate supplies, protections, or facilities at the beginning — made us all acutely aware of the extraordinary privilege of those able to remain safe working from home.

Grand Forks B.C. (666 News)

We have also watched first-hand as the very real consequences of global warming have burned our beautiful rain forests and impacted beloved key species, with unprecedented rain and floods more recently destroying homes, livelihoods, essential farms, and critical infrastructure, particularly here in BC, but also across the country, continent, and the globe, leaving half of BC completely cut off from the rest of the country and even now only connected through a single goldrush-era 2-lane highway.

These are impossible conditions within which to plan for the future or ask artists to be creative. But we have been buoyed and inspired by the boundless creativity of our composers and the spirit of communality that has seen Canada, and BC in particular, report some of the highest vaccination rates in the world. This demonstration of care for each other has also been reflected in strong compliance with mask-wearing and other public health orders.

And so, while ensuring the safety of our team and patrons, throughout 2021 we have nonetheless continually sought new ways to bring our composer’s music to life, engage our dedicated family of patrons, and continue providing key services to our members.

Maintaining Functionality Through Crisis

Like other regions, CMC BC has responded to changing conditions and public health mandates, putting safety first while working hard as a team to maintain services all the more important to support what limited concert and commissioning activity existed.


The only reason we have been as productive and successful as we have throughout the pandemic is because of the selfless dedication and loyalty and passion of our team — Librarian, Jordan Nobles, and Administrator, Heather Molloy. They have both made an extraordinary contribution to the overall success of the CMC, working collaboratively in concert with each other and their colleagues across the country.

We are also extremely fortunate to have two dedicated and selflessly devoted volunteers, Bill Orr and Greg Soone, who have dedicated much of the past decade and a half to creating and expanding our Digital Archive, which captures the full breadth of the history of Canadian music in BC by scanning thousands of artefacts, including photographs, letters, reviews, articles, posters, and programs, alongside links to videos and recordings and countless other records, documenting every performance of a work by a Canadian composer within BC, and any performance of a work by a BC Composer outside of BC. We are deeply grateful fir this gift. To help celebrate their achievement, we will be announcing a new Archival Commissioning Project in 2022 to encourage composers to seek inspiration for new work within that rich history.


Financially, we began 2021 with a healthy surplus thanks in part to the Province of BC and City of Vancouver, which both arranged early delivery of operating grants, and also to prudent fiscal management throughout 2019 and 2020. We expect to end this year with a small surplus and have also taken steps to improve our balance sheet.

In terms of new sources of funding, we received a one time $29,000 Resilience grant from the Province of BC for 2021, as well as one of the most generous and largest donations CMC BC has ever received — $50,000 from an anonymous donor, care of the Vancouver Foundation, which followed a $20,000 donation from the same remarkably kind anonymous donor in 2020. We have thanked them profusely. Their extraordinary generosity made possible a vibrancy in programming which would not otherwise have been possible, reflected in the fifty music videos we’ve produced for our Unaccompanied video concert series and fifty score videos already released and the one hundred more planned in the coming year.

But there have also been some unexpected financial challenges in 2021 with more than $20,000 in unexpected expenses. Salary costs were also higher in 2021 because we were without an Administrator for nearly half of 2020, while our terrific new Administrator has been in place throughout 2021.

Barbara Pentland


While gatherings have largely been non-existent, the Pentland Awards, now in their fifth year, continue:

Pentland Prize

Luke Stevenson, University of Victoria graduate student in composition
$1,000 scholarship presented on June 15, 2021

Southam Prize

Naomi Sehn, University of Victoria undergraduate student
$500 scholarship presented on June 15, 2021

Awards of Excellence

Scholar and artist, Dylan Robinson, was presented with CMC BC’s Barbara Pentland Award of Excellence for his extraordinary contribution to Canadian Music on February 5, 2021, during the first of two online talks sponsored by CMC BC about his new book Hungry Listening.

Outstanding Performance

Contestants in the Vancouver International Music Competition were all encouraged to perform a Canadian work, with the best performance of a Canadian composition in each age category selected by their jury for an Outstanding Performance Award, presented virtually on October 8, 2021:

Barry Tan — Piano (Overall Best)
Shun Ishikawa — Piano (Age 8 and Under)
Ryder Hsu — Piano (Age 9-12)
Hamilton Lau — Piano (Age 18-35)

Vivian (Wei An) Chen — Strings (Best Overall)
Phelicia Wen — Strings (Age 8 and Under)
Bonnie Wong — Strings (Age 9-12)
Elishia Yeung — Strings (Age 13-17)
Bruno Quezada — Strings (Age 18-35)

Video Virtuality

Thanks to a partnership with Redshift Music Society, CMC BC has produced fifty stunning Unaccompanied music videos of solo Canadian works since March of 2020, filmed and edited by Jordan Nobles with exquisite and loving care.

Visual score to Sun: A Composition for Choir by R. Murray Schafer

Video Scores

We have created fifty (50) new score videos this year with a goal of one hundred (100) planned, and have committed to produce an additional fifty score videos next year, once the first one hundred are complete.

Educational Programs

This year we released the final music videos from 2020’s Elliot Weisgarber Workshop — featuring composer-mentor Edward Top and PEP Piano and Erhu Project’s Nicole Ge Li and Corey Hamm, with ten young composers selected to develop a work for this unusual combination of instruments, following in the cross-cultural traditions of which Weisgarber was such a pioneer.

Next year we’ll host the online R. Murray Schafer Spatial Music Workshop led by composer-mentor Jordan Nobles in partnership with percussionist Katie Rife, which generated the largest number of applicants we’ve ever received.

Thanks to assistance from CMC Canada and the Azrieli Foundation, we are initiating new Composer in the Classroom seminars early in 2021.

Thanks to funding from the Province of BC, BC Gaming, the City of Vancouver, Canadian Heritage, and the Azrieli Foundation, all of our educational programs are provided free to emerging composers.

Jack Tripp Virtual Studio Headset system

City Opera Vancouver partnered with CMC BC to purchase a state-of-the art Jack Tripp Virtual Theatre sound synchronization and recording system consisting of forty headsets and back-end equipment allowing simultaneous yet distanced rehearsals for choirs and ensembles and offering real-time precise synching. The system of 45 headsets and mikes will be shared by the partner organizations, including Redshift Music Society and Vancouver Moving Theatre Company, and will live at CMC BC so it can be lent out on demand. Kudos to Charles Barber for leading this initiative!

BIPOC Voices

We sponsored Rich Coburn’s visionary BIPOC Voices, a new online library of music for voice by Indigenous, racialized, and culturally diverse composers, and helped promote the new library with an article commissioned from Rich on our website featured in Centrepulse and social media.

Murray Adaskin Salon

Taking advantage of being closed to rentals for the first eight months of this year, we have undertaken a series of measures to better soundproof the Murray Adaskin Salon against street noise, including replacing weather stripping and caulking around windows and exit door; filling gaps in the outdoor signs with expanding foam insulation; purchasing panels of acoustic foam fitted to the windows; and installing a wall of heavy sound blankets which have helped make the Salon a better recording space. It isn’t a pristine recording studio, but all of the Unaccompanied videos were produced there, demonstrating its remarkable value.

In addition, we added a matched stereo pair of AKG C414 XLS microphones and new LED lights and light stands to enhance the Salon’s utility for recordings And we bought additional back-end equipment necessary to complete our Live-streaming system and activated the system for the very first time this fall for a broadcast by AstroLabe Musik Theatre.

Concerts — Real Live Concerts!!!

Looking ahead to 2022, we are excited about a new partnership with the Vancouver Art Gallery to co-present a new new-music series with them in their stunning 4th Floor event space. Every concert will include Canadian composers within a diverse cohort of creators and feature artwork from the collection.

The first concert explores Yoko Ono’s visionary work in the context of the avant-garde movement of New York in the 1960s and 1970s and features the music of Cage, Feldman, and emerging BC composer and curator of the series, Jack Campbell. We are also exploring new partnerships with a number of other leading organizations in the city and will be excited to share those details with you in the new year.

And on March 6, 2021, we will finally and belatedly hold our long-postponed 70th Birthday Celebration for Stephen Chatman at the Chan Centre in collaboration with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Chan Centre, UBC School of Music, and Vetta Chamber Players. There are also plans afoot to present an avant-garde rock band comprised of composers at The Fox Cabaret next year, and much more to come as we see what’s possible depending on the public health situation in 2022.

We’re proud of the work CMC BC has produced this past year, and despite adversity, or perhaps because of it, we remain united, dedicated, and inspired to do more.

It is the hope of everyone at CMC BC, including Jennifer Butler, Chair of our BC Advisory Council, our dedicated volunteers, and our team, that you and everyone you care about find rest and restoration, good cheer and good food in great company over the coming holidays. Keep yourself and those you love safe, and please accept our wishes for every possible success in 2022!


  • fluctuat nec mergitur is the city motto of Paris and means storm-tossed but not sunk, roughly translated