NOVA MUSIC | The Canadian Encyclopedia



NOVA MUSIC (inNOVAtions in MUSIC). Halifax group of composers and performers dedicated to the presentation of new or seldom-performed music.


NOVA MUSIC (inNOVAtions in MUSIC). Halifax group of composers and performers dedicated to the presentation of new or seldom-performed music. It was founded in 1971 by the percussionist and teacher James Faraday, the composer Dennis Farrell, the composer-trombonist Adrian Hoffman, the composer-flutist Stephen Pedersen, the composer-contrabassist Alexander Tilley, and the composer Steve Tittle. Pianist John McKay became a member soon after. The group was active until 1986, though Tilley and McKay had ceased to be members by the late 1970s.

NOVA MUSIC gave its first concert 9 Apr 1972. Beginning with its 1973-4 season it normally presented six concerts a year (free until the early 1980s), all at the Arts Centre of Dalhousie University, and some broadcast by CBC radio. New music soon became the mainstay of its programs.

The Halifax pianists Monique Gusset and Tietje Zonneveld were regular performers for the group. Additional performers were often drawn from the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra (Symphony Nova Scotia from 1983) and from the faculty of Dalhousie University, but guest performers were engaged for special performances. Among the latter were Robert Aitken, the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, Phyllis Ensher, Rivka Golani, Udo Kasemets, the Kronos String Quartet, the duo-pianists Pierrette LePage and Bruce Mather, the clarinetist Robert Marcellus, Mary Morrison, the accordionist Joseph Petric, the pianist Yuji Takahashi, and the Warsaw Music Workshop. NOVA MUSIC premiered several works by its composer-members, notably Farrell's Six Sonatas for harpsichord (1973) and, with Dalhousie University, his opera The Birthday of the Infanta (1979), Hoffman's ... of shape of sound of shape (1972) and Portrait for tape and percussion (1973), and Tittle's Moondance (1972), This Time That Time (1973), Winter's Not Forever (1974), i asked her where and she said right here (1975), salvation dharma band (1982), mourning the loss of our demons (1982), and where the four rivers flow, a work for radio commissioned by the CBC in 1984 and presented live to air on 'Two New Hours' in 1986. In addition the group premiered John Felice's A.E.H. for Solo Trombone (1973) and Alfred Fisher's The Owl at Dusk (1979) and performed works by Aitken, Anhalt, Beecroft, Bottenberg, Bruce Davis, Ford, Garant, David Grimes, Hartwell, Hawkins, Jacques Hétu, David Jaeger, Joachim, Laufer, Larry Lake, Mather, Michael Miller, James Montgomery, Pentland, Schafer, Somers, Paul Théberge, Tremblay, and Wilson. Besides introducing much Canadian repertoire to Haligonians, NOVA MUSIC gave the first Halifax performances of works by Bartók, Berio, Cage, Carter, Hindemith, Hovhaness, Ives, Kagel, Messiaen, Penderecki, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Subotnick, Webern, Xenakis, and others.

The group received financial assistance from private donors, corporations, the Canada Council, the province of Nova Scotia, and the music dept of Dalhousie University.

In 1990 Upstream, a group of Halifax-based composer-performers representing diverse but complementary musical styles, was formed to again offer the Nova Scotia arts community regular opportunities to hear new music.

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