Association of Canadian Choral Condutors

Association of Canadian Choral Condutors

Saturday, May 1, 2010

NewWorks Choral Composition Competition Winner Announced

The DaCapo Chamber Choir, and director Leonard Enns, are pleased to announce the winner of this year's NewWorks choral composition competition, Don Macdonald (Nelson, BC) for Tabula Rasa.

As the first NewWorks choral composition competition winner, Don will receive $1,500 plus travel expenses to Kitchener, to attend the premiere of his composition.  Tabula Rasa will be premiered at DaCapo's March 2011 concert, at which time the choir will host a gala reception for winner Don Macdonald.
Honorable Mention:  Christine Donkin (Ottawa, ON) for Candles and Jeff Enns (Elmira, ON) for To You, Before the Close of Day.  Both Christine and Jeff will receive a cash prize of $250.

Over 60 submissions to the competition were received from all across Canada, and the calibre of entries was truly impressive.  "I am absolutely thrilled with the response and anticipate performing a number of these works in the future," said DaCapo's director, Leonard Enns.  "The creativity across Canada is vigorous," Enns noted, "and it's rewarding to play a small part in encouraging this work.  I look forward to a continuing flow of submissions over the future years!"

Winners were selected by a cross-Canada panel of jurors (Elroy Friesen - Winnipeg, MB, Susan Quinn - St. John's, NL and Leonard Ratzlaff - Edmonton, AB) and director Leonard Enns.  As stipulated in the competition guidelines, all information related to the names and locations of composers was kept confidential from the jurors and director Leonard Enns until after the final decision was made.

For more information about the competition, please visit our web site:

Don Macdonald
Don Macdonald has a varied musical background that includes experience as a performer, conductor, educator, and composer. He currently lives in Nelson BC where he teaches at the Selkirk College Music Program.

Throughout his musical life composition has been Don’s main focus and his credits include commissioned classical works, arrangements and compositions for CD recordings and scores for award winning film and television. He has received two Genie nominations and 5 Leo nominations for his work in Canadian film and recently his score for “Fido” won the prize for best soundtrack at the Gerardmer Film Festival in France. Commissioned works for choir, orchestra and concert band have been performed and recorded by ensembles in Canada and abroad.

His vocal background includes being a founding member of Musica Intima and Chor Leone, two of Canada's premiere vocal ensembles, freelance work with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and solo work with a variety of ensembles including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. His conducting experience includes positions as Assistant Conductor of the Vancouver Bach Choir, Musical Director of the Simon Fraser University Choir and studio conductor for film and T.V. sessions. He has played saxophone alongside artists such as Dee Daniels and Mike Stern and has performed on violin for numerous CD recordings and live shows.

Notes on Tabula Rasa from composer Don Macdonald
"Blank Slate" - This is the translation of the title. It has multiple meanings for me regarding the composition. It is a fitting title for the Spanish text, written by my wife Allison Girvan, but it is also an apt description  of my compositional process for the piece. Tabula Rasa was written immediately after a very intensive 3 week period of writing music for film.  In this calm after the storm I often just lay my fingers on the piano and try to remove all external stimuli from the creative process, to become a "blank slate". This is music therapy for me. Each note, chord, rest is played purely for myself  to enjoy the act of creation for creation sake. I wrote most of the notes for this piece before the text was written, which is the reverse order for the creation of most choral works. For some reason the first few chords to me evoked a simple image of a mother and child.  A quiet moment when the mother sees, as she has never seen, the potential of the precious life she holds in her arms. A silent acknowledgement of her child and every child as a "blank slate" with seemingly limitless potential. My wife was able to put this vision into words in the most eloquent manner. The grace and  fluidity of the Spanish language is a fitting choice for such a moment.

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