Contemporary Showcase

Contemporary Showcase. Non-competitive festival that began as a biennial event in Toronto in 1970, to promote the use of contemporary music in teaching and performance. In 1976 it became concerned exclusively with Canadian music.

Contemporary Showcase

Contemporary Showcase. Non-competitive festival that began as a biennial event in Toronto in 1970, to promote the use of contemporary music in teaching and performance. In 1976 it became concerned exclusively with Canadian music. The first showcase, in November 1970, was organized by Toronto teachers Rachel Cavalho, Patricia Elliott, Ralph Elsaesser and Terry Levis, with Keith MacMillan as executive secretary. Cavalho and Elliott already had worked together throughout the late 1960s, encouraging composers to write works for students and publishers to publish them, and preparing the graded lists of Canadian piano works which appeared in Musicanada (Jun-Jul, Aug-Sep 1968). Encouraged by Ronald Napier of BMI Canada, they made recordings of these works on CCM 1 and 2. Warren Mould recorded some on Dominion S-69002.

The showcase presents student performances of selected contemporary Canadian music for almost all instruments, both solo and ensemble. The performances are adjudicated in a master-class atmosphere. A student-composer class is included also. In addition the festival has featured premieres of Canadian works commissioned for it, and also workshops and guest speakers, including Lukas Foss, Wilfred Mellers, Geoffrey Payzant, R. Murray Schafer, and Walter Pitman. Scholarships (totalling over $10,000 from 1983 on) are presented to outstanding participants, many of whom perform in the festival's concluding concert.

After the first showcase in 1970 the Contemporary Music Showcase Association was founded to organize future festivals and began to work in collaboration with the Canadian Music Centre. In 1978 the association changed its name to the Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects. From its inception, the organization, supported by the OAC, foundations, and private donors, has commissioned works from, by 1990, over 50 Canadian composers. The showcase expanded to Ottawa and London, Ont in 1983, and to Calgary in 1990, when it became an annual festival in these centres. Since 1972 a syllabus of graded contemporary music has been published for each festival. The 1990 syllabus was published in loose-leaf format, to be valid for five years with annual appendices.It is a valuable resource of contemporary Canadian music for examination, concert, and festival use. Showcase/Alliance presidents have included Terry Levis 1970-2, Joseph Macerollo 1973-7, Mary Gardiner 1977-83, and Elaine Kruse 1983-5, the latter succeeded by Mary Gardiner in 1985.


Further Reading

  • Gyokeres, Nancy. 'Contemporary Showcase '70: teachers encouraged to use new Canadian music,' MSc, 258, Mar-Apr 1971

    Littler, William. 'Canadian composers get to sound off,' Toronto Star, 27 Feb 1979

    Rosewarne, Laurie. 'Contemporary Showcase 1985,' Classical Accordion Society Newsletter, vol 2, Spring 1985.