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Early 21st century music: Symphony concert features new Canadian works plus golden oldies

by Andrea Ledwell

The end of the 20th century marks the conclusion of an exciting, though sometimes volatile, time in the world of music. Music historians are scurrying from radio to newspaper interview discussing the significance of the century's musical output.

The 20th century for Canadian music was one of incredible growth. Our country was barren, musically, until the birth of organizations and institutions like the Canadian League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre in mid-century assisted in the development of a country rich in talented and prolific performers and composers.

The PEI Symphony Orchestra is celebrating the turn of the century in a concert that will give an indication of the amazing pool of young talent we currently have in this country. It will feature an up-and-coming violin-piano team, Duo Concertante, that will be performing a new work they commissioned by an equally talented young Canadian composer, Andrew P. MacDonald.

Duo Concertante is violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves. Since forming their duo in 1996, these Memorial University faculty members have been receiving rave reviews for performances in the Atlantic region and beyond and were nominated for an East Coast Music Award for their debut recording A Deux, released in 1998.

The two will be performing with the PEI Symphony on February 20 in a concert entitled "Time Travel." The concert will feature the duo performing Juno award winning composer, Andrew MacDonald's Concerto for Violin and Piano that will have its world premiere in St. John's just two days before the Charlottetown performance.

It is a significant statement that Duo Concertante opts to perform new Canadian works rather than only the old standards. Canadian music has matured in the last 50 years, and it is not necessary to slot Canadian compositions in the opening five minutes of an orchestral performance. New Canadian works can be the main feature of a concert. The overwhelming success of the Winnipeg New Music Festival is proof of this.

With Canadian performers like Duo Concertante recognizing the wealth of the Canadian composition scene, and through the combined talents of composer and performer, we can expect a bright future for 21st century Canadian music.

The PEISO concert will also feature compositions from another century, with Schubert's Unfinished Symphony and Beethoven's Symphony No. 2-both from the early 19th century-in a concert which will be held at 2:30 on Sunday, February 20.

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