Young Parry Sound-Muskoka musicians celebrate Canada Music Week

Canadian Contemporary Showcase is an annual event during November

Rebecca Spry
Saturday, November 23, 2019

HUNTSVILLE — The Canadian Contemporary Showcase is held typically the third week of November as part of Canada Music Week to promote the performance, composition, and study of contemporary Canadian music.

The only festival of its kind in Canada, Contemporary Showcase is devoted entirely to music created by contemporary Canadian composers. It is non-competitive in that no marks are awarded, no ranking is given, and the adjudications take place in an atmosphere that is designed to be informative and supportive.

The first day of the Contemporary Showcase was held at the Muskoka Music Centre in Huntsville on Nov. 14 with Canadian composer Frances Balodis of Ullswater, Ont.

The following two days of the Showcase were held at the Salvation Army Church in Parry Sound on Nov. 15 and 16 with Canadian composer Ian Green of Hamilton, Ont.

Nov. 22 marks the day that honours St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Surrounding this day is Canada Music Week, a celebration that shines the spotlight on Canadian music, Canadian composers, Canadian teachers and their students.

A strong supporter of Canada Music Week, and local co-ordinator, Judy Freeman runs one of 15 centres in Canada that hosts the Parry Sound Muskoka Contemporary Showcase Festival to promote the performance, composition, and study of contemporary Canadian music.

“The Showcase creates a spirit of collaboration and community between music students and teachers as the greater music community comes together for this event,” says Judy. “By exposing our students to Canadian composers and the creative process of songwriting, we are generating excitement and a greater connection to music itself.”

Since 2007 Judy has brought well-respected Canadian composers into our area, including Nancy Telfer, Andrew Harbridge, Debra Wanless, Sarah Spring, and most recently Ian Green, and Balodis to evaluate and encourage local students in their musical journey.

Balodis is best known as the creator and founder of the Music for Young Children (MYC) program that has reached over 400,000 students spread over three continents. Frances recently visited some local MYC classes for the contemporary showcase in Parry Sound and Huntsville.

“MYC is 40 years old (1980),” says Frances, “That speaks to the strength of the program and the quality of the teachers, initially Frank Berg, and now Judy Freeman has been a wonderful asset to MYC and the greater Muskoka music community.”

Judy has led the Leading Note Family Music Studio in Parry Sound for over 25 years. Just this fall Judy also stepped into the leadership of the Muskoka Music Centre in Huntsville, replacing beloved local musician and educator Frank Berg, who first started the Muskoka Music Centre 20 plus years ago.

“We aim to provide quality music education for all ages and abilities,” says Judy. “By offering opportunities like the Canadian Contemporary Showcase in Muskoka, we hope to provide our students with a new understanding of the greater musical community and spark renewed curiosity and enthusiasm in their musical endeavours.”