Maggie Morrison wants to create musical opportunities in Brant.
To do that, the 23-year-old pianist has launched the Brantford Contemporary Showcase, the second project of the Maggie Morrison Exposure to the Arts Fund.
“I want to give back what I have been given,” said Morrison, who is currently completing her master of music degree in piano performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music. “I grew up (in Brant) and I always found the community to be so giving and supportive.”
Running Nov. 23 to Nov. 26 in the W. Ross Macdonald School auditorium, the non-competitive, exclusively Canadian festival celebrates Canadian contemporary music.
More than 100 musicians of all ages will take part in four different categories: piano, strings, voice and guitar. Adjudicators will spend time with each participant to offer feedback on their performance.
“It’s great because it’s non-competitive so no marks are awarded and the atmosphere is designed to be informative and supportive to each student,” Morrison said.
The Maggie Morrison Exposure to the Arts Fund was created in 2010 as a way to bring classical music to the community. The contemporary showcase helps advance that mandate, Morrison said.
“It opens the opportunities for kids who are living in the Brant area and gives them something to look forward to,” Morrison said. “It gives them something to work toward and learn from. And people who are in the community who don’t have anything to do with music can go and become educated and opened to what’s new in classical music.”
For 16-year-old pianist Jacob Boyington, the showcase is a way to learn and perform modern Canadian music without having to commute.
“It is important to have the showcase come to Brantford because, prior to this, the closest venue was Mississauga,” he said. “This made for a difficult commute for students, but also deprived Brantford of the exposure to great contemporary music composed by Canadians.”
The all-Canadian aspect of the show is what attracted 12-year-old Bennett Perras and his sister, Kendra, 10. The siblings will each participate in a solo piano class and as a duo during the festival.
“I am proud to be Canadian,” Bennett said. “I know there are other proud Canadian composers who create great music that will be featured this weekend.
“This festival gives us the opportunity to learn about new composers and play music that was just written.”
In addition to performances, Canadian pianist Joel Hastings will direct a piano master class on Sunday at 6 p.m.
Hastings, winner of the 2006 International Web Concert Hall Competition and the 1993 Bach Competition, will perform in the city that same afternoon during a Brantford Music Club concert at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for adults or $10 for students and can be purchased by calling 519-758-8090.
A final concert featuring outstanding performers from the showcase will be held on Sunday, Dec. 2, at W. Ross Macdonald School.
The Brantford Contemporary Showcase is free to attend. A schedule of performances can be found on the event’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BrantfordContemporaryShowcase. Programs are available for $5.