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Enriching experiences

Tuckamore Festival a national and international draw for emerging classical musicians

Campus and Community

By Memorial University

The Tuckamore Festival has built a reputation for presenting world-class chamber music in Newfoundland and Labrador, welcoming more than 200 nationally and internationally recognized guest artists over the last two decades.

Prof. Tim Steeves reviewing a piece of music with a student.
Prof. Tim Steeves guides a performer during the Tuckamore Festival.
Photo: Submitted

Memorial’s School of Music has played host to the festival for much of this time, and also takes great pride in its mentorship of the next generation of chamber musicians and composers through its Young Artists Program, which runs concurrently with the festival.

The school’s Dr. Nancy Dahn and Prof. Timothy Steeves have long been the artistic directors for the festival, and understand well the importance of mentorship for young artists.

International reach

“Over 22 years, Tuckamore has mentored more than 400 young pianists, string players and composers, from 12 countries around the world,”  said Dr. Dahn. “We have multiple Juno Award and East Coast Music Award nominees among our young artist alumni, and many hold prominent positions in ensembles and orchestras across North America. It has been, and continues to be a huge success, drawing in new, talented young artists every year.”

Cellist Laura Wakeman is one of those young artists. Originally from Alberta, her father travelled to Newfoundland and Labrador many times over the years for work, which helped to pique her interest in the province and the festival.

Laura Wakeman with her cello at Tuckamore Festival. An identified cello player is to the left.
Laura Wakeman, at right, is pictured at the Tuckamore Festival.
Photo: Submitted

She says she was lucky enough to make the journey with her father in 2021 to participate as a young artist.

“My experience at Tuckamore last year was incredible,” said Ms. Wakeman. “I made so many new connections and had a wonderful time exploring the city and seeing all that St. John’s has to offer.”

It was through those connections that she decided to pursue her master of music in performance degree this September at Memorial and moved to St. John’s last month.

She is getting a head start on her studies by participating in Tuckamore for the second time as a young artist this month.

Hailing from Ecuador

David Eguiguren playing the piano.
David Eguiguren performs during the Tuckamore Festival.
Photo: Submitted

Ms. Wakeman is not the only Tuckamore Young Artist participant to make the move to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ecuadorian pianist and composer David Eguiguren started his bachelor of music degree in September 2021 at Memorial, but due to complications with the COVID-19 pandemic, he was delayed coming to the province for the start of the semester.

He took online lessons during that time with Prof. Steeves, where they immediately developed a strong bond.

“Tuckamore initiated a new program in the winter of 2022 called Widening the Circle,” said Prof. Steeves. “This was a pan-Canadian, online composer mentorship program involving 12 composers at various stages of their careers. Our aim was to give mentorship opportunities to emerging composers so they could learn the pedagogy of composing.”

Prof. Steeves encouraged Mr. Eguiguren to apply. He was selected as one of four participants for the youth composer cohort.

“I received weekly lessons with an emerging composer in Ontario and took part in workshops with professional Canadian composers,” said Mr. Eguiguren. “Over the course of the three-month program, I wrote a piece for Dr. Dahn and Prof. Steeves’ chamber music duo, Duo Concertante. It was really exciting.”

Duo Concertante recorded and premiered the piece online in April; it had its live premiere during the festival as part of the Young Artists and Composers at Play event.

“The Young Artists Program is an integral part of the Tuckamore Festival, and we’re so pleased to be back again after a two year hiatus,” said Prof. Steeves. “Providing enriching educational experiences to students is so important, and it obviously made an impact.”

Running Aug. 8-21

The Tuckamore Festival runs from Aug. 8-21, 2022, with concerts, free events and workshops taking place every day. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit here.

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