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‘Richness to life’

School of Music professor, alumnae nominated for 2023 JUNO awards

Campus and Community

By Danielle Hamel

Members of Memorial’s School of Music community are being celebrated for their achievements this week at the 2023 JUNO Awards.

Florian Hoefner looks at the camera and stands in front of a green, weather-beaten clapboard-clad wall.
Florian Hoefner, along with his bandmates in the Florian Hoefner Trio, are nominated for Jazz Album of the Year.
Photo: Tom Cochrane

Florian Hoefner, a jazz professor at the School of Music, and alumnae Bekah Simms and Susan Evoy, are nominated in various categories at the Canadian music awards, representing the school’s range of programs and the opportunities that arise from it to excel on a national and international stage.

Prof. Hoefner, along with his bandmates in the Florian Hoefner Trio, Andrew Downing and Nick Fraser, are nominated for Jazz Album of the Year: Group for their album, Desert Bloom. Desert Bloom was released worldwide on June 3, 2022, on Alma Records to critical acclaim for its striking new compositions and inspired arrangements with Prof. Hoefner’s hallmark lyricism and knack for suspenseful dramaturgy.

Desert Bloom is a true pandemic album,” said Prof. Hoefner. “I wrote most of the music in the weeks after the initial covid lockdown. I am just so grateful that the result has now received a JUNO nomination.”

The trio’s previous album, First Spring, was nominated for the same category in 2021, as well as winning Instrumental Recording of the Year and Jazz Recording of the Year at the 2020 East Coast Music Awards.

Prof. Hoefner will perform in the concert, New York Reunion, later this month with his New York Quartet, featuring four-time Grammy-nominated saxophonist and composer, Remy Le Boeuf; drummer Peter Kronreif; and bassist Jim Vivian.

New York Reunion is part of Music at Memorial’s Winter Concert Series and is happening on Thursday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the D.F. Cook Recital Hall, School of Music, St. John’s campus. Tickets are available on the School of Music website.

School of Music alumnae

Ms. Simms (B.Mus.’12, B.Mus.Ed.’13) is nominated for Classical Composition of the Year for her composition, “Bestiary I & II,” from the 2022 album, Bestiaries.

Bekah Simms is seen in profile, bathed in a spotlight to the left.
Alumna Bekah Simms is nominated for Classical Composition of the Year.
Photo: Submitted

While at Memorial, she studied under Dr. Andrew Staniland and is currently a lecturer in composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Among the more than 30 awards and prizes she has received, including the 2019 Barlow Prize, two SOCAN Foundation Young Composer Awards, and the 2017 Toronto Emerging Composer Award, this year’s nomination marks her third JUNO nomination for Classical Composition of the Year.

Another of Ms. Simms’ compositions from the Bestiaries album, “Foreverdark,” will be performed by the MUN Chamber Orchestra as part of the Music at Memorial’s Winter Concert Series on Thursday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the D.F. Cook Recital Hall.

Ms. Simms will visit the School of Music this August as an invited guest of Tuckamore Festival’s Young Artists Composers Program, providing mentorship to the next generation of composers.

Ms. Susan Evoy (B.Mus.’19, B.Mus.Ed.’04, BA’10) is nominated for a MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award. Ms. Evoy is a music educator at St. Teresa’s Elementary and Waterford Valley High School, where she teaches string orchestra, concert and jazz band, and choir to students in grades 2-5 and 10-12.

Susan Envoy smiles at the camera with trees out of focus behind her.
Susan Evoy is nominated for a MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award.
Photo: Submitted

Her commitment to her students is shown through her fundraising work to ensure that every music student at St. Teresa’s Elementary receives an instrument, regardless of their financial situation. She is an active musician in the groups, Ouroboros and 709, serves on provincial committees and acts as a provincial liaison between music programs to ensure the profession is a connected community.

“I was truly surprised and honoured to be selected as a finalist for the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award,” said Ms. Evoy. “Every student deserves the opportunity to participate in meaningful music programs at school. Music offers a richness to life that is not measurable by grades and scores. Music is important for music’s sake.”

The MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award recognizes and honours an exceptional Canadian music teacher each year at the JUNO Awards with a $10,000 cash prize, a generous donation to their school through the MusiCounts Band Aid Program and a JUNO statuette.

Find out more details about this year’s JUNOS online.

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