Selected Composers for the May 2021 Festival

Mari Alice Conrad,


Chase Jordan,


George Gagnidze, Composer

Elizaveta Panchenko, Composer

Barbara Kaszuba, Composer

Lyra CharlesChiu, Composer

SHHH!! Ensemble,


Dr. Daniel Mehdizadeh,

Mentor & Composer-in-Residence

May 2021 Workshop

This week's lectures and workshops were a success! We look forward to the premieres of these six newly written works for piano and marimba.

A big thanks to our mentor and lecturer Dr. Daniel Mehdizadeh and the dynamic SHHH!! Ensemble for their informative workshop.

We look forward to our continued relationship and support of these six emerging composers as they continue with their future endeavours.

SHHH!! Ensemble

Piano/Percussion Duo

“SHHH!!… a powerful utterance designed to draw attention forward… creating space and awareness… opening ears to something important.”

SHHH!! Ensemble is the piano/percussion duo of pianist Edana Higham and percussionist Zac Pulak, an Ottawa-based duo dedicated to the creation of new and innovative programs for that combination. Zac and Edana pride themselves on presenting programs that are as accessible as they are groundbreaking by commissioning works by exciting and creative new Canadian voices while collaborating with luminaries such as John Beckwith, Jocelyn Morlock, and Kelly-Marie Murphy. SHHH!! Ensemble has performed from Western Canada to the Atlantic provinces, appearing in venues such as Ottawa’s Shenkman Arts Centre, Calgary’s Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, Toronto’s Trinity Church and Edmonton’s Convocation Hall.

In 2017 and 2018, SHHH!! Ensemble developed their unique “avant-accessible” programs through residencies at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Belgium’s Vormingscentrum Destelheide with the additional support of the Canadian Music Centre and the ARTicipate Endowment Fund. The National Arts Centre, the Health Arts Society Ontario (Concerts in Care), OrKidstra, and more have partnered with SHHH!! Ensemble to present these captivating programs for students and community members, which integrate arrangements of classical repertoire, immersive participatory pieces, and a selection of specially commissioned works.

SHHH!! Ensemble’s provocative “Spirits” program premiered at the Canadian Music Centre in January 2020, following a week-long residency there, and has since toured at concert venues and universities across Canada. “Spirits” is a mixed program of J.S. Bach, Andy Akiho, Jocelyn Morlock, Micheline Roi and more which reveal the composers’ reflections on the nature of creativity, meditation, as well as Scotch whisky and the beyond, and was called “truly virtuosic and intense” by Toronto’s Confluence Concerts.

In early 2020, SHHH!! Ensemble was accepted into the prestigious Evolution: Classical residency at the Banff Centre. This led to major 2020 highlights, including a live-streamed National Arts Centre #CanadaPerforms concert, the world premiere of JUNO-winning composer Jocelyn Morlock’s “Spirit Gradient” with the Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival in Newfoundland, a multidisciplinary collaboration with the Ottawa New Music Creators and the Ottawa International Writers Festival, and a CBC Radio 2 live-for-broadcast performance with Toronto’s Music Mondays.

To stay up-to-date with all of SHHH!! Ensemble’s activities follow them at @shhhensemble on social media.

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Dr. Daniel Mehdizadeh

Composer and Mentor

There is something vividly distinct about Mehdizadeh's music. This Canadian composer is revered for his intricate, unpredictable and haunting works. The sound and gesture of his pieces bury themselves deep in complex imagination—participating you in an exploration of uncertain visceral implications. His unique musical language is perceived as complex yet engaging, bringing together a hybrid of musical expression including the Mehdizadeh Modes, namely the Double- and Multi-Tonic modes.

Dr. Daniel Mehdizadeh (DMA, University of Toronto) is currently based in the Greater Toronto Area and is the Composer-in-Residence for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been involved in both national and international festival series. He is regularly commissioned and holds numerous performances in Europe and North America. His works have had global exposure and have been broadcasted across Canada and US including appearance as guest composer on CBC Radio.

Mehdizadeh has worked closely with conductors Ronald Royer, Simon Rivard, Jeffrey Reynolds and pianist and conductor Jean Desmarais. Mehdizadeh has also served as Composer-in-Residence for University of Toronto and University of Toronto Schools. He has given lectures and composition workshops at UTS as well as adjudication and mentorship for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra as part of their annual New Generation Composer Project.

Mehdizadeh has also partnered with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra and together kickstarted a new podcast series, SPOGreatMusic, during the pandemic, helping develop new community partnerships including Scarborough Arts, FabCollab, Stratford Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Music Centre, Canadian Sinfonietta, the Brantford Symphony Orchestra, and the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra.

Mehdizadeh’s works receive funding through commissions and private patrons (long-time donor and supporter Nicole Senécal), as well as institutions including the latest Ontario Arts Council studio recording grant. He has collaborated with Orchestre de la Francophonie, Winds of SPO, the Princeton Singers and the Ewashko Singers amongst many others. Notable world-renowned performers include Belgian flautist Marc Grauwels and Dutch theremin player Thorwald Jørgensen with multiple commissions and performances in festivals around the world.

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