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Stingray Gives National Music Centre $525K for Classical Music Residencies at Studio Bell

The National Music Centre (NMC) in Calgary will receive a $525,000 contribution from music, media, and technology company Stingray over the next seven years to support classical music residencies at Studio Bell.

A handful of artists have already been selected to help launch the program over the second half of 2019. They include Montreal-based post-classical pianist Jean-Michel Blais, celebrated Calgary flautist Jiajia Li, and Edmonton musician Anders Muskens, who specializes in historical keyboards.

“As a Canadian company and member of the music community, Stingray is committed to promoting local talent. We are proud to support the future of classical music in Canada and to invest in connecting them with the tools to fuel their work,” says Mathieu Péloquin, Sr. VP of marketing and communications at Stingray.

“Stingray’s support of this program will connect some of the country’s most talented classical artists with a world-class facility where the possibilities of exploration are endless,” adds Adam Fox, the director of programs for the NMC. “We are so grateful for this gift to the National Music Centre and for the opportunity to serve more artists.”

As previously announced, Montreal-based Jean-Michel Blais will be in residence at Studio Bell this summer, though his residency will now fall under the Stingray Classical stream. Blais will present an intimate workshop backstage in Studio Bell’s recording studios, illuminating his personal philosophy of improvisation on July 29. Blais landed on the Polaris Music Prize Short List in 2018 for his sophomore record Dans ma main, an expansive album of post-classical piano music that blends his classical skill and precise pop sensibility with synthetic accompaniment. “I was able to preview the National Music Centre’s collection during a visit to Studio Bell in 2018,” says Blais. “To say that I was inspired by the breadth and depth of what was housed in the building is an understatement. I may not sleep during my time there.”

Born in Beijing and now based in Calgary, flautist Jiajia Li is a prize winner of the “Prinzessin Margaret von Hessen” competition (Germany), and three-time scholarship recipient from Banff Centre. As a soloist, Li has performed at the Calgary New Music Festival, Edmonton Art Festival “The Works”, Sled Island, and with the Kensington Sinfonia. Li will use her time in residence to record a new EP. She will perform a public workshop in December at Studio Bell. A date and time will be announced soon. “I’m super excited to explore NMC’s instrument collection and experiment with adding unique sounds to my music,” she says.

Edmonton’s Anders Muskens specializes in historical performance on keyboard instruments from the 18th and early 19th century—namely the forte-piano, harpsichord, clavichord, and organ. NMC will present an in-studio experience with the forte-piano master on October 25 at 1:00 pm. "NMC has a lovely collection of originals and replicas of historic instruments,” said Muskens. “I am really looking forward to showcasing the truly special sound that these instruments create: these are the sounds that inspired Bach, Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven—and are vastly different from modern instruments.”

Stingray Classical Music Program is an offshoot of the National Music Centre’s Artist in Residence program designed to feed and nurture artistic creativity and technical innovation by providing artists at various levels of professional development with uninterrupted time and space, and the use NMC’s singular collection and expertise, to create new and innovative works in a supportive, world-class facility.

The Stingray Classical Music Program offers access to three historic recording consoles and over 300 musical artifacts, spanning 450 years of music technology and innovation.

Tickets for all Stingray Classical Music performances are available to NMC Members only.

For more information, go to www.studiobell.ca.

[Photo of NMC/Studio by Bitterminn Photography]

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.