Acadia composer wins Juno Award

April 2, 2012

Juno Award winner Dr. Derek Charke

Although Acadia University associate professor Dr. Derek Charke is used to making music, his recent 2012 Juno Awards win for Classical Composition of the Year is making a different kind of noise. He is the talk of campus and the community in Wolfville, NS.

“It was a great moment to receive the Juno Award for Classical Composition of the Year,” said Charke. “Obviously I'm thrilled, and a bit surprised! I've been composing music since I was very young, so it's an honour to be recognized with such an important award from my peers.”

His award-winning work, Sepia Fragments, was co-commissioned by the Huckabone Family and CBC, and was first performed on stage at Acadia’s Festival Theatre in 2009 as part of the Performing Arts Series.

“We are thrilled with this recognition of Derek’s work,” said Dr. Jeff Hennessy, director of Acadia’s School of Music. “Most of the faculty and students were present when Sepia Fragments received its world premiere and we knew then that we had witnessed the birth of a very special piece of music.”

Charke teaches theory, composition, and orchestration at Acadia’s School of Music, where he has shared his passion for acoustic ecology – what he calls soundscapes ecology, which allows him to use natural sound artistically in his compositions. From the underwater call of a whale to the echo of cars driving along Highway 101, Charke transforms everyday sounds into instruments.

“Derek is a first-rate talent, an excellent teacher, and a wonderful colleague, and his friends, colleagues, students, and admirers in the School of Music at Acadia could not be happier for him,” added Hennessy.

Watch Charke’s acceptance speech.

Read more about Charke’s musical style.

About Sepia Fragments
Imagine viewing a series of sepia toned images, side by side, as you walk past. Sepia Fragments is, in a way, a collage. It is an experiment in juxtaposing divergent material through variation form.

The opening features a slow and original fiddle tune from the present. Fragments of harmonics and trills – fleeting, darting – accompany the melody. A reel begins in 5/8 time as the music becomes more animated. We encounter abstracted quotations from Schumann, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky, transformed and unrecognizable.

A quasi-folk melody sounds before chaos ensues and memories fade. Dissonant material is introduced. The music builds several times before it finally gives up. What remains is slow and introspective – a chorale-like ending, the first violin hinting at remembrances from the near and distant past. The closing becomes a transformation of the opening. Fading from nothing... to nothing.

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