“Keys to the Hometown” welcomes home the intrepid NB virtuoso Philip Thomson

For its grand season finale, Symphony New Brunswick welcomes the triumphal return of Saint John native pianist Philip Thomson. From the sarcasm of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.2 in F major, to the exuberance of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.4, this program encapsulates a vast range of emotions. The concert will also feature a delightful Romance for Violin and Strings by Dvorak as well as Mendelssohn’s beloved Hebrides Overture. This concert will be conducted by principal conductor Michael Newnham.


There is no doubt that Shostakovich was a quintessential Russian composer. One can hear influences from all the major Russian music figures in his work, from Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky to Rachmaninoff. However, in the concerto medium, particularly in this Piano Concerto No.2, Shostakovich tended to move as far away from the Russian models as he could. Compared to the Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky piano concertos, it seems unfathomable to think that Shostakovich’s concerto belongs to the same genre. Shostakovich’s piece is thin in orchestration, rarely using the full spectrum of sound that we often hear in his Symphonies. Shostakovich juxtaposes playfulness and glee with strident, jarringly dissonant sections, highlighting his affinity for dry humor and sarcasm in his music.


Philip Thomson will be the pianist featured in this atypical Russian concerto. Originally from Saint John, he studied piano at the University of Toronto and at the Juilliard School. Currently on the piano faculty of the School of Music at the University of Akron, he is renowned internationally as a pianist, a Naxos recording artist, and a researcher. Besides his coast-to-coast Canadian concertizing, Mr. Thomson has also performed in the United States, England, Ireland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Italy, and China.


Also on the program will be Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.4, otherwise known as “Italian”.  It was written when Mendelssohn was only 21. After his parents encouraged him to see and learn from the wider world in order to become a well-rounded adult, Mendelssohn set out to “examine the various countries closely. He made the rounds of Venice, Rome, Naples and Milan. Whilst there, he composed this Symphony, and Mendelssohn wrote to his sister “It will be the jolliest piece I have ever done, especially the last movement”. It is an ebullient, joyous work, and is reflective of “the loveliest time of the year in Italy”.

This concert will be a wonderful way to end the season, with ample jubilant music to celebrate the arrival of summer.

“Keys to the Hometown” Concert details :

May 14 in Moncton at the Capitol Theatre at 7:30 pm

May 15 in Fredericton at the Playhouse at 7:30

May 16 in Saint John at the Imperial Theatre at 7:30

Pre-concert talks at 6:30

Concert tickets are available at the door or at the Box Offices in each city

Moncton, Capitol Theatre (506) 856-4379, capitol.nb.ca

Fredericton, The Playhouse (506) 458-8344, theplayhouse.ca

Saint John, Imperial Theatre (506) 647-4100, imperialtheatre.nb.

Writing Competition Winners Announced; Awards Presentation at WordsSpring

Writers’ Federation of NB announces winners of its 2018 Writing Competition. Event part of WFNB’s WordSpring Festival in Quispamsis onMay 11–13
Saint John, NB (April 20, 2018) – The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick will present $2,900 in cash prizes to the winners of its 2018 Writing Competition at a Literary Soirée on Saturday, May 12 in Quispamsis.
The evening ceremony is part of WFNB’s 2018 WordSpring Festival being held on May 11–13 at the Quality Inn & Suites, Amsterdam. The festival also offers writing workshops, readings by local and national authors, and book launches by WFNB members. Friday evening events are free and open to the public.
The Soirée readings range from fiction and nonfiction to poems and children’s stories. This year, the event highlights young New Brunswick writers. Six award-winning teenage students will read from their work, including the winner of WFNB’s 2017 WordsFall writing contest for Sussex High School.  Bayside Middle School (Saint John) will receive more than $500 in books and gift certificates from provincial booksellers and publishers.
The Soirée also features an address by Newfoundland’s legendary Marjorie Doyle, a prolific author and radio personality whose awards include Silver in the National Magazine Awards, CBC Radio Awards for Performing Excellence, and a Golden Sheaf nomination for the film Regarding our Father. Marjorie is a tireless advocate for writer’s rights and currently serves as Chair of The Writer’s Union of Canada.
Professional development workshops will be given by award-winning writer and scholar Roger Moore, 2017 NB Book Awards recipient Kerry-Lee Powell, author and former NB Deputy Minister of Education Wendy McLeod MacKnight, renowned writing coach and author Deborah Carr, and Shediac writer Colin Thornton.
For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit WFNB’s website at www.wfnb.ca.
The following are the 2018 competition winners:
Sheree Fitch Prize for Young Writers (age 13–18)
Judge: Norene Smiley, Nova Scotia
First Place                 Susanna Cupido (Sackville, NB), The Shop  
Second Place              Anajose Reyes (New Maryland, NB), Strawberry–Mango
Third Place                Susanna Cupido (Sackville, NB), Sonnet for the Hedgehog
Honourable Mention            Lauren Wilkins (Moncton, NB), ThornBlush
                                    Chloe Cull (Fredericton, NB), Soft as Cotton Balls
Fog Lit Books for Young People Prize
Judge: Tanya Lloyd Kyi, British Columbia
First Place                 Jennifer Shelby (Hopewell Hill, NB), Dragon Crossing
Second Place              Anna Eleonora Haglund Hellstrom (Saint John, NB), 
A Tale of Wind and Sky    
Third Place                Freya Clark (St. Andrews, NB), Acceptance
David Adams Richards Prize (fiction manuscript)
Judge: Michelle Butler Hallett, Newfoundland & Labrador
First Place                 Lee Thompson (Moncton, NB),The Purpose of Evolution is Not Immortality
Second Place              James McClure (Saint John, NB), Playing like a Girl
Third Place                Roger Moore (Island View, NB), Devil’s Kitchen
Alfred G. Bailey Prize (poetry manuscript)
Judge: Kimmy Beach, Alberta
First Place                 Neil Sampson (Durham Bridge, NB), Apples on the Nashwaak
Second Place              Jennifer Houle (Hanwell, NB), Virga                       
Third Place                Matthew Gwathmey (Fredericton, NB), Along that Range, the Appalachians
Douglas Kyle Memorial Prize (short fiction)
Judge: Sandra Birdsell, Ontario
First Place                 Trent Pomeroy (Rothesay, NB), The Rat
Second Place              Chris Graham-Rombough (Sackville, NB), The Yard Sale
Third Place                Edward Lemond (Dieppe, NB), David James
Dawn Watson Memorial Prize (single poem)
Judge: Dave Margoshes, Saskatchewan
First Place                 Melanie Craig-Hansford (Erbs Cove, NB), Mornings in Erbs Cove 
Second Place              Neil Sampson (Durham Bridge, NB), William Wordsworth Walks 
His Dog
Third Place                Bryn Harris (Grand Manan, NB), Imperfect Pitch
Narrative Nonfiction Prize
Judge: Chris Benjamin, Nova Scotia
First Place                 Beth LaRocque (Saint John, NB), A Tale of 2 (X4) Grandmothers 
Second Place              Molly Titus (Rothesay, NB), Missing Bill
Third Place                Margaret Eaton (Moncton, NB), Ruminations on Rumi 


Quality Block Party! April Dates and Details

The Quality Block Party is pleased to announce our upcoming festival centered in the Uptown Saint John! From Friday April 27th to Sunday April 29th.

Venues include Jones Gallery, Boyd Pop Up Gallery, the Five and Dime, Taco Pica, Callahan’s, Peppers, Sanctuary, Rogue, and Backstreet Records (plus a secret venue and show just for pass holders!)

There are over 50 acts including Jon Claytor, Julie Doiron, Catriona Sturton, Jon McKiel, Dany Laj and the Looks, Falling Leaves, Papal Visit, Peter Parkers, Rozalind McPhail, Russell Louder, Robert T,  Jamie Comeau and the Crooked Teeth, T. Thomason, Dillon Ryan, Bonnett House, Jaguar Knight, Whoop Szo, Motherhood, Jane Blanchard, Platitudes, Stephen Hero, UDA, Lo Siento and many more!

Full festival passes are $40 and available for purchase from Backstreet Records, at 124 Germain Street. Any inquiries about accessibility, tickets, or volunteering can be sent to qualityblockparty@gmail.com.

Quality Block Party is now one year old! Our first event was programmed congruently with the 2017 ECMAs in Uptown Saint John. Since then the Block has grown and made many new friends. We have two annual flagship festivals, with the 2018 dates being April 27th-29th and August 9th-12th. Our mandate at the Quality Block Party is to promote and support artists in New Brunswick and beyond. We have brought NB artists to showcase in festivals such as Halifax Pop Explosion and Pop Montreal. We are committed to celebrating the strength of NB musicians,  and promoting safer spaces and community building.


engAGING Arts

New Horizons engAGING Arts Community Project Grand Finale

The Charlotte Street Arts Centre and Solo Chicken Productions, through the generous support of The Government of Canada, are pleased to announce the grand finale production of “The engAGING Arts & Community Project”. This multidisciplinary, arts-based project, which began in September 2017 has offered youth at George Street Middle School and seniors at Evelyn Grove Manor, the opportunity to explore themes of identity and belonging through artistic expression.

Youth and senior participants have taken workshops in poetry, theatre, movement and visual art and are currently working together to create a performance that incorporates elements from all the workshops.  This production features a multi-generational cast and incorporates poetry, movement, theatre and art.   The public are invited to see this joyous work on Tuesday April 17th at 6PM in the Charlotte Street Arts Centre Auditorium.  Admission is free.

For more information, please contact Eva George ArtReach Program Manager, Charlotte Street Arts Centre 506-454-6952

New Brunswick Book Awards to be presented at June 8 ceremony

The Fiddlehead and the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick have announced the shortlisted titles for the third annual New Brunswick Book Awards. The winners will be announced at a celebration, honouring writing and illustration excellence, on Friday June 8, at the Lily Lake Pavilion in Saint John. The event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the awards presentation at 7 p.m.

The program celebrates books published in the 2017 calendar year and in four categories: poetry, fiction, non-fiction and children’s writing (picture books). The competition is open to traditionally published and self-published authors who have lived in the province for three of the last five years, including the award year.

A total of 36 total submissions were received for the awards. The book awards program represents a partnership between Canada’s oldest literary magazine, The Fiddlehead, which has nurtured New Brunswick’s literary culture for 70 years, and the Writers’ Federation, which for 30 years has passionately supported the development of home-grown writers at all stages of development.

The finalists are as follows:
The Mrs. Dunster’s Award for Fiction
Judge: Angie Abdou, author of five books of fiction, most recently In Case I Go
Peter J. Clair, Tobique, Taapoategl & Pallet: A Mi’Kmaq Journey of Loss and Survival
Publisher: Chapel Street Editions

Wayne Curtis, Fredericton, Homecoming: The Road Less Travelled
Publisher: Pottersfield Press

M.T. Dohaney, Fredericton, Caplin Scull: Chronicles from a Newfoundland Outpost
Publisher: Pottersfield Press
Alice Kitts Memorial Award for Excellence in Children’s Writing
Judge: Sheree Fitch, one of Canada’s most beloved and celebrated children’s authors

Odette Barr, Petit-Cap, Colleen Landry, Moncton, and Beth Weatherbee, Baie Verte, Take off to Tantramar
Publisher: Chocolate River Publishing

Paul McAllister, Fredericton, New Song for Herman
Publisher: Herman’s Monster House Publishing
Alice Whitney, Fredericton, Henrietta’s Nightlight
Publisher: Chocolate River Publishing
The Fiddlehead Poetry Book Prize
Judge: Susan Gillis, author of three collections of poetry, including Swimming Among the Ruins

Wayne Clifford, Grand Manan, Flying the Truck
Publisher: New Brunswick Museum
Allan Cooper, Riverview, Everything We’ve Loved Comes Back to Find Us
Publisher: Gaspereau Press
Kathy Mac, Fredericton, Human Misunderstanding
Publisher: Roseway
Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick Book Award for Non-Fiction
Judge: Award-winning author, journalist and teacher Andrew Westoll
Rachel Bryant, Saint John, The Homing Place
Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Tony Robinson-Smith, Fredericton, The Dragon Run: Two Canadians, Ten Bhutanese, One Stray Dog
Publisher: University of Alberta Press

Jan Wong, Fredericton, Apron Strings: Navigating Food and Family in France, Italy and China
Publisher: Goose Lane Editions
 Last year’s winners were: The Mrs. Dunster’s Award for Fiction – Kerry-Lee Powell, Moncton, Willem De Kooning’s Paintbrush (HarperCollins)Alice Kitts Memorial Award for Excellence in Children’s Writing –  Jennifer McGrath, Moncton, The Snow Knows (Nimbus);The Fiddlehead Poetry Book Prize – M. Travis Lane, Fredericton, The Witch of the Inner Wood (Goose Lane Editions); and, Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick Book Award for Non-Fiction – Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon, Saint John, Shadow of Doubt (Goose Lane Editions).

Owens Art Gallery Welcomes Curator of Digital Engagement

The Owens Art Gallery is pleased to announce that Rachel Thornton will take on the the newly created role of Curator of Digital Engagement at the gallery. The position is fully funded by the Canada Council for the Arts under its new “Artistic Catalysts” program of support for public galleries and museums.

Thornton will curate the Owens’ program of digital engagement and interactivity, towards a complete reconsideration of the use and sharing of the museum’s recourses. This includes the information that is produced, collected and used, and the contributions of users themselves. The goal is to share resources and prioritize visitor experience and visitor contributions in innovative, inclusive and informed ways.

Originally from Carp, ON, Thornton received a Bachelor of Fines Arts degree at Mount Allison University in 2015 and is currently pursuing an MA Fine Arts with the Open College of the Arts. She has experience working at the Owens as the 2015/2016 Intern and has assisted with the gallery’s educational programs.

For further information please contact the Owens at owens@mta.ca or (506) 364-2574.

New Brunswick Museum accepts donation from Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation

The New Brunswick Museum thanks the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation Inc. for the recent generous donation of $20,000. The funds will be used for the development of the Sheila Hugh Mackay Collection of Strathbutler Award Winners at the New Brunswick Museum as well as strategic initiatives relating to the promotion of contemporary New Brunswick visual art. This ongoing support by the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation, Inc. is a strong confirmation of the New Brunswick Museum’s commitment to, and success with, our contemporary visual art programs.

The Strathbutler Award, currently valued at $25,000, is presented biennially by the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation, Inc. in recognition of artists and craftspeople who have excelled in their fields, while also making a substantial contribution to the culture of our province. Each recipient, since the first award was presented in 1991, has been chosen by an independent jury of visual art professionals.

In 2000, Sheila Hugh Mackay made a significant donation of the work of the first five Strathbutler Award recipients to the New Brunswick Museum. The Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation Inc. continued that generosity and now the collection has representative examples of the work of twenty-three of the artists and craftspeople who have helped to define the province’s creative landscape over the past quarter century. In addition to being a legacy of objects, the Sheila Hugh Mackay Collection of Strathbutler Award Winners also documents a philanthropic gesture that is having a profound effect on contemporary New Brunswick art.

These new funds will also enable the New Brunswick Museum to initiate some new projects and improve some of the existing visual arts programs. Plans include the engaging of new voices in critical writing for exhibition catalogues, the sponsoring of short artist residencies or collaborations; and the support of research projects relating to the province’s visual arts.

For more information:
Caitlin Griffiths or Aristi Dsilva, Communications & Marketing, New Brunswick Museum
(506) 654-7059 or (506) 643-2358