Halifax/K’jipuktuk, NS – Symphony Nova Scotia is proud to announce that Toronto-based composer Alice Ping Yee Ho is the new winner of its acclaimed Maria Anna Mozart Award for Canadian women composers.
This new original work will be premiered by Symphony Nova Scotia on March 2, 2023, and will be featured on the CBC music program In Concert with Paolo Pietropaolo as part of an International Women’s Day broadcast in March of 2023. It will also be heard in the Atlantic provinces on both CBC Music and CBC Radio on The East Coast Music Hour with Bill Roach.
Launched in 2016, the Maria Anna Mozart Award supports the work of Canadian women composers, providing funds for Symphony Nova Scotia to commission and perform a new symphonic work by a Canadian woman every three years. Ho is the third winner of the Award.
The Maria Anna Mozart Award is the first of its kind in Canada, and was made possible through the generosity of Halifax resident and Symphony supporter Dr. Jane Gordon. As part of a dedicated committee of volunteers, Gordon carefully reviewed each application that was received.
“I am delighted that Symphony Nova Scotia is reflecting diversity in its programming, and I am so glad the CBC is picking up on new creativity from women,” says Gordon. “There has been a lot more music by women and other under-represented composers, but it hasn’t been represented in proportion to the population. Every step we can take is more than welcome.”
“Listening to Alice’s work in her application gave me that magical tingle of ‘this is someone really special’,” says Symphony Nova Scotia Music Director Holly Mathieson.
“She’s a superb craftswoman, has a tremendous imagination and immediately identifiable compositional voice, and has a musical language that I think will really speak to our audience in Nova Scotia without compromising the innovation in her work. I’m delighted we will be working with such a well-respected Canadian composer, and can’t wait to open the score with the players.”
Alice Ping Yee Ho has been described as “a thoughtful composer” (CBC) whose music provides “a unique and vibrant listening experience” (The Whole Note). She is also the winner of the Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize (2019), as well as the Louis Applebaum Composers Award (2016) and K.M. Hunter Artist Award (2000).
Ho’s works have been performed across Canada and internationally by ensembles including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Peter Oundjian), the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Gordon Gerrard), and the Finnish Lapland Chamber Orchestra (John Storgårds). A two-time JUNO Award nominee, her recent projects include six albums and two recordings devoted to music written for different genres: Ming for percussion; Glistening Pianos for two pianos; The Lesson of Da Ji based on her Dora Award-winning opera The Lesson of Da Ji; Mysterious Boot for flute, cello, and piano; The Monkiest King based on her children’s opera with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company; and Venom of Love, a full-length recording of her electronic ballet music.
She holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition with high distinction from Indiana University and a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Toronto. Her teachers have included John Eaton (USA), Brian Ferneyhough (Germany), and John Beckwith (Canada).
“It is an enormous honour to be selected as the winner of Symphony Nova Scotia’s Maria Anna Mozart Award,” says Ho.
“This recognition meant so much to me because it acknowledges women composers’ contributions and achievements. Dr. Jane Gordon and Symphony Nova Scotia have created an exceptional award that continues to support and showcase the voices of talented women composers, and to draw attention to the challenges that we face in history and society.
“Being the winner this year, it is a huge boost that CBC Radio will broadcast the premiere of the new work on In Concert with Paolo Pietropaolo as part of International Women’s Day next March. This is an incredible opportunity to my ongoing artistic pursuit.
“As a Chinese-Canadian composer, I am truly thrilled to create a new composition that shares the beauty and wonders drawn from my own rich cultural heritage. Through this new work, I wish to bring the audience new sounds and ideas, as well as an inspirational message of hope and resilience.”
Ho’s new work will be about 10 minutes in length, and will be premiered by Symphony Nova Scotia on March 2, 2023 during its 2022/23 concert season.
“I was absolutely delighted with the number of women who applied for this award,” says Dr. Gordon.
“It showed me that many women across Canada are working to create symphonic music. And now that Symphony Nova Scotia is aware of these women, they’re part of the pool of Canadian composers to consider in the future.”
Historically, an extremely small percentage of music programmed by the world’s major orchestras has been written by women. Despite recent well-deserved reckonings in other areas, women’s voices continue to be under-represented in major orchestral repertoire:
- The Violin Channel: Study Reveals Women Compose 5% of Pieces in Orchestral Programs
- WFMT: Where Are the Women Composers? How Classical Music is Faring in the Fight for Gender Equality
- NPR: The Sound of Silence: Female Composers at the Symphony
“This is a problem with orchestras around the world,” says Gordon. “And I’m delighted that Symphony Nova Scotia is being creative in addressing this. We should be proud that our orchestra here in Halifax is forward-thinking enough to try and break that mold.”
More information about the Maria Anna Mozart Award can be found at symphonynovascotia.ca/award.
About Symphony Nova Scotia
Symphony Nova Scotia (Music Director: Holly Mathieson) is one of Canada’s most versatile and dynamic orchestras. Founded in 1983, the 37-member orchestra proudly performs music that reflects Nova Scotia’s diverse musical interests and history, combining classical masterworks, historically informed baroque, new compositions, and groundbreaking collaborations featuring artists from Nova Scotia’s rich pop, indie, and Celtic music scene. With a home base in Halifax and performances across the province, Symphony Nova Scotia reaches more than 80,000 Nova Scotians of all ages each year with its inclusive mix of concerts, free community programs, and educational outreach.