Symphony Nova Scotia’s RBC Composer in Residence Dinuk Wijeratne wins 2016 JUNO Award

Wijeratne wins Classical Composition of the Year Award for his work Two Pop Songs on Antique Poems

Halifax, NS – Nova Scotia’s own Dinuk Wijeratne is the winner of the 2016 JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year.

Wijeratne is Symphony Nova Scotia’s RBC Composer in Residence, and a fixture in Nova Scotia’s classical and world-music scene. Along with conducting and composing for Symphony Nova Scotia, he also serves as Music Director of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, and keeps a busy schedule performing with orchestras and ensembles across Canada and around the world.

Wijeratne’s JUNO win was announced this past Saturday, April 2, at the awards ceremony in the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre.

He was nominated for his new work entitled Two Pop Songs on Antique Poems, performed by the Afiara Quartet with Nova Scotia’s Skratch Bastid on their award-winning 2015 release Spin Cycle.

Two Pop Songs on Antique Poems has also been nominated for an ECMA, with winners to be announced during East Coast Music Week, happening April 13-17, 2016 in Sydney, NS.

Praise for Spin Cycle included:

  • One of Forbes Magazine’s Top 10 Classical Recordings of 2015
  • One of CBC Music’s Top 10 Classical Recordings of 2015
  • “One of the most attention-grabbing concerts of the year: a collaboration between a string quartet, a scratch DJ and four emerging composers.” – The Toronto Star
  • “An intriguing depth and complexity to the final creations which cross a variety of cultural and aesthetic borders.” – The WholeNote

Wijeratne’s two JUNO-winning pieces from the album can be heard online here:

The Afiara Quartet and Skratch Bastid also performed another work by Wijeratne entitled Through the Invisible at the JUNO ceremony, which can be seen online here.

“I just got back home, and I can tell you that the whole JUNO experience was such a wonderfully crazy blur of activity that I need some time now to stare at the Halifax waterfront to make sense of it all!” says Wijeratne.

“I’m privileged to have been there amongst so many nominees from Nova Scotia, and can’t wait to get back to creating more music for my Symphony Nova Scotia family.”

Wijeratne has a long history with Symphony Nova Scotia. He was appointed as the orchestra’s Resident Conductor in 2005, shortly after his arrival in Canada, and has continued to conduct and compose for the orchestra ever since.

This past January, he was appointed as the orchestra’s RBC Composer in Residence, a new position made possible through RBC’s Emerging Artists Project. His appointment marked the very first time one person has served as both a Conductor in Residence and a Composer in Residence with a single Canadian orchestra.

Wijeratne is already busy at work creating his first new composition for Symphony Nova Scotia, entitled Polyphonic Lively. The orchestra will perform it at its first classical concert of its 2016/17 concert season, scheduled for October 13, 2016 at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.

“Here at RBC, we believe in the power of art to enrich our lives and enhance our communities,” says Stewart Robinson, Regional Director, RBC Dominion Securities.

“Our support of the arts has been a long-standing priority, as we recognize the importance of the arts in building vibrant communities and strong economies. We’re proud to support the rising career of such a promising young composer as Dinuk Wijeratne, and to continue our long-term partnership with Symphony Nova Scotia.”

RBC’s Emerging Artists Project provides support to registered charities or other qualified recipients in a range of genres including visual art, music, theatre, performance, literature, and film. The program supports programs that provide emerging artists with mentorship, apprenticeships, and exposure to new and diverse audiences throughout their career. In 2013, the RBC Foundation committed $6.7 million to arts and cultural organizations, supporting local, national, and international initiatives.

Dinuk Wijeratne standing 2011-12 credit Michelle DoucetteAbout Dinuk Wijeratne
The Sri Lankan-born composer, pianist, and conductor Dinuk Wijeratne has been described by the New York Times as “exuberantly creative” and by the Toronto Star as “an artist who reflects a positive vision of our cultural future.” His boundary-crossing work sees him equally at home in collaborations with symphony orchestras and string quartets, Tabla players and DJs, and takes him to international venues as poles apart as the Berlin Philharmonie and the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Dinuk has composed specially for almost all of the artists and ensembles with whom he has shared the stage; to name a few: the Gryphon Trio, the Afiara & Cecelia String Quartets, the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, TorQ Percussion Quartet, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Yo-Yo Ma & the Silk Road Ensemble, Zakir Hussain, Suzie LeBlanc, Kinan Azmeh, Tim Garland, Buck 65, Skratch Bastid, MIR, Joseph Petric, Ed Thigpen, Pandit Ramesh Misra, Adrian Spillett, David Jalbert, Kevork Mourad, and Symphony Nova Scotia, as well as the orchestras of Toronto, Vancouver, Windsor, P.E.I., Thunder Bay, and the National Arts Centre.

Dinuk grew up in Dubai before studying composition at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM, Manchester, U.K.), at the Juilliard School with John Corigliano, and conducting at Mannes College. He is the recipient of the Canada Council Jean-Marie Beaudet award for orchestral conducting; the Nova Scotia Established Artist Award; multiple Masterworks and Merritt Award nominations; Juilliard and Mannes scholarships; two Countess of Munster composition grants; the Sema Jazz Improvisation Prize; the Soroptimist International Award for Composer-Conductors; and the Sir John Manduell Prize – the RNCM’s highest student honour. His music and collaborative work embrace the great diversity of his international background and influences.

About Symphony Nova Scotia
Symphony Nova Scotia is Nova Scotia’s orchestra. Each year more than 50,000 audience members (including 15,000 young music lovers) join us in communities across Nova Scotia for performances of the music they love – from baroque and classical to pop and rock and folk. Under the inspirational leadership of Music Director Bernhard Gueller, Symphony Nova Scotia is one of the most broadcast orchestras in the country, with over 20 commercial releases and multiple East Coast Music Awards. Visit to learn more, listen online, or get tickets today!


For more information, please contact:
Heidi MacPhee
Director of Communications and Marketing, Symphony Nova Scotia
[email protected]