Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Queen's University Queen's University
    Search Type

    Search form

    Choral work wins national award

    Benjamin Bolden, an associate professor in Queen’s University’s Faculty of Education, has won a national competition for choral music.

    [Ben Bolden]
    Ben Bolden of the Faculty of Education is the winner of the 2016 Competition for Choral Writing. (Supplied Photo) 

    Dr. Bolden’s composition Tread Softly, a setting of The Cloths of Heaven by poet W.B. Yeats, was recently selected by Choral Canada as the winner of 2016 Competition for Choral Writing.

    As a result, the Tread Softly will be published by Cypress Choral Music, a co-sponsor of the competition, and be premiered by the 2016 National Youth Choir of Canada during Choral Canada’s Podium biennial choral conference and festival in Edmonton on Friday, May 20.

    He also receives the $1,500 Dianne Loomer Award.

    “Having the piece performed by the National Youth Choir is an immense privilege,” Dr. Bolden says. “To think that all these superb young musicians will be dedicating their energy, expertise, musicality and spirit to bring my music alive… it is such a gift that the music I imagine, and hope might work, and write down as black marks on a page, can actually see the light of day and become beautiful through their voices.”

    Tread Softly is an a cappella choral work which Michael Zaugg, guest conductor for the 2016 National Youth Choir of Canada, says uses “a lush tonal language” to set the words by Yeats.

    “The well-structured dynamic and melodic development brings the text to the forefront and engages the performer and listener alike,” Mr. Zaugg adds. “I look forward to presenting these soaring melodies and rich harmonies in concert with the National Youth Choir of Canada.”

    Dr. Bolden says he was inspired to compose the piece by a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally-recognized expert on education in the arts, where he spoke about the importance of educating children in a way that allows them to be who they need to be, and of honouring their dreams.

    “He closed the talk by reading the poem ‘The Cloths of Heaven’ by William Butler Yeats,” he says. “He was using the poem to remind policy makers, educators, and parents that, every day and everywhere, children lay their dreams at our feet. We need to tread softly.”

    Dr. Bolden’s research interests include the learning and teaching of composing, creativity, community music, arts-based research, Web 2.0 technologies in education, teacher knowledge, and teachers’ professional learning. He is an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre and his compositions have been performed by a variety of professional and amateur performing ensembles.

    Founded in 1980, Choral Canada is the national voice of the Canadian choral community, representing and uniting a network of conductors, educators, composers, administrators, choral industry leaders, and more than 42,000 choral singers.