TYWO Musicians Honoured

EPO Award Winners

TYWO is proud of its role in encouraging the development of some of Toronto’s most talented up and coming musicians and composers who have passed through the organization in the course of its 23-year history. Some have gone on to make their mark in the music world as performers, others as teachers, while many hundreds of TYWO Alumni have taken their place in other areas of society, richer for their musical experience.

Today we salute two such TYWO musicians: one a member of our current Wind Orchestra, the other an alumnus, both recent award winners in the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra’s (EPO) Inaugural Young Composers Competition.

Recognized as Promising High School Composer is Blaise Gratton, a 15-year-old tuba player who started out on clarinet in grade five, switching to tenor saxophone in grade seven to fill the void at his school. With a passion for brass, he moved to tuba when he commenced his studies at the Etobicoke School of the Arts. At the time of his audition and acceptance into TYWO in September 2013, Blaise had been playing tuba for just over a year.

Blaise first started composing at the age of ten at the encouragement of his piano teacher. “My teacher gives this assignment to all of her students, which involves composing a piece and writing a story that goes along with it,” explained Blaise. “I then started composing on my own time just to see what I could do and after taking some theory courses over the summer, I realized I really like composing so I just never stopped.” One of his compositions, “The Perfect Storm”, was selected for performance by a Toronto area community band last season.

Blaise’s prize-winning entry “Tritones and Semitones” is a modern piece written in just two months specifically for the competition. “One of my biggest influences was Armenian Dances by Alfred Reed. I’ve played this piece in two bands and I have always loved it. I even arranged it for solo piano.” he said. Armenian Dances was performed by TYWO for the first concert of the 2013/2014 season.
“I enjoy playing with TYWO, as the Wind Orchestra is more advanced than many of the other ensembles I’ve played with. It’s such a big band with a big sound, and I love listening to everyone. I also love the repertoire.”

Runner-up for the grand prize of the competition was double bassist Sean King, with his composition “Demon Dance.” Sean played with TYWO for the 2005-2006 season, participating in TYWO’s first-ever tour, travelling to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto with a Masters in Music degree in Music Composition.

The Young Composers’ Competition was launched last year by the EPO and spearheaded by double bassist Jessica Monk and her husband, violinist Chris Van Loan, with the aim of encouraging young classical composers.

Click here to see Inside Toronto article by journalist Cynthia Reason.  Photo by Cynthia Reason.