CMC Ontario is thrilled to announce the five winners of the inaugural Beckwith Award. We want to congratulate music educators Dan Austin and Danica Brokelman, ensembles the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and the Open Ears Festival.

CMC Ontario has a broad mission to support contemporary music across the province, but this ambitious goal would not be possible without the passionate work of a network of individuals and organizations—this is especially true in a period of immense change.

Named for John Beckwith, one of the co-founders of the CMC, the Beckwith Award was established to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary contributions of Ontario-based individuals and organizations that connect audiences and learners with contemporary music and composers.

We look forward to coordinating with the winners to present the Beckwith Award in person when we are able to resume familiar music activities. For now we encourage our community members to learn more about each winner below.

For further information and media inquiries, please contact:
Holly Nimmons, Director, Development & Communications
Phone: 416-371-6486    |     Email: [email protected]

Clockwise from top left: Dan Austin, Danica Brokelman, The Hamilton Philharmonic (credit: Kyle Andrew), Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, Open Ears Festival

About the Winners

Dan Austin has been teaching instrumental and vocal music for 19 years, and is currently the Band Director and Instrumental Music Teacher at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute in Guelph, Ontario. A graduate of York University’s Jazz Music Program, Dan has developed and built strong music programs at both the elementary and secondary levels at Twin Lakes Secondary School, Glenhaven Senior Public School, and Mitchell Woods Public School. He is a regular clinician at the Ontario Music Educators Association conference, and contributor to music education journals.

Dan keeps an active schedule as a vocal and instrumental performer the Harbourtown Sound A Cappella Men’s Chorus (Hamilton), The After Party a cappella quartet (2019 Ontario Silver Medalists). Dan also released his first solo jazz album as a bass player in 2017.

Dan also plays a significant organizing and governance role as Treasurer for the Peel Intermediate Music Teacher’s Association, President and founder of the Upper Grand Elementary Music Teachers Association, Vice President of Youth In Harmony for the Ontario District, and Education Coordinator for the International award winning Ontario Youth A Cappella Chorus.

Danica Brokelman is currently in her twelfth year of teaching with the York Region District School Board. Ms. Brokelman received her undergraduate degree from Trent University and her Bachelor Of Education from Queen’s University. She is currently completing her Masters Degree in Education at Trent University.

Ms. Brokelman is keenly interested in promoting the values of lifelong learning and musicianship. During her career, she has conducted a wide variety of musical ensembles, including wind bands, jazz ensembles, choirs, and chamber ensembles. She has also directed numerous musical productions for primary and junior level students.

Outside of her school commitments, Ms. Brokelman is highly active in community music. She is a co-conductor and supervisory member of the Markham Area East Elementary Band, and has been an audition consultant, and saxophone and oboe clinician for the York Region Elementary Enrichment Band. She has implemented workshops for schools and ensembles in the York Region District School Board, and the Bluewater District School Board. In addition, Ms. Brokelman was also an administrative supervisor for the York Region Music Camp from 2006 – 2009. As an avid amateur musician, she currently performs as an oboist in the York Symphony Orchestra

Ms. Brokelman is a passionate advocate for Music Education, and aims to make music accessible to students of all ages and abilities, with opportunities for performance for all students. She is currently teaching Grades 3 to 8 Music at Black Walnut Public School.

The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra aims to enrich the well-being of the greater Hamilton region by engaging, educating and inspiring the community through outstanding professional orchestral music. Music Director Gemma New works with the musicians of the orchestra to present artistically rich Mainstage concerts along with engaging talks and performances for all ages in the community. In her five seasons as Music Director, New has committed to commissioning and performing Canadian contemporary orchestral works. In 2016, she launched Intimate & Immersive, a contemporary music series with a “closer-to-the-music” atmosphere and multidisciplinary installations. New worked alongside Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte, curator of the HPO’s What Next Festival of Canadian contemporary works for seven seasons, to develop the Composer Fellowship Program. The fellowship offers six months of artistic and professional mentorship to two early-career Ontario-based composers, investigating both the creative process and business of orchestral composing.

The Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound based in Ontario’s Waterloo Region uses unusual venues to present an eclectic range of musics from indie-classical to electroacoustic, musique actuelle and sound installation. Festival activities inhabit wildlife preserves, urban streetscapes, galleries and concert halls in order to bring communities into contact with sound and music that is truly transformative. The festival is highly collaborative in its approach to co-presenting with, or featuring activities programmed by local partners—including an emphasis on cross-disciplinary projects.

 The festival continues to feature a mix of local, national and international artists. Guest artists have included Brian Eno, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Diamanda Galas, Negativland, DJ Spooky, Tristan Perich, Nico Muhly, Nadia Sirota and Pauline Oliveros. Open Ears has featured a variety of Canadians such as Sarah Neufeld, Gordon Monahan, Michael Snow, John Oswald, Murray Schafer, Tim Brady and Hildegard Westerkamp. In 2020, Open Ears features Pulitzer Prize winning artist Caroline Shaw.

In 1960, two Toronto musicians, Rene Charrier and Douglas Dahlgren, were en route to Edmonton when they were forced to make a side trip to Thunder Bay after their car broke down in a small town three hours away. They turned up at a furniture store, sat down at the display piano and began playing. The store’s owner soon struck up a conversation with these wandering minstrels and the talk eventually turned to their dreams of starting a symphony orchestra. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sixty years later, the TBSO currently includes 30 full-time musicians, who perform across Northwestern Ontario and engage with over 10,000 students through its robust education programming each year.  The Orchestra performs a wide-ranging repertoire from the great classical masterworks to pops and children’s concerts. As the only fully-professional orchestra between Toronto and Winnipeg, the TBSO strives to be the best regional orchestra in Canada, appealing to as wide and diverse an audience as possible through excellent performances and original programming. In 2019, the TBSO received its first Juno nomination for its CD, Into the Wonder, and is thrilled and honoured to be one of the Beckwith Awards’ inaugural recipients.