Turn it up!
Micheline Beaudry-Somcynksy has heard the hooting of nomadic women in the desert and the singing of the Maasai at dawn. Throughout her long and fruitful career as a diplomat, she has sung in choirs in many countries. Her love for music has even pushed her to hop on a plane to go recover ancient musical scores in remote villages of Bolivia.
The now-retired music lover can add one more to her colourful list of musical experiences: supporting the development of talent in classical music composition in Canada.
“It’s even more exciting than travelling!” says Beaudry-Somcynksy, who was dismayed to discover, while volunteering with the Chœur classique de l’Outaouais, that the support for musical composition in Canada was “virtually nonexistent.”
“The Canada Council does provide funding,” she explains. “But you have to be a composer whose work has already been performed. So, how do you go from student to recognized composer? I thought to myself, ‘there’s something missing.’”
Excited by the vision of uOttawa’s School of Music to become a centre of excellence in musical composition, Beaudry-Somcynksy, who doesn’t do things by halves, rewrote her will to benefit the school, to which she also offered some money to immediately get the ball rolling.
“I wanted to see what they would do with it, how they worked. Now, I know that my legacy will be well spent,” said Beaudry-Somcynksy, a Faculty of Arts graduate.
Thanks to Beaudry-Somcynsky’s generosity and enthusiastic participation, the school was able to create master classes given by renowned composers. A new contest allows students who have submitted the best compositions to work on their pieces in a workshop with a renowned group and to record a demo for their portfolio. Finally, a new award also offers a valuable boost to up and coming composers.
“This award means a great deal to me,” said 2016 recipient Jason Alexander Young, a PhD candidate. “It not only provides financial support […] but [also] the moral support and encouragement that my compositions are understood and appreciated.”
“Who knows, maybe one of these students is the next Mozart,” said Beaudry-Somcynsky, who can appreciate the full impact of her donation in testimonials like Young’s.
Clearly at ease in her new role as a modern-day patron, she continues to pursue countless projects and hopes others will follow in the exciting path that she has opened up.
"Music is a universal language,” she says. “It allows us to grow spiritually and psychologically. It opens up a universe. But if we want future generations to take advantage of it, we must encourage today’s composers. There are ways to help talents flourish and do extraordinary things."