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Commemorating Canada' 150th anniversary, the Markham-Stouffville ORMTA branch will be celebrating Canadian composers, both established and upcoming through a number of bio features and Question and Answer Forums.


Please visit our Youtube page over the course of the year for videos of our students performing works by Canadian Composers.


Our first composer feature is on Robert Rival, who presently teaches at the University of Ottawa and whose compositions have been featured on the CBC and at Carnegie Hall.









Born in Calgary in 1975, Robert Rival was the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra's Resident Composer from 2011-2014, a position supported in part by the Canada Council for the Arts. His music, written in a contemporary tonal style and inspired by the Canadian wilderness, literature, and classical and romantic musical forms, has been described as "stirring and dramatic", "spectacular", "clever and evocative", "well crafted", "immediately appealing", "melodic and accessible", "memorable", "sophisticated"—and his song cycle, Red Moon and Other Songs of War, as "an unequivocal hit".

Rival's orchestral works are regularly performed from coast to coast, including by the Victoria Symphony, the Edmonton Symphony, the Regina Symphony, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Hamilton Philharmonic, the National Academy Orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony, Orchestre Métropolitain and Symphony Nova Scotia. Distinguished conductors have led performances of his music, notably Boris Brott, William Eddins, Josée-Luis Gomez, Bernhard Gueller, Julian Kuerti, Edwin Outwater, Martin Panteleev, and Michael Zaugg, among others.

His works have been broadcast on CBC radio and NPR and performed in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Finland, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Australia, by ensembles and musicians including Nathan Berg and Denise Djokic, the Alcan Quartet, the Gryphon Trio, Musica Camerata (Montreal), Ottawa Chamber Players, Pro Coro Canada and the Talisker Chamber Players (Toronto), in venues and festivals including Carnegie Hall, the National Arts Centre (Canada), the Winspear Centre, Festival de Lanaudière, Dublin National Concert Hall, Music and Beyond (Ottawa), Bridewell Theatre (London, UK), Salle Cortot (Paris), Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, NY International Fringe Festival and Festival Vancouver.

A Canada Council for the Arts grant recipient and an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre, Rival was a Featured Composer at the Windsor Canadian Music Festival in 2010. He has been commissioned by the Edmonton Symphony, CBC, CMC, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Queen's University (for Pro Coro Canada), singer-songwriter Connie Kaldor, Toronto's Talisker Players and Windermere String Quartet, the Ottawa Youth Orchestra, Trevor Pittman and Australia's Elanée Ensemble, among others.

Rival completed his doctorate in composition at the University of Toronto in 2010, winning the John Weinzweig Graduate Scholarship, an award given annually to a graduating masters or doctoral student in composition "who exhibits extraordinary creative talent". He also has an MFA in musical theatre composition (New York University, 2002) and an MMus in composition and theory (University of Ottawa, 1998). In 2004 he obtained a diploma from the European American Musical Alliance summer composition program in Paris. His major studies have been with Alexander Rapoport and Steven Gellman. He also studied privately with the late Malcolm Forsyth.

Rival's orchestral works include the muscular Achilles & Scamander, the dazzling Whirlwind, and Lullaby, performed at Carnegie Hall and lauded as an "atmospheric dream world" and "a work of quiet rapture and refined sensibility". Other orchestral works include Symphony No. 1 "Maligne Range", inspired by a hike through the Rockies; the sweeping Symphony No. 2 "Water", whose textures and rhythms were suggested by the ocean and rainforest; Northwest Passage Variations on the Stan Rogers tune; the Renaissance-inspired Delights & Discords for chorus and wind ensemble; two children's works, Maya the Bee and Yes, I Can!; a light-hearted Scherzo "Crème Brûlée" for chamber orchestra; Elegy and Spring, both for strings; and The Great Northern Diver, a symphonic poem about the common loon.

Rival's chamber music includes A Viola Sonata, Traces of a Silent Landscape for string quartet, a Piano Trio, Fantasy on a Theme of Schubert for violin and piano, a Sonata for viola and double bass, a Scherzo for nonet, and Sonata "Muskoka" for clarinet and piano. Of his String Sextet "The Tempest", excerpts from which accompany Christopher Plummer reading from Shakespeare in a high-profile show, one critic wrote that it "cast a powerful spell". His song cycle Red Moon & Other Songs of War was premiered by Melanie Conly and Peter Longworth; the chamber version by Alexander Dobson and the Talisker Players. Other works include Six Pieces for solo piano written for Michael Esch.

Besides Delights & Discords, Rival's choral music includes the acclaimed "L'Aube" and "Saison des semailles, le soir", both on poetry by Victor Hugo. His theatre works include The Overcoat, a one-act musical based on the Gogol story, staged twice in 2002, at the NY International Fringe Festival and the Bridewell Theatre.

In addition to composing, Rival is active as a music writer and scholar. A recipient of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) doctoral award for his research on Shostakovich, the Canadian University Music Society awarded him the 2009 George Proctor Prize for best graduate student paper, which in expanded form was published in the journal twentieth-century music (Cambridge University Press). He has also published an article on harmony and voice-leading in late Nielsen in Carl Nielsen Studies. He has read papers at the Sixth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900 and at the Shostakovich 2006: International Centenary Conference, both held in the UK, twice at Canadian University Music Society annual conferences, and was an invited speaker at Carl Nielsen: Inheritance and Legacy held in Denmark. He is currently co-editing a book-in-development on the life and work of Malcolm Forsyth for The University of Alberta Press.

Rival has written program notes for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Summer Music Festival, Ottawa Chamber Music Society, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Montreal), and the University of Toronto Faculty of Music. He has also published liner notes with the record labels Analekta and ATMA Classique; an article on Gary Kulesha in SOCAN's Words & Music; and features on Messiaen and Slavic music for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Based in Ottawa, where he teaches at the University of Ottawa, Rival lives with his wife Chantal-Andrée Samson, a realist oil painter, and their son. In his spare time he enjoys playing hockey, swimming, running and exploring nature with his family.

Adam Kulju is 12 years old and is a past winner of the National Composition Competition for the


CFMTA age 10 category. His works have been performed at the Glenn Gould Studio with the


Canadian Sinfonietta orchestra, as well on many gala programs at various events throughout the


GTA. He studies orchestration with Thomas Goss, and coaches with Christopher Norton. In addition,


Adam is currently completing ARCT's in both piano and Violin. You can find him online at


or on YouTube at

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