The PEI Symphony is pleased to announce that the orchestra has received a grant from the Government of Canada to help underwrite a special concert event designed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. The concert event will take place November 19th, 2017 at 2:30pm in the Homburg Theatre of the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

The Department of Canadian Heritage grant funding has enabled the PEI Symphony Orchestra to commission a new symphonic work scored for chorus and orchestra titled “Cantata for Canada 150.”  The world premiere of the forty-minute Cantata will be performed under the direction of PEISO Music Director and Conductor, Mark Shapiro.


The combined Confederation Adult and Youth Choirs under the direction of Donald Fraser, as well as the ‘Hey Cuzzins’ Mi’kmaq Drum Group of Lennox Island First Nation will join Maestro Shapiro and the PEISO in presenting the new work. The concert will conclude with a stirring performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ever-popular “1812 Overture” which will be performed with the assistance of the PEI Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves.

What makes the Cantata for Canada 150 unique is that the choral lines (libretto) of the cantata have been written by four island youths who were the winners of an island-wide poetry contest that was held several months back in cooperation with the PEI Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture. The four winning poems were selected from a field of several dozen entries; they were judged based on their lyrical artistic merit, thematic relevance, and potential to individually contribute to the cantata’s unified whole.


The winning student poets are: Madelyn Iwankow (East Wiltshire Intermediate) for her poem “As I Walk”, Chloe Dockendorff (homeschooled) for her poem “Haven on the Waves”, Madison Lockman (Colonel Gray High School) for her poem “Song of a Tree”, and Nicolas Dickieson (Immanuel Christian School) for his poem “My Canada”. The student winners will each receive a cash prize, tickets to the event in which the Cantata will be performed, as well as a special musical performance by select members of the PEISO at their respective schools in September and October, once the school year begins.

Each of four composers who reside in the Atlantic region are writing one movement of the four-movement work. They include Richard Covey, Leo Marchildon, Andrew Staniland and Kevin Morse.  Each individual composer is working with one of the student poets who in turn is being mentored by a professional poet. Collectively the composer, the student and the professional poet are working collaboratively as a creative team.

The Cantata they are helping to create focuses on several overarching Canada 150 themes: inclusion and diversity, environmental conservation, reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and youth in Canada’s future. The creators of the new work envision that listeners to the finished Cantata will gain a better understanding of Canada’s past and give some thought to the endless possibilities of our nation’s future.


PEISO Music Director, Mark Shapiro, who is responsible for insuring the Cantata’s overarching flow and continuity said “It’s thrilling to imagine that we will all have a part in creating a spectacular, high-calibre musical composition that will be so richly and deeply expressive of the voices of Islanders, in every sense.  Our Island’s beautiful soul will surely be singing on November 19th.”

Individual tickets for the Cantata for Canada 150 will soon be available through the box office of the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Right now, however, concert lovers are invited to subscribe to the special 50th anniversary season of the PEI Symphony orchestra that includes the special CANADA 150 concert.  

Season tickets to the four-concert season are available for $120 (adults and seniors) and $40 (students). Special discounted tickets are also available to early subscribers (prior to May 31st, 2017), to members of the recent immigrant community, and a 2 for 1 special rate exists for disabled persons in need of the assistance of a continuing-care-giving-assistant to attend the concerts of the PEI Symphony Orchestra. For more information, email or call 902-892-4333.