CAROL ANN WEAVER
composer / pianist
Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA
Carol Ann Weaver is a celebrated Canadian composer whose music has been heard throughout North America and in parts of Europe, Africa, Korea and Paraguay. Her genre-bending music ranges in style from classical to jazz, avant garde to folk, creating new fusions of roots and art music, much of it colored by her long standing passion for African music. Exploring various edges, she has composed for turntablist, worked with soundscapes, drum circles, acoustic and electric instruments, and created dramatic and theme-oriented productions and festivals. Her Sound in the Land Festival/Conferences at University of Waterloo have brought together composers, performers, scholars, ecologists, ecomuicologist, ethnomusicologists and listeners from all over North America, Europe, South Korea and Africa.
With fusions of avant garde, jazz, lyric, world music, and dramatic, Carol’s ongoing composition projects include many varied forms, styles, and media — vocal/keyboard, jazz-related, chamber, solo, dance, dramatic, choral, orchestral, and electroacoustic music, often including keyboard scoring which she performs on piano or synthesizers. A large number of her works have been performed and/or commissioned by various groups in the USA, Canada, Africa, and Europe, including University of Waterloo Orchestra, Ardeleana Trio, Bass Impact (bass clarinet duo), Gallery Players, Blue Rider Ensemble, Hemispheres Orchestra, Cincannati Arts Festival, University of Waterloo Trickster Festival, Music at Sharon, Indi 85 Dance Festival (Toronto), Wider Boundary of Daring Conference (Windsor) and many more, with grants from Manitoba and Ontario Arts Councils, Canada Council, and Laidlaw Foundation. Her music has been heard on CBC radio and TV, on SABC, on Korean National TV, and on various other Canadian and American radio and television networks. She is a member of the Canadian Music Centre, SOCAN, and SEM (Society for Ethnomusicology.
She was born in Harrisonburg, VA, where she absorbed the rich heritage of Mennonite 4-part a cappella singing. From Indiana University she earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in piano performance, studying with Gyorgy Sebok, and Doctor of Music in Composition, studying with John Eaton and Juan Orego-Salas. Now a Canadian, she is Associate Professor of Music at Conrad Grebel University College/University of Waterloo, teaching composition, jazz, women in music, and theory. She has also taught at Eastern Mennonite University, at Concord College/University of Winnipeg, and at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Her current collaborative compositional/performing work with Canadian vocalist, singer/songwriter Rebecca Campbell is resulting in rich, innovative performance works, and national/international touring. Their music has been described as “adventurous and imaginative, with joyeous fusions of folk, jazz, roots, art and world music — daring, calming, grounded and passionately connected with the world round about.” Reviewers have described their music as “powerful, moving, innovative and expressive, where songs dialogue back and forth seamlessly and playfully — varied but intricately connected.” One writer said, “Your spirit can change the world.” Listeners comment on our contrasting but complimentary performing/composing styles which dovetail in intimate and refreshing ways. Together they have toured twice to South Korea -- for a 2007 Temple Festival, and a 2005 Women's World Conference, several times to Durban, South Africa for concerts, to Europe, Hawaii, mainland USA, and throughout Canada. Together, they have led four study/travel groups from University of Waterloo to University of KwaZulu Natal, in Durban, South Africa.
To date, Carol has released seven CDs, the most recent ones with Rebecca Campbell as vocalist. Her newest CD, PARAGUAY PRIMEVAL 2012 stems from a trip to Paraguay and to the Chaco, This music is based on texts by Rudy Wiebe (Blue Mountains of China), Dora Dueck (Under the Still Standing Sun), and translated works of Henry and Esther Regehr (Schoenbrunn Chronicles), telling stories about the Paraguayan Chaco Mennonite colony experiences. Many of the journal-entry texts (which made wonderful song lyrics) are described by translator Esther Regehr as "raw, unfiltered, and straight from the 'horse's mouth', coming right from these people's own lives," thus very revealing of the real-life experiences of these ruggedly determined Russian Mennonite people. The music expresses pain and hardship – extreme heat, draught, catastrophe, death. But there is also humour, beauty, joy and celebration in this new "promised land. EVERY 3 CHILDREN, 2007, is dedicated to African children affected by AIDS, and also includes her Lobsang for five Amish girls. THISTLE & JEWEL 2006 contains Carol’s musical settings of American Mennonite poets Jeff Gundy, Julia Kasdorf, Ann Hostetler, and the young Canadian poet Kiera Schneider, all of whose voices variously reflect their unique cultural background and an earthy love of the land. Carol and Rebecca's collaboratively composed AWAKENINGS, based on poetry of Di Brandt and Dorothy Livesay, commissioned for and premiered at the Wider Boundaries of Daring Poetry Conference in Windsor and Detroit, is being performed throughout Canada, the USA, and has toured Hawaii, England, Slovenia, South Africa, and South Korea. The AWAKENINGS CD, 2003, David Travers-Smith, recording engineer, features Rebecca and Carol, plus additional vocalists Jane Siberry, Jennifer Moore, Mia Sheard, and mandolinist Lyle Friesen.
Carol often composes music in the interests of peace. Her 2016 EARTH PEACE is a feature-length work for choir, string quartet, gamelan, and readers, about global peace and the environment. Her EVERY THREE CHILDREN for piano, vocalist, choir, percussion, and guitar, is written for all of those affected by the AIDS pandemic in Africa. PIECE OF A ROCK – IN MEMORIAM is in memory of Iraqi civilians killed in the ongoing war, with text including actual names of Iraqi civilian victims - women, children, men - as supplied by John Sloboda of www.iraqbodycount.org. The work, now on the EVERY 3 CHILDREN CD, was premiered at Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound, May 10, 2003, Kitchener, ON, Canada, performed by Rebecca Campbell and Carol, along with drummer Arun Pal and members of the University of Waterloo Drum Circle, has received multiple subsequent performances, including a Peace Concert in San Francisco, a Buddhist Temple in Mississauga, a folk festival, a Sacred World Music Concert, a John Kerry support concert in Washington D.C, at concerts in London and Keele England, at Women's World 2005 in Seoul, Korea, and elsewhere. Other such works, WINGS OF DOVE, (SSAA a cappella) and STAND BY YOU (vocals, piano) deal with peace-making themes elsewhere in the Middle East. AFTERDAY, 1984, for soprano, reader, visuals, tape, keyboards, is about war, peace, and children.
Her ongoing work in African music is resulting in major compositions relating to African themes and sensibilities, including parts of the recent PARRY SOUNDINGS, AFRICA PIANO SUITE, EARTH PEACE, and EVERY THREE CHILDREN. Her DURBAN SEOUL-ROCK for bass clarinet duo,reflects African musical themes, as do A CAPPELLA ZULU (vocals, piano, guitar, flute, cello, drums) and ALL-NIGHT BEATRICE (flute, cello, piano). She spent a year in Durban, South Africa, 1999-2000, where she was appointed Visiting Professor of Music at University of Natal, studying women's music and other popular/jazz forms of music, as well as composing and writing about African music. She repeatedly returns to Durban, where she continues her African music research, and performs with her South African jazz-related band, performing her compositions at major venues in Durban. With this band she recorded her third CD, DANCING RIVERS - FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO CANADA, 2001 (produced by John Gzowski), featuring African performers Natalie Rungen and Thandeka Maibuko,vocalists; Mageshen Naidoo, guitar; Jeff Robinson, saxophone; Maggie Deppe, oboe; Bongoni Sokhela, bass; Lebohang Methebeng, drums, with Carol on piano, Rebecca Campbell on support vocals, and Jean-Paul Martin on additional drums. The CD had both Canadian (Grebel/University of Waterloo) and Durban, South African release concerts in 2001.
An earlier year in Kenya brought her in touch with many lcoal musicians, where she studied drums with a master drummer, and composed music based on African themes.From this year came the first CD of her compositions, DAUGHTER OF OLAPA - THE MUSIC OF CAROL ANN WEAVER, 1996, containing the pieces DAUGHTER OF OLAPA (1993) and RITES OF AFRICA (1994) which incorporate African rhythms, harmonies, melodies, and structures. Her ground-breaking essay about women's music in Kenya (the first of its kind) has appeared in MUSICWORKS #61, Fall, 1994, in Conrad Grebel Review, Spring 1994, and in Association of Canadian Women Composers Journal, Spring 1995. DAUGHTER OF OLAPA CD also contains settings of Di Brandt's poetry, and features Weaver as pianist.
Previous touring and recording work with Canadian singer/songwriter Cate Friesen led to her second CD, CAROL ANN WEAVER - JOURNEY BEGUN with Cate Friesen, vocalist, 1999, featuring Mennonite ethnic and Canadian wilderness themes of several Canadian and American poets. JOURNEY BEGUN brings forth an innovative, sparkling, zesty fusion of her avant garde/jazz fusion styles with the Cate Friesen's engaging, dramatic singing. This album features Carol, piano; John Gzowski, guitar; Jeremy Kurtz, bass; and Toronto's Modern (String) Quartet.
Carol is dedicated to composing and promoting music which celebrates women's experiences. Her 2017 SONGS FOR MY MOTHER, with text by Miriam L. Weaver, recount and celebrate parts of her mother's life. The 2002 SSAA, WINGS OF A DOVE is a women's cry for peace. The 1997 mini-opera, HOUSES, with poetry by American Sheri Wagner traces through spirits and ancestors of three archetypical sisters. The 1996 I HAVE BEEN A TRAVELLER, with poetry by Canadian Judith Miller, journeys through cycles of a woman's life. The 1995 musical/dramatic piece QUIETLY LANDED? features writings of Mennonite-born women, including settings of Canadian poet, Di Brandt. The choral OUR PRAYER, 1993, addresses a Mother God. DAUGHTER OF OLAPA, 1993, is based on traditional Kenyan oral literature about women. BIRTHSTORY, 1991, contains taped voices of mothers and midwife telling birthing stories. Both BIRTHSTORY and DAUGHTER OF OLAPA have been choreographped and dramatized by Gord Davis and Elmira Youth Players, winning final awards in two successive years within Ontario Sears Drama Festivals. FOURTEEN WOMEN/QUATORZE FEMMES, 1990, for 14-piece jazz band (reviewed by Tamara Bernstein in Herizons, Spring, 1993) commemorates 14 women massacred in Montreal in December, 1989. The dramatic TIMBREL IN HER HAND, 1988 (published by UW Press) with poetry by Canadian poet Judith Miller, features ancient Hebrew women.
Another prevelant theme in her music is the environment, resulting in EARTH PEACE, 2016, with music composed for African wild dogs and springbok lamb, the electroacoustic/multimedia EARTH VOICES, 2015, featuring writings about the earth by Mennonite writers; a trilogy of chamber pieces about Ontario's Northern Wilderness Algonquin Park (ALGONQUIN NIGHT, 1982, ALGONQUIN NOON, 1986, and ALGONQUIN DAWN, 1988); NORTH OF CENTRE based on text by Canadian novelist Rudy Wiebe; MOSS FLOWERS and OTTER FROLIC based on poetry of Judith Miller; APPALACHIAN CALL, 1994, for piano and vocal effects which celebrates her native Virginia mountains; and SONGS OF THE EARTH, 1984, which celebrates the Yukon wilderness of Kluane.
Coming from a Mennonite background Carol also champions music dealing with Mennonite themes as a unique artistic voice within North American cultural society today. She recently organized three Sound in the Land Festival/Conferences at University of Waterloo on art-based and vernacular Mennonite Music. Sound in the Land - Music and the Environment in 2014 https://uwaterloo.ca/grebel/sound-land-2014 featured R. Murray Schafer as keynote, while two previous Sound in the Land events in 2009 and 2004 featured international and cultural music of Mennonites. Each festival has resulted in a book publication of conference essays, Sound in the Land – Music and the Environment, (Grebel Review, Fall 2015), Sound in the Lands: Mennonite Music Across Borders, (Pandora, 2011) and Sound in the Land: Essays on Mennonites and Music (Pandora, 2006). These are available at www.bookshop.pandorapress.com/book.php?id=7249 and at https://uwaterloo.ca/grebel/publications/conrad-grebel-review Her musical compositions/dramas, HOUSES and QUIETLY LANDED? dealing with Mennonite women's stories, have played in various national and international venues.
As a performer Weaver has appeared as pianist in USA, Canada, England, Austria, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, and Paraguay. Besides her work in the Carol Ann Wever/Rebecca Campbell Duo, she is keyboardist in the eclectic duo, Mooncoin, with classical/bluegrass/jazz mandolinist Lyle Friesen.
She is now Music Professor Ermerita at Conrad Grebel University College/University of Wateloo, having previously taught at Eastern Mennonite University, at Concord College/University of Winnipeg (now Canadian Mennonite University), at Wilfrid Laurier University. In addition to composing and performing, she has taught composition, jazz, theory, African music, women's music, and music and peace issues. She is currently on executive boards of two Canadian music associations: Chair of the Association of Canadian Women Composers http://www.acwc.ca/ and Secretary of Canadian Association of Sound Ecology www://soundecology.ca. She is a member of the Canadian Music Centre, where all her scores can be obtained, and of the Association of Canadian Women Composers (both at 20 St. Joseph Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1J9 CANADA, phone: 416-961-4057). Should you wish for further information you may contact her directly firstname.lastname@example.org (Avondale Ave. address above), or via these organizations. Check CMC's website for some of her soundbites: www.musiccentre.ca