NEC Contemporary Improvisation Student Daniel Pencer Receives 2013 South African Fleur du Cap Theatre Award

Winner of “Best Original Music Composition” for the Play Mies Julie

New England Conservatory Contemporary Improvisation master’s student Daniel Pencer and his brother Matthew Pencer have won a prestigious Fleur du Cap Theatre Award in the category of “Best Original Music Composition” for their music for the South African production of Mies Julie. The awards were announced March 17, 2013 in Cape Town.

The 48th Annual Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards recognized productions staged in 2012, handing out awards in 20 different categories, with the winners each receiving a silver medallion and a cash prize. Focusing on professional theatre productions staged in and around Cape Town, the awards are an annual red carpet event celebrating the vibrant theater scene of South Africa. The Fleur du Cap judging panel is made up of South African critics, journalists, writers and drama educators, who base their decisions on having collectively evaluated close to 100 productions over the 12-month period of eligibility.

Canadian multi-instrumentalist and composer Daniel Pencer creates sound with patience and sensitivity. He holds a performance degree from the University of Toronto focusing on saxophone, clarinet, and flute. After graduating he studied clarinet and bansuri for eight months in Lucknow, India on fellowship from the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute. Upon returning to Canada, Pencer focused on his craft of instrument repair and directed his musical energy towards the realm of improvised electro-acoustic and ambient music. These pursuits brought about opportunities in the fields of dance, film, and theatre, including his award-winning work for Mies Julie. Pencer is currently finishing his first year of studies toward his Master's degree at the New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation program.

Founded in 1972 by musical visionaries Gunther Schuller and Ran Blake, New England Conservatory's Contemporary Improvisation program celebrates its 40th anniversary in the 2012-2013 season. The program trains creative musicians to broaden their musical palettes and develop unique voices as composer/performer/ improvisers and is unparalleled for its structured approach to ear training and its emphasis on singing, memorization, harmonic sophistication, aesthetic integrity, and stylistic openness. Under Blake's guidance for its first twenty-six years, the program expanded its offerings under subsequent chairs Allan Chase and Hankus Netsky. Alumni include clarinetist/composer Don Byron, keyboardist John Medeski, pianist Jacqueline Schwab, and vocalist Aoife O'Donovan; faculty include violinist Carla Kihlstedt, iconic improvisational pianist Blake, vocalist Dominique Eade, and pianist/composer/ improviser Anthony Coleman. Appearing at a departmental event in the fall of 2011 that included world music, chamber music and free improvisation, Gunther Schuller, who coined the term "Third Stream" in the 1950s and articulated the idea of the "Complete Musician" during his presidency at NEC remarked: "I feel that my vision for this department has now been realized." The program currently has 43 undergrad and graduate students from 15 countries.

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Jon Muchin