Bridging the Eras

Bridging the Eras

Featuring the players and singers of Arcady

A riveting evening of music by three generations of Canadian composers, performed by Arcady Ensemble presenting the inaugural winner of the Walter MacNutt Prize: Ronald Beckett. Also featuring Arcady’s annual silent auction and a welcome reception with hors d’oeuvres.

June 1, 2024 - 7:30 pm

Central Presbyterian Church

97 Wellington St, Brantford ON


  • Waiting and waiting Ronald Beckett
  • When Age and Youth Unite Godfrey Ridout Text by Claude Bissell
  • O Lights of the Sky* Aislinn Nowelle Text by the composer
  • Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One Healey Willan Text from King James Bible
  • Awakenings* Emma Theresa Verdonk Text by the composer
  • Missa Brevis Walter MacNutt Text: Traditional liturgical
  • O Gladsome Light Walter MacNutt Text: 3rd c. Greek hymn, tr. by Robert Bridges
  • Resignation Ronald Beckett
  • O Breath of Life* John Van Maanen Text by Elizabeth A. P. Head (ca. 1914)
  • Twilight Serenade* Benjamin Gabbay Text by Edgar Allan Poe (1833)
  • Songs of Innocence Ronald Beckett Texts by William Blake
    • I. The Tyger
    • II. Holy Thursday
    • III. The Poison Tree
    • IV. The Little Vagabond
    • V. London
    • VI. The Divine Image

* Denotes premiere


Ronald Beckett

Artistic director & conductor

Ronald Beckett has had numerous compositions performed by ensembles throughout Ontario. He has written three operas that constitute a trilogy: RuthJohn, and I Am…. that have been given fully staged performances by Arcady and Queens Student Opera. Ruth, due largely to its length (72 minutes) and facility of staging, has received some twenty performances since its premiere in 1996. Ron’s catalogue of compositions includes a number of additional large-scale works for orchestra or orchestra and chorus and an abundance of chamber music and pieces for piano and organ. Since 2008, he has written a great number of songs and music for youth, specifically for the Arcady Youth Singers.

Ron is the founding director of Arcady, an organization established in order to encourage outstanding young musicians by providing them a bridge between their student and professional performing careers. Most of Arcady’s work is in two areas: period performances of early music repertoire and the works of Ronald Beckett. The ensemble offers 20 to 30 programs ranging from small ensemble to full choral-orchestral performances in Ontario each year. Arcady has released three CD recordings on the Crescendo label: A Baroque Messiah (1999), Welcome Yule! (2001), and Ruth (2007). Welcome Yule! is a collection of original Christmas compositions and Beckett arrangements. Ron also arranged and conducted Ruby Productions’ CD entitled Peace on Earth (2000). In 2002, Phoenix Records released the CD A Beckett Miscellany – a sampling of Ron’s instrumental music performed by The Essex Winds and Arcady.

A Summa Cum Laude graduate from McMaster University in History and Theory, Ronald Beckett is an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music (Piano Performance), and also holds a Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Western Ontario. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to music and community, he was inducted into the McMaster Alumni Gallery in 2004.

Ron is a member of SOCAN, the Canadian League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre. His works are frequently heard on classical radio in North America and Europe.

Visit Ron’s website for more information:

Benjamin Gabbay


Benjamin Gabbay is a composer and classical pianist. He holds a Master’s of Music in Composition degree from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, having studied under Profs. Gary Kulesha, Alexander Rapoport, and Roger Bergs. He also holds an ARCT diploma in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music. He is currently an Associate Composer with Arcady.

Benjamin’s compositions have received recognition by Toronto’s St. James Cathedral (for i thank you God for most this amazing day, one of two winners of the cathedral’s 2018-2019 composition competition), the Amadeus Choir International Seasonal Song-Writing Competition (honourable mention, 2015, for Ave Maria) and the Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Competition (honourable mention, 2017, for Lux Aeterna). In 2018, he was commissioned to write a highlight premiere for the Mississauga Summer Chorale’s end-of-season concert (Requiem l’homme armé). His works have been described by conductors and composers as filling a demand in the Canadian choral scene for compositionally and technically adventurous choral music that still follows in a tradition with mainstream appeal. Through U of T, he has been the recipient of the Faculty of Music Graduating Award (2023), the Lothar Klein Memorial Fellowship (2020), the Gwendolen M Grant Music Scholarship (2019), the Robert and John Elliot McBroom Scholarship (2017, 2018, 2019), the Lobodowsky Choral Scholarship (2018), and the Susan Cale Award (2017).

For more information about Benjamin and his work, visit his website at

John Van Maanen


John Van Maanen has been a baritone soloist for Arcady since its founding, and is regularly featured in their annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. He has also been involved as narrator in two recent productions of sacred operas composed by Ronald Beckett. John is a member of the Senior Choir of St. James United Church in Simcoe, occasionally serving as relief organist there. He has also performed lead roles in several productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas by The Wandering Minstrels of St James. Mr. Van Maanen pursued musical studies at the University of Western Ontario, earning a Bachelor of Music degree (Honours Music Education) in 1991, and a Master of Music degree (Honours in Vocal Literature and Performance) in 1993, under the tutelage of Professor Susan Bingemann-Ambrose. He maintains a studio in Simcoe. John has a fast-growing catalogue of church anthems to his credit. He has had hymns published in several hymnals. His setting of the Let all mortal flesh keep silence was recently published by Oxford University Press.

Aislinn Nowelle (Brown)


Aislinn Nowelle (Brown) is currently enrolled in her Masters of Composition at the University of Toronto. Having majored in sacred vocal performance with a minor in piano performance, her works contain a variety of vocal ranges and accompaniments, suited for many differing audiences. She strives to create refreshing sacred music for all ranges, ages, and skill levels. Her works are available on her website for purchase. She is open to commissions of type to create specific, authentic works. She hopes that her music will create an impact on the hearts of her listeners.

Emma Verdonk


Emma Verdonk is a composer and vocalist from Brantford, ON. She holds her Bachelor of Music in Community Music (’20) from Wilfrid Laurier University and her Masters in Music Composition from Western University (’22). She has written music for the Laurier Symphony Orchestra, the Penderecki String Quartet, Arcady Ensemble, and various chamber ensembles. Her catalogue includes over 200 children’s songs that she has arranged and composed for the Musical Safari program at Queen Street Music School in Cambridge. From September 2019-February 2020 she facilitated an opera writing workshop hosted through Vera Causa Opera. In 2021, she had the honour of being an Emerging Artist with Arcady and currently works on staff with Arcady as the assistant to the director. As Emma Theresa, she released her first album, a collection of piano solos, entitled Reflections on Spotify and YouTube and is currently creating her second album for piano, vocals, and electronics entitled This Is Me.

Bridging the Eras is generously supported by

RBC Emerging Artists
Brant Community Foundation
Ontario Arts Council / Conseil des arts de l'Ontario
SOCAN Foundation / Fondation SOCAN
Brant Community Foundation


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