Anna was raised in Bella Coola and is part of the Nygaard family (photo submitted)

Anna was raised in Bella Coola and is part of the Nygaard family (photo submitted)

Bella Coola composer up for Juno Award

Anna Hostman has been nominated for a 2021 Juno award for Classical Composition of the Year

Renowned composer Anna Hostman has been nominated for a 2021 Juno award for Classical Composition of the Year for her piano solo, Harbour. Hostman, who was raised in Bella Coola and is part of the Nygaard family, traces her roots back generations to the first Norwegians who settled the Valley in the late 1890s.

The piece was recently released by Toronto pianist, Cheryl Duvall, on Redshift Records (Vancouver) on a CD of solo piano works with Harbour as the title track. The album has been featured on CBC’s In Concert with Paolo Pietropaolo (29 Mar, 2020) and has been met with great reviews.

Hostman spent her childhood in Bella Coola after moving to the Valley at age two, and her connection to her homeland is deep. Her large scale work, Nuyamł-ił Kulhulmx (Singing the Earth): 11 Pieces about a Place, makes use of historical and contemporary sources in four languages (Nuxalk, Norwegian, English and Japanese) in the creation of an artistic response to the isolated landscape and culture of Bella Coola.

It premiered in Toronto in 2013 and featured Banchi Hanuse’s film Cry Rock in addition to dozens of images, audio recordings, and songs in several languages, which were sung by First Nations mezzo-soprano Marion Newman, who was born in Bella Coola.

Growing up in Bella Coola, Hostman said that music was always part of her family’s life.

“My mom [Carol Nygaard] played the piano by ear, so we were always playing together,” she said. “My dad sang, my uncle Raudger played piano, my grandpa Melvin played the saxophone and the clarinet. There was always music in our family.”

Hostman’s first piano teacher was local instructor Elizabeth Endicott, and she played piano and clarinet in the school band. She recalls an active, flourishing music and arts scene which was rounded out by the dedication of the Bella Coola Little Theatre Guild (with Verna Mikkelson steering the ship), who consistently delivered live entertainment to the Valley.

“Elizabeth was such a wonderful teacher, I have such warm memories of playing with her,” she shared. “She was so patient and so gentle, I just loved her.”

Hostman said that her jump to composing was a natural transition, perhaps fostered by her detailed study of a limited supply of music books.

“I don’t recall learning from a large variety of music books,” said Hostman. “So I ended up playing the same ones consistently and thoroughly, that may have been part of the reason I transitioned to composing.”

She began composing at age 11 or 12 and has never looked back. It has resulted in an incredible and rewarding career.

“I remember the first song I composed, it was entitled “Song for Peace,” for the flute and piano,” Hostman recalled. “Alan Stiles gave me some very good feedback.”

After leaving the Valley Hostman completed her first year at Capilano College before eventually moving onto the University of Victoria, where she completed a Master of Music degree and was the Composer-in-Residence with the Victoria Symphony from 2005-2008. Her studies then took her back east, where she completed a Doctor of Musical Arts in music composition at the University of Toronto.

“In Toronto I really found the community I needed to continue in my composing work,” she explained. “There was such a strong sense of collaboration and it’s really all about working with people, and Toronto was the perfect environment to do that.”

Hostman’s pieces have been performed throughout Canada and internationally. Her works have been described as “suggestive, elegant” and “hauntingly beautiful.” Alongside pieces for the concert stage, she has composed for opera, dance, performance installation, theatre, experimental film and video, and created music for the National Film Board.

She refers to herself as an “amateur pianist,” and said the piece that is currently nominated for the Juno Award would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of many people, most notably Toronto pianist Cheryl Duvall.

“It is an incredibly hard piece to play,” said Hostman. “So I’m really grateful to Cheryl for devoting the time to it. She is an incredibly beautiful pianist, and her musicality and nuanced approach to the instrument inspired me greatly throughout the writing of the work. We also spent a lot of time working through details. She gave me many artistic suggestions which allowed the piece to come into its final form”

Hostman says that, as far as the awards ceremony goes, she’s “relieved” that it’s virtual this year, but she’s very excited and happy for the nomination nonetheless.

“I’m pretty shy so I don’t think I would even go if it was live,” she said. “But I am really happy for everyone that was involved that it’s received this nomination, it’s really uplifting for everybody who worked so hard on it.”

The Juno’s are set to be delivered virtually this year on May 16. To listen to Hostman’s piece, Harbour, you can go to www.redshiftrecords.org.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Williams Lake city councillor Sheila Boehm wants to see allied health providers such as chiropractors or physiotherapists have access to medical records. (Monica Lamb-Yorski file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Allied health providers need access to medical records: Williams Lake city councillor

Sheila Boehm has penned a resolution for consideration at the upcoming NCLGA convention

The artwork of several Mountview Elementary School students is currently on display downtown in Williams Lake at Cariboo Art Beat. (Photo submitted)
Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat

Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 1st Ave. on Oliver Street

Carole Martin of Williams Lake has multiple sclerosis and has found solace in writing books. Her latest is a novella titled The Secret Life of Jack. (Photo submitted)
Living with MS subject of local woman’s books

Carole Martin has had multiple sclerosis for 25 years

Cariboo Art Beat is hosting a month-long Mother’s Day Artisan Market at its location on Oliver Street featuring the crafts, artwork and goods of upwards of 20 community vendors. (Photos submitted)
Month-long, Mother’s Day Artisan Market starts April 9 at Cariboo Art Beat

The call for interest has grown to 22 participating vendors

Work is slated to get underway June 1 on a foundation replacement at the Potato House in Williams Lake. The project is possible due to a $449,000 Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP) grant. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Potato House Project to break ground this summer on restoration, rehabilitation work

This project involves lifting the house to remove the current, failing foundation and replacing it

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read