Horton High student’s composition part of Diomira's Wolfville concert

Wendy Elliott welliott@kingscountynews.ca
Published on February 11, 2014

Donovan Cassidy-Nolan won’t be able to attend the Diomira concert Feb. 16 when his original piece will be played in Wolfville.

That night, the Horton High student will be performing in the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra concert with Symphony Nova Scotia, but He was planning to meet with Diomira prior to the beginning of the tour to work out the piece.

His musical submission to the Sonic Assembly project was based on a story called Thekla and the work will be performed throughout the tour.

Last fall, Dinuk Wijeratne, Diomira and Debut Atlantic invited youth from the Maritime provinces to participate. The prize was the opportunity to compose a work for Diomira to perform during their Debut Atlantic tour this month. Mhrian Faraday, executive director of Debut Atlantic, said the goal of the project was to tell a dynamic story through music to a live audience in the form of a three-minute piece, created using imagination and existing musical material provided by Diomira.

With no compositional experience required, he said, youth were encouraged to think about music performance as storytelling. Not looking for original music, but interested in the “sound-world” the young composer had in mind, Diomira worked with the participants to realize their vision in musical terms.

“For example, an interior decorator may not build a chair from scratch,” Faraday said, “but in selecting and placing a particular piece of furniture in a space makes a bold and potentially transformative personal statement.”

The stories used to inspire the musical storyboards were selected by Wijeratne. He turned to one of his favourite books, Invisible Cities by the legendary Italian writer Italo Calvino, where imagined cities do not function by any of the earthly laws that govern our own cities. Incidentally, the first “city”, Diomira, inspired Wijeratne to write Solea Di Diomira, after which the trio was named. It was his hope that other Calvino stories would inspire youth in turn.

Each young composer had the opportunity to work with the three creative, skilled and inspiring musicians who make up Diomira to bring to life the original sound-world created from the instructions and storyboard submitted.

A Grade 10 student at Horton High School, Donovan is keen to explore all facets of music. He has enjoyed playing both the violin and piano since the age of four. Donovan likes teaching and learning about music theory, as well as playing in the Horton Jazz Band. In his spare time, he enjoys running, alpine skiing and a good ping pong game.

 Diomira here

The Acadia Performing Arts Series presents Diomira, Feb. 16 at 7:30 at the Festival Theatre at Acadia University in Wolfville. 

Performing works composed by their founder Dinuk Wijeratne, Diomira's music explores his hugely diverse cultural influences: from the Persian poetry to the sensuality of Flamenco and the intricate rhythms of the Indian Classical tradition.

The soul of the Diomira's unique sound is the accordion of Joseph Petric, the internationally-renowned recording artist hailed as 'an extraordinary performer' by the Boston Globe. Petric toured with Debut Atlantic for the first time in 1990. He returns this year with Diomira as the Encore tour. World percussionist Nick Halley is a fiery talent who moves effortlessly amongst the major drumming traditions. Sri Lankan-born Wijeratne leads the group with his striking compositions and remarkable invention at the piano.

Tickets: $26 for adults, $20 for students, Acadia University Box Office in person, by phone at 542-5500 or 1-800-542-TICK(8425), or online.


In addition to the roster of concerts, Diomira will be working with music students from Grade Primary through to the post-secondary level including a videoconference session with Newfoundland’s Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation. The webcast will take place Feb. 18 at 11:30 a.m. Atlantic Time. The session can be viewed live online.