Carol Ann Weaver is a celebrated Canadian composer whose music has been heard throughout North America and in parts of Europe, Africa, South 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. She has composed vocal, choral, chamber, solo, orchestral multimedia music, worked with electric instruments, dancers, turntablist, gamelan, drum circles, incorporated visuals, electroacoustic and soundscape textures. Her music has been described as “adventurous and imaginative, with joyous fusions of folk, jazz, roots, art and world music — daring, calming, grounded and passionately connected with the world round about, powerful, moving, innovative and expressive.” She has been commissioned by Arraymusic, Blue Rider Ensemble, Hemispheres Orchestra, Ardeleana Trio, Bass Impact (bass clarinet duo), Mary Petrich (saxophonist), Gallery Players, Cincinnati Arts Festival, University of Waterloo Orchestra, UW Trickster Festival, Goshen College, Music at Sharon, Fifth Stream Music Festival, Indi 85 Dance Festival (Toronto), Wider Boundary of Daring Conference (Windsor) and many more, with grants from Canada, Manitoba and Ontario Arts Councils, Laidlaw Foundation, and more. Her music has been heard on CBC radio and TV, SABC, Korean National TV, and other Canadian, American, and European radio.
As Professor Emerita at Conrad Grebel University College/University of Waterloo, she previously taught at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canadian Mennonite University (formerly Concord College), and Eastern Mennonite University, teaching composition, theory, jazz, women’s music, music and peace, African music, and led student groups to South Africa.
She is Chair of Association of Canadian Women Composers, Secretary of Canadian Association of Sound Ecology, and a member of SOCAN and Canadian Music Centre where many of her scores and sound files can be obtained: (20 St. Joseph Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1J9 CANADA, phone: 416-961-4057).
A native of Harrisonburg, VA, she absorbed the rich heritage of Mennonite 4-part a cappella singing, and earned Bachelors, Masters, and Doctor of Music in Composition at Indiana University, studying with pianist Gyorgy Sebok and composers Bernard Heiden, John Eaton and Juan Orego-Salas.
Carol has released eight CDs, appearing as pianist in each. SONGS FOR MY MOTHER 2018 features a song cycle based on her mother’s early journals from rural Kentucky and beyond, plus Carol’s field recordings from South African wilderness, and other songs lauding our planet. PARAGUAY PRIMEVAL 2012 stems from a trip to Paraguay and the Chaco, with music telling stories of Paraguayan Mennonite colonists. EVERY 3 CHILDREN 2007 is dedicated to African children affected by AIDS, and also includes Lobsang for five Amish girls. THISTLE & JEWEL 2006 contains musical settings of American Mennonite poets Jeff Gundy, Julia Kasdorf, Ann Hostetler, and the young Canadian poet Kiera Schneider. AWAKENINGS 2003 (in collaboration with Rebecca Campbell) is based on poetry of Di Brandt and Dorothy Livesay, including a vocal track with Jane Siberry. DANCING RIVERS – FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO CANADA, 2001 features Africans Natalie Rungen, Thandiwe Mazibuko, Mageshen Naidoo, Maggie Deppe, Bongoni Sokhela, and Lebohang Methebeng. JOURNEY BEGUN 1999 contains musical settings of poets Judith Miller, Shari Wagner, Donna and Chris Burkhart, with vocalist Cate Friesen, Modern String Quartet, guitarist John Gzowski, and bassist Jeremy Kurtz-Harris. DAUGHTER OF OLAPA 1996, composed in Kenya, incorporates African gestures, featuring Ardeleana Trio.
Her music is often peace-themed. EARTH PEACE is about global peace and the environment. EVERY THREE CHILDREN is AIDS victims in Africa. PIECE OF A ROCK – IN MEMORIAM for Iraqi civilians killed in the 2003 war (text including Iraqi victims’ names via John Sloboda’s www.iraqbodycount.org) has been performed widely including Open Ears (Kitchener), Peace Concert (San Francisco), Buddhist Temple (Mississauga), folk festival and Sacred World Music Concert (Ontario), John Kerry concert (Washington D.C), peace concerts (London and Keele, England), Women’s World 2005 (Seoul, Korea), and elsewhere. WINGS OF DOVE and STAND BY YOU contain peace-making themes in the Middle East. Multimedia AFTERDAY addresses war, peace, and children.
Her ongoing work in African music is reflected parts of PARRY SOUNDINGS 2017, AFRICA WILDERNESS PIANO SUITE 2017, EARTH PEACE 2016, EVERY THREE CHILDREN 2006, A CAPPELLA ZULU 2007, DURBAN SEOUL-ROCK 2005, RITES OF AFRICA 1994, DAUGHTER OF OLAPA 1993, and more. Her groundbreaking 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 elsewhere.
Women’s experiences are often celebrated. SONGS FOR MY MOTHER (text, Miriam L. Weaver) recounts and celebrates her mother’s life. WINGS OF A DOVE is a women’s cry for peace. Mini-opera HOUSES (poetry, Sheri Wagner) traces spirits and ancestors of three archetypical sisters. I HAVE BEEN A TRAVELLER (poetry, Judith Miller) journeys through cycles of a woman’s life. The music drama QUIETLY LANDED? features Mennonite women’s writings. OUR PRAYER addresses a Mother God. DAUGHTER OF OLAPA is based on traditional Kenyan oral literature about women. BIRTHSTORY contains recorded voices of mothers and midwife telling birthing stories. BIRTHSTORY and DAUGHTER OF OLAPA, choreographed and dramatized by Gord Davis and Elmira Youth Players, won final awards, two successive years, in Ontario Sears Drama Festivals. FOURTEEN WOMEN/QUATORZE FEMMES 1990, for 14-piece orchestra, commemorates 14 women massacred in Montreal, December 1989. TIMBREL IN HER HAND (publ. UW Press, poetry, Judith Miller) features ancient Hebrew women.
Environment is frequently featured: EARTH PEACE – celebrating African wild dogs, hartebeest, and springbok lamb; electroacoustic/multimedia EARTH VOICES –earth-themed texts by Mennonite writers; ALGONQUIN NIGHT 1982, ALGONQUIN NOON 1986, and ALGONQUIN DAWN 1988, a trilogy about Ontario’s wilderness, Algonquin Park; NORTH OF CENTRE (text, Rudy Wiebe); MOSS FLOWERS and OTTER FROLIC (poetry, Judith Miller); APPALACHIAN CALL about her native Virginia mountains; and SONGS OF THE EARTH about the Yukon wilderness of Kluane.
Mennonite themes are expressed as a unique artistic voice within North American cultural society today: dramas HOUSES and QUIETLY LANDED?; three Sound in the Land Festival/Conferences at UW featuring mostly-Mennonite music, bringing together composers, performers, scholars, ecologists, ecomusicologists, ethnomusicologists and listeners from North America, Europe, Cuba, South Korea and Africa. The 2014 Sound in the Land – Music and the Environment featured R. Murray Schafer as keynote, while two previous Sound in the Lands (2009 and 2004) featured international and cultural Mennonite music, each resulting in a book 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)
While she has performed and recorded with many artists, her work with vocalist Rebecca Campbell has resulted in significant national/international touring – South Korea, South Africa, Europe, Hawaii, mainland USA, and Canada. She is also keyboardist in the eclectic duo, Mooncoin, with classical/bluegrass/jazz mandolinist and bird biologist Lyle Friesen.