2022 Bent River Records Artist Spotlight

We are excited to announce that the 2022 Bent River Records Artist Spotlight event taking place live and in person! It will take place on the 21st of April, 2022 at MacEwan University in the Triffo Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 pm, and showtime is at 7:00 pm!

The evening includes performances to celebrate Bent River Record’s 2022 releases. The first performance features 2021 Art Song Competition winner Cynthia Hamar, performing her song “Where your Love Lives”, which will also be featured on her upcoming release later this year.

Our final featured performers of the evening include the composer and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications, Allan Gilliland, conducting an orchestra, and featuring PJ Perry and several MacEwan faculty members, showcasing pieces from Gilliland’s album Dreaming: The Prague Sessions. The entire Bent River Records catalogue and merchandise will also be available for purchase at the event.

This event is FREE, however, attendees are encouraged to RSVP and to be prepared to show their ticket on their mobile device upon arrival. Tickets can be reserved at https://tickets.macewan.ca/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent140.html.

Digital Program

SilverStream Battle of the Bands Competition

Attention MacEwan Music community!

Are you in a band? Do you wanna have your music recorded? Does Studio A sound better than your parent’s basement for a recording space? Well, we at SilverStream have an opportunity for you!

Introducing the first annual SilverStream Battle of the Bands! We want you to send in your best demos or come audition for us live for the chance to fight it out for the top spot at a live show at On The Rocks on the 1st of May. The winner will be awarded three days in MacEwan’s top-of-the-line studios, professional videography for social media, and digital distribution!

Bands must have demos submitted, or be signed up for live auditions by April 24th. Bands must consist of two or more members and must contain at least ONE CURRENT MACEWAN STUDENT.

Auditions will be held at MacEwan University’s Betty Andrew’s Recital Hall on April 26th from 2 pm onwards.

Digital Audition Requirements: 2x MP3 demos + lead sheets/lyrics OR 2x video demos + lead sheets/lyrics. Please note that demo quality is not an issue. That’s what the studio time is for! A voice memo recording or similar will be sufficient.

Click here to sign up for live auditions!

Cover Art Competition Now Open to All MacEwan Students!

Calling all artists!

In the spirit of MacEwan’s long history of artistic collaborations, Bent River Records (BRR) is offering an opportunity to have your design featured on collaborative original work.

This competition honours the continued support of MacEwan’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Dr. Craig Monk. His generous contributions to Bent River Records have made student opportunities like this possible. This contest is open to all currently enrolled (Winter 2022) MacEwan students.

ABOUT THE COMPETITION: Artists will submit original cover artwork for the second volume of the Bent River Special Release series. The two pieces featured on the release are the result of our recent Songwriting and Composition competitions with MacEwan Department of Music students, featuring lyrics by Esther Forseth, and compositions by Aaron Addorisio and Esther Forseth. Please see the full lyrics for “Preacher’s Daughter” below:

Preacher’s Daughter
Written by Esther Forseth

Gentle, rocking motion
Like a baby that you’re holding
Keeping it subtle as you’re towing
Me out farther in the ocean

You’re the creature in the water
I’m the preacher’s youngest daughter
Find me swimming with the fishes
Free from breathing old traditions

Weighted wicker basket,
They see freedom as a casket
We’re meant to be one with the water
seeping, swelling into wonder

Shallow breath, a heavy chest
There’s a world that’s under
Heavy fire of promises and guilt to uncover
Diving deeper I’m a seeker
Searching for other ways to live
That let us into what we discover

You’re the creature in the water
I’m the preacher’s youngest daughter
Find me swimming with the fishes
Free from breathing old traditions

Shallow breath, a heavy chest
There’s a world that’s under
Heavy fire of promises and guilt to uncover

You’re the creature in the water
I’m the preacher’s youngest-

A downloadable PDF of “Preacher’s Daughter” is available here:
https://bentriverrecords.macewan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/EstherForseth_PreachersDaughter_Lyrics.pdf

SPECIFICATIONS: Each artist may submit up to two (2) original art pieces for consideration as 300 ppi jpegs. The final output of the vinyl release will be 7.75” x 7.75” (7.5” square plus 0.125” bleeds), CMYK, at 300ppi. However, entries may be submitted in RGB format and, if selected, the artist will work with an advisor to colour correct for print.

The selected artwork must meet these specifications, but the artist may otherwise determine their chosen medium and format. Use of conventional art mediums and mixed media are encouraged, as well as concepts that are open-to-interpretation and can appeal to a wide audience. Use of popular comic or anime genres are not sought for this call. The artist will also submit a one paragraph rationale (maximum of 150 words), explaining their process and how their submission connects to the songs provided.

Please, DO NOT include your name or signature on the art works and rationales since the final selection will be completed by an independent panel.

The winner will be announced on the Bent River Records social media and contacted individually.

PRIZE: $750.00 honorarium

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 4:00 pm MST on March 28th, 2022.

SUBMISSION LINK: https://forms.gle/eAur4rU1XXuNvP7GA

TERMS & CONDITIONS: The author will retain all intellectual property, and BRR will only have the right to print a limited run of the music department CD as well as a single version, both of which will be for promotional purposes only.

Adjudication will be completed by a panel of jurors selected by BRR, and will contain members of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communication and representatives of BRR. The anonymity of entrants will be maintained; judges will not know the identity of the artists they are evaluating until after adjudication is complete.

Bent River Records values, promotes and prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion in all of its work. We recognize the systemic barriers that have led to many artists being underrepresented and will continue to do work to amplify and uplift voices that reflect Edmonton’s diverse communities. We are committed to fostering an inclusive culture that represents diverse backgrounds.

Please contact bentriverrecords@macewan.ca if you have any questions.

Congratulations to Our Composition Competition Winners!

Thank you to everyone who took part in our Composition Competition. We are happy to announce that the winners have been selected by our wonderful jury. We were impressed by the originality and professionalism of the work submitted!

Category 1 – lead sheet winner: Esther Forseth
Category 2 – fully notated score winner: Aaron Addorisio

Honourable mention to Ryan Johnson, and thanks to all who submitted — your work truly inspired us!

Also, we want to thank our jurors for their time and for deciding on the winners for this competition. 

We are extremely happy with this year’s results and your submissions. It’s amazing to see how much talent exists among our students and we were so impressed with all who participated.

Meet Our New Team Members

Larisa Pitchko is a Design student at MacEwan University. “I believe art and design, just like music, can tell a story. It can also find a story that wants to be told. The key is to find the balance between imagination and reality.” As a freelance photographer, designer, and artist, Larisa tries to bring ideas to life through various genres and mediums. Drawing inspiration from music, people, and nature, she strives to capture a unique moment in time and bring it to life. Larisa is inspired by her life growing up in Russia and Canada. She calls Canada her home, and currently resides with her daughter Masha in Edmonton, Alberta. She started her designing path at the Digital Media and IT program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and finished it with an honour’s degree. Currently, Larisa is working on a Bachelor of Design at MacEwan University in her third year of studies with plans to do a master’s degree after graduation.

Keegan Hewitt is in his last year of studies in the department of Music at MacEwan University, with a general major and a music career management minor. He is new to the Bent River Records team, and excited to learn from and work alongside such a talented group of people. In past years at MacEwan, Keegan has worked with the MacEwan Live Music Club, a group of students dedicated to creating professional performance opportunities for other student musicians. He finds interest in management, creation, and hosting of live & recorded music events, and aspires to work with a band or label in the future. With the team, Keegan hopes to learn more about the business and legal aspects of recording and music production, as well as gain insight into the operations of the professional world of music.

Chris Larsen is a second year recording and production major at MacEwan University and has joined the BRR team as an intern for winter 2022. Prior to MacEwan, he studied music performance on saxophone at Red Deer College for 2 years. During that time at RDC, he took a recording studio class where he discovered his passion for creating and capturing music with technology. He has since been developing his skills doing projects with bands, solo artists, and personal projects, producing everything from singer/songwriter to heavy metal. Fun fact: Chris spent 7 years in The Red Deer Royals, a competitive marching band, playing saxophone, euphonium, tuba, and also held the position of Drum Major. He has traveled to Europe 3 times to compete in Italy, The Netherlands, and Ireland.

Ian Small is a 5th-year Music major, specializing in composition, as well as recording and production. He loves working with artists, helping them take their music to the next level. He hopes to use his time with Bent River to learn as much as he can about the unique music scene in Edmonton and to meet and work with people from all walks of life, adding to the scene in the process. He is very excited to be a part of the Bent River team, ready to work alongside his incredibly skilled peers to learn and create during the last year of his degree.

‘Going Down Slow’ by Kevin Dean is one of CBC’s favourite jazz albums of 2021

Congratulations to Bent River recording artist Kevin Dean for his album Going Down Slow being listed in the top 15 favourite jazz albums of 2021 by CBC Music!

“[Kevin Dean] put together a phenomenally gifted sextet to explore the blues across nine tracks, including six Dean originals. He’s joined in this endeavour by Caoilainn Power (alto saxophone), Gabriel Lambert (guitar), Andrés Vial (piano), Martin Heslop (bass) and Daniel Verdecchia (drums). Dean, who has one of the most attractive trumpet tones going, sounds especially great on “Get Along or Get Along Now,” an energetic boogaloo. Further highlights include the slowly loping “Lonesome Cowboy Blues;” “Can’t Wait to see you Go,” on which the band has fun stretching the tempo; the surprising acoustic guitar on “Down the Dirt Road;” and Heslop’s sign-off when the album comes to a close with the title track.” — RR

Congrats also to all who worked on the album, including the musicians, MacEwan Design student Sohee Kim who created the cover artwork, the Bent River Records (BRR) team, and to Executive Producer Dr. Craig Monk for making projects like this possible.

Purchase or listen to Going Down Slow

Buy it on CD      |      Buy it on Vinyl

Other albums on the list include Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra’s Twisting Ways, which was mixed by BRR’s Paul Johnston, and Embraceable You by BRR alum Josh Rager.

Check out the full article from CBC Music

Art-Song Composition Competition Now Open to MacEwan Music Students!

Calling all composers and art-song enthusiasts!

In the spirit of MacEwan’s long history of artistic collaborations, Bent River Records (BRR) is offering an opportunity to have your collaborative original work recorded.

This competition honours the continued support of MacEwan’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Dr. Craig Monk. His generous contributions to Bent River Records have made student opportunities like this possible. This contest is open to all currently enrolled (fall 2021) MacEwan Department of Music students.

Thank you to everyone who submitted lyrics in the first round of the competition. We are pleased to announce that Esther Forseth has been selected! Please see an excerpt below of “Preacher’s Daughter” :

“You’re the creature in the water
I’m the preacher’s youngest daughter
Find me swimming with the fishes
Free from breathing old traditions”

ABOUT THE COMPETITION: We will be selecting two original compositions that incorporate and feature the winning lyrics. Instrumentation will be a vocalist and string quartet. 

To protect the anonymity of the composition adjudication process, please do not include your name on the file – please only include that information in the google form. Happy composing!

Submission Category 1: Open to any currently enrolled (fall 2021/winter2022) students. We are asking for a lead sheet with a vocal melody set to the lyrics of “Preacher’s Daughter” and chord changes.  Please submit the lead sheet in PDF format. Mp3 demos are optional. If your work is selected, it will be arranged, performed, and recorded by a professional string quartet and vocalist.

Submission Category 2:  Open to any currently enrolled (fall 2021/winter 2022) BMUS students with experience writing for string quartet and voice. Please submit a fully notated score with 32 bars or 30 seconds of music for string quartet and voice set to the lyrics of “Preacher’s Daughter.” (* with the understanding that the full score will be completed before January 30th if your piece is selected).  The Score should be in PDF format.  

A downloadable PDF of “Preacher’s Daughter” is available below:

Visual artists and designers stay tuned! We will be announcing the cover art design competition soon!

PRIZE: $750.00 honorarium for the winner of each category!

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 4:00 pm MST on January 7th, 2022 – extended to January 28th, 2022.

The call for entries is now closed.

Submission Link: https://forms.gle/LtXPjQvSMRuzEJGd9

TERMS & CONDITIONS: For recording purposes, BRR reserves the right to select performers for the winning pieces. The author will retain all intellectual property, and BRR will only have the right to print a limited run for the music department CD as well as a single version, both of which will be for promotional purposes only.

Adjudication will be done by a panel of jurors selected by BRR, and will contain members of the department of music and representatives of BRR. The anonymity of entrants will be maintained; judges will not know the identity of the composers they are evaluating until after adjudication is complete.

Bent River Records values, promotes and prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion in all of its work. We recognize the systemic barriers that have led to many artists being underrepresented and will continue to do work to amplify and uplift voices that reflect Edmonton’s diverse communities. We are committed to fostering an inclusive culture that represents diverse backgrounds.

Please contact bentriverrecords@macewan.ca if you have any questions.

Alexa Cable Interviews Paul Johnston

Hi Everyone!

We wanted to take a moment to highlight something a couple of our team members worked on over the summer.

Alexa Cable (one of our interns) got together with Paul Johnston (Head of Recording at MacEwan University) to discuss the future of recording and recording education. Paul explains how staying employed is the most important skill in the recording industry.

Please show the video some love! 

Behind BRR Album Covers: An Interview with Constanza Pacher

Have you ever thought about the importance of an album cover when promoting artists? When we think about Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, we automatically come up with their respective album covers. It is no doubt that an album’s design plays a big part in making it memorable, recognizable, and iconic.

Bent River Records has partnered for five consecutive years with MacEwan’s Design Program professor, Constanza Pacher, to produce artworks for the label’s releases through an album design contest. This project has led to impressive creations by MacEwan’s design students, guided by Constanza.

Constanza Pacher is an Associate Professor in the Bachelor of Design at MacEwan University. She is a visual communication designer from Argentina with more than twenty years of experience in the design industry. In 2004, she received a master’s degree in Visual Communication Design from the University of Alberta. She has been teaching design, typography, and information design at MacEwan for sixteen years. Her current research focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning, and the use of experiential learning in the classroom to improve student engagement. Constanza was honoured with the MacEwan University Distinguished Teaching Award in 2016, and an Honourable Mention for the RGD2021 Design Educator Award for Western Canada.

We have interviewed Constanza to get to know more about the album design contest and her role in this partnership with Bent River Records.

1- How long has the album design contest been going, and how did you get involved in this project?

The collaboration between MacEwan’s Bent River Records and Design Studies started in the spring of 2017, when I was contacted by Rose Ginther and Paul Johnston seeking help in the coordination of the design and production aspects of the label. In the true spirit of BRR — which is engaging students and faculty in the complete creation of music products — I decided that the best way I could contribute to this innovative learning lab project was by involving my students in it through a collaborative project in the Typography II class.

Since 2017, all students enrolled in DESN231 Typography II participate as part of their course load in a design competition. This experiential project includes musician interviews, design and preparation of files for submission, and formal final presentations to stakeholders. The project culminates with the selection of a winner, and the subsequent student participation in the final steps for printing and commercial production.

2- How has the reception been for the contest so far?

The reception of this project has been overwhelmingly positive! Artists, faculty, and students alike have been delighted with the results since the start. Students find this real project engaging and worthwhile. BRR and musicians express their gratitude year after year, as the product of this collaboration is always a success. Musicians really enjoy meeting with the students and seeing the results. They find it to be such a treat to have such variety of designs to choose from, to see how their music inspired the different concepts, and how articulate our students are in presenting convincing and professional rationales for their work. 

3- What are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of this project?

Even though managing this project requires a considerable amount of time outside of class time, this project is all rewards! My collaboration with Rose, Paul, and Kristjan at the label has been nothing but enjoyable; it’s a fantastic group of professional and creative people that care about student experience as much as I do. In my classroom, I love stepping aside and watch the students work hard to impress the client, not me. It is a project where I know students are not working for a grade, but to earn their seat in the real world of client work.

4- What are your expectations for this year’s contest?

My expectations for this year’s contest are the same as every year: to have a positive student experience and great design. I hope the 69 students this year find the experience worthwhile, take advantage of the opportunity to meet the client, work hard to produce an original and creative concept, and dazzle the client with excellent products, great typography, and thoughtful rationales.

We are happy to announce that the 2021 album design contest is already underway. Keep following Bent River Records blog and social media accounts to get updates on this year’s winners!

Welcome, Brandon!

Hi folks,

Brandon here! I’m pleased to be joining the Bent River Records team as an A&R Associate! I’ve had a career in music for the better part of 15 years, as both an artist and industry professional. My background is as a guitarist, songwriter, studio session musician, freelance guitarist, booking agent, venue manager, and venue concierge. The music industry has always been something I knew I wanted to be involved with, from the very first song I learned on the guitar, I knew I wanted to do this for a living.

I play in a few Edmonton-based bands such as Electric Religious, King of Foxes, Mercy Funk, and The High Powers. I have two albums released under my own project, Electric Religious, which is one of my main focuses. I also teach music lessons in St. Paul, AB, I work as the Alberta and B.C. Producer for Curbside Concerts Canada, a live music delivery service founded in Calgary in 2020, and on top of all that, I have a little 6-year old munchkin at home that keeps me busy with his Transformers and Spider Man toys. My partner and I operate a label services business called Crystal Baby Music and it’s this experience of working with artists and helping them to operate their careers at a higher level that I bring to the table at BRR. As a former music student at MacEwan University, I understand the drive and passion the students bring to their studies, and subsequently their efforts at BRR. I look forward to working with the team this year!

A few things I love to do in my spare time are to bake bread–intense kitchen projects are my favourite, though. Hello kimchi! I love to learn (and enjoy) about wine from all over the world, read books from Indigenous authors, and go for family dog walks.

My favourite part of the music industry are the people. From what I’ve seen, this community of artists and professionals is very close. Everyone wants to help everyone else succeed. Everyone keeps everyone else accountable and opens doors for those that put in the work, and commit to their art. I’m super grateful to all my mentors who expected true effort and never made anything easy for me in my formative years, it has shaped who I am today. I still can’t wrap my head around social media, but I hope that when my son is a teenager that he can help me out.

Wishing everyone a happy fall term, and a wonderful 2021-2022 school year.

—Brandon