From Page to Performance Through Pedagogy: The Choral Legacy of Nancy Telfer
Nancy Telfer (b. 1950) is a celebrated Canadian composer, choral conductor, clinician, teacher, adjudicator, and author. Many of her approximately 240 works are performed internationally; some have become standard North American, European, and Asian festival and competition repertoire. Choral educators and conductors worldwide use her pedagogical materials. Telfer’s distinctive choral style, deeply rooted in her passion as a music educator, makes her works exemplary teaching and learning tools. Much has been written about Telfer’s choral output and her music. No one, however, has yet explored connections between her pedagogical materials and her choral compositions. First, this study examines Telfer’s choral works and pedagogical materials, highlighting her inventiveness in using choral repertoire as a teaching tool for singers. Second, my research represents the first comprehensive study of Telfer’s choral legacy to encompass both her choral compositions and her choral pedagogy publications. I have worked closely with Telfer to produce an essential guide to her music, articulating appropriate performance practice of her works and illuminating the pedagogical philosophies that support her pieces. I identified research on Telfer’s choral music and pedagogical writing, catalogued her choral compositions, and completed detailed analyses of representative works in four categories: compositions driven and/or inspired by text; pedagogically-based compositions; compositions evoking imagery; and noted concert pieces. I interviewed the composer to discuss her musical output, compositional process, and educational philosophy. I also spoke with prominent choral conductors who frequently program Telfer’s music in order to further understand the impact of her work. Ultimately, my study provides information on Telfer’s choral output, offers awareness, education, and support for the people who perform her works, bringing her music from the printed page to the performance stage with artistry and musicality.
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