Steven Caine of Thompson brought home first place in the percussion category for his age group at the Canadian Music Competition (CMC) at the University of Toronto on June 29.
The competition was founded as a means to discover and nurture young talent, and to prepare them for professional careers. CMC attracts more than 600 competitors annually, with the best advancing through three rounds of competition – regional, provincial and national. This year more than 200 musicians competed at the national level.
The finals in Toronto wrapped up the competition that spans over two months from the preliminary rounds to its conclusion.
Caine, 23, started the competition in Winnipeg, where he now lives and works, on April 19. The young musician's accomplishment is all the more impressive, considering that he has only been playing the marimba for five years.
He started his music journey with piano lessons when he was in Grade 4, and progressed to playing in the R.D. Parker Collegiate band under the tutelage of the school's current principal.
“Mr. (Wally) Itson was my main teacher for band, so he's someone I credit for my training,” said Caine.
Brandon University was the next stop for Caine, where he studied percussion performance, and first started out playing the marimba.
The Canadian Music Competition was the first of its kind that Caine has participated in, giving him a 100 per cent success rate. Caine sheepishly shrugged off the accomplishment, downplaying victory, and explaining that the education was mainly why he entered.
“I was mostly there to learn and take in some notes from the adjudicators,” said Caine, “there were seven different opinions on my playing, so that's what I really wanted to take from it.”
Caine's mother Karen says that Steven has never been one to boast about achievements and that he mostly keeps them to himself. A telephone interview with the Thompson Citizen was Karen's first time hearing that her son had won at the competition.
“I talked to Steven on the phone and asked him how it went and he just kind of said, oh it was good, he didn't mention anything about winning,” said Caine.
The scholarship money that Caine won at CMC should help him on his way to his next goal of attaining his master's degree in percussion performance or musicology.
“Right now I'm just working in Winnipeg and trying to save money so I can go back to school,” said Caine, who has a short list of schools in the United States that he hopes to attend.
On that list are, Indiana University, University of Miami, and New England Conservatory in Boston.
“I had a professor who went to Miami,” said Caine, “those are schools that are tailored to what I want to do and are going to take me in the direction that I want, instead of me changing what I'm doing to get in to a school.”