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Commissioning a new String Trio from Alissa Cheung

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*check updates for all the info* - we have reached our initial $3k goal (thank you!) for a matching grant - but that's not the whole story...

The High Level Trio needs your help to commission a new work from Alissa Cheung! We are an Edmonton-based classical String Trio; Alissa is a composer and violinist in the Montreal-based Bozzini Quartet. The SOCAN Foundation has awarded us a $3000 matching grant to help fund the commission, which means of course that we need to raise $3000 to be matched, from private sources - Like you! All the money raised - and the matching grant - will go to Alissa to pay her for her compositional work.
Here’s the whole story:

We are the High Level Trio - a classical chamber music string trio formed in 2021 by members of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra: Ewald Cheung, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and Julie Hereish, cello. There is a High Level Bridge in the centre of Edmonton, there’s also a city called High Level in northern Alberta, and with a bit of cheekiness we like to believe we work and play music together at a truly high level. So far our fans have seemed to agree. Learn a little more about us at our website:

In 2022 we thought it would be cool to commission new music for String Trio from Edmonton-based composers. Lots of people have written and do write music for String Quartet - Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, Brahms… they all really got that ball rolling. Not as many people have written great masterpieces for String Trio - Boccherini experimented a bunch with the form back in the day, Mozart wrote an amazing Divertimento, Beethoven composed several that presaged his great Quartets… Anyway, we love learning, playing, sharing all of that older music but we believe it’s super important not just to keep the art alive but also to find ways to make it relevant to our modern times, to reflect the world we live in today.

Our first commission as a Trio was from John Estacio. ( We met him through our work in Canadian orchestras, especially in the ESO where his music is often performed, and we were thrilled when he agreed to take a whack at writing something on a much smaller scale than he usually had done - like orchestra, opera, ballet, choral works… That was even before he was appointed to the Order of Canada! (Congrats again, John!) To fund the commission we applied for and were so fortunate to receive grants from both the Canada Council for the Arts and the Province of Alberta through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. The awards allowed us to confirm John’s commission but also to organize a studio recording of the new work, to be done after we would have premiered it in several concerts around Northern Alberta in 2023. The new 3-movement, 20-minute work is fantastic, full of excitement and beauty; people love it, we couldn’t be more proud. Post-production on that recording is nearly complete, and in other news we will be featured in performances of the work live on stage as the soundtrack to a newly choreographed show Ballet Edmonton is presenting in early May 2024.

So that was our first commission. In summer 2023 we were coaching at a small chamber music workshop for young students in Edmonton and the timing worked out for us to bring in a friend as the special guest one day to lead a masterclass and give a talk about her life as both a composer and a violinist in a string quartet: Alissa Cheung, Edmonton native and one of the violinists in the Montreal-based Bozzini Quartet.
Visit for more about her.

We got to talking at day’s end and she revealed to us her idea for writing us a new work that could be performed as usual on a proper chamber music concert stage but that would also include a section designed for optional inclusion of students or amateurs in a play-along sort of scenario, which would open up the piece to a much wider range of possible contexts for presentation. We could take the piece on tour in a regular chamber music program but also work it into an educational outreach program to engage students and amateurs from the community in the public performance. The possibilities immediately seemed endless. We agreed on a rough schedule to try to get the thing to happen by summer/fall 2024, pending funding.

Alissa quoted us a price appropriate for the approximate length and scope of the new work, and we set about identifying possible avenues for funding. Despite our work running a chamber music workshop and self-presenting concerts in Edmonton Our trio is not (yet) a non-profit organization so we don’t have access to certain grant opportunities. We can’t yet re-apply for another grant from the AFA, but Alissa has applied for support of her commission from the Canada Council. But we won’t know for a while still whether that will come through. We did also apply for a matching grant from the SOCAN Foundation, and that’s why you’re reading this right now - we have received a matching grant from SOCAN Foundation for $3000, but that means we must come up with $3000 from donors to match the award.

Will you help us make this second High Level Trio commission, of an exciting new work from Alissa Cheung to be performable in a variety of public and educational concert settings, a reality? Any bit you can muster to send our way will be greatly appreciated. All funds will go directly to Alissa to pay her for her compositional work.


  • Julie Hereish
    • $400 (Offline)
    • 30 d
  • Ethan Filner
    • $400 (Offline)
    • 30 d
  • Ewald Cheung
    • $400 (Offline)
    • 30 d
  • Edmonton Recital Society
    • $1,200 (Offline)
    • 30 d
  • Margaret Cheng
    • $50 (Offline)
    • 1 mo


Ethan Filner
Edmonton, AB

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