Song Writing Contest Winners

Celebrating London’s UNESCO City of Music Designation

Competition Announcement: thursday june 9 at 5:00 p.m. at aeolian hall

London Ontario was recently designated a World Music Heritage City by UNESCO.  To celebrate, The Aeolian is running a songwriting contest to support local songwriters. We are asking local song writers to record and submit a song in any genre (country, classical, jazz, popular etc.) with themes of love, beauty, and home.

The contest is designed to offer a platform and showcase for artists to celebrate their creations, gain support through prizes and showcase London as a UNESCO City of Music.  It is also a way for our city to celebrate our talented creatives and focus on inspiration during this especially challenging time.

“Let’s invest in our Music Community any way we can during this difficult time, showcase its creative talent and celebrate its recent UNESCO City of Music designation” 

Clark Bryan, Executive and Artistic Director

If the Aeolian Song Writing Contest was a love letter to London, it was sealed with a kiss this Thursday with the live announcement of the winners on the Aeolian Hall Stage.

Tara Dunphy was awarded the Grand Prize, receiving a cash award of $2000, Dunphy will also participate in a professional recording of her song “East of Adelaide” at Aeolian’s Studios, recently installed with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation,, a multitrack recording to be presented as part of the Aeolian Phoenix Sessions as well as marketing support and professional consultation related to branding and career development. Cash prizes, recording and marketing opportunities were also awarded to Matt Martin’s for his piece “Maple and Pine” which was awarded second prize and Stephen Ingram’s “When I Get Back to London,” which placed third. Ingram had two songs on the judges top five. All three songs are available to hear on Aeolian’s webpage as well as on social media.

With the support of sponsors McFarlan-Rowlands Insurance and D&S Pianos, each song was reviewed by judges Valdy, Andrea Waase, and Tony Dekker of the Great Lake Swimmers.

When the contest was created by Aeolian Executive & Artistic Director Clark Bryan, he had a vision to celebrate London’s designation as a UNESCO City of Music while cultivating London talent and providing tangible opportunities for London singer-songwriters.

“London should be proud to know that we had 162 submissions to the Aeolian’s first Annual Song writing Competition!  The judges had a really challenging job with so many high quality submissions! With themes of home, love and London, the contest has cultivated a beautiful and rich repository of songs that I’m sure will make us proud to live in this UNESCO City of Music! We are thrilled to support our winners and help their careers.  We are excited to share their craft and celebrate their creativity.”

-Clark Bryan, Executive & Artistic Director, Aeolian Hall

Supporting music and the arts are core to the Aeolian’s mission and to Mr. Bryan’s heart. Understanding that there is always work to be done and extraordinary talent to be discovered, Bryan already plans for two more contests to launch in 2022: another local song writing search as well as a national competition. Details of both will be released soon, as well as entry requirements and contest themes.

First Place: Tara Dunphy

Song Title: East of Adelaide


Tara Dunphy is an award winning singer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist from London, Ontario, Canada who began playing her first instrument, the tin whistle, when she was only 3 years old. She has toured across Canada and the United States, playing with various artists, including rock and roll Hall of Fame member Wanda Jackson, Texas songwriter Teri Joyce, Canadian alt country sweethearts Luther Wright and the Wrongs and her own honky tonk band, The Rizdales.  Tara has also worked alongside acclaimed jazz guitarist Larry Smith for the past six years. Billed as “Dunphy Smith”, they play an eclectic style of jazz that blends gypsy, latin and american style swing guitar and fiddle.  They also perform regularly at retirement homes and long term cares, specializing in engaging and uplifting music for dementia care residents, a true passion for both of them. Tara’s most recent project is an exciting new venture with former members of Rant Maggie Rant. Together with RMR founder Lindsay Schindler, she has launched a new contemporary folk band called Maggie’s Wake, with a focus on original compositions performed with celtic instrumentation and a refreshing, modern approach.     Tara is a 6 time recipient of the Forest City London Music Award (Rizdales – Country category) and she was named to the Forest City London Music Awards “Fantasy Band” as favourite string musician.  She is also a 3 time Ameripolitan Award nominee, 2 time Academy of Western Artist Award nominee and winner of multiple national championships for traditional Irish music. Since founding The Rizdales 2003 with her husband, Tom, Tara has gone on to release 7 albums with the group while continuing to be a sought after session musician.  Tara lives in London, Ontario with her husband, Tom, their children, Jack and Annie, and their two dogs, Gordie Howe and Jim McGinley.

Second Place: Matt Martin

Song Title: Maple & Pine


After playing in a metal band in high school, studying classical guitar at Western University and flamenco guitar in Spain, London, Ontario singer-songwriter and guitarist Matthew Martin finally discovered his own artistic voice writing indie folk and Americana inspired songs. His songs are story driven, sparked by the people and places around him and liberally peppered with a rich imagination cultivated as a lifelong bookworm.  Matthew currently maintains a busy guitar teaching schedule and is working on releasing a full album with his band Trusty Fox before turning his attention to recording his debut EP as a solo artist.

Third Place: Stephen Ingram

Song Title: When I Get Back to London


Stephen is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, as well as a professional theatre-maker. He was born and raised in Hamilton, ON, but having lived in London, ON, for 8 years now, he considers himself a Londoner at heart. He holds a Bachelor’s degree Honours in Composition from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University. As an actor/musician/composer, he has worked professionally with theatres across Ontario, including Theatre Aquarius, the Grand Theatre, the Musical Stage Company, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Upper Canada Playhouse, Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, and a number of others. As a composer, much of his output was musical theatre before the pandemic, but after it hit, he found himself writing more and more for himself. In the last two years since he has written a half dozen folk/pop songs, and looks forward to releasing a chunk of them in an album later this year.

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