Petr Cancura at Ottawa Jazz Festival's Composers Collective performance, 2008 June 27  ┬ęBrett Delmage, 2008Petr Cancura, the new programming director for the Ottawa Jazz Festival, is no stranger to Ottawa or the festival.

While multi-instrumentalist and composer Cancura now lives in New York, he's an Ottawa native and has often played at the festival. He curated the festival's afternoon OLG Workshop series for the last two years, and acted as resident artist and coordinator for the festival's Ottawa Composers Collective.

The festival announced his appointment Wednesday, January 12, 2011, replacing longtime programmer Jacques Emond who retired in 2010.

In the press release, Cancura said: "This [TD Ottawa Jazz Festival] is one of the great festivals, and I am thrilled to be a part of it: a great and driven team of people to work with, along with a supportive and inspiring community to collaborate with. Thinking about working with the music I love in a place I feel very close to, is a dream for me. I am excited about the possibilities of how we can grow as a festival and as a community in Ottawa."

Cancura studied music at Carleton University, and then received an award in 2004 to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he completed the Master's program.

His current projects as leader include

  • Down Home, a collection of songs inspired by black and white photographs
  • PeopleMusic, a celebration of Brazil, Africa, the Balkans, the old worlds and the fearless adventure of new music

He also performs with The Richie Barshay Group, a quartet with Polish musician Jacek Kochan, guitarist Joe Morris, Brazilian Bluegrass band NationBeat, and the GRAMMY-nominated Danilo Perez Big Band.

Cancura has also played frequently in Ottawa with many local musicians, including Roddy Ellias, Jesse Stewart, Scott Warren, Yves Laroche, Rob Frayne, Peter Hum, Mark Ferguson, Mike Essoudry, Megan Jerome and John Geggie.

You can learn more about Cancura at