How to watch School of Music concerts online

Did you know? The School of Music broadcasts many of its large ensemble concerts online. You can watch incredible performances by our Symphony Orchestra, Choirs, and Bands via Livestream — as the concert happens in real time, or afterwards. Here's a selection of our winter performances at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts:

Holst, Saariaho & Navarro

  • UBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Jonathan Girard, Conductor
  • Aidan Mulldoon Wong, Clarinet
  • Plus a fascinating talk by Astronomy Prof. Jaymie Matthews

Bach & Laurisden

  • University Singers & Choral Union
  • Graeme Langager, Director of Choral Activities

New York Stories: Bernstein, Milhaud & More

  • UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble
  • Robert Taylor, Conductor
  • Jaelem Bhate, Student Assistant Conductor

Tchaikovsky, Maunders, Williams & Southam

  • UBC Chamber Orchestra
  • Jonathan Girard, Conductor
  • Alex Toa, Student Conductor


The Juno Connection

Congratulations to Alexander Weimann, Turning Point Ensemble and Musica Intima on their Juno nominations!

Alexander Weimann

Alexander Weimann



Weimann is the Principal Artist and Director of our Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Program. He’s nominated for Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral Performance with Bach: Magnificat BWV 243, his recording with Arion Baroque Orchestre.

Turning Point Ensemble and Musica Intima are nominated for Classical Composition of the Year for their recording of Ana Sokolović’s “And I need a room to receive five thousand people with raised glasses…or…what a glorious day, the birds are singing ‘halleluia.’” The song appears on the new album Thirst, a collaboration between the two groups released by Redshift Records.

Musica Intima is an internationally renowed vocal chamber group, while Turning Point Ensemble is a large chamber ensemble dedicated to "linking modern and contemporary music to music of our time and other artforms." A number of UBC faculty members and alumni perform in these two boundary-pushing Vancouver-based ensembles and were involved in the recording. Faculty members include:

Karen Wilson (BMus’74) produced the album. Will Howie (BMus’04) was the recording engineer and digital editor.

The Juno Awards will be announced on Sunday, April 2nd. We're keeping our fingers crossed!


Announcing the Concerto Competition winners

Benjamin Hopkins

Benjamin Hopkins

Aidan Mulldoon Wong

Aidan Mulldoon Wong

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016/17 UBC School of Music Concerto Competition!

Open to all music students, the annual competition is an opportunity for young musicians to earn a coveted spot as a solo performer with the UBC Symphony Orchestra.

Competitors select virtuoso works which highlight their exceptional technical and expressive abilities as musicians. There were over 40 entries in the competition and the performance level was extremely high, as always.

This year's winners are:

First prize: Benjamin Hopkins (piano) – Brahms – Piano Concerto No. 1 in d minor
Second prize: Aidan Mulldoon Wong (clarinet) – O. Navarro – II Concerto for Clarinet
Third prize: Marie Civitarese (voice) – Mozart – Exultate, Jubilate

Marie Civitarese

Marie Civitarese

Overall winner Benjamin Hopkins will perform Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor in autumn 2017. In the meantime, you can watch him perform Brahms's Sonata No. 3 in f minor, Op. 5.

Second prize winner Aidan Mulldoon Wong will perform O. Navarro's Il Concerto for Clarinet with UBC Symphony Orchestra at a special concert on Friday, March 10th at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts

Look out for third prize winner Marie Civitarese in the upcoming Opera Tea on March 12th.

Introducing the new-look School of Music website

By Dr. Richard Kurth and Tyler Stiem

Welcome to the new and improved UBC School of Music website!

Designed to work beautifully on all your devices, with eye-popping photos and video, streamlined navigation, and robust search tools, it's the culmination of many months of planning and development.

Our goal was to create a platform that amply showcases all the artistic vitality of our students and faculty, and the breadth and dynamism of our academic programs. 

We encourage you to explore the site, beginning with these highlights:

Prospective students will find inspiring stories and multimedia features as well as a new and easier to use undergraduate and graduate application guidelines. Current students will discover a new career development section and more opportunities to promote and publish their work online. Concert-goers will enjoy a much improved events calendar that offers seamless integration with iCal and Google Calendar, and social media. Alumni and supporters can find inspiring stories about recent and past graduates who are making a splash in the music world and beyond.

We hope you’ll agree that the new website projects our energies and projects more vividly. We’d love to receive your comments about the new site, and any suggestions you have for making it even more responsive to your needs and interests. Please send your ideas to Tyler Stiem, Communications Manager, at

Your valuable input will help us make as inspiring and accessible at it can possibly be!


UBC Music faculty Heidi Krutzen wins 2016 Artist of the Year - Western Canadian Music Award

UBC Music faculty Heidi Krutzen wins 2016 Western Canadian Music Award for Artist/Ensemble of the Year with COULOIR

October 17, 2016

UBC Music faculty Heidi Krutzen won the Western Canadian Music Award for Classical Music Artist/Ensemble of the Year as part of the duo COULOIR with Ariel Barnes.

UBC Music Alumni and Students Receive 2016 SOCAN Young Composer Awards

UBC Music alumni with degrees in composition were awarded Young Composer Awards from the SOCAN Foundation (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada).

The Sir Ernest MacMillan Awards

1st Place: Hoi Chak Roydon Tse (BMus’13) – Genesis 2015
3rd Place: Joseph Glaser (BMus’14) – Ecstasis

The Serge Garant Awards

2nd Place: David Storen (MMus’16) – Mångata

The Pierre Mercure Awards

3rd Place: Hoi Chak Roydon Tse (BMus’13) – Meditation

The Godfrey Ridout Awards

1st Place: Katerina Gimon (current MMus student) – Elements


Recent Wins from the Keyboard Division

Nicole Linaksita (BMus’16) was chosen as one of six semi-finalists (out of twenty-eight accepted to the competition from across Canada) at the prestigious Stepping Stones Competition in Québec, and won a $1,000 scholarship. Nicole was also chosen to represent Vancouver at the BCRMTA Provincial competition in September 2016. Nicole is a student of Corey Hamm.

Susan Xia (BMus Piano Performance 2nd year) was runner up at the Musicians Dream Aid Competition. Susan is a student of Corey Hamm

Natalie Lo (BMus’16) won 4th prize at the 2016 Shean Piano Competition in Edmonton. She also won the prize for Best Performance of the Required Work. Natalie won first prize (senior category) in the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra Clef Concerto Competition held May 30-31, 2016. Natalie was chosen as the Senior winner at the Vancouver Kiwanis Festival, and was also Runner Up for the Provincial National Class. Natalie is a student of Corey Hamm.

Carter Johnson (BMus Piano Performance 2nd year) won 3rd prize at the 2016 Shean Piano Competition in Edmonton. Carter was also the winner at the Vancouver Kiwanis Music Festival, and runner-up in the Provincial Music Festival – National Class. Carter is a student of Mark Anderson.

UBC Music alumna Jocelyn Lai (BMus’13) was awarded 2nd place at the 2016 Shean Piano Competition.

Former UBC Music student Gene Emerson won first prize at the Yarilo Piano Competition. Gene will have the opportunity to play with an orchestra in the coming season.

Davy Lau was chosen as Intermediate winner at the Vancouver Kiwanis Music Festival

Jaeden Izik-Dzurko won first place at the Provincial Music Festival – National Class and will represent BC at the Nationals.

Gene, Davy and Jaeden are all students in Corey Hamm‘s piano studio. Jaeden also studies with Ian Parker.

Engineering’s loss is music’s gain

Photo: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Photo: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Kathleen Allan (BMus ‘11) talks about her love of singing, conducting, and writing music; the three-headed monster that is her career; and her return to the West Coast.

By Emma Lancaster

Math and science whiz Kathleen Allan was anticipating a career in engineering when she stumbled across the composition program at the UBC School of Music. “I had all but accepted a full scholarship to Waterloo for electrical engineering,” she says, but decided to apply to UBC and “get music out of my system for four years. Yeah… That didn’t work at all.” The busy grad is an in-demand singer, conductor, and composer, with a growing reputation throughout North America.

“UBC was fantastic, in that it allowed me the flexibility to do a lot of different things.” Bruce Pullan was an early choral mentor, and when he retired Graeme Langager proved a wonderful teacher and mentor. Studying composition with Stephen Chatman, whose music Allan performed growing up in Newfoundland, was very exciting for her. Later, Dorothy Chang supervised her first orchestral compositions. “It was a place that allowed me to do it all. It really gave me the platform to do what I wanted to do,” she says.

After UBC, she attended Yale University for her MMus in Conducting, and then relocated to Toronto, where she was managing a busy career. But then she got a call from the Vancouver Academy of Music with a unique opportunity: the position of Director of Choral Studies and Associate Conductor of Orchestras. Allan jumped at the chance to run the new, privately endowed choral program. “I’m really looking forward to having a set of ensembles of my own, to working on creating my sound as a conductor with the same group on a regular basis; really exploring that relationship,” she enthused.

In addition to her duties at the Academy, Allan maintains a thriving career as a soloist and choral singer, and manages numerous commissions as a composer. “It sort of works itself out,” she says of balancing singing, writing, and conducting. “I enjoy all three, and I feel that each provides a respite from and informs the other. When I conduct I like to put myself in the composer’s shoes and think about why the composer may have written certain things, and likewise as a conductor and singer I get to study all these incredible works that have been written and allow that to influence, either subconsciously or consciously, the works that I compose.”

Upcoming for Allan is the premiere of a piece by the Vancouver Cantata Singers, commissioned by Redshift Music. This concert takes place at the Planetarium, which Allan is very excited about. “They’ll actually fire up the projectors and have an exploration of outer space during the concert in the observatory. The theme of the concert is otherworldly ideas, and my piece is a setting of the Ave Maris Stella, which is a very ancient Latin prayer. It is based on the chant melody and is written in six parts, so the choir will ideally be spread around the auditorium and surrounding the audience. I think it will be really cool.”

Allan will not be able to attend the concert, as it is during her tenure as Apprentice Conductor with the National Youth Choir in May. She is also off to Austin, Texas with Arkora, the new music ensemble she co-directs with her husband Benton Roark (DMA’13). Allan is also conducting her first full length opera, The Barber of Seville, and serving as Assistant Conductor of the Bach Choir. She is busy, and she would not have it any other way.

Music is the furnace of your being

Photo: Brian Hawkes

Photo: Brian Hawkes

High Notes talks to Dr. Richard Kurth, Director of UBC School of Music, about music, music education, and society at large.

By Emma Lancaster

In a world where technology and science are moving forward at an incredible pace, and education is increasingly focused on employment skills, studying music can seem like an anachronistic choice. But not for Richard Kurth. “For me, the definition of music would be: coordinating the body, the mind, the imagination and expression into a single activity that can draw on all of them. That’s why we love music. We are charging our whole being–physically, intellectually, emotionally–using music as a way of getting everything fired up as intensely as possible. Music is like the furnace of your being.”

The way our culture experiences music has definitely been affected by technology-driven changes. “It’s actually hard to grasp how much the whole musical culture has changed in the last few decades. In many ways the changes are extraordinarily positive because we have now access to much more music and a greater diversity of musical traditions than we ever had, or could have had, in the past,” he says. “We have music of other cultures available to us; we can revisit the music of the past with a few keystrokes. Music used to be very hard to acquire, now it’s easy.”

That ease of acquisition paradoxically makes Kurth uneasy. “In the past, music was something you did, by singing or playing. Now for many people it’s something you own.” That slippery slope inspires Kurth in his work at UBC. “I think it’s important that we do everything we can to ensure that music remains a participatory culture–not just something we surround ourselves with, but something we do.” He includes running to music, dancing to it, playing a guitar alone, and listening to great jazz in a club as ways that people can engage actively and keep their own furnace burning, in addition to the obvious activities of performing and studying that take place at the School.

Students of all faculties can reap the benefits of this participatory philosophy. Ensembles from the UBC African, Balinese, and Korean music ensembles to the many choirs, jazz ensembles, orchestra, and others are open to students from outside the School of Music. And there are almost daily opportunities for the public to hear students and faculty perform.

“We want the school to be diverse in terms of where people are coming from; and diverse in the types of music that we make–music of different cultures, but also music from all of the long and multicultural Western tradition as diversely as possible, across history and cultural geography; because all the countless forms of music are different manifestations of human experience, and we learn from them all,” he says.

Despite, or perhaps because of this diversity, Kurth celebrates the School’s unity of purpose and dedicated teachers. “We all want to listen really closely to what we’re hearing, no matter what kind of music it may be. We all believe that music is very deep in nuance; we engage by contemplating it, and focusing on it, imagining it anew, and performing it.”

Music surrounds us in contemporary culture, and Kurth sees contemporary talent shows like American Idol as important in that they are very public–they make people excited to see the process and hard work behind every performance. He’s hopeful that the individual stardom these types of shows celebrate is secondary to the sharing of music that’s the backbone of his own philosophy. “It’s got to be for everybody. Young people who are training to be artists need to focus on acquiring skills and confidence to be ready to get up on stage; but once they’re there, it has to be to give to other people. It can’t be only about the performer–it’s got to be for everybody else. Talent is called a gift, because you are called to share it.”

The concert experience is also an opportunity for participation. “When our students perform on stage, they’re demonstrating their commitment. They’re showing human nature in one of its really productive and positive forms. Going to concerts should give you a feeling, as a listener, that you’ve participated with others in something really exciting and moving, a celebration of creative energy and human spirit. And you listen better at a concert because other people are listening with you.”

As listeners, our personal experiences of music are constantly changing or filling in; allowing us to see the same world in a different light, or reinterpret familiar knowledge. As we re-experience favourite pieces or hear new ones, our world grows richer and more nuanced, and our creative fires are kept stoked. Kurth believes that’s an opportunity that music and all the arts afford us. “They nourish us,” he says simply.

A partnership forged in music

Frances Roberts Photo: Don Erhardt

Frances Roberts
Photo: Don Erhardt

By Emma Lancaster

High Notes talked to current MMus (choral conducting, graduating December ’16) student Frances Roberts (BMus’86), and her husband, Geordie Roberts (BMus’85) about their music (and life) partnership, which began at UBC as students when Geordie was assigned as Frances’ voice recitals and lessons accompanist. Currently, Frances also runs the choral program at Argyle Secondary in North Vancouver, and Geordie is Director of Music Ministry at Highlands United Church, teaches singing at Capilano University, and sings with the Vancouver Chamber Choir on top of their individual musical projects and family life.

How do you juggle or meld two busy music careers? Or do you?

Juggle is a good word. We take it day by day, and use a family calendar a lot. Both being musicians makes it a lot easier to be empathetic when one career or another takes one of us away from home for a couple of weeks at a time. We also understand the stresses that come in this line of work. It has been a test of our ability to cover for one another and it was very challenging when our children were small. Geordie took time off to be more of Mr. Mom after our second child was born so I could go back to teaching full time. Most of the time we have been able to juggle and cover for one another in a parent role and sometimes in a professional role.

What sparked your return to school, Frances?

I got interested in taking my Masters after 20 years of teaching secondary music and having three boys who were now at a stage where I might be able to get away without too much disruption to the family. I was in a secure position in the North Van school district, at the same school for 20 years, where my choral program was thriving and all was generally good. I was concerned about staying motivated and fresh as a teacher. While teaching at a BC Choral Federation Choral Directorship course in the summer with Dr. Graeme Langager, I spoke with him about the prospects of doing a Masters at UBC and how it might work for me in my current position, where I could only get a one year’s leave from my school district. I also spoke with some trusted colleagues and friends, Fiona Blackburn (BMus’82, BEd Secondary’02, MMus’10), Carrie Tennant (MMus’12), and Frank Lee (MMus’14), about the program and what to expect. Then it was a matter of timing with all the other elements of my life.

Has the Masters program presented any unique opportunities for you?

In this, my second year of the program I have learned and mastered the art of balancing two lives/jobs between my five choir classes at Argyle every morning and my three choirs, TA work, and Choral Literature course at UBC, which take place over four afternoons and evenings per week.

I have also re-examined my conducting gestures and connect more physically with all aspects of singing, breathing, and hearing. It’s heightened all my senses and been a very inspiring, soulful experience.

It has also made me re-examine how I work with and treat my students. There is nothing like being a student again, sweating about midterm exams and doing your first presentation before your peers and professor. It has helped me renew and bolster my vocal technique and inspired my own personal singing, as well as given me the opportunity to sing some major choral works. I was able to organize the tour to New York for the members of the University Singers and UBC Choral Union, who sang the Berliner Messe by Arvo Pärt at Carnegie Hall in March of 2015 with Dr. Langager conducting. The MMus program enabled me to go to the Canadian Rocky Mountain Festival in Banff to participate in their Professional Development program, as the U Singers were in a showcase concert the first night of the festival. Working with Dr. Langager has also led to other professional opportunities as we started a summer choral directors workshop, “Inspirare”, that we held for the first time at Highlands United Church in August of 2015. Dr. Langager led the workshop and I, along with two other colleagues (Janet Warren and Natassja By), organized the event for choir directors who came from around BC, Washington state, and Saskatchewan. It has also been a treat to sing in the choir with the VSO and Bramwell Tovey a few times now—Britten’s War Requiem, Faure’s Requiem, and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms.

What are some recent highlights of your working life in music?

Frances: Seeing how music transforms people’s lives and the incredible lasting memories we take away from sharing our music in practice and performance. I have been doing two or three tours for music groups at Argyle every year for the past 25 years and a few have been EXCEPTIONAL. The most interesting cultural tour that was full of new experiences was our tour to China in 2010 (125 musicians and 10 teacher chaperones); the most musically exciting and eye opening tour was to the Baltics in 2012 (Finland, Estonia, and Latvia).

I just returned from a 10-day tour of Netherlands and Germany with five concerts for the Argyle Secondary Concert Choir and four for the school’s Concert Band. We were in Amsterdam, Valkenburg, The Hague, Delft, Maastricht, and Cologne, Germany, with 70 student musicians, primarily grade 11 and 12, and seven teacher/chaperones—a 53-piece band and 24-voice choir.

We performed at NedPho in Amsterdam, where the Phillharmonic regularly perform—a wonderful concert hall and acoustic space, an old renovated church. We also connected with an inner city school with a vibrant music program, we had an afternoon of sharing with them and they hosted us to a dinner after our concert. It was delightful to make these connections and be a part of a school day in Amsterdam. Singing in a mid-day prayer service at Cologne cathedral was a highlight for the choir also. We were met with gracious words of welcome from the priest after climbing the 507 stairs to the bell tower of the cathedral and assembling to sing.

The town of Maastricht was full of Romanesque structures and is a University base for two thirds of its population; a wonderful place to be a student. While on tour we visited Anne Frank House, Kroller Mueller museum, the International Flower market, the Canadian War cemetery, Air Force museum, and the Delft factory along with visiting working windmills. It is a holistic educational experience when you go on an Argyle Music Tour.

Each tour has its own character, provides many learning opportunities for the students, and leaves a long, lasting impact on them.

Did your undergrad at UBC prepare you for the reality of a life in music?

Frances: My undergrad degree gave me some good foundations for what I still do as a music educator. My first conducting classes with James Fankhauser sparked my passion for choral directing. My passion for singing in choirs came from him and Cortland Hultberg. Organizing my first European choir tour with fellow U Singers & Chamber Singers student Ramona Luengen (BMus’83, MMus’86) in 1985 made a huge impact on me. The relationships with other musicians was also instrumental (no pun intended) and are the professional connections that Geordie and I still use today.

What I figured out on my own was then the story of my life as I evolved as a music educator. I picked up leads from all the mentors I met along the way. I also participated in every professional development opportunity that came my way.

Geordie: UBC in the ‘80s definitely prepared me for the reality of life in music, because it provided me with a comprehensive education in voice, piano, arranging, orchestration, languages, and ensembles that has been the ABCs of my career ever since. The thing I had to un-learn was judging myself whenever I was in performance—I had to re-learn the fun of music-making.

You are both educators. How do you feel music education has changed/adapted since your undergrad days?

Frances: The biggest changes in music education is that music educators have to be a music advocate, fund raiser, and fighter for the life of your music program. Being in public education, the music advocacy and support for the arts is a part of life. We have to continually be out in the public displaying the great work our students do to reinforce the value of music education. We need to be leaders in our communities to rally the support to keep music an integral part of every child’s education.

What do you think the future holds for music students in general, and singers in particular?

Geordie Roberts Photo: Cindy Goodman

Geordie Roberts
Photo: Cindy Goodman

Geordie: The internet means EVERYBODY has an audience of one kind or another. The big challenge has always been, and will always, be finding someone who will PAY you to make your music. I think the days of being a niche singer are not necessarily numbered, but I do believe that versatility will be a much bigger selling point in the future, where specialization has been the making of careers in the past. I think that is a result of the globalization of voice culture—there are as many genres of teaching as there are cultures in the world, and we have access to all of them now.

What advice would you give young people studying music today?

Geordie: No matter how boring you might find music theory, ear-training, sight singing, suck it up and learn it. With a lack of arts funding, the musicians who will be hired are the ones who can learn music on their own, including style, language, musicianship challenges, collaborative skills, and ensemble skills—and be concert-ready without hours and hours of paid rehearsal. Go to piano class too.

Frances: For students pursuing music at the post-secondary level, it is so important to be versed in all styles of music. The more diverse and flexible, the better. The more intelligent and skilled a music reader and interpreter you are, the better also. Keeping doors open, being positive and respectful with everyone you encounter and work with makes a huge difference. Create your own destiny, be an entrepreneur… dream and go where it takes you.

Celebrating the Centennial

Students’ Fanfares Celebrate 100 Years at UBC

From September 2015 to May 2016, UBC has been celebrating its Centennial year, and the School of Music has played a part in the festivities. Centennial activities at the School (and beyond) included UBC Opera Ensemble’s Centennial Tour of BC and collaborations with the Beijing Central Conservatory’s Opera Centre; roundtable discussions with distinguished alumni; a free public conversation with jazz great Branford Marsalis; and ten new fanfares commissioned from alumni and current students performed by the School’s large and small ensembles. Nova Pon (MMus’15, current DMA student) and Aidan Wong (current BMus student) were among the student composers chosen to write a fanfare; Nova for saxophone quartet and Aidan for brass quintet.

Nova Pon Photo: Nova Pon

Nova Pon
Photo: Nova Pon

For Aidan, the commission was a new experience. “I’ve composed for hire before, but those pieces weren’t necessarily commissioned works for a set ensemble. I’ve composed music for student films and art student animatics where I was given ‘more or less’ free reign. I’ve also had many friends request I compose pieces for them. Typically I’m just grateful that as a student, I have performers willing to ask for pieces and perform them at a high level and so I don’t charge for those works,” he says, considering his Fanfare his first “real” commission. For Nova it was old hat. For eight years she taught music privately and freelanced as a composer in the Calgary area, generally working on one commission or other for various musicians and ensembles.

Both composers took the commission in stride. For Aidan, the stressful thing was not composing to a deadline, but writing for brass quintet for the first time. Nova felt the pressure, but, “it’s a nice sort of pressure; like a springboard to bounce off of for ideas,” she said. “Most of my projects are like that so I’m used to it by now, and the deadline was reasonable.”

Both also found the Centennial theme inspiring. Nova researched the history of the university and took her inspiration from its coat of arms and early motto, finding the heraldic language poetic. The title of her piece, Waves azure, a sun in splendour, an open book, springs from that. “At the surface level, the piece has textures of waves that ebb and flow out of each other contrasted with bright “sunny” harmonies in shimmering textures. The idea of the open book, and phrase ‘Tuum Est’ in the coat of arms, translated as “it’s up to you” was also part of the work’s inspiration,” she says. Aidan’s Fanfare for Brass Quintet is a jovial, high energy, and triumphant fanfare, as he sought to create a celebratory energy in honour of this event.

With the ongoing Chan fanfares, UBC Contemporary Players ensemble, orchestra and wind ensemble reading sessions, and other composer’s seminar opportunities, there is no shortage of chances for students to hear their work performed at UBC and beyond. “Additionally, I find that many of the performances of my pieces have come from the connections I’ve made within the school,” says Aidan. “Opportunities come up in that manner as well, as long as you look for them!”

Other recent publicly performed works by the pair include Aidan’s several works in the final UBC Composer Concert of the school year in April, and Nova’s recent pieces for the Sonic Boom and Sound of Dragon Festivals. She’s also working on some operatic collaborations with Renaissance Opera’s re:Write workshop.

Concerts in Care

Purdy Pavillion Photo: Brian Hawkes

Purdy Pavillion
Photo: Brian Hawkes

By Anna Collins and Michelle Keong

Since 2008, the School of Music has partnered with the Health Arts Society to deliver the Concerts in Care UBC Ambassadors program. This outstanding program benefits community members by sharing accomplished student performances with audiences in residential care and retirement homes. To date, 112 graduate and undergraduate students have been selected by audition to participate in the program and presented 498 concerts throughout the Lower Mainland and BC interior.

“We see the Concerts in Care UBC Ambassadors program as a wonderfully inspiring and effective way to train musician citizens who contribute compassionately to the community,” says Dr. Richard Kurth, director of the UBC School of Music. “Their Concerts in Care performances teach them to connect as directly as possible with their audiences, and to be communicative and eloquent in their playing and their conversation with the audience.”

Hands-on learning opportunities such as this are vital for students’ training. They provide opportunities for students to refine their craft—teaching performance and communication skills, perseverance, confidence and professionalism—in addition to illustrating the transformative and restorative power of music.

“I truly believe that this program demonstrates the power of music and its healing qualities,” says soprano Eva Tavares, a 2016 UBC Ambassador. “Music makes an impact on human beings, and that impact stays with you throughout life. It marks the highs and lows of life in ways that nothing else can. This program proves that, and proved to me why my job as an artist is vital.”

In the coming year, the School of Music and the Health Arts Society aim to double the number of music students in the program as well as the number of concerts they perform. They will also integrate Concerts in Care into the curriculum, offering course credit and instruction focused on performance and communication skills attuned to this context. The tailored feedback, direction and guidance will help students redefine the goals of their performances and give them presentation skills to maximize the benefits they can share with their audiences in healthcare settings.

“Every year we witness how the Ambassadors grow and blossom as artist-citizens through their Concerts in Care performances,” says Kurth, noting the robust program has presented approximately 60 Concerts in Care events every year. “We would like many more students to be nourished by this transformative experience, and we aim for many more people and healthcare centres to be delighted and fortified by their concerts!”

We invite you to join us to help expand the program as much as possible. Over the summer, alumni will receive a special appeal from UBC requesting support. Every donation will help us to increase student involvement, local performances and tours. We hope that you will consider making a gift to this important program.

To get involved today, please visit our online donation page.