Dr. John Sawyer (1937–2017)

The School of Music notes with great sadness the passing of Dr. John Sawyer, Associate Professor Emeritus, on Friday, April 7th, 2017. He was 80 years old.

Prof. Sawyer (viol, right) with Pat Unruh (viol, left) and Ray Nurse (lute, center). Photo: Daryl Kahn Cline

Prof. Sawyer (viol, right) with Pat Unruh (viol, left) and Ray Nurse (lute, center). Photo: Daryl Kahn Cline

A leading figure in the development of Canada’s early music scene, Prof. Sawyer was a musicologist and baroque violinist and viol player. Over the course of a career that spanned five decades and touched many lives, he taught generations of UBC undergraduate and graduate students in both music history and performance, founding and directing the School’s Collegium Musicum early music ensemble.  As a scholar, he published vital essays on Mendelssohn, Schubert, Beethoven, Bach, and others, and edited the critical edition of Handel’s Agrippina. He was also a founder and performer in the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, serving as both its director and as one of its orchestral librarians, and he was involved in many other aspects of Vancouver’s musical community.

A member of UBC’s first Bachelor of Music cohort (B.Mus.’62), Sawyer graduated with first class honours. He went on to complete M.Mus. and Ph.D. degrees in musicology from the University of Illinois (1965) and University of Toronto (1973), respectively. Prof. Sawyer returned to UBC as a faculty member beginning in 1967, and retired in 2002. He was a faculty performer on the first Wednesday Noon Hour concert, in September 1967.

He is survived by his wife, Elaine (also B.Mus.’62), and their three children.

On May 7th, 2017 there will be an event celebrating the life of John Sawyer. Click here for more information.

What follows are fond memories of John from his friends and colleagues in the music community.

 

 

"Almost single-handedly, he created a truly wonderful program"

I was very saddened to hear of the passing of John Sawyer, a person who was absolutely central to the establishment of the early music movement here at UBC and in Vancouver at large. The original “Handel freak,” John was an expert on his music, and was a top-notch performer on the baroque violin and the viola da gamba. He had a very long history here at UBC, and essentially founded the Collegium Musicum which exposed innumerable students to the joys of historical repertory and performance.

I have long been amazed at how many of today’s professional and amateur musicians in the early music scene were taught by John, and recall his passion and focus. He was one of the founding members of the Vancouver Society for Early Music, an organization which has made a truly distinctive cultural contribution to the city. Through his work with the Society and with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, a group he also helped to found, John brought early music and musicians into the life of the university as well. Almost single-handedly, he created a truly wonderful program.

I occupy John’s former office in the Music Building and recall fondly his help and support as I got started at UBC. I’ve tried, to the best of my ability, to carry on his legacy, but I am surrounded by constant reminders of his initiative, energy, and passion: the dozens of historical instruments—violins, gambas, trombones, recorders, even crumhorns!—and the hundreds of musical scores and parts in this office are all his doing. Without John’s efforts, early music would simply not be possible here. He will be sorely missed.

– Dr. Alexander Fisher, Professor, UBC School of Music

 

 

"An enthusiastic and supportive teacher"

I was saddened to hear of John’s passing. When I was a student in the School of Music and later when I led the Collegium Musicum Vocal Ensemble in the early '90s, John was an enthusiastic and supportive teacher and colleague.

– Morna Edmundson (BMus'81)

 

 

"An ideal colleague"

John’s sly smile always caught me. During my first years at UBC, he would flash that smile and invite me to unburden my stress about classes and such. After his retirement, I would still see that smile at concerts, after which we would discuss the performance and upcoming concerts.  John was an ideal colleague, supportive of his peers and interested in what we were doing. We, of course, were interested in his work.

I was impressed by how well John blended performance and scholarship. His study of performance practice enriched his playing, while his perspective as a musician deepened his academic work, as with his edition of Handel’s Agrippina. As both a musician and scholar, John laid a foundation for early music performance and study at UBC. Recent performances by the Early Music Ensemble and the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Program build upon that foundation.  I am sure that John would have loved the concerts by both ensembles, and I would have loved to talk to him afterwards.

– David Metzer, Professor, UBC School of Music

 

 

"A real gentleman"

I have been thinking about John today . . . there were lots of great Vancouver Cantata Singer parties at the Sawyers' Dunbar home, Elaine was a vibrant hostess with John, quiet in the background. I never had him as a professor, but I do remember him fiddling in the violin section of PBO. I also remember him as a frequent Music Library user, I think he had most of our early music score collection checked out on his library card and sitting in his office.  A space saver for the crowded library! 

To mark his retirement, he and Elaine invited the Music Library staff to their home for lunch, what a lovely occasion. He was always gracious and kind, a real gentleman. He will be missed.

– Maureen Bennington (BMus’82), Reference Assistant, Music, Art & Architecture Library, UBC

 

 

"A very dear person"

I had a special time in his Handel course.  I started singing so much music by Handel after it, and purchased (back then) my own video copies of Agrippina and other works for which he shared his enthusiasm.  My love for Handel's music is because of John.  He would also bring home-made muffins to class!  

Whenever I saw him at a VCS/PBO collaboration, he always said 'Hi' to me and remembered me.  Later, when I was having a difficult time accommodating my work schedule with the graduate degree courses in music theory because of my new job (I was just regularized at the college), John was my 'advisor' and all he said was, "Jobs are hard to come by", and that was that, he took care of it - won't ever forget it.

I'm very sad to learn of his passing.  I thought he was a very dear person.

– Paula Kremer (BMus’94), Artistic Director of the Vancouver Cantata Singers and Faculty member at the School of Music, Vancouver Community College

 

 

"His legacy as a teacher, performer, musicologist and editor is stellar"

Doreen Oke (BMus'68) with John. Photo courtesy Doreen Oke

Doreen Oke (BMus'68) with John. Photo courtesy Doreen Oke

I’ve known John since 1967, when I was a student in his very first Baroque Music History class at UBC. A newly-minted Musicology professor, he approached the course as if it were a graduate seminar, with the students giving colloquia while he sat back to provide comments and ask probing questions. It was all very formal at first (“Dr. Sawyer; Miss Oke,” etc.) but I’m not sure that lasted very long. The course became convivial as well as challenging, and I remember some good class parties at John & Elaine’s home that year.

The late '60s were heady years to be involved with the fledgling “early music” movement. Wonderful recordings on historical instruments by the pioneering great players and ensembles in Europe were beginning to appear, and there was a feeling of being launched into an exciting new world. For me personally, this sense of discovery deepened immeasurably in John’s Baroque History class. I remember being enthusiastic about my first assignment, Bach’s Coffee Cantata (it gave me a chance to bring coffee for the class), but then John asked me to give a presentation on the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers. I duly trudged up to the Music Library and listened to whatever fusty old recordings were there, only to be taken aback that anyone could think this was interesting music, much less a great work. Then, just before my presentation, the breakthrough Archiv recording of the Vespers by Jürgen Jürgens et al was released, and I — and, I hope, the rest of the class — was blown away. It's fair to say that this experience was a real turning point for me.

John performing on CBC in the late 1970s.

John performing on CBC in the late 1970s.

At about this time, John was one of the founders of the Vancouver Society for Early Music (now Early Music Vancouver), which over the following decades brought early-music performance and teaching to prominence in Vancouver. John not only directed and/or performed in many of the Society’s locally-produced concerts, but also served on the Artistic Committee and Board for years. He volunteered a vast amount of time, attending countless meetings, sending out mailings, and participating in various money-raising tasks, such as selling raffle tickets in shopping malls, or — believe it or not — invigilating at casinos. (A “charity” such as the VSEM would supply volunteers for a night in a casino, and in return would be given some of the money taken in.)

John was also involved with the annual Early Music & Dance Workshop co-sponsored by the VSEM and the UBC School of Music each summer, co-directing it several times, and — for many years — teaching viol students, coaching ensembles and performing in the faculty concerts. Even after he stepped down from participation in the workshops, John continued to act as liaison between the VSEM and UBC Music, and the summer Early Music Program’s ongoing success was secured. In the early years, although the workshops were fun for the teachers as well as for students, they were exhausting, as we faculty members did much of the organizing as well as giving lessons, coaching ensembles, rehearsing and performing. Every day we would aim to finish teaching by 5:00 pm on the dot, so that we could rush over to the Faculty Club and have drinks in the luxurious Lounge with its fabulous view, and happen to be on hand when free appetizers were circulated at just that time. An annual perk, much appreciated.

As has been said by others, John put early music on the map at UBC by establishing the Collegium Musicum as a small-ensemble option. Before its inception, students could take lessons on early instruments (yes, millennials, there was a time when most Music students took secondary instruments as a matter of course), but there were no early-music ensembles given for credit. Collegium was invariably well-enrolled by John’s viol students, by wind players and by select singers, and John worked very hard to involve violinists and cellists as well. Some years there would be a solid core of students learning to play Baroque stringed instruments, but other years they would be sparse. He must have been thrilled when a couple of years ago the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship program was established at UBC, with the aid of Early Music Vancouver, as part of Early Music Ensembles (formerly Collegium). This would have been a dream come true for him.

I believe I owe my years of teaching at UBC to John, as he notified me when the sessional position for harpsichord instructor became available in 1979, and encouraged me to apply. From that time until his retirement in 2002, John and I were colleagues in the School of Music as well as friends. We were also fellow-performers in many concerts over the decades, usually in chamber-music ensembles of various sizes, and as founding members of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra. John was that rare bird, a musicologist who also performs, and it is greatly to his credit that he was able to devote himself so well to both disciplines.

It has been a pleasure knowing John and Elaine over the years: enjoying many memorable parties and fabulous dinners at their home; relaxing, hiking, eating royally at their Mt. Baker “cabin;” watching their three bright, beautiful daughters grow up; going for walks with whichever faithful dog they owned at any given time. John’s impact on early music in Vancouver, and at UBC in particular, is undeniable; his legacy as a teacher, performer, musicologist and editor is stellar. Perhaps less well-known was his devotion to his family, his wry sense of humour, and his hilarious ability to unwind at parties, all of which provided his many friends with countless priceless memories.

He will be greatly missed.

– Doreen Oke (BMus'68), harpsichordist and former instructor, UBC School of Music

High Notes | Spring 2017 Edition

 

Welcome to the Spring 2017 edition of High Notes

In this issue we celebrate 20 years of the Chan Centre as a launching pad for talented young musicians; we talk to Turning Point Ensemble's Jeremy Berkman about the role of entrepreneurship in music; we catch up with Eugene Onegin guest director Krzysztof Biernacki (DMA'06); and we introduce our new B.Mus./B.Ed. dual degree program

Also in this issue:

As always, we want to hear from you! Send us your comments and story ideas.


 

Celebrating the Chan Centre at 20 — live on CBC Music

On April 8th, 2017, the UBC School of Music celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts with a special performance of Mozart’s Requiem and Dr. Stephen Chatman’s A Song of Joys, featuring UBC Choirs and Symphony Orchestra. The concert will be broadcast live on CBC Music as well.

Designed by renowned Vancouver architect Bing Thom, D.Litt. Honoris Causa (UBC), the Chan Centre is recognized as one of Canada’s premier musical venues thanks to its bold architecture and state-of-the-art acoustics. Over the past two decades it has also become an important launching pad for ambitious and talented student musicians. 

“Without question, the Chan Centre experience is at the heart of our learning and artistic enterprise for everyone in the School. With this celebratory concert we want to thank the Chan family for their extraordinary vision and generosity, and to showcase the abundant talents of our students,” says Dr. Richard Kurth, Director of the UBC School of Music. 

Read the full story
Watch the concert (original broadcast: April 8th, 2017 on CBC Music)


Photo: Chris Randle

Photo: Chris Randle

 

Turning Point Ensemble on music and entrepreneurship

“What's very important to realize as a student of musical performance is that you are not only a potential employee, but also a future employer and entrepreneur and can create the work you wish for. That's what we did—we developed a business plan, attracted a Board of Directors, and created an organization that would support the musical activity we wished to engage in.”

– Jeremy Berkman, School of Music lecturer and Turning Point trombonist  


Read the full Q & A with Jeremy Berkman


The duel scene from UBC Opera's production of Eugene Onegin. Photo: Tim Matheson

The duel scene from UBC Opera's production of Eugene Onegin. Photo: Tim Matheson

 

A homecoming in Onegin

Eugene Onegin has always been important to baritone Krzysztof Biernacki (DMA ’06). While pursuing his doctorate at the School of Music, he cut his teeth in the role of the arrogant and tragic title character of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1878 opera.

Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki.

Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki.

“[Onegin] cannot be compared to anything else in the operatic canon. It’s full of sensitive lyricism, fantastic melodies and real passion. The language is absolutely gorgeous, and Tchaikovsky really captured the essence of Russian life in the 19th century,” Biernacki says.

Since graduating a decade ago, Biernacki has performed in and directed a wide range of productions across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, from La Boheme to Die Fledermaus, Dido and Aeneas to The Consul

But Onegin remains a touchstone, and UBC his home away from home. When the opportunity to return to Vancouver this year as guest director for UBC Opera’s production of the classic Russian opera, he jumped at the chance: “I was hugely grateful for the invitation,” he says.

Read the full Q & A with Krzysztof Biernacki 


Fourth-year B.Mus./B.Ed. student Janine King.

Fourth-year B.Mus./B.Ed. student Janine King.

New dual degree program gives students career flexibility


Music careers are famously diverse. Some musicians perform and record exclusively. Many also teach, or produce, or work in an entirely different industry. There’s no single career path—that’s why the School of Music strives to offer degree programs that give students the flexibility to pursue multiple interests and vocations. 

In 2016 we launched the dual Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Education degree program. This new offering allows students to complete both the B.Mus. (general studies major) and the B.Ed. (music major) within five years, gaining practical teaching experience much sooner in their studies. 

Read the full story


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Winter concerts available on Livestream

The UBC Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Winds, Concert Winds, Choirs, and Opera all staged ambitious concerts and events this winter. You can watch them on our Livestream page:

For more School of Music performances, check out our video archive.


Pictured (left to right): Dr. Ève Poudrier, Dr. Alan Dodson, and Dr. Nathan Hesselink

Pictured (left to right): Dr. Ève Poudrier, Dr. Alan Dodson, and Dr. Nathan Hesselink

New research and publications

Dr. John Roeder presented two conference papers recently:  “Formative processes of durational projection in 'free rhythm' world music” at the Fourth International Analytical Approaches to World Music Conference in New York last June; and “Durational process and affect in a Papua New Guinea song” at the SMT World Music Analysis interest group meeting, in Vancouver in November. Dr. Roeder also published "Superposition in Saariaho's 'The claw of the magnolia….'" in Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers: Concert Music, 1960-2000, ed. Laurel Parsons and Brenda Ravenscroft, 156-175. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Drs. Alan DodsonNathan Hesselink and Ève Poudrier were awarded a grant from the Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters: Performing & Creative Arts for a series of three symposium on the theme “Exploring Musical Time” during the academic year 2017-2018. The newly formed Rhythm Research Cluster brings together the research interests of six UBC faculty members (including Drs. Richard KurthJohn Roeder, and Michael Tenzer) in the fields of music theory and ethnomusicology that converge on the study of musical time and the production and experience of musical rhythm, timing, and periodicity. The first symposium on “Entrainment and the Human-Technology Interface” is planned to take place in September 2017; stay tuned for more details in the next issue!

Dr. Stephen Chatman published three new educational books for piano at part of Canticle Publishing’s “Mix and Match” series. His compositions offer “an array of stylistically varied pieces, all paired with harmonically rich duets” for beginning students to learn from. 

Continue reading research and publications news


 

Mixtape by Maestro Jonathan Girard

Here on the High Notes Blog we're debuting a brand-new Mixtape column, where School of Music faculty, students, and staff curate their favourite music for your listening pleasure. In this issue, UBC Symphony Orchestra director Jonathan Girard shares his favourite recordings of composers Gustav Holst and Kaija Saariaho — inspiration for the most recent UBCSO concert.

Check out Dr. Girard's Mixtape or load the playlist in Spotify (login required)


Pictured (left to right): Annie Yim, Matthew Emery, and Janna Sailor

Pictured (left to right): Annie Yim, Matthew Emery, and Janna Sailor

 

Alumni Making Waves: An all-female orchestra, tours in Europe and Canada, and awards galore

Composer Matthew Emery (BMus’14) released Sing Your Song, a new choral album with Amabile Choirs of London, on CMC Centrediscs. The album was featured on CBC Music in February. In 2016, Emery was named one of CBC’s “hot Canadian classical musicians under 30.”

Conductor and violinist Janna Sailor (MMus’08, DMPS’12) recently formed Allegra Chamber Orchestra, an all-female orchestra devoted to performing the work of female composers. One of the few of its kind in the world. Listen to Sailor’s interview with Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio’s North by Northwest about the genesis of ACO and its mandate “to empower women and those who identify as women through music, maintaining the role of the artist in society to bring to light issues that need to be addressed, while provoking creative thought and solutions.”

Pianist and Minerva Piano Trio founder Annie Yim (BMus’02) recently completed her DMA at City University of London and was selected — alongside her group — for the prestigious St. John’s Smith Square Young Artists’ Scheme. They will perform three different concerts at St John Smith’s Square in London over the course of the concert season.

Continue reading alumni news


Dr. Jonathan Girard with Peter Louw. Click on the image to watch the documentary.

Dr. Jonathan Girard with Peter Louw. Click on the image to watch the documentary.

 

Beyond the Gates

In December, Drs. Jonathan Girard and Stephen Chatman helped to make a lifelong wish come true for Peter Louw, an 83-year-old former teacher and UBC alumnus. Louw, who emigrated from South Africa in the 1960s to escape Apartheid, is a lover of classical music and his dream from boyhood was to conduct an orchestra.

Drs. Girard and Chatman worked with the Wish of a Lifetime Canada and Chartwell Retirement Residences to make Peter’s wish come true, and CBC News: The National was there to capture the moment as Peter conducted ‘O Canada’ with UBC Symphony Orchestra.

Peter described his experience: "I looked around and smiled at them, they smiled at me...I lifted my right hand up and started pointing at the percussion side and gave them the sign, and they started making a noise. That was the moment you see, to suddenly say start and they start—magical.  I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is wonderful!’" 

Continue reading faculty news


Pictured (left to right): Marie Civitarese, Benjamin Hopkins, and Aidan Mulldoon Wong

Pictured (left to right): Marie Civitarese, Benjamin Hopkins, and Aidan Mulldoon Wong

 

Catching up with our students

Ph.D student and vocalist Julia Úlehla released The Book of Transfigurations, a new album with her group Dálava, in March 2017. The album, a blend of traditional Moravian folk music and forward-looking jazz and post-rock, is inspired by the work of her late grandfather, the biologist and ethnomusicologist Vladimir Ulehla. Julia was recently profiled in the Georgia Straight

In August, M.Mus. student Katerina Gimon won the SOCAN Foundation's Godfrey Ridout Award for her composition, "Elements." The Annual SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers recognize Canadian composers 30 years of age and under for specific musical works in five categories of concert music.

BMus students Benjamin Hopkins (piano), Aidan Mulldoon Wong (clarinet), and Marie Civitarese (voice) won first, second, and third prize respectively in the 2017 UBC School of Music Concerto Competition. Wong performed O. Navarro's Il Concerto for Clarinet with UBC Symphony Orchestra at a special concert in March. Hopkins will perform Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor in autumn 2017. 

Continue reading student news


New recordings

Contemporary chamber music ensemble Standing Wave released their latest album, New Wave, on Redshift Records this January. The album features School of Music lecturers Christie Reside (flutes) and Vern Griffiths (percussion). The album includes compositions by Michael Oesterle (BMus'92) and was recorded and produced by Will Howie (BMus'04).

Redshift Records' brand-new compilation, Redshift XVfeatures works by Prof. Keith Hamel, alumnus Benton Roark (MMus'07, DMA'13). With performances by School of Music ensemble-in-residence PEP (Piano and Erhu Project) as well as Standing Wave and Saxophilia. Performers include Corey Hamm (piano), Paolo Bortolussi (flute), Christie Reside (flute), Vern Griffiths (percussion), Julia Nolan (soprano sax), and Mark Takeshi MacGregor (DMA'12) (flute).

In 2016 Chrystal Records released Double Concertos for Violin and Clarinet, part of their "Making of a Medium" series, which features Prof. Stephen Chatman's 20-minute concerto in four movements for clarinet, violin, and orchestra. One reviewer describes the piece as "a joyous, rhapsodic work that lives up to its putative subject matter." 


Do you have a story? Let us know!

If you're a UBC Music alumnus and you have news to share, please send a note to tyler.stiem@ubc.ca. We're always looking for stories for upcoming editions of High Notes and our other networks.

 

The Chan Centre at 20

Conductors James Fankhauser (left) and Jesse Read (centre) meet with Chan Centre architect Bing Thom backstage at the inaugural concert. Photo: Daryl Kahn Cline

Conductors James Fankhauser (left) and Jesse Read (centre) meet with Chan Centre architect Bing Thom backstage at the inaugural concert. Photo: Daryl Kahn Cline

Celebrating one of Canada’s premier launching pads for talented young musicians

On April 8th, 2017, the UBC School of Music celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts with a special performance of Mozart’s Requiem and Dr. Stephen Chatman’s A Song of Joys, featuring UBC Choirs and Symphony Orchestra. The concert will be broadcast live on CBC Music at 8 p.m. PT / 11 p.m. EST as well.

Designed by renowned Vancouver architect Bing Thom, D.Litt. Honoris Causa (UBC), the Chan Centre is recognized as one of Canada’s premier musical venues thanks to its bold architecture and state-of-the-art acoustics. Over the past two decades it has also become an important launching pad for ambitious and talented student musicians.

“Without question, the Chan Centre experience is at the heart of our learning and artistic enterprise for everyone in the School. With this celebratory concert we want to thank the Chan family for their extraordinary vision and generosity, and to showcase the abundant talents of our students,” says Dr. Richard Kurth, Director of the UBC School of Music. 

For percussionist and M.Mus. student Julia Chien, performing at the Chan Centre is exciting — and a little terrifying. “It’s such a privilege. I’m always challenged beyond the limits of what I think I am capable of!” she says. Chien will perform the timpani solo in A Song of Joys.

Dozens of UBC Music students have parlayed their experiences at the Chan into exciting careers. Baritone Tyler Duncan (BMus ’98) credits the Chan with setting the stage (so to speak) for a life in music that has taken him around the world, with stints at the Metropolitan Opera, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Carnegie Hall.

“I remember singing in the choir [at the inaugural concert] and being in awe of the amazing acoustics. I walked across that stage to receive my Bachelor of Music degree and one of my first professional jobs as a singer with Early Music Vancouver was there… the Chan feels like home to me,” Duncan says.

M.Mus student Julia Chien is the timpani soloist for A Song of Joys. Photo courtesy of Julia Chien

M.Mus student Julia Chien is the timpani soloist for A Song of Joys. Photo courtesy of Julia Chien

Other notable alumni include Cynthia Yeh, principal percussionist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, soprano Shirin Eskandani, who this year made her debut with the Met in Carmen, cellist Luke Kim of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and up-and-coming pianist Bogdan Dulu.

The Song of Joys concert features the next generation of incredible student musicians performing under the direction of School of Music conducting faculty Dr. Graeme Langager and Dr. Jonathan Girard.

The concert is dedicated to the memory of Bing Thom, who passed away suddenly in 2016. Thom’s vision and his attention to acoustic detail — he was an amateur musician, and an aspiring conductor before he decided to pursue architecture — are what made the Chan Centre the world-class facility it is today.

Visit http://music.ubc.ca/song-of-joys to read more about the anniversary concert and the history of the Chan Centre, including memories from School of Music faculty and alumni.

Mixtape by Jonathan Girard

Maestro Jonathan Girard.

Maestro Jonathan Girard.

In this, the first edition of our new Mixtape columnUBC Symphony Orchestra director Jonathan Girard shares his favourite recordings of composers Gustav Holst and Kaija Saariaho — inspiration for the most recent UBCSO concert. Below, you can listen to the tracks via Spotify (if you have an account) or via YouTube (if you don't). The full playlist is also available here.


This March we performed an astronomy-themed concert featuring Holst's The Planets. The concert also featured the Canadian première of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's Asteroid 4179: Toutatis — orchestral pieces I love. 

My playlist includes two very different recordings of The Planets. The first is with Zubin Mehta conducting the L.A. Philharmonic. The sound of the orchestra is extremely powerful and the low pitched instruments really come alive in the recording: 

That recording also includes John Williams's Star Wars Suite. It's interesting to hear this work juxtaposed with The Planets as there are clearly musical ideas that helped inspire Williams' epic film score:

The second recording of Holst's The Planets is by the organist Peter Sykes. Peter Sykes teaches at Boston University and is a friend and colleague of mine. His arrangement of The Planets is a tour-de-force of virtuosity and highlights the continuing creativity of innovative arrangements of well-known works:

Kaija Saariaho’s work was written for the Berlin Philharmonic and first performed in 2006. The texture and colours are out of this world and provide a fantastic sonic experience for listeners:  

I hope you enjoy these amazing recordings. Watch out for more Mixtapes coming soon on the High Notes blog!

A homecoming in Onegin

Photo courtesy Krzysztof Biernacki

Photo courtesy Krzysztof Biernacki

Eugene Onegin has always been important to baritone Krzysztof Biernacki (DMA ’06). While pursuing his doctorate at the School of Music, he cut his teeth in the role of the arrogant and tragic title character of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1878 opera.

“[Onegin] cannot be compared to anything else in the operatic canon. It’s full of sensitive lyricism, fantastic melodies and real passion. The language is absolutely gorgeous, and Tchaikovsky really captured the essence of Russian life in the 19th century,” Biernacki says.

Since graduating a decade ago, Biernacki has performed in and directed a wide range of productions across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, from La Boheme to Die Fledermaus, Dido and Aeneas to The Consul. His credits include principal roles with Vancouver Opera, Calgary Opera, and Manitoba Opera. In 2007 he established the University of Florida Opera Ensemble and in 2008 made his debut at Carnegie Hall with the UNF Wind Ensemble.

But Onegin remains a touchstone, and UBC his home away from home. When the opportunity to return to Vancouver this year as guest director for UBC Opera’s production of the classic Russian opera, he jumped at the chance: “I was hugely grateful for the invitation,” he says.

Recently, Biernacki spoke with High Notes about this homecoming and the challenge of staging Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Lensky and Olga in the Biernacki-directed UBC Opera production of Eugene Onegin. Photo: Tim Matheson

Lensky and Olga in the Biernacki-directed UBC Opera production of Eugene Onegin. Photo: Tim Matheson

What made you want to direct Onegin in particular?

This opera has a very special meaning to me. I sang my first Eugene Onegin with Manitoba Opera Chorus in Winnipeg in 1991. Serendipitously that production was conducted by David Agler [who also conducted the orchestra for UBC Opera’s 2017 production]. This was my first professional opera in Canada. I did not speak much English at the time, but I could sing and speak Russian… then I performed the lead role at UBC in 2005. So coming back to UBC to direct Onegin was a dream come true. I just love this score perhaps because it is so special to me in my personal and professional life. This opera will always hold a special place in my heart.  

My favourite part of that 2005 production was Professor Nancy Hermiston’s staging. Our set was quite limited that year so the blocking had to be very imaginative. I remember thinking how well thought out this entire production was. I have to admit that when I planned my own blocking for this production, I had a hard time not imitating certain moves from Nancy’s 2005 original. I remembered them so well and of course I still had my old markings in the score. I still created my own vision of the opera, but I was certainly influenced by Nancy’s ideas.

Are there specific challenges that Onegin presents for a director and the performers? Technical or otherwise?

It is a difficult piece. The main challenge has to do with the Russian text and Pushkin’s original in particular. Tchaikovsky took most of the text straight out of Pushkin’s poem in verse. Conversational Russian is not easy for Canadian singers, so singing it in poetic verse is that much more challenging for students. On a dramatic level, this is a very grown-up piece. Young singers are required to portray very subtle emotions with strong emphasis on poetic nuance. It requires experienced singers who can act.

 

 
 

"This is essentially a professional opera company with outstanding faculty, excellent professional team, and access to tremendous theatrical resources."

– Krzysztof Biernacki

 
 

Also, this opera has a lot of stylized dancing in it. The act three Polonaise is very well known as a concert piece. But there is also the Mazurka and the large harvest scene in Act 1. We actually had to choreograph the dances with singers who do not have much dance experience. It took us some time, but we did it. Everyone took really well to it also learning some new dance steps in the process.

How does one approach a canonical opera with an eye to making it fresh?

I think this opera has a very fresh quality to it as it is. The score is very unique. It cannot be compared to anything else in the operatic canon. It’s full of sensitive lyricism, fantastic melodies and real passion. The language is absolutely gorgeous, and Tchaikovsky really captured the essence of real Russian life in the 19th century. It’s a great European story turned into a real operatic gem.

Can you talk about the experience of working with the student opera company? 

That’s always a real challenge. Maintaining high artistic standards, teaching through the creative process, sticking to a short schedule, and staying faithful to the composer’s original intent — that’s a tall order. However, UBC Opera is not an ordinary student opera company. As far as I am concerned, this is essentially a professional opera company with outstanding faculty, excellent professional team, and access to tremendous theatrical resources.

I am so impressed with the opera program, its system, and how well it functions. UBC Opera students are all exceptional singers. They are extremely hard working, always very well prepared, and ready to put on a great show. Technically this is a student environment, but it has a real professional edge to it. I am very proud of this ensemble and that I could be a part of it.

What’s next for you?

We are finishing the semester soon so this is a very busy time. We just finished a production of Magic Flute at UNF. In April I will sing four solo art song recitals in south Florida, and prepare UNF Opera for our trip to Czech Republic in July. We are scheduled for La Boheme and Barber of Seville so students are very excited. On a personal note I am accepting an American citizenship this spring and applying for a full professorship at UNF.

Turning Point Ensemble on Thirst, community, and the business of making a living in music

Jeremy Berkman. Photo: UBC Music

Jeremy Berkman. Photo: UBC Music

When trombonist and School of Music lecturer Jeremy Berkman formed Turning Point Ensemble (TPE) with a group of like-minded musicians in 2002, their ambition was to raise the profile of the music they loved.

“We were all busy in our lives professionally, but we were rarely being engaged to perform music of the 20th century that we thought important to play,” Berkman says.

As a large, nontraditional chamber orchestra dedicated to performing new and underappreciated works by the likes of Luciano Berio, Barbara Pentland, and Paul Hindemith, they knew that passion alone wouldn’t be enough to sustain them. They needed to take an entrepreneurial approach to their project.

“What's very important to realize as a student of musical performance,” Berkman says, “is that you are not only a potential employee, but also a future employer and entrepreneur and can create the work you wish for. That's what we did — we developed a business plan, attracted a Board of Directors, and created an organization that would support the musical activity we wished to engage in.”

Their approach has led to big things. The ensemble, whose members have included UBC faculty Brenda Fedoruk (flute), Vern Griffiths (percussion), Benjamin Kinsman (horn), Heidi Krutzen (harp), and Jim Littleford (trumpet) has released four albums, scored films and multimedia projects, and been recognized with a number of awards.

TPE's fourth album, Thirst, has been nominated for a Juno Award (Classical Composition of the Year). Image: Redshift Records

TPE's fourth album, Thirst, has been nominated for a Juno Award (Classical Composition of the Year). Image: Redshift Records

This year, TPE is nominated for a Juno Award (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 ensemble’s new album Thirst, a collaboration with the vocal chamber group musica intima and several different composers, released by Redshift Records.

“The success we've achieved has been beyond expectations — and yet what we had hoped for,” Berkman says.

Along the way TPE has helped build a community of musicians and collaborators across disciplines: “If musicians can be their best selves, I believe they are community service workers, enriching their resident community and by expansion, the community of listeners… making music that takes us as participants and listeners on a journey where we feel differently and more connected at the end,” he says.   

TPE is an ensemble-in-residence at the UBC School of Music, and in that role Berkman hopes to create “unique opportunities for UBC students as well as for TPE players to be part of the special UBC musical community. I welcome any input from readers as what they would like that to look like!”

JEREMY BERKMAN Q & A

How and when did Turning Point Ensemble form? There’s a strong UBC connection, isn’t there?

Turning Point Ensemble was formed by its musician members in 2002 with a curatorial mandate. We were all busy in our lives professionally, but we were rarely being engaged to perform music of the 20th century that we thought important to play. What's very important to realize as a student of musical performance is that you are not only a potential employee, but also a future employer and entrepreneur and can create the work you wish for. 

That's what we did — we developed a business plan, attracted a Board of Directors (an early President of our Board was Dr. Kurth [Director of UBC School of Music]!), and created an organization that would support the musical activity we wished to engage in, and help fill what we felt was a gap in the musical offerings in Vancouver. The success we've achieved has been beyond expectations — and yet what we had hoped for. 

 

 
 

"As a student of musical performance... you are not only a potential employee, but also a future employer and entrepreneur"

– Jeremy Berkman

 
 

Many of the TPE instrumentalists teach at UBC, so early on we asked whether we could develop a relationship with UBC as an Ensemble in Residence. Though TPE has held this title, what it means is frankly still under discussion, and as the Director of Education and Community Engagement (and a trombone instructor at UBC) I am hoping to move that discussion along in the next couple years to craft a partnership with UBC that is vital, that provides unique opportunities for UBC students as well as for TPE players to be part of the special UBC musical community. I welcome any input from readers as what they would like that to look like!

Your latest album, Thirst, is a collaboration with the choral group musica intima and two composers, Julia Wolfe and Ana Sokolović. How did the project come together?

Turning Point Ensemble is a chamber orchestra in a sense, but with one instrument on a part, we strive for a chamber music sensibility, which really means a different relationship with our conductor than might be traditional in a [more traditional] orchestral culture.  

A model for us early on was musica intima, a conductorless chamber vocal ensemble, and it only took us — what, 12 years? — to collaborate on a project! But we had talked about it for a while,  but it was the artistic management of the Chan Centre that actually inspired the realization of our desired collaboration when they were planning to host a series of "new music" concerts and asked three ensembles who had performed there to develop the programming — musica intima, Turning Point, and Nu:BC

The Telus Studio Theatre at the Chan Centre is a fantastic venue for music-making, and so when we imagined our concert, we began to also ponder how we could create a legacy of our collaboration. Ana Sokolović had composed an amazing piece for us, and musica intima asked her to revise a great vocal piece of hers, “Dring, dring...” We added a solo cello piece to almost create an entire program of Ana's wonderful music. But, wanting to share in the making of this album (a pretty innovative collaboration for a co-produced album of a professional choir andchamber orchestra), we decided we also wanted to include composer Julia Wolfe's “Thirst” — the title cut, so to speak.

Now who to produce it?  One of our favourite, award-winning producers, Karen Wilson, lives in Vancouver — she’s a UBC alumna — so we engaged her, and clearly she and engineer Will Howie worked their magic on the recorded sound, putting the music on the Juno radar.

Thirst has the fingerprints of UBC faculty and alumni all over the album, from the musicians to the producer and recording engineer. Can you talk about the role community plays in a project like this one?

 If musicians can be their best selves, I believe they are community service workers, enriching their resident community and by expansion, the community of listeners, with realizations of examples of what humanity does at its best — making music that takes us as participants and listeners on a journey where we feel differently and more connected at the end. That can't be done or effective without a supportive and welcoming community. In the case of this project,  a diverse set of stakeholders that share a desire to join forces to build something none of us could do ourselves alone. 

With that in mind, the communities we worked with on this project — composers, instrumentalists, vocalists, organization administrators, educators, record company managers, venue staff, government and foundation and individual financial supporters (Thirst could not have happened without support from the British Columbia Arts Council and the Chan and Martha Lou Henley Charitable Foundations) — all made it easier.

There's a great saying that it's amazing how much can get done if it doesn't matter who gets the credit — [Thirst] is yet another example of that saying's wisdom.

 What’s next for Turning Point?

 The ensemble will be performing two concerts as part of the Coastal Jazz and Blues Festival in late June. We're thrilled to perform music for a chamber orchestra informed by the language of jazz with premieres of new compositions, and a revised composition from Turning Point Ensemble clarinetist, Francois Houle. More information on these performances are on our website.

Turning Point is also heavily involved in educational programming, leading composition residencies in Surrey at L.A. Matheson Secondary, and this summer in Smithers, B.C., as part of Orchestra North and the Spirit of the North Festivals.
 

Banner photo: Chris Randle

New recordings

Contemporary chamber music ensemble Standing Wave released their latest album, New Wave, on Redshift Records this January. The album features School of Music lecturers Christie Reside (flutes) and Vern Griffiths (percussion). The album includes compositions by Michael Oesterle (BMus'92) and was recorded and produced by Will Howie (BMus'04).
 

 

Redshift Records' brand-new compliation, Redshift XVfeatures works by Prof. Keith Hamel, alumnus Benton Roark (MMus'07, DMA'13). With performances by School of Music ensemble-in-residence PEP (Piano and Erhu Project) as well as Standing Wave and Saxophilia. Performers include Corey Hamm (piano), Paolo Bortolussi (flute), Christie Reside (flute), Vern Griffiths (percussion), Julia Nolan (soprano sax), and Mark Takeshi MacGregor (DMA'12) (flute).

 
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In 2016 Chrystal Records released Double Concertos for Violin and Clarinet, part of their "Making of a Medium" series, which features Prof. Stephen Chatman's 20-minute concerto in four movements for clarinet, violin, and orchestra. One reviewer describes the piece as "a joyous, rhapsodic work that lives up to its putative subject matter." 

 
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In 2016, the chamber duo Couloir — featuring UBC lecturer Heidi Krutzen (harp) and Ariel Barnes (cello) — teamed up with composers James B. Maxwell and Nico Muhly to release Maxwell Muhly & Couloir, a recording that features "gossamer, glacial sonorities as well as aggressive, pounding rhythmic structures, all bound together over the course of an epic sonic journey."

In October Couloir won a Western Canadian Music Award for Classical Music Artist/Ensemble of the Year.

 

In March, Dálava — the award-winning duo of Ph.D. student Julia Ulehla (vocals) and Aram Bajakian (guitar) — released The Book of Transfigurations, a new album of Moravian folk songs channeled through 21st century jazz, world, and post-rock music. The Georgia Straight calls it "astonishing music."

 
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Also in March, composer Matthew Emery (BMus'14) released Sing Your Song, an album of choral works performed by Amabile Choirs of London, Canada and released on the Canadian Music Centre's Centrediscs label. 

Amabile’s performances and Emery’s writing "question and challenge the human spirit and exemplify why Canadian choral music is renowned around the world." 

New dual degree program gives students career flexibility

Fourth-year trombone student Janine King. Photo courtesy Janine King

Fourth-year trombone student Janine King. Photo courtesy Janine King

Music careers are famously diverse. Some musicians perform and record exclusively. Many also teach, or produce, or work in an entirely different industry.

There’s no single career path — that’s why the School of Music strives to offer degree programs that give students the flexibility to pursue multiple interests and vocations.

In 2016 we launched the dual Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Education degree program. This new offering allows students to complete both the B.Mus. (general studies major) and the B.Ed. (music major) within five years, gaining practical teaching experience much sooner in their studies. 

For trombonist and fourth-year student Janine King, the dual degree was appealing for its practicality: “The program allowed me to visit a local high school on a weekly basis, which led to a really great relationship with the teacher and the students at that school,” she says. “I find teaching to be extremely fulfilling and rewarding, and these experiences have been so vital for me in order to confirm that I am pursuing a career that I know is right for me.” 

The dual degree program requires 30 fewer credits and costs about $6000 less (domestic) than the two degrees if completed separately. By working on the B.Mus. and the B.Ed. at the same time, students interested in music education can pursue a more focused program of study than the traditional, consecutive-degree (“4+1″) option, and they get exposure to practicum opportunities in local schools earlier and more frequently.

The new program is, of course, a work in progress. For King, one of the first dual degree students, it has not been without its early kinks, mainly to do with the existing curriculum being adapted to a new timeline: “Integrating the dual degree students into the traditional [4+1] program’s classrooms has been confusing and tricky, because we are taking classes alongside students who have already completed their practicum,” she says. “I am excited for the dual degree program to continue to develop and allow students to benefit fully from both degrees!”

The B.Mus./B.Ed. program takes its place among the School’s dual degree offerings, which also include the B.Mus./Master of Management; B.Mus./ Bachelor of Arts; and B.Mus./Bachelor of Science.

“I think that post-graduation is a pretty scary thing, especially for music students,” King says. “It definitely helps to ease any dread about the future knowing that the dual degree program opens several different doors for me.”     

For more information about UBC School of Music dual degree programs, visit http://music.ubc.ca/dual-degrees.

 

An all-female orchestra, tours in Europe and Canada, and awards galore

School of Music alumni who are making waves in the world of music and beyond

Composer Matthew Emery (BMus’14) released Sing Your Song, a new choral album with Amabile Choirs of London, on CMC Centrediscs. The album was featured on CBC Music in February. In 2016, Emery was named one of CBC’s “hot Canadian classical musicians under 30.”

Cynthia Yeh teaches a masterclass in Paris. Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography

Cynthia Yeh teaches a masterclass in Paris. Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography

Cynthia Yeh (BMus’99), principal percussionist with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, gave a masterclass at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris during the CSO’s European tour this winter.

Jocelyn Morlock (MMus’96, DMA’02), the current Composer-in-Residence for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, has been recognized with a City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in the music category.

Pianist Bogdan Dulu (DMA’15) recently embarked on a seven-week, 19-date Canadian tour with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada.

David Sabourin (BMus’79), owner of Tapestry Music in White Rock, recently opened a new location in Vancouver. Tapestry specializes in classical instruments, school band rentals, and private music education, and more.

The Canadian Music Centre recently welcomed five UBC alumni among its latest cohort of Associate Composers: Kathleen Allan (BMus’11), Adam Hill (DMA’16), Stefan Hintersteininger (BMus’04), Lucas Oickle (MMus’15), and Michael Trew (BMus’72, MMus’82, DMA’86). The CMC “represents composers working in a variety of areas including concert music, music for instrumental and vocal ensembles, electroacoustic music, improvised music, educational music, music with other disciplines, and music that crosses a variety of genres and responds to different cultural influences.”

Janna Sailor (MMus'08, DMPS'12)

Janna Sailor (MMus'08, DMPS'12)

Conductor and violinist Janna Sailor (MMus’08, DMPS’12) recently formed Allegra Chamber Orchestra, an all-female orchestra devoted to performing the work of female composers. One of the few of its kind in the world. Listen to Sailor’s interview with Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio’s North by Northwest about the genesis of ACO and its mandate “to empower women and those who identify as women through music, maintaining the role of the artist in society to bring to light issues that need to be addressed, while provoking creative thought and solutions.”

In 2016 John Trotter (BMus’98), an associate professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, directed a production at Wheaton College called Handel’s Messiah: Unexpected. This was the culmination of Trotter’s years-long dream to offer a convincing and semi-staged performance of Handel’s masterwork during the Easter season. It featured 10 student soloists and a number of unexpected elements. Watch the performance here.

Pianist and composer Lisa Cay Miller (DMA’07) debuted “Lessing Stories,” a piano concert inspired by the work of British writer Doris Lessing, at Pyatt Hall in October 2016. Guest artists who performed alongside Miller included fellow UBC alumna Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa (DMA’07).

Composer Christopher Tyler Nickel (BMus’01) received a 2016 SOCAN Award for Achievement in Music for a Television Movie, for his score for the TV movie Honour Student. Always busy, Nickel recently completed scores for the movies Anything for Love, starring Erika Christensen, Love in Paradise, starring Luke Perry, as well as for the TV series Highway Through Hell for Discovery Channel.

Annie Yim (BMus'02) 

Annie Yim (BMus'02) 

Pianist and Minerva Piano Trio founder Annie Yim (BMus’02) recently completed her DMA at City University of London and was selected — alongside her group — for the prestigious St. John’s Smith Square Young Artists’ Scheme. They will perform three different concerts at St John Smith’s Square in London over the course of the concert season.

Antonio Bittar (MMus’16) is now working at Vancouver’s Goh Ballet Academy as Administrative and Operations Coordinator. In his other life as an opera singer, he recently performed in Opera Kelowna’s production of The Magic Flute.

Clara Shandler (BMus’12), also known as the Sidewalk Cellist, recently released “Lights in the Dark,” a brand new single. You can listen to it here

Three School of Music alumni won prizes at the SOCAN Music Foundation Young Composer Awards. Roydon Tse (BMus'13) won the Sir Ernest MacMillan Award for his composition "Genesis 2015," while Joseph Glaser (BMus'14) was second runner up in the same category for "Ecstasis."  David Storen (MMus'16) was first runner up for the Serge Garant Awards for "Mångata." Tse also placed third overall in the Pierre Mercure Award category for "Meditation."   

Music theorist and pianist Dr. Lucas Wong (BMus’04) published “Humour in Late Debussy: multiple perspectives on Douze études,” a fresh take on the composer’s Twelve Etudes, in the British journal The Musical Times. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Piano at Soochow University School of Music in China.  

Sergei Saratovsky (DMA’12) and his brother, Nikolai, recently completed their tour of British Columbia. The four-hand piano duo performed in Nelson, Oliver, West Vancouver, and Vancouver.

Pianist Natalie Lo (BMus’16) won the 2016 Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra Clef Concerto Competition (Senior Category). 

Pianists Jocelyn Lai (BMus’13) and Natalie Lo won second and fourth prize, respectively, in the 2016 Shean Piano Competition, taking home prizes of $5,000 and $3,000. Natalie also won the $1000 Paul J. Bourret Memorial Award for Best Performance of a Test Piece. She played The Lark by Mikhail Glinka, transcribed by Mily Balakirev, revised and edited by Leopold Godowsky.

Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus'95, DMA'12)

Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus'95, DMA'12)

Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus’95, DMA’12) recently stepped down from his role as artistic director of the Powell Street Festival Society to join the faculty at the University of Victoria School of Music as Instructor of Flute for the fall semester. He also recently served as invited flute faculty for Nucleo Musica’s International Symposium of New Music 2016, a week-long festival of masterclasses, workshops, and performances in Curitiba, Brazil. 

Harpist Samantha Ballard (BMus’15) performed at the Rio Harp Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. Ballard played two full programs and made special appearances at two other concerts. She performed a number of works by Canadian composers, as well as some of her own arrangements.

A number of UBC alumni have performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra recently! They include violinist Sunny Chan (BMus'16), clarinetist Syndey Tetarenko (BMus'16), and percussionist Graeme Tofflemire (BMus'15).

Pianist Amy Seulky Lee (BMus) has been appointed a fellow for the 2017 Toronto Summer Music Festival. Lee studied with Terrence Dawson during her time at UBC School of Music.

New research and publications

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Dr. John Roeder presented two conference papers recently:  “Formative processes of durational projection in 'free rhythm' world music” at the Fourth International Analytical Approaches to World Music Conference in New York last June; and “Durational process and affect in a Papua New Guinea song” at the SMT World Music Analysis interest group meeting, in Vancouver in November. Dr. Roeder also published "Superposition in Saariaho's 'The claw of the magnolia….'" in Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers: Concert Music, 1960-2000, ed. Laurel Parsons and Brenda Ravenscroft, 156-175. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Drs. Alan Dodson, Nathan Hesselink and Ève Poudrier were awarded a grant from the Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters: Performing & Creative Arts for a series of three symposium on the theme “Exploring Musical Time” during the academic year 2017-2018. The newly formed Rhythm Research Cluster brings together the research interests of six UBC faculty members (including Drs. Richard Kurth, John Roeder, and Michael Tenzer) in the fields of music theory and ethnomusicology that converge on the study of musical time and the production and experience of musical rhythm, timing, and periodicity. The first symposium on “Entrainment and the Human-Technology Interface” is planned to take place in September 2017; stay tuned for more details in the next issue!

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Instructor Brandon Konoval published a chapter entitled "Discipline and Pianist: Foucault and the Genealogy of the Etude" in Foucault on the Arts and Letters: Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century (Rowman & Littlefield, October 2016). In July, he presented a paper at St. Anne's College, Oxford, "Pythagorean Pipe Dreams? Ratios of Pipe Scaling from Vincenzo Galilei through Marin Mersenne," for the international conference in early modern science, Scientiae. In December, he was a panelist at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies for 'Foucault on the Arts and Letters.'

Sessional lecturer Elizabeth Volpé Bligh published “From Solo to Section,” a new article in Harp Column magazine about the role of harpists in an orchestra.

Dr. Stephen Chatman published three new educational books for piano at part of Canticle Publishing’s “Mix and Match” series. His compositions offer “an array of stylistically varied pieces, all paired with harmonically rich duets” for beginning students to learn from. 

Sessional lecturer James Palmer published “Humorous Script Oppositions in Classical Instrumental Music,” an article about humour in the works of Joseph Haydn, Michael Haydn, and Mozart, in the latest issue of Music Theory Online.

Beyond the Gates

The latest news from School of Music faculty

Pianist Terence Dawson.

Pianist Terence Dawson.

This past autumn Terence Dawson, Chair of the Keyboard Division, continued his tour of Rzewski’s De Profundis, giving performances and masterclasses at the Universities of Calgary and Lethbridge. He also performed Jonathan Dove’s “The Passing of the Year” with Phoenix Chamber Choir (conducted by UBC’s Dr. Graeme Langager) in the autumn, and the music of Jean Coulthard with School of Music alumna Robyn Dreidger Klassen as part of the Canadian Music Centre’s Murray Adaskin Salon Concert Series in February 2017.

In October, sessional instructor Heidi Krutzen won a Western Canadian Music Award (Classical Artist/Ensemble of the Year) as part of Coloir, her duo with Ariel Barnes. In 2016 they released Maxwell Muhly & Couloir on Ravello Records to great acclaim. Congratulations, Heidi!

In December, Drs. Jonathan Girard and Stephen Chatman helped to make a lifelong wish come true for Peter Louw, an 83-year-old former teacher and UBC alumnus. Louw, who emigrated from South Africa in the 1960s to escape Apartheid, is a lover of classical music and his dream from boyhood was to conduct an orchestra. Drs. Girard and Chatman worked with the Wish of a Lifetime Canada and Chartwell Retirement Residences to make Peter’s wish come true, and CBC News: The National was there to capture the moment as Peter conducted ‘O Canada’ with UBC Symphony Orchestra.

Peter described his experience: "I looked around and smiled at them, they smiled at me...I lifted my right hand up and started pointing at the percussion side and gave them the sign, and they started making a noise. That was the moment you see, to suddenly say start and they start—magical.  I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is wonderful!’" 

Watch the short documentary:


In January, the Vancouver Island Symphony premiered Dr. Chatman’s Concertino for Horn and String Orchestra at the Port Theatre, Nanaimo. Read a review of the concert in Vancouver Island Today.

Also in January, School of Music ensemble-in-residence Turning Point Ensemble was awarded a “Center of Excellence” citation from the Canadian Music Centre (CMC). Says Sean Bickerton, BC director of the CMC: "Turning Point Ensemble is one of the most extraordinary ensembles performing today. Their standard of performance is outstanding, at a truly international level!"

Turning Point — whose members have included UBC faculty Jeremy Berkman (trombone), Brenda Fedoruk (flute), Vern Griffiths (percussion), Benjamin Kinsman (horn), Heidi Krutzen (harp), Ingrid Chiang (bassoon), François Houle (clarinet), and Jim Littleford (trumpet) — has also been nominated for a Juno Award (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.’” [LINK: ] Read our feature interview with Jeremy Berkman on music entrepreneurship. Turning Point’s next performance happens at the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society’s Vancouver International Jazz Festival in late June.

Composer Dorothy Chang.

Composer Dorothy Chang.

Dr. Dorothy Chang was SOCAN Foundation Composer-in-Residence of the Acadia New Music Festival (Nova Scotia) in February, and Composer-in-Residence with Vancouver Pro Musica’s Sonic Boom Music Festival in March. Also in March, her new composition, Bagatelles, received its world premiere at the “In Praise of Women” concert by Vetta Chamber Music, while “Invisible Distance,” her cello concerto, was performed by Ariel Barnes and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra (with conductor Tania Miller) as part of the orchestra’s new music festival.

Sessional lecturer James Palmer will present a talk, titled “Who’s Feeling Crooked Now? ‘Progressive Bluegrass’ in the Metric Disruptions of Punch Brothers,” at the upcoming West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis in Victoria, B.C., April 21st to 23rd.

Catching up with our students

Dávala's new album, The Book of Transfigurations

Dávala's new album, The Book of Transfigurations

Ph.D student and vocalist Julia Úlehla released The Book of Transfigurations, a new album with her group Dálava, in March 2017. The album, a blend of traditional Moravian folk music and forward-looking jazz and post-rock, is inspired by the work of her late grandfather, the biologist and ethnomusicologist Vladimir Ulehla. Julia was recently profiled in the Georgia Straight

In August, M.Mus. student Katerina Gimon won the SOCAN Foundation's Godfrey Ridout Award for her composition, "Elements." The Annual SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers recognize Canadian composers 30 years of age and under for specific musical works in five categories of concert music.

B.Mus. student Carter Johnson placed third in the 2016 Shean Piano Competition. Johnson, who studies with Prof. Mark Anderson, won $4,000 as part of his prize. Congratulations!

B.Mus. students Benjamin Hopkins (piano), Aidan Mulldoon Wong (clarinet), and Marie Civitarese (voice) won first, second, and third prize respectively in the 2017 UBC School of Music Concerto Competition. Wong performed O. Navarro's Il Concerto for Clarinet with UBC Symphony Orchestra at a special concert in March. Hopkins will perform Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor in autumn 2017. Read the full story here.

A number of our students have performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra recently. They include violinist Edmund Chung (MMus’17), percussionists Julia Chien (MMus'17), oboeists Kristen Cooke (3rd year DMA) and Geronimo Mendoza (DMA), flutist Paul Hung (1st year DMA), trumpeter Candice Newberry (MMus'18), viola player Sarah Kwok (DMA), and clarinetist Aidan Mulldoon Wong (BMus’17).