High Notes | Spring 2019 Edition

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High Notes | Spring 2019

FEATURES

The School of Music Welcomes a New Director

Internationally renowned composer, educator, and media personality Dr. Patrick Carrabré takes the reins

The Mind of an Opera Singer

Does opera change how the brain works? A new interdisciplinary UBC study looks for answers

From Wearable Instruments to 3-D Printed Violins

Created eight years ago as a ‘laboratory where music meets technology,’ the Sonic UBC Laptop Sounds and Sensors Class has become a hothouse of innovation

Forces to Be Reckoned With

Oboist Katrina Bligh (BMus’09) and tuba player Tony Taylor (MMus’18) talk about their careers in the Canadian Armed Forces and why they love it

ALSO IN THE ISSUE

  • Donor Spotlight: Tamako Copithorne talks about six decades of fostering cultural exchange

  • Winter Concerts: Debussy’s La Mer, plus Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, John Luther Adams, and more

  • Research & Publications: Rossini, 'Repeated Borrowing,' and Rhythm Research Cluster residencies

  • Alumni Making Waves: Juno Awards, new opera and symphony orchestra roles, and Gamelan Bike-Bike

  • Beyond the Gates: Performances in North America and Asia, a conducting residency, and choral music galore

  • Catching Up with Our Students: Student leadership awards, Concerto Competition winners, and National Youth Orchestra positions

  • New Recordings: Prof. Mark Anderson releases volume four of his Röntgen series; conducting student Jaelem Bhate records his first jazz album

  • Playlist: Prof. J. Patrick Raftery chooses music inspired by spring

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

 

The School of Music welcomes new director

Dr. T. Patrick Carrabré

Dr. T. Patrick Carrabré

The University of British Columbia welcomes Dr. T. Patrick Carrabré as the new Director of the School of Music. An internationally renowned composer, teacher, and media personality, Dr. Carrabré will assume the role starting July 1st, 2019.  

“I am delighted that Dr. Carrabré will take on the leadership of the School of Music. His impressive track record as an artist and administrator at the highest levels will make him a tremendous asset to our students, to our renowned School of Music, and to the UBC Arts and Culture District as a whole,” said Dr. Gage Averill, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at UBC. 

Dr. Carrabré comes to UBC from Brandon University, where he has served as Dean of Music and Vice-President, Academic and Research. He takes over at the School of Music for Acting Director Dr. Alexander Fisher. 

Read the full story


Inside the brain of an opera singer

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By Tze Liew

What happens inside the brain of an opera singer?

Prof. Nancy Hermiston, Chair of the Voice Division and Director of the UBC Opera, has wondered about this for nearly 20 years. She suspects that opera training can rewire the brain, given how cognitively challenging it is as an art form.

“Opera is very complicated,” Hermiston says. “Singers are required to multitask on so many levels. They must perform difficult music, sing in a foreign language, act, dance, keep an eye on the conductor without the audience noticing, coordinate with the rest of the cast, feed off the energy of the audience without getting distracted, all while wearing a costume weighing up to 45 pounds!”

It is no doubt incredibly taxing on the body – and the brain. But over the span of her 24-year teaching career, Hermiston has time and time again been amazed by the marvellous feats and learning leaps achieved by her students. She has observed many cases of students with learning differences – various forms of dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder – improving drastically in their academic abilities over years of opera training.

Read the full story

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From wearable instruments to 3D-printed violins

SUBCLASS students. Photo: Takumi Hayashi

SUBCLASS students. Photo: Takumi Hayashi

By Colleen O’Connor

A dancer in a wired bodysuit makes a graceful opening gesture and instrumental percussion begins. Her movements quicken as she crosses the Barnett Hall stage; she brings her leg around in a circle and the rhythms become more complex. As both hands touch the suit, digitized pitches layer atop the percussive beats.

A musician sits with a violin perched in her lap. She taps the body of the instrument. Percussion and synth sounds emerge, as colourful geometric shapes collapse, expand and dance on the screen behind her. She picks up her bow and begins to play.

A wearable instrument and a violin that ‘plays’ colour as well as sound: These fascinating projects were developed by former student Kiran Bhumber (BMus’18) in collaboration with Prof. Robert Pritchard, and by Chantelle Ko (BA’18) in Pritchard’s Sonic UBC Laptop Sounds and Sensors Class (SUBCLASS). A core part of the Applied Music Technology Minor, SUBCLASS is a musical laboratory where students become inventors, pushing the boundaries of music and technology.

The idea behind the course, according to Prof. Pritchard, is to bring students with very different perspectives and skill sets together, give them the tools and the space to create, and watch what happens.

Read the full story

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Forces to be reckoned with

The Royal Canadian Navy’s Naden Band performs in Chile. Photo: MARPAC Imaging Services

The Royal Canadian Navy’s Naden Band performs in Chile. Photo: MARPAC Imaging Services

 

By Tze Liew

Plaza Sotomayor, Valparaiso, 2018. It is the 200th anniversary of the Chilean Armada. Canada has sent the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy to join in the celebrations. Katrina Bligh, Petty Officer 2nd Class and oboist, is performing in a military tattoo in front of a beautifully lit, palace-like navy headquarters, bringing the gift of music to a plaza full of people. It’s an incredible experience she will never forget.

Becoming a military musician wasn’t necessarily the path Bligh thought she would take when she decided to study music at UBC. Looking back on her university years, she remembers grappling with the question so many students face: What do I do with my music degree?

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to become an orchestral musician. My mother [Elizabeth Volpé Bligh, a UBC faculty member] worked as a harpist in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for 35 years, so I knew very well what it took. But I just wasn’t convinced,” Bligh says.

Then a full-time job for oboe came up in the Regular Force in her fourth year – and Bligh jumped at the opportunity.

Read the full story

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Donor Spotlight: A life dedicated to cultural exchange

Image courtesy of Tamako Copithorne

Image courtesy of Tamako Copithorne

This March, students from Tokyo’s Keio University Choir and UBC’s Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Program (BOMP) teamed up with Early Music Vancouver for a gorgeous performance of Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver. The groups performed the German composer’s 17th-century masterpiece to a large and enthusiastic audience. Among those in attendance was Keio University alumna and longtime UBC School of Music supporter Tamako Copithorne.

For Tamako, who helped to support this initiative, it was more than just a concert. It was the latest highlight in a passion project that goes back over sixty years.

“In 1955, I came to Canada for the first time as an exchange student from Japan to the University of British Columbia,” Tamako says. At the time, such programs were virtually unheard of. Tamako was among the first Japanese exchange students to study in Canada, and her experience at UBC (and later the University of Toronto) was so compelling that she returned home determined to help pave the way for future students — Japanese and Canadian — and continue to build the relationship between Keio University and UBC.

Read the full story

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Winter 2019 concerts available online

Watch the latest performances by the School of Music’s large and small ensembles on Livestream and Vimeo:

Debussy, Françaix
and Adams

UBC Symphony Orchestra performs the Debussy masterpiece La Mer, along with the Canadian premiere of John Luther Adams’s Northern Suite and Jean Françaix’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, featuring 2018 UBC Concerto Competition 2nd Place Winner Carlos Savall-Guardiola, clarinet.

Scenes V

The UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble performs works by Bach, Mussorgsky, and Bassi, with special guest Jose Franch-Ballester, clarinet. Watch online

Stories

The University Singers, Chamber Choir and Choral Union perform a wide-ranging selection of contemporary repertoire. Featuring graduate student conductors Demi Chao, Tiffany Chen, and Andrea Ciona. Watch online

Browse our recent concerts

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New research and publications

Dewa Alit

Dewa Alit

The Rhythm Research Cluster (RRC) closed its initial funded period with two exciting residences that brought innovative Balinese composer Dewa Alit, and the popular music scholar Anne Danielsen, director of the RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion (Norwegian Centre of Excellence, Oslo) to the School of Music. Organized by Prof. Michael Tenzer, Alit’s residence culminated with a public performance at Western Front by School of Music students and alumni of works by Alit and others — including the world premiere of Alit’s RRC-commissioned work, “Simalakama.” During Danielsen’s residence, graduate students and faculty participated in a workshop on micro-rhythmic analysis; the residence closed with a Music Colloquium Series lecture on the impact of digitization on rhythm and groove in African-American popular music. 

Prof. David Metzer published “Repeated Borrowing: The Case of ‘Es ist genug’” in the Journal of the American Musicological Society. The article explores “a group of songs that musicians have frequently taken up in creating new works, from the chanson ‘L’homme armé’ in Renaissance masses to ‘Apache’ in hip hop tracks… and provide[s] the first study of repeated borrowing and trace[s] it across centuries and genres.”

More research and publications news

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Alumni Making Waves: Juno Awards, new roles, and Gamelan Bike-Bike

Gamelan Bike Bike

Gamelan Bike Bike

Aidan Mulldoon Wong (BMus’17) won the position of Section Clarinet and Utility Clarinet with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for the 2018-19 season. The VSO clarinet section also includes School of Music alumna Michelle Goddard (BMus’07), who previously won the position of Second Clarinet/Eb Clarinet.

Nicole Linaksita (BSc/BMus’16) and Megan Thibeault (DMPS’18) are among the six finalists in the 2019 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition (Piano). The finals will be held April 19–21, 2019.

With his group the Gryphon Trio, pianist James Parker (BMus’85) won the 2019 Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber for their album The End of Flowers: Works by Clarke and Ravel (Analekta). The Gryphon Trio were also nominated in the Classical Album: Large Ensemble category, for their collaboration with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra on Into the Wonder.

Robyn Jacob (BMus’11 ) co-founded Gamelan Bike Bike, a new 10-person ensemble that uses instruments created from old bike parts. The group is the subject of a new short film on the CBC Creator Network.

More alumni news

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Beyond the Gates: Performances in North America and Asia, a conducting residency, and choral music galore

 
Dr. Corey Hamm and Nicole Ge Li

Dr. Corey Hamm and Nicole Ge Li

Dr. Corey Hamm, Professor of Piano, won UBC’s Dorothy Somerset Award for excellence in performance. The award recognizes faculty who have made outstanding contributions to art, music, creative writing, theatre or film. With PEP (Piano and Erhu Project), Dr. Hamm and Nicole Ge Li premiered the full orchestra version of Dr. Dorothy Chang’s double concerto Gateways in Seattle with conductor Julia Tai and Philharmonia Northwest.

In March, Dr. Graeme Langager and the University Singers performed with famed soprano Sarah Brightman at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver.

Dr. Jonathan Girard, Director of Orchestral Activities, led the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra in a concert in Kodak Hall in Rochester, New York in February.  The program included Poulenc’s Orchestral Suite from Les Animaux Modeles, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major (featuring Fantee Jones, piano), and Franck’s Symphony in D Minor. The concert was the culmination of Dr. Girard’s residency as a visiting professor of conducting at Eastman, where he taught the graduate orchestral conducting students of Neil Varon.

More faculty news

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Catching up with our students: Leadership awards, National Youth Orchestra news, and more

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Dual BMus/BSci student Aydan Con has won the Dean’s Outstanding Leadership Award for Contribution to the UBC Community and Beyond, for playing “a crucial role in two projects involving curricular redesign. Through these projects, [he] supported the introduction of new evaluation and teaching methods to deepen Music students’ connections to transferrable workplace skills, as well as evaluation of undergraduate student mental and physical wellbeing in relation to academic workload demands.” Aydan helped launch ChamberFest in February and also volunteered at the Downtown Eastside Saint James Music Academy and the Canadian Blood Services. This is the first time a UBC Music student has received the distinction.

A number of School of Music students have won spots with the 2019 National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYOC). Congratulations to BMus students Jonathan López (clarinet), Katelynn Whittle (oboe), Jesse Guo (percussion), Nina Weber (viola), Alexander Knopp (violin), and Alexander Beggs (viola)! The NYOC Residency runs from June to August, with the orchestra embarking on a two-month tour across Canada and Spain.   

DMA student Benjamin Hopkins advanced to the semi-finals of the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition held this March in New York.

More student news

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New Recordings: Röntgen, a jazz début, and more

Prof. Mark Anderson released the fourth volume of his series devoted to the music of German-Dutch composer Julius Röntgen. The album spans fifty-five years of the composer’s lifetime, and includes Ballad, Op.6 written in 1873, when the composer was a teenager, and the Sonata in C-sharp minor from 1928. Available on Amazon and iTunes (US).

MMus conducting student Jaelem Bhate (BMus’17) released his first album, On the Edge, with his group the Jaelem Bhate Jazz Orchestra. The record includes his multi-movement “Pacific Suite,” along with works that blend the influences of his jazz heroes of Thad Jones, John Clayton, Bill Holman, and his mentor Fred Stride with his parallel study of Western Classical music. Perfoming on the album are some of Vancouver’s best jazz musicians, including Steve Kaldestad, Brent Mah, Michael Kim, and Duran Ritz. Available at CD Baby.

More new recordings

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Playlist: Spring

By J. Patrick Raftery

Motivated by the imminent arrival of spring, I have chosen the theme of love to explore in my playlist. I have always been motivated by my love of music, my love for singers, and my love of opera and song. For my playlist I’ve chosen some of my favourite works by friends and colleagues, as well as a few classics by my personal icons.

Over the course of my career, I’ve been fortunate to share the stage with some brilliant singers, including Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Helen Donath, Barbara Bonney, Pilar Lorengar, Marilyn Horne, and Régine Crespin. I was lucky enough to be double cast as the Count in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden with Thomas Allen, and happy Beverly Sills and the great Canadian Mezzo Maureen Forester were among my friends.

Other singers I have long admired include Arleen Auger, Janet Baker, Hermann Prey, Peter Schreier, Hans Hotter, Robert Merrill, Margaret Price, and Giuseppe Di Stefano! Here, along with my full Spotify list, are some YouTube clips of the songs that I held up as an ideal to strive for when I was a young singer.

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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.

 

Meet Dr. T. Patrick Carrabré, UBC School of Music's new director

Dr. Patrick Carrabré

Dr. Patrick Carrabré

The University of British Columbia welcomes Dr. T. Patrick Carrabré as the new Director of the School of Music. An internationally renowned composer, teacher, and media personality, Dr. Carrabré will assume the role starting July 1st, 2019.  

“I am delighted that Dr. Carrabré will take on the leadership of the School of Music. His impressive track record as an artist and administrator at the highest levels will make him a tremendous asset to our students, to our renowned School of Music, and to the UBC Arts and Culture District as a whole,” said Dr. Gage Averill, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at UBC. 

Dr. Carrabré comes to UBC from Brandon University, where he has served as Dean of Music and Vice-President, Academic and Research. He takes over at the School of Music for Acting Director Dr. Alexander Fisher. 

“We all look forward to working with Pat as we embrace the many opportunities in front of us,” said Dr. Fisher. “Times of transition always involve some uncertainty, but Pat’s steady hand and brilliant mind give all of us confidence that we will have great years ahead under his leadership,” Dr. Fisher said. 

Dr. Carrabré joins the UBC School of Music at a time of growth and excitement. With a 110-student symphony orchestra, ambitious opera, choir and band ensembles, and thriving musicology, ethnomusicology, theory and composition programs, it is one of the largest and most exciting music schools in Canada. Every year the School of Music graduates artists, scholars, producers, and educators who go on to win international awards and perform on some of the world’s biggest stages.  

“I feel privileged and excited to take on this role of supporting the outstanding faculty, students and staff in the School of Music,” Dr. Carrabré said. “I’m also looking forward to developing connections with Vancouver’s vibrant artistic community.” 

Dr. Carrabré is an acclaimed artist-researcher in his own right. Construction of identity is a long-term theme, manifesting in his compositions, concert and radio programming, and administrative activities. The creation of shared musical spaces with indigenous and non-western musicians has also been a significant theme of his work since before the dawn of the Truth and Reconciliation era.

For well over a decade, he worked closely with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, including six seasons as composer-in-residence and co-curator of the orchestra’s New Music Festival. Carrabré’s best known compositions include Inuit Games, for throat singers (katajjak) and orchestra, Sonata No. 1, The Penitent, for violin and piano, From the Dark Reaches, and A Hammer For Your Thoughts….

Together these works have earned two Juno nominations, a recommendation at the International Rostrum of Composers (2003), a Western Canadian Music Award (Best Classical Composition) and two other WCMA nominations.

Also active in the media, Dr. Carrabré served two seasons as the weekend host of CBC Radio 2’s contemporary music show The Signal. 

For media interviews, please contact Erik Rolfson at UBC Public Affairs.


WATCH: Throat singers Inukshuk Aksalnik and Pauline Pemik perform Dr. Patrick Carrabré’s Inuit Games with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Alumni Making Waves: Juno Awards, new roles, and Gamelan Bike-Bike

With his group the Gryphon Trio, pianist James Parker (BMus’85) won the 2019 Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber for their album The End of Flowers: Works by Clarke and Ravel (Analekta). The Gryphon Trio were also nominated in the Classical Album: Large Ensemble category, for their collaboration with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra on Into the Wonder.

Baritone Tyler Duncan (BMus’98) appeared as a soloist on the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Vaughan Williams: Piano Concerto; Oboe Concerto; Serenade to Music; Flos Campi (Chandos), which won the Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble. The awards were held in London, Ontario in March and hosted by Sarah MacLachlan.

Aidan Mulldoon Wong

Aidan Mulldoon Wong

Aidan Mulldoon Wong (BMus’17) won the position of Section Clarinet and Utility Clarinet with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for the 2018-19 season. The VSO clarinet section also includes School of Music alumna Michelle Goddard (BMus’07), who previously won the position of Second Clarinet/Eb Clarinet.

Guitarist Tom Gamble (MMus’16) released a new video for his group, Duo Kottos, featuring a cover film composer Thomas Newman’s “The Road to Perdition.” You can watch it here.

Justin Chiang (BMus'14) has won a position with the Canadian Forces bands, playing euphonium in the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, while Aaron Eggen (BMus’18) has won a tuba position with the Royal Canadian Artillery Band in Edmonton, Alberta. Both were students of adjunct professor Peder MacLellan.

In February, soprano Nicole Brooks (BMus’14, MMus’17) placed third in the Metropolitan Opera Northwest Regional Auditions. The auditions happened at the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall in Seattle. She also joined the Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda and Moh Faris Young Artists Program, alongside tenor Scott Rumble (MMus’18).

Nicole Linaksita (BSc/BMus’16) and Megan Thibeault (DMPS’18) are among the six finalists in the 2019 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition (Piano). The finals will be held April 19–21, 2019.

Spencer Britten

Spencer Britten

Tenor Spencer Britten (BMus'15, MMus'17) is currently part of the Opéra de Montréal’s Young Artists Program. This summer he will rejoin Glimmerglass Opera, travelling to Versailles to perform The Ghosts of Versailles alongside mezzo soprano Simran Claire (BMus'18, current MMus student). 

Pianist and educator Dr. Jelena Vladikovic (MMus’86) was named a Kawai Artist by Kawai Pianos.  

Soprano Simone Osborne (DMPS'09) is starring in the role of Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust with the Vancouver Opera at Queen Elizabeth Theatre this April.

Benjamin Bolden (MMus’97) and Gerda Blok-Wilson (BMus’78) won awards at the Canadian Music Centre’s 2018 C/4 Canadian Choral Composition Contest. Bolden won second prize for Twilight, a work inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73. He was cited for his “consummate skill in creating harmonic interest and tension using only seven pitches was remarkable, as was his ability to find the deep, gloriously resonating chords unique to a male-voice choir.” Blok-Wilson won third prize for her composition based on “O Little Rose, O Dark Rose” by Canadian poet Charles G.D. Roberts (1860-1943). The judges described the work as “achingly beautiful.” Both also received Barbra Pentland Awards for Excellence.

Kathleen Allan (BMus'11) has been appointed Artistic Director and Conductor of the Amadeus Choir starting July 1, 2019.

Gamelan Bike Bike

Gamelan Bike Bike

Elisa Thorn (BMus'11) and Robyn Jacob (BMus’11 ) are the co-curators of Bitch Tapes, a biannual cassette mixtape of female artists from the Pacific Northwest. The goal of the mixtape is to celebrate womxn artists and form a community and coalition of artists who may otherwise feel underrepresented in their local independent music scenes. All proceeds to go the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre in Vancouver. Find the latest tape and more at www.bitchtapes.tumblr.com or www.facebook.com/btchtapes.

Robyn Jacob also co-founded Gamelan Bike Bike, a new 10-person ensemble that uses instruments created from old bike parts. The group is the subject of a new short film on the CBC Creator Network.

Anna Theodosakis (BMus’12, MMus’14) is a Toronto-based stage director and choreographer originally from Vancouver. Anna had a busy 2017–18 season, directing the Ensemble Showcase at the Canadian Opera Company (COC) and The Tender Land at Opera Laurier; assistant-directing Arabella and The Nightingale and Other Short Fables (COC); choreographing Of Thee I Sing and Don Giovanni (University of Toronto Opera), assistant-directing Briefs (Tapestry Opera), directing Haus Musik (Tafelmusik), and directing the premiere of Shot (Hamilton Philharmonic). Anna is a dramatic coach for the COC Ensemble Studio and teaches dance for U of T Opera. She is the recipient of the Vancouver Opera Guild’s 2017 Career Development Grant. 

And finally, congratulations to viola player Jeffery Ho (BMus’16) and violinist Micki-Lee Smith (BMus’18) on being named to this year’s National Youth Orchestra. They will take up their residencies this June alongside six current UBC students.

A life dedicated to cultural exchange 

Over six decades, Tamako Copithorne has opened up a world of possibility for Canadian and Japanese students 

Tamako and Maurice Copithorne

Tamako and Maurice Copithorne

This March, students from Tokyo’s Keio University Choir and UBC’s Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Program (BOMP) teamed up with Early Music Vancouver for a gorgeous performance of Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostriat Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver. The groups performed the German composer’s 17th-century masterpiece to a large and enthusiastic audience. Among those in attendance was Keio University alumna and longtime UBC School of Music supporter Tamako Copithorne.

For Tamako, who helped to support this initiative, it was more than just a concert. It was the latest highlight in a passion project that goes back over sixty years.

“In 1955, I came to Canada for the first time as an exchange student from Japan to the University of British Columbia,” Tamako says. At the time, such programs were virtually unheard of. Tamako was among the first Japanese exchange students to study in Canada, and her experience at UBC  (and later the University of Toronto) was so compelling that she returned home determined to help pave the way for future students — Japanese and Canadian — and continue to build the relationship between Keio University and UBC.

Back at Keio University, she helped foster just such a program. “My role was to establish a long-lasting way for student exchanges between UBC and Keio,” Tamako says. She was thrilled to watch the program take off: “Over the next twelve years, many students from both universities took advantage of this, deepening mutual understanding.”

In fact, the program built on a much longer history of Japan-Canada cultural exchange that went as far back as the 1870s, when Yukichi Fukuzawa, the founder of Keio University, hosted the Canadian missionary Alexander Croft Shaw. The two men became good friends and colleagues and influenced one another’s thinking on education and the role of cultural exchange. Tamako was both thrilled and humbled to be part of such longstanding intercultural dialogue.  

Her experiences as a student were formative in another way: It was while at the first World University Service International Student Seminar held in Japan in 1955 that she met her future husband, Maurice Copithorne (BA’54, LLB’55, LLD’02). She went on to complete graduate work in Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies at Yale. They married in 1965 and they lived in Ottawa and as a rotational foreign service family, posted and lived in to various countries, such as Iran, Malaysia, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Austria.

After her husband’s retirement from the Foreign Service, they returned to Vancouver, where Tamako worked as Director of Japanese Culture and Communication at Simon Fraser University’s David Lam Centre for International Communication, retiring in 2000. All the while, her passion for cultural exchange remained undimmed.

It was thanks to Tamako’s tireless efforts that this year’s BOMP-Keio University Choir-Early Music Vancouver collaboration possible. “With her long history of fostering Japanese-Canadian relations, Tamako was an essential part of making this project become a reality,” says Dr. Alexander Fisher, Acting Director of the School of Music. 

Together with her husband, Tamako also established the School of Music’s Kandler Scholarship. The Copithornes wanted to provide UBC School of Music students with similarly inspiring opportunities and established a scholarship to support study abroad. They named it in honour of friends Joseph and Melitta Kandler as a tribute to the Kandlers’ commitment to music and to fostering enduring cultural and economic ties between Canada and Austria where the Copithornes were once posted. Over the years many Keio students have visited UBC (and vice-versa), while the Kandler scholarship has enabled many UBC students to travel abroad for vital musical training.

Even now, Tamako feels an urgency about their mission: “Maurice and I benefitted so much by travelling to other countries and experiencing different cultures. That bridging is so important and it cannot be ignored,” she says.

Beyond the Gates: Performances in North America and Asia, a conducting residency, and choral music galore

Corey Hamm and Nicole Ge Li of the Piano and Erhu Project

Corey Hamm and Nicole Ge Li of the Piano and Erhu Project

Dr. Corey Hamm, Professor of Piano, won UBC’s Dorothy Somerset Award for excellence in performance. The award recognizes faculty who have made outstanding contributions to art, music, creative writing, theatre or film. With PEP (Piano and Erhu Project), Dr. Hamm and Nicole Ge Li premiered the full orchestra version of Dr. Dorothy Chang’s double concerto Gateways in Seattle with conductor Julia Tai and Philharmonia Northwest. He also embarked on several tours: a solo piano tour of Asia (Hong Kong, Chonburi, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing) with masterclasses and lectures, and a debut Atlantic tour with PEP. He performed Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 in Minneapolis with conductor Yuri Ivan, gave three solo recitals with masterclasses in Alberta, and was the pianist for an educational outreach composition program with Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble.

In March, Dr. Graeme Langager and the University Singers performed with famed soprano Sarah Brightman at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver.

Dr. Jonathan Girard conducting the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra

Dr. Jonathan Girard conducting the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra

Dr. Jonathan Girard, Director of Orchestral Activities, led the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra in a concert in Kodak Hall in Rochester, New York in February.  The program included Poulenc’s Orchestral Suite from Les Animaux Modeles, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major (featuring Fantee Jones, piano), and Franck’s Symphony in D Minor. The concert was the culmination of Dr. Girard’s residency as a visiting professor of conducting at Eastman, where he taught the graduate orchestral conducting students of Neil Varon.

Dr. Girard and Dr. Robert Taylor, Professor of Conducting and Ensembles, presented a special session at the College Band Directors National Association Conference. The session, titled “Maestro Media: Harnessing technology in the evolution of the 21st Century ensemble program,” highlighted the cutting-edge technology they are using with conducting courses and large ensembles at UBC.

In March and April, many different works by Dr. Stephen Chatman, Professor of Composition, were performed across North America. Highlights include the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus performance of Time Pieces in New York, Tapestry Choir and York Chamber Ensemble’s performance of Peace in Newmarket, Ontario, and a special performance of Proud Music of the Storm by the Chorale, an oratorio choir of 150 singers from Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges in Haverford, Pennsylvania.

New Recordings

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Prof. Mark Anderson released the fourth volume of his series devoted to the music of German-Dutch composer Julius Röntgen. The album spans fifty-five years of the composer’s lifetime, and includes Ballad, Op.6 written in 1873, when the composer was a teenager, and the Sonata in C-sharp minor from 1928. Available on Amazon and iTunes (US).

 
jaelem_album.png

MMus conducting student Jaelem Bhate (BMus’17) released his first album, On the Edge, with his group the Jaelem Bhate Jazz Orchestra. The record includes his multi-movement “Pacific Suite,” along with works that blend the influences of his jazz heroes of Thad Jones, John Clayton, Bill Holman, and his mentor Fred Stride with his parallel study of Western Classical music. Perfoming on the album are some of Vancouver’s best jazz musicians, including Steve Kaldestad, Brent Mah, Michael Kim, and Duran Ritz. Available at CD Baby.

 

Farshid Samandari (MMus’07, DMA’14) released his new album Apogee on Redshift Records in 2018. The album features flutist and UBC alumnus Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus’95, DMA’12) and other Vancouver music luminaries. From La Scena Musicale: “Over the course of 70 minutes, the performances are impeccable, rich in tone and dynamics, with welcome clarity and sonic precision. [Samandari] is a master of silence, resonance and a variety of instrumental techniques…. An inventive and musical discovery.” Available on iTunes and Spotify.

Research and Publications: Rossini, 'Repeated Borrowing,' and RRC residencies

Balinese composer Dewa Alit

Balinese composer Dewa Alit

The Rhythm Research Cluster (RRC) closed its initial funded period with two exciting residences that brought innovative Balinese composer Dewa Alit, and the popular music scholar Anne Danielsen, director of the RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion (Norwegian Centre of Excellence, Oslo) to the School of Music. Organized by Prof. Michael Tenzer, Alit’s residence culminated with a public performance at Western Front by School of Music students and alumni of works by Alit and others — including the world premiere of Alit’s RRC-commissioned work, “Simalakama.” During Danielsen’s residence, graduate students and faculty participated in a workshop on micro-rhythmic analysis; the residence closed with a Music Colloquium Series lecture on the impact of digitization on rhythm and groove in African-American popular music. 

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Prof. David Metzer published “Repeated Borrowing: The Case of ‘Es ist genug’” in the Journal of the American Musicological Society. The article explores “a group of songs that musicians have frequently taken up in creating new works, from the chanson ‘L’homme armé’ in Renaissance masses to ‘Apache’ in hip hop tracks… and provide[s] the first study of repeated borrowing and trace[s] it across centuries and genres.”

Prof. John Roeder published “Lines in Harmony: Types of Cooperation in Four Recent Chinese Compositions” (“和声中的声部线条:近期中国四部音乐作品中的声部协作类型” translated by Zheng Yan) in Music Research, the leading peer-reviewed academic journal of music theory in China. And, picking up on an item from the last issue of High Notes, Prof. Roeder’s keynote address to the Meter Symposium 3 in Sydney, Australia is now available to watch here. 

Dr. Brandon Konoval published a new article, "From Sexuality to Governmentality: The Oedipus Complex of Michel Foucault," in Modern Intellectual History. The article looks at how “Foucault's attention to classical texts—in particular the Oedipus Tyrannos of Sophocles and the Republic of Plato—thereby helped to clear a critical pathway through the conventional Marxism embraced by the “repressive hypothesis,” and to arrive at a Nietzschean genealogy of sexuality and power.”

Rossini

Rossini

Dr. Claudio Vellutini published a new essay, "Rossini's Operas in Vienna and the Politics of Translation, 1816-1822," in Gioachino Rossini 1868-2018, a new volume celebrating the 150th anniversary of Rossini's death (Pesaro, Italy: Fondazione Rossini, 2019). Dr. Vellutini also presented a paper on the composer, "Rossini's German Singers (Vienna, ca. 1817-1825)," at the international conference Beethoven und Rossini in ihrer Epoche organized by the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn and the University for Music and Dance in Cologne. 

 

Catching Up with Our Students: Concerto Competition winners, NYO positions, and student leadership awards

Aydan Con and Dean Gage Averill

Aydan Con and Dean Gage Averill

In March, dual BMus/BSc student Aydan Con won the Dean’s Outstanding Leadership Award for Contribution to the UBC Community and Beyond, for playing “a crucial role in two projects involving curricular redesign. Through these projects, [he] supported the introduction of new evaluation and teaching methods to deepen Music students’ connections to transferrable workplace skills, as well as evaluation of undergraduate student mental and physical wellbeing in relation to academic workload demands.” Aydan helped launch ChamberFest in February and also volunteered at the Downtown Eastside Saint James Music Academy and the Canadian Blood Services. This is the first time a UBC Music student has received the distinction. The award was given by Faculty of Arts Dean Gage Averill at the Dean’s Reception for Graduating Arts Student Leaders.

A number of School of Music students have won spots with the 2019 National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYOC). Congratulations to BMus students Jonathan López (clarinet), Katelynn Whittle (oboe), Jesse Guo (percussion), Nina Weber (viola), Alexander Knopp (violin), and Alexander Beggs (viola)! The NYOC Residency runs from June to August, with the orchestra embarking on a two-month tour across Canada and Spain.   

MMus conducting student Jaelem Bhate

MMus conducting student Jaelem Bhate

MMus conducting student Jaelem Bhate (BMus’17) was awarded the 2019 Nestor Korchinsky Student Leadership Award at the UBC Student Leadership Conference, in recognition for his work as a conductor (National Academy Orchestra, UBC Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Philharmonic), with the 45th Ave Jazz Band, and as a composer. Bhate also released his first album, On the Edge with the Jaelem Bhate Jazz Orchestra in March.

 

DMA student Benjamin Hopkins advanced to the semi-finals of the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition held this March in New York.

BMus students Nina Weber (viola), Markus Masaites (piano) and Jonathan Lopéz (clarinet) performing at the Friends of Chamber Music competition

In March, two School of Music chamber groups won prizes at the Friends of Chamber Music’s 65th Annual Young Musicians Competition. Genesis Trio, featuring BMus students Nina Weber, viola, Jonathan López, clarinet, and Marcus Masaites, piano, won co-First Prize in the Senior Group (up to age 26), for their performance of Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B flat major, Op. 11, No. 3. Third Prize (and the Audience Prize) went to MMus students Carlos Savall-Guardiola, clarinet, Susie Jiwon Yoo (BMus’18), cello, and BMus student Ayunia Indri Saputro, piano. They performed Brahms’s Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114. The competition was adjudicated by Prof. Sara Laimon, Director of the McGill Conservatory of Music.

Concerto Competition winner D’Arcy Blunston (Photo: Takumi Hayashi)

Concerto Competition winner D’Arcy Blunston (Photo: Takumi Hayashi)

Congratulations to everyone who competed in the 2018–19 UBC Concerto Competition! Open to all School of 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. This year’s winner was lyric soprano D’Arcy Blunston. She performed Britten’s Les Illuminations de Rimbaud, Op. 18. First runner-up was pianist Markus Masaites, who performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto in No. 18 in B-flat major, K. 456. Second runner-up was pianist Yu-Hsien Lin. She performed Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54. D’Arcy will perform with the UBC Symphony Orchestra on April 6th at the Chan Centre.

Kinesiology major and Music and Technology student Andrea Wong recently received one of six sound Place and Sound artist residencies from the Media Arts Committee, for her Applied Music Technology capstone project. Inspired by people who experience synaesthesia, Andrea designed an instrument that translates data associated with specific colours into sonic effects — which she has dubbed CHIMIRA (Colour-Hearing Interface + Motion-Image Relaying Apparatus). Andrea provided a simple example of how the instrument might work when it’s completed: “When CHIMIRA ‘sees’ a red object, this could trigger, say, bell sounds, and moving the red object up and down would cause the sounds to move up and down in pitch. This could be volume, amount of reverb, or any other aspect of sound that can be manipulated. Several red objects could create a denser, more rich texture of bells that, when moved, change in that processed aspect of their sound. There are countless combinations of audiovisual art this instrument can produce!” She will demonstrate the instrument at the UBC Bang! Festival on April 17th.

Winter 2019 concerts online

Catch up with our large and small ensembles online! Here are some of the recent concerts you can watch via our new Vimeo feed:

Debussy, Françaix, and John Luther Adams

UBC Symphony Orchestra

Jonathan Girard, conductor
Featuring Carlos Savall-Guardiola, clarinet

Françaix Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op. 36
Debussy La Mer
John Luther Adams A Northern Suite


Scenes V

UBC Symphonic Winds

Robert Taylor, conductor
Featuring Jose Franch-Ballester, clarinet*

J.S. Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
Luigi Bassi Rigoletto Fantasy*
Modest Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition


Stories

University Singers
Chamber Choir
UBC Choral Union

Graeme Langager, conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities

With guests
Demi Chao, Tiffany Chen, and Andrea Ciona, graduate student conductors

Eric Whitacre Five Hebrew Love Songs (featuring Eleanor Yu violin & Edward Park piano)
Graeme Langager I Will Lift Mine Eyes
Jen McMillan Don't Be Afraid
Music by Palestrina, Byrd, and Weelkes


Scenes VI

Symphonic Wind Ensemble
Concert Winds

Featuring Valerie Whitney, horn
Larry Knopp, trumpet
Jeremy Berkman, trombone

Norman Dello Joio Scenes from the Louvre
Michael Markowski City Trees
Bruce Carlson Toledo
Clifton Williams Symphonic Dance No. 3 “Fiesta”
John Adams Short Ride in a Fast Machine
Michael Martin Hereafter Calls
H. Owen Reed La Fiesta Mexicana (includes a Mariachi band led by UBC Music students Jonathan Lopez and Matheus Moraes)


Beethoven and Tchaikovsky

UBC Symphony Orchestra

Jaelem Bhate and Zane Kistner graduate student conductors

Beethoven Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Beethoven Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21

For upcoming School of Music performances, check out our concert calendar.

Playlist: Spring

Our Playlist column features music curated by our faculty, students, and staff and focusing on an interesting idea or theme. For the latest column, we invited Assistant Professor of Voice J. Patrick Raftery to share some of his favourite opera performances. You can listen to the tracks below via Spotify (if you have an account) or YouTube (if you don't). The full playlist is also available here.

By J. Patrick Raftery

Motivated by the imminent arrival of spring, I have chosen the theme of love to explore in my playlist. I have always been motivated by my love of music, my love for singers, and my love of opera and song. For my playlist I’ve chosen some of my favourite works by friends and colleagues, as well as a few classics by my personal icons. 

Over the course of my career, I’ve been fortunate to share the stage with some brilliant singers, including Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Helen Donath, Barbara Bonney, Pilar Lorengar, Marilyn Horne, and Régine Crespin. I was lucky enough to be double cast as the Count in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden with Thomas Allen, and Beverly Sills and the great Canadian Mezzo Maureen Forester were among my friends.  

Other singers I have long admired include Arleen Auger, Janet Baker, Hermann Prey, Peter Schreier, Hans Hotter, Robert Merrill, Margaret Price, Giuseppe Di Stefano!

Here, along with my full Spotify playlist, are some clips of the songs that I held up as an ideal to strive for when I was a young singer.  

Hermann Prey, Sonntag

Hermann Prey’s performance of Sonntag by Brahms shows this baritone at his best. It always sounds unselfconscious and as if Brahms had written this song for Mr. Prey. Looking forward to every Sunday this young man is excited to see the girl he loves.

Pilar Lorengar, Die Tote Stadt

My friend Pilar Lorengar is featured twice on my list. I had the great pleasure of having Pilar as my wife Alice Ford in San Francisco Opera’s production of Verdi’s Falstaff. Here, as Marietta in Korngold’s opera Die Tote Stadt, Pilar is singing of her love and how she won’t let death separate them in life.

Helen Donath, Fidelio

I made my German debut with the Hamburg State Opera and met the American soprano Helen Donath. A generous and engaged colleague, Helen was already an established star at that time, famous for her performanes in works by Mozart, Handel, and StraussI have included the famous quartet from Beethoven’s Fidelio featuring Helen. The characters are talking about the love they feel or see in each other.

Regine Crespin, Shéhérezade

The farewell performance of French diva Regine Crespin in North America was in San Francisco Opera’s Pique Dame. I was lucky enough to sing the role of Prince Yeletsky with her in these performances. Here she is in, brilliant as ever, in Ravel’s Shéhérezade.  

Nicolai Ghiaurov, Don Carlos

In Verdi’s Don Carlos, King Philip has realized that his wife is in love with someone else and in despair he sings “Ella giammai m’amo” (“She never loved me”). It was a dream come true for me to sing my first Posa in Don Carlos for the Hamburg State Opera with Nicolai. Here is the great Bulgarian bass Nicolai Ghiaurov performing the aria. He takes us on a mournful emotional ride with his rendition of this famous aria.

Happy spring 2019! I hope you enjoy the playlist.


Banner image from Vancouver Opera Company’s La Boheme, featuring J. Patrick Raftery. Tim Matheson Photography.

From wearable instruments to 3D-printed violins

Created eight years ago as a ‘laboratory where music meets technology,’ the Sonic UBC Laptop Sounds and Sensors Class has become a hothouse of innovation


SUBCLASS students. Photo: Takumi Hayashi/UBC

SUBCLASS students. Photo: Takumi Hayashi/UBC

By Colleen O’Connor

A dancer in a wired bodysuit makes a graceful opening gesture and instrumental percussion begins. Her movements quicken as she crosses the Barnett Hall stage; she brings her leg around in a circle and the rhythms become more complex. As both hands touch the suit, digitized pitches layer atop the percussive beats.

A musician sits with a violin perched in her lap. She taps the body of the instrument. Percussion and synth sounds emerge, as colourful geometric shapes collapse, expand and dance on the screen behind her. She picks up her bow and begins to play.

A wearable instrument and a violin that ‘plays’ colour as well as sound: These fascinating projects were developed by former student Kiran Bhumber (BMus’14) in collaboration with Prof. Robert Pritchard, and by Chantelle Ko (BA’18) in Pritchard’s Sonic UBC Laptop Sounds and Sensors Class (SUBCLASS). A core part of the Applied Music Technology Minor, SUBCLASS is a musical laboratory where students become inventors, pushing the boundaries of music and technology.

There’s a huge benefit for students from disciplines collaborating and sharing... it’s inspring
— Dr. Robert Pritchard

The idea behind the course, according to Prof. Pritchard, is to bring students with very different perspectives and skill sets together, give them the tools and the space to create, and watch what happens. “Our students come from music, film, theatre, computer science, engineering, kinesiology and other programs,” he says, “and together they create electronic chamber music that explores brand new ideas in synthesis. There is a huge benefit for students from different disciplines collaborating and sharing each other’s knowledge. It’s inspiring.”

With the guidance of Dr. Pritchard and Dr. Keith Hamel, students with complementary skills are grouped together. A music student with a specific musical concept in mind might be paired with an engineering student in order to realize it — as in Chantelle Ko’s case.


Daniel Tsui demonstrates the 3D printed "Force Touch Gesturally Activated Augmented Violin." The violin uses special sensors to trigger audio filters and sound effects.

Her project, TRAVIS (Touch Responsive Augmented Violin Interface System), involved adding sensors to an acoustic violin, wiring the circuitry, and then writing microprocessor code that tracked her fingerings in real time and generated data. The data was then used in any number of ways, such as processing the violin’s sound or synthesizing new sounds, as well as creating abstract video projections of shapes and colours reflecting the music being performed.

To develop the wireless component, Chantelle worked with electrical engineering students Carol Fu, Kyung Jin Han, Esther Mutinda, and Lily Shao (B.AS’18). They used their combined expertise in music and engineering in order to find creative solutions to the technical challenges posed by the project.

“From an engineering point of view we have the theoretical knowledge that can help with troubleshooting or support whatever issue that Chantelle was dealing with,” Jin Han says.

Dr. Robert Pritchard with students. Photo: Martin Dee

Dr. Robert Pritchard with students. Photo: Martin Dee

Ko presented her project at UBC’s Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference, and scored an impressive achievement, winning the 2018 URO Interdisciplinary Award. Other recent highlights include Bhumber’s RUBS bodysuit and doctoral student Brian Topp’s Cliff, an interactive dance project that uses a Kinect motion-tracking camera and sensors that allows the dancer to trigger voices as she moves across the stage.

But SUBCLASS is not just about technical innovation.

“Every project is guided by the question, ‘How do we make art better?’” Pritchard says. As part of their final project, the students must perform an original work with their instruments and interactive sound, video, or lighting. They work in small groups against tight deadlines to create a short piece that is debuted at the end-of-term Bang! Festival of Electroacoustic Music.  

“Our policy is that students do not touch their laptops in performance,” says Prof. Pritchard.

After the performance, each group receives feedback from the class. Everyone benefits from the discussion as the class develops critical learning skills by giving and receiving critiques.

Fidelia Lam’s Broken Thread group project is a good example of this ethos. Lam (BMus’15) and engineering student Simon Hecker used a custom smartphone application to record data from a live chamber music performance — featuring Samantha Ballard (BMus’15) on harp and Bhumber on clarinet — and then looped and regenerated the sound, creating an ethereal, multilayered real-time composition.


The UBC Laptop Orchestra performs Woven Threads in Roy Barnett Recital Hall.

Since SUBCLASS was established eight years ago by Pritchard and Dr. Keith Hamel, the course/lab/ensemble has become a quiet powerhouse at UBC, where highly skilled and sought-after graduates earn exciting career opportunities and win coveted spots at prestigious graduate programs in media and technology studies. Ko is now pursuing a Master of Music in Sonic Arts at the University of Calgary, while Bhumber went on to complete her MA in Media Arts at the University of Michigan in 2018. Lam also earned an MA in Media Arts from the University of Michigan, and is currently a PhD student in Interdisciplinary Media Arts and Practice at the University of Southern California. Current SUBCLASS student Andrea Wong recently won a Place and Sound artist residency with the CRES Media Arts Committee in Vancouver.

SUBCLASS capstone projects in the works include: a 3D-printed violin with wireless sensors, a study of LEDs and synesthetic colours for music, an ultrasonic dulcimer, and a glove that controls vocal effects in heavy metal music.

You can see the inventions and interactive performances for yourself on April 17 at the Bang! Festival in Roy Barnett Recital Hall. Admission is free!


With files from Aryn Strickland

Banner photo: Takumi Hayashi

Forces to be reckoned with

Regular Force musicians Katrina Bligh (BMus’09) and Tony Taylor (MMus’18) talk about their careers in the Canadian Armed Forces and why they love it

Katrina Bligh (BMus’09), left, is an oboist with the Band of the 15th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery and the Ceremonial Guard.  Photo: MARPAC Imaging Services

Katrina Bligh (BMus’09), left, is an oboist with the Band of the 15th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery and the Ceremonial Guard. Photo: MARPAC Imaging Services

By Tze Liew

Plaza Sotomayor, Valparaiso, 2018. It is the 200th anniversary of the Chilean Armada. Canada has sent the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy to join in the celebrations. Katrina Bligh, Petty Officer 2nd Class and oboist, is performing in a military tattoo in front of a beautifully lit, palace-like navy headquarters, bringing the gift of music to a plaza full of people. It’s an incredible experience she will never forget.

Becoming a military musician wasn’t necessarily the path Bligh thought she would take when she decided to study music at UBC. Looking back on her university years, she remembers grappling with the question so many students face: What do I do with my music degree?

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to become an orchestral musician. My mother [Elizabeth Volpé Bligh, a UBC faculty member] worked as a harpist in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for 35 years, so I knew very well what it took. But I just wasn’t convinced,” Bligh says.

Then a full-time job for oboe came up in the Regular Force in her fourth year – and Bligh jumped at the opportunity. At the time she had been working in the Reserve with the Band of the 15th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery and the Ceremonial Guard. After a successful audition, she was assigned to the Naden Band of Victoria, and has worked there for a decade since.

“I was really lucky. Oboe is what we would consider a unicorn instrument, since there’s only one per band – there wasn’t another position open for five years after I got it.”

It may be surprising to learn that there is space for the arts in a regimented, conservative sector such as the military. Most classical musicians end up finding careers in orchestras, freelance work or teaching – not many would think of the military. But in fact, it can be an exciting and varied job for musicians. Starting with a five-year contract as a Corporal or Leading Seaman, military musicians are guaranteed the security of a steady income and extensive coverage of health and social benefits, which isn’t always the case in freelance and orchestral work.

Tony Taylor, a tuba player and Leading Seaman of the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, Halifax, is another UBC alumnus who has found his calling as a military musician. Last summer he played the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, England – something that had always been on his bucket list.

Tony Taylor (MMus’18) is Leading Seaman of the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy

Tony Taylor (MMus’18) is Leading Seaman of the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy

“I love military bands. There’s something about the pomp and ceremony that really gets me going. It’s so satisfying to see a band in step and marching down the street, buttons and boots all shiny,” says Taylor.

Like Bligh, Taylor also worked as a Reservist during his time at UBC. Working in the Reserve gives students the opportunity to experience what a military music career is like before signing up for the Regular Force, and to make money to get through university. It also makes it easier to transition into the Regular Force, since candidates will already have some experience and basic military training under their belt.

“As a Reservist I played on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, in the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Halifax, and augmented Regular Force ensembles,” says Taylor. “Winning a full-time job with the CAF has been my dream since I was a cadet in my teens, and everything I did as a Reservist only cemented my desire to land the job.”

Work in the Regular Force varies from day to day, and from band to band. Other than their primary duty as musicians, band members are required to do administrative work, managing finance, public outreach, library and supply. Engagements come in all kinds: parades, governmental ceremonies, public concerts, recitals, military and state dinners. The ensembles can be split into stage and dance bands, classical chamber groups and jazz combos.

“There is quite a bit of musical satisfaction you can get: it’s not just all marches,” says Bligh. “There are engagements you can expect to get year after year, like Remembrance Day, but a lot of the time you have no idea what’s coming up next. For public shows we strive to play music that the audience will appreciate and is also rewarding for the musicians.”

The Naden Band has played Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, pieces you would expect to play only in larger orchestras. Although the bands consist of only about 35 members, they are not always limited to small-ensemble repertoire; collaboration with local ensembles opens up a lot of possibilities.

Then there are the exciting travel opportunities and the chance to connect emotionally with history and people through music. Bligh has toured the Kootenays, Haida Gwaii and Dieppe, to name a few. Taylor has toured France and Belgium commemorating the Centenary of the End of World War I.

“We get to learn so much of the history of military and local areas by playing in so many ceremonies. You get to see so many people and places, and help bring an emotional context to events,” says Taylor.

MARPAC Imaging Services

MARPAC Imaging Services

It’s an attractive job for young Canadian musicians out of university, who love travel and the excitement of doing something different every day, and want the security of health, dental, and even housing benefits. But given the unpredictable work schedule and long tours away from home, it can be exhausting too, especially for people with families. There is the trade-off of having to work overtime during busy seasons, too.

For both Bligh and Taylor, a major draw is the opportunity for professional growth – musicians can develop their careers by taking courses paid for by the military in music composition and arrangement, band management, conducting and directing.

“A lot of the job is what you make of it. You can take the bull by the horns and rise up to become Commanding Officer, Band Chief, or [you can] take out-of-trade postings to learn about other parts of the military,” says Bligh.

Looking forward, Bligh wants to keep expanding her knowledge and be the best musician she can be. Taylor aspires to work his way up through the military ranks, spend time as a conductor, and get involved with the public relations and production aspect of his band.

For more information about musical careers in the Canadian Military, visit http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp/musi/ar/index-eng.asp

Banner image: MARPAC Imaging Services