UBC announces new partnership with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

  Images courtesy of VSO

Images courtesy of VSO

The School of Music is thrilled to announce that it will host the 2019 edition of the VSO Orchestral Institute (VSOI), from June 24 to July 3, 2019.

The VSOI is an orchestral training institute which attracts 100 professional-track musicians from around the world each summer.

This new partnership between the VSO and the School of Music will give the VSOI access to the facilities of one of Canada’s premiere music schools and the stunning Chan Centre for the Performing Arts overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Auditions for the VSOI are now open.

UBC President Dr. Santa Ono stated: “The University of British Columbia is pleased and proud to partner with the VSO to further music education for youth in Canada and around the world, and we celebrate the involvement of UBC’s School of Music and the Chan Centre for Performing Arts in this innovative summer institute."

“We are thrilled that the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Institute at UBC is about to become a reality,” Dr. Alexander Fisher, Acting Director of the School of Music. “This partnership with one of Vancouver’s most prestigious arts organizations is a natural step that will benefit young musicians, the VSO, UBC, and the Vancouver arts community at large. We are looking forward to a mutually enriching collaboration that will support the cause of music education in the city, region, and beyond.”

Musical opportunities abound as students play in the Institute Orchestra, rehearse and perform in chamber ensembles, and participate in masterclasses and repertoire classes with outstanding faculty. The VSOI offers performance opportunities including student and faculty recitals, a concerto competition, as well as chamber music performances around Vancouver.

New for 2019 are student conducting residencies under the tutelage of Maestro Otto Tausk and also Maestro Jonathan Girard, VSOI Assistant Conductor and Music Director of the UBC Chamber Orchestra Festival. These highly qualified student conductors will also conduct during the UBC Chamber Orchestra Festival during July 3-10, 2019.

“I am very happy that for my first year as Music Director of the Institute we will be able to work in such outstanding facilities in Vancouver, one of the world’s great cities. I and the musicians of the VSO find this city such an inspiration point for our music making. I am confident that VSO Institute members will share in that same experience,” Maestro Tausk said.

VSO President Kelly Tweeddale added, “The VSO is very happy to be able to partner with the University of British Columbia on the next edition of the VSO Orchestral Institute. Bringing the institute into these exceptional facilities in the heart of our city with its stunning urban architecture, beaches, mountains, and ocean, is going to make Vancouver the place to be this summer for young musicians. Thank you to President Santa Ono and Dean Gage Averill for helping make this partnership possible.”

Media inquiries should be directed to Sarah Yu, VSO Publicist, at 778-239-7676 /  sarahyu@vancouversymphony.ca or to Erik Rolfsen, UBC Public Affairs, at 604-209-3048 / erik.rolfsen@ubc.ca

Read the VSO press release here.

AUDITIONS NOW OPEN

Auditions for the Institute are now open. Musicians ages 15-25 are invited to apply on our website www.vsoinstitute.ca. The VSO Orchestral Institute, on the exquisite Pacific Ocean-front campus of the University of British Columbia, offers young musicians an experience and education like no other. Students are immersed in a collaborative, nurturing musical environment, mentored by musicians of the Grammy and Juno Award-winning VSO and internationally acclaimed music director, Maestro Otto Tausk.

ABOUT THE UBC SCHOOL OF MUSIC & THE CHAN CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

Located at the heart of the University of British Columbia campus in the traditional, unceded territory of the Musqueam people, the UBC School of Music is one of the oldest and largest music schools in Canada. It offers a wide array of degree and non-degree progams in composition, performance, and scholarship and every year graduates young musicians who go on to award-winning careers as professional musicians, teachers, producers, and more.

Since its opening in spring 1997, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts has earned an international reputation for its striking design, stellar acoustics and exceptional programming. Artists, critics and audiences alike are unanimous in their praise of this multi-faceted facility, winning it a place among North America’s premier performing arts centres. The Chan Centre is part of UBC’s Arts and Culture District, and hosts rehearsals and performances by the UBC School of Music and the UBC Department of Theatre and Film throughout the year.

ABOUT THE VANCOUVER SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Founded in 1919, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is one of Canada’s most active and successful performing arts institutions; the largest performing arts organization west of Ontario and the third largest symphony orchestra in the country.

The VSO performs to an annual audience of over 250,000 people and features more than 50 celebrated guest artists each season. Over 170 concerts are performed annually by the VSO in the historic Orpheum Theatre and numerous additional venues throughout the Lower Mainland. 2018/2019 marks the organization’s 100th season.

High Notes | Fall 2018 Edition

HighNotes_2018Fall_Cover_Large.jpg
 
 

Welcome to the Fall 2018 edition of High Notes

In this issue, we talk to Juno-nominated pianist John Stetch about his path-breaking career — and his decision to go back to school. We explore the music of glaciers with Director of Orchestras Dr. Jonathan Girard and multimedia artist Deborah Carruthers. And alumna Suzanne Windsor-Liscombe opens up about losing her hearing and finding her true calling as a composer of children's operas.

ALSO IN THE ISSUE

  • Donor Spotlight: Tom Lee Music provides five new pianos for public use across the UBC campus

  • Fall Concerts: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Joel Puckett’s Shadow of Sirius, and slippages — an experimental orchestral work about climate change

  • Research & Publications: Lectures on Korean drumming and cosmology, compositions for piano and voice, and a new book on Monteverdi

  • Alumni Making Waves: A bouncy castle organ, a Volvo commercial, new appointments, and awards galore

  • Beyond the Gates: The Western Canadian Music Awards, a B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame induction, Bands tour, and more

  • Catching Up with Our Students: Strings and wind students tour with the National Youth Orchestra, the Opera ensemble visits the Czech Republic, and the Silverman Piano Competition winners perform

  • Comings and Goings: Prof. Richard Kurth reflects on his second and final term as director of the School of Music

  • New Recordings: Soprano Simone Osborne releases her début album and John Stetch releases his 16th

  • Playlist: Jaelem Bhate chooses music that changed the way we listen to music

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

 

Jazz visionary John Stetch goes back to school

Stetch demonstrates his reinterpretation of Chopin's Polonaise in A-flat.

 

By Tze Liew

Over the past three decades, John Stetch has made a name for himself as one of Canada’s most innovative jazz pianists and composers. He has performed with contemporary greats such as Mark Turner and Chris Cheek and has recorded sixteen albums, including his most recent release, Ballads. Yet in the middle of a successful career that has earned him critical acclaim and half a dozen Juno Award nominations, he made the extraordinary decision to come to UBC to pursue an M.Mus in Composition.

“I wanted to get a Master’s because the nature of work and teaching [in music] has changed in many places, and often requires more than just a Bachelor’s degree. I knew I was going to be living in Vancouver, and I’d heard of UBC and its beautiful campus. There wasn’t really a jazz program around, so I thought a Composition Master’s would be a great fit, since I’ve been starting to write some classical chamber music, not just jazz,” he says.

Read the full story

Top


Improvising the music of glaciers

UBCSO performs slippages on Oct. 5th, 2018

How do you create the music of a glacier?

Artist Deborah Carruthers was grappling with this question when she met Dr. Jonathan Girard, the School of Music’s Director of Orchestras, at a talk last year at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Carruthers was just emerging from months of intensive research into glaciers, on everything from their topography and ecology to their significance in different cultures and the threat they face from climate change.

In her talk she outlined an idea for a ‘graphic’ score — a sequence of images inspired by these enigmatic and threatened landscapes — that musicians could then interpret and perform.

The project seemed a little crazy, even to her. “I am not a musician, so the score was going to have no actual musical notation,” Carruthers says. “But when I explained all of this to Jonathan, he said—”

“I said, Tell me more!” Girard interjects, laughing.

Read the full story

Top

 


Lost and found: How Suzanne Windsor-Liscombe lost her hearing and found her true calling

  Elementary students perform one of Windsor-Liscombe’s opera-musicals

Elementary students perform one of Windsor-Liscombe’s opera-musicals

 

By Tze Liew

Suzanne Windsor-Liscombe (BMus’80, DipEd’91, MEd’92, EdD’14) is passionate about music and education. She is also deaf. Having suddenly lost her hearing in 2010, she can no longer hear music or sing in tune, or do many of the things she used to enjoy as a skilled pianist and singer. But in the aftermath of this life-changing event, she has found her unique calling as an educator-composer and librettist, working around her hearing loss to write children’s operas for elementary students in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

As Head Teacher at Confederation Park Elementary in the Burnaby School District, she and a few colleagues founded an arts-integrated program which saved the school from being shut down – the student body had dropped to only 90 students when they first took over in 2006. She began to compose children’s operas for the curriculum in 2011.

“We were trying to get students to understand what opera was, and also learn something significant about our history [and] society,” she says.

Read the full story

Top


Calling all music lovers: Tom Lee Music donates five new pianos to UBC

  BMus student Serina Mui plays one of the donated pianos.  Photo: UBC Library Communications

BMus student Serina Mui plays one of the donated pianos. Photo: UBC Library Communications

By Joel Bentley

A student sits at the new grand piano in the Music, Art and Architecture Library (MAA). She has headphones on, concealing the sound, so all you hear is the tapping of keys, rhythmic patterns. It feels like a pre-concert ritual—the quiet excitement of something about to be born. Behind the piano there are rows upon rows of sheet music, the largest collection of scores in Western Canada, waiting to be played. The library is muted and subdued, but the piano calls out to music lovers—beckoning them into the world of sound.

“I love playing with and for others and seeing the joy it brings to everyone involved,” says BMus student Zeta Gesme. A third-year double major in Cello Performance and Economics (Honours), Zeta is one of hundreds of students who have discovered joy at the new grand piano in the MAA at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (IKBLC). It’s all dressed up in black and white, like a butler waiting. At your service. Zeta uses the piano to practice for her piano exams.

It’s one of five new pianos that Tom Lee Music provided to UBC this year. The pianos can be found at the Walter C. Koerner Library, David Lam Management Research Library, Woodward Library, and the Nobel Biocare Oral Health Centre—the dental clinic.

Read the full story

Top


Fall concerts available online: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Puckett’s Shadow of Sirius, Poulenc’s Gloria

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

Poulenc and Vaughan Williams

UBC Symphony Orchestra and Choirs team up for a spectacular, term-ending performance at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

Scenes II

The UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble performs works by renowned composer-in-residence Joel Puckett, Giovanni Gabrieli, and Kathryn Salfelder. Featuring DMA student and soloist Paul Hung, flute. Watch

Silverman Winners’ Concert

Benjamin Hopkins, grand prize winner of the Silverman Piano Concerto Competition, performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major Op. 58 with UBC Symphony Orchestra. Also featuring competition winners Evgenia Rabinovich, Ayunia Saputro, and Aydan Con. Watch

Mahler, Carruthers and Tsu

UBC Symphony Orchestra perform the Mahler masterpiece Das Lied von der Erde along with Taiwanese composer Tsang-Houei Hsu’s The Splendid Universe, Chinese Festival Overture, Op. 18, and Slippages, an exciting experimental piece based on the graphic scores of artist Deborah Carruthers. Watch

Fall Choral Showcase

The University Singers, Chamber Choir, Choral Union and Combined Choirs sing works by Brahms, Dvořák, Haydn, Schubert, Copland and more. Watch

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

Browse more of our recent concerts

Top


Comings and goings

  Dr. Valerie Whitney and Dr. Richard Kurth

Dr. Valerie Whitney and Dr. Richard Kurth

This summer, Dr. Richard Kurth completed his second term as Director of the School of Music. In June he published “A Letter, a Soliloquy, two Duets, and a Sextet,” his reflections on the School and his time at the helm.

Following in his footsteps for the 2018-19 academic year is Dr. Alexander Fisher, in the role of Acting Director, and Dr. John Roeder, as Associate Director for term one, and Dr. Keith Hamel, Associate Director for term two.  Thank you, Dr. Kurth, and welcome, Drs. Fisher, Roeder, and Hamel!  

Dr. Valerie Whitney joined the School of Music as Assistant Professor of Horn , starting in the 2018-19 academic year. An accomplished performer and teacher, Dr. Whitney will play a leading role in the brass division at the School of Music. Her duties will include undergraduate and graduate studio instruction, brass chamber music coaching and coordination, and brass curriculum leadership — all while working in partnership with our accomplished team of VSO principals and other top professionals in the city.

Sessional lecturer and alumna Dr. Laurel Parsons (MA’91, PhD’03) recently accepted a full-time position as Associate Teaching Professor of music theory and aural skills at the University of Alberta.

Top


New research and publications

  Dr. Claudio Vellutini

Dr. Claudio Vellutini

Dr. Claudio Vellutini has been awarded an Insight Development Grant for his research project “Entangled Histories: Opera and Cultural Networks between Vienna and the Italian States, 1815-1848.” Recently, he presented two conference papers on topics related to this project: “Opera Networks between Vienna and the Italian States: Domenico Barbaja and Der Freischütz” at the 20th Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music; and "Donizetti's Italianità and Viennese Publishers" at the third conference of the international research network Re-Imagining Italianità: Opera and Musical Culture in Transnational Perspective.

Prof. Stephen Chatman published two new compositions: “Life Has Loveliness,” a work for SATB choirs and piano, and “Six Preludes” for alto saxophone and piano.

Dr. Brandon Konoval published “Pythagorean Pipe Dreams? Vincenzo Galilei, Marin Mersenne, and the Pneumatic Mysteries of the Pipe Organ” in Perspectives on Science (February 2018), and “Is the Essay Dead? Research and Writing in the Humanities at a Research-Intensive University" in Higher Education Review (50th Anniversary Issue, Spring-Summer 2018).

Continue reading research and publications news

Top


Alumni Making Waves: A bouncy castle organ, a Volvo commercial, new appointments, and awards galore  

Soprano Emily Cheung (BMus’06) in a recent Volvo commercial

 

This November, Carter Johnson (BMus’18) won the grand prize in the 2018 Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal (OSM) Manulife Piano Competition, with his outstanding performance of Prokofiev's Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26. The prize includes a $10,000 scholarship, a performance with the OSM in January 2019, a professional broadcast on Radio-Canada’s ICI Musique, and other performing opportunities. Carter also won first prize in the Canadian Music Centre’s Stepping Stone National Competition in Montreal.

Soprano Emily Cheung (BMus’06) was recently featured in television ads for Volvo’s 2019 SUV campaign.

In August, composer Michael Park (DMA’15) staged a wildly creative concert fundraiser for the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Vancouver. With the help of organ builder David Quinton, he combined a bouncy castle with organ parts to create a one-of-a-kind instrument that makes music as kids jump inside it. It’s also, Park notes, a “proof of concept” for further musical experiments. In August, Michael also performed a one-man recital of music for speaking pianist, narrating stories about love, death and everything in between at the historic Roedde House Museum in Vancouver’s West End.

Tina Wang (BMus’15) received a Teacher of Distinction award from the Royal Conservatory of Music, in recognition of her work training young saxophonists. She teaches at the Vancouver Academy of Music and co-directs a saxophone ensemble with fellow alumnus Michael Morimoto (MMus’14), in addition to running her own teaching studio.

Continue reading alumni news

Top


Beyond the Gates: The Western Canadian Music Awards, a BC Entertainment Hall of Fame induction, Bands tour

 
  Left to right: Dr. Robert Taylor, Prof. Nancy Hermiston, Jeremy Berkman

Left to right: Dr. Robert Taylor, Prof. Nancy Hermiston, Jeremy Berkman

This November, Prof. Nancy Hermiston was inducted into the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame alongside renowned tenor and School of Music alumnus Ben Heppner (BMus’79). Prof. Hermiston this year also received the Faculty of Arts 2017-18 Dean of Arts Award, the most prestigious award that the Faculty bestows on a colleague, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to creative research, teaching, and service to UBC and the broader community.

In March, Director of Bands Dr. Robert Taylor and the UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble were invited by peers to perform at the College Band Directors National Association regional conference held at Sonoma State University. The tour included residencies with several of the San Francisco Bay Area’s top high school bands, and culminated in a featured performance at the Green Music Centre’s acoustically-stunning Weill Hall.

In June, the award-winning Turning Point Ensemble — which features UBC faculty members Brenda Fedoruk (flute), Jeremy Berkman (trombone), Ingrid Chiang (bassoon), and School of Music admissions manager Katherine Evans (trumpet) — toured Asia, performing concerts in Taiwan, Beijing, and Singapore. Turning Point also performed this year at the New Opera Days Ostrava Festival in the Czech Republic, where they premiered The Mute Canary by composer Rudolf Komourous.

Continue reading faculty news

Top


Catching up with our students: UBC students tour with the National Youth Orchestra, the Opera ensemble visits the Czech Republic, and more

  Simran Claire

Simran Claire

Six School of Music students and alumni, including Eva Toncheva (BMus’18), violin; Madelynn Erickson, violin; Nina Weber, viola; Emily Richardson, flute; Carlos Savall-Guardiola, clarinet; and Lukas Hildebrandt (BMus’18), percussion, have been accepted to the 2018 National Youth Orchestra of Canada. This summer they embarked on an exciting Canada-European tour, with stops in Ontario and Quebec and in Germany and Scotland.

Mezzo soprano Simran Claire (BMus'18, current MMus student) has won a position with the Glimmerglass Ensemble and will begin performing with the ensemble in June 2019.

The UBC Opera Ensemble had a successful tour to the Czech Republic this past summer, where they performed Rossini’s Italian Girl in Algiers in Teplice, Decin and Jablonec. They returned to Vancouver in August to performed an evening of opera and operetta excerpts at Bard on the Beach. They were joined by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. 

Continue reading student news

Top


New Recordings

Alumna Simone Osborne (DMPS'09) released her debut album, Simone Osborne: Live in Concert with Anne Larlee. A classical song recital by Osborne, a celebrated Canadian soprano, including works by Mozart, Fauré, Schumann and Canadian composer Matthew Emery (BMus’14). Available on CDBaby, iTunes and Spotify.

Graduate composition student John Stetch released his 16th record, Ballads, an album of “quiet classics from the 1930's to the 1950's that never get louder than mezzo forte. Perfect for non-intrusive background ambience, but also for discerning listeners and tough critics of creative music. All tracks are complete takes with no editing.” Available on CD Baby, iTunes and Spotify.

Top


Playlist: Music that changed the way we listen to music

By Jaelem Bhate

I’m in my final year of the graduate conducting program here at the School of Music, so I spend a lot of time thinking about big, important pieces of music. The ironic thing about masterpieces is that, over time, they grow so familiar to our ears that they actually become hard to appreciate. We begin to lose sight of what made them so great and so influential in their own time. So even as we celebrate them, we take them for granted.

With that in mind, I thought it might be fun and illuminating to put together a playlist of music that in some way changed how we listen to and experience music. These are works that were pivotal in the evolution of music through the ages, and in many cases were also landmark works for the composers themselves. It has been more than difficult to narrow down this list to only a few works, but here are some tracks and artists in my regular rotation.

Listen to the complete playlist

Top


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.

 

Alumni Making Waves: A bouncy castle organ, a Volvo commercial, new appointments, and awards galore

Soprano Emily Cheung (BMus’06) was recently featured in television ads for Volvo’s 2019 SUV campaign.

Tina Wang (BMus’15) received a Teacher of Distinction award from the Royal Conservatory of Music, in recognition of her work training young saxophonists. She teaches at the Vancouver Academy of Music and co-directs a saxophone ensemble with fellow alumnus Michael Morimoto (MMus’14), in addition to running her own teaching studio.

Stefan Sunandan Honisch (MMus’07, MMus’08, PhD’16) recently published a book chapter, "Virtuosities of Deafness and Blindness: Musical Performance and the Prized Body," in the Oxford Handbook of Music and the Body, edited by S. Gilman and Y. Kim. He also joined the board of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies.

  Carter Johnson (BMus’18)

Carter Johnson (BMus’18)

This November, Carter Johnson (BMus’18) won the grand prize in the 2018 Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal (OSM) Manulife Piano Competition, with his outstanding performance of Prokofiev's Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26. The prize includes a $10,000 scholarship, a performance with the OSM in January 2019, a professional broadcast on Radio-Canada’s ICI Musique, and other performing opportunities. Carter also won first prize in the Canadian Music Centre’s Stepping Stone National Competition in Montreal.

Also at the OSM Manulife Piano Competition, alumna Nicole Linaksita (BSc/BMus’16) won the Orford Music Prize, a scholarship covering accommodation and tuition for an advanced program at Orford Music in 2019. Her other prizes this year include the Tom Cuff Award for Best Performance of a Canadian Work; the Linda Stobbe Memorial Award as the winner of the National Piano Class; and the Marilyn Wiwcharuk Memorial Scholarship for the Outstanding Performance at the Vancouver Kiwanis Festival. She also won first prize in the Senior Category at the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra’s Clef Concerto Competition and will be playing with the VMO next season; and placed sixth at the Shean Piano Competition.

  Nicole Linaksita (BSc/BMus’16)

Nicole Linaksita (BSc/BMus’16)

Harpist Samantha Ballard (BMus’15) advanced to the semifinals of the 2018 OSM Manulife Harp Competition.

Daniel Marshall (MMus’13) is the new Director of Programs & Communications at the Vancouver Academy of Music.

Antares Boyle (PhD’18) was awarded the prestigious 2018 SMT-40 Dissertation Fellowship from the Society for Music Theory.  Her dissertation project, “Formation and Process in Repetitive Post-Tonal Music,” theorizes how musical segments, processes, and larger forms arise in recent post-tonal works that feature extensive varied repetition. Dr. Boyle completed her dissertation in August and is now teaching at the University of Northern Colorado.

Tuba player and Canadian Army reservist Tony Taylor (MMus’18) performed this summer in the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London, and with the Ceremonial Guard in Ottawa.

Brian Garbet (MMus’13) is working toward a PhD in Composition at the University of Calgary. His dissertation project combines ambient sounds such as the “hum of Windsor” — a mysterious acoustic phenomenon — with the clarinet music of François Houle.

In June, composer Chris Sivak (BMus’09) premiered “Patrick Stewart Bakes a Cake,” a new music video for his string quartet.

Woodwind quintet Fifth Wind — which features flutist Jack Chen (BMus’03) and clarinetist Eileen Walsh (BMus’03) — took part in Our Canada: Forecasting Canadian Wind, a national and international showcase of Canadian composers and wind quintet musicians. The concert series, took place in five cities in September, celebrates the diversity of Canada’s land, people, and cultures. Cris Derksen (BMus’07) and Cameron Wilson (BMus’88) were among the featured composers. UBC School of Music hosted the Vancouver performance in September, featuring Ventos Wind Quintet. Members include Jeff Pelletier (DMPS’10), flute; Morgan Zentner (MMus’07), oboe; Mike Brown (BMus’01), clarinet; Nick Anderson (BMus’07, MMus’09), horn.

Michael Juk (BMus’84) recently joined Hot Air, CBC radio’s long-running weekly jazz program, as the producer.  

Bassist and composer Frederick Schipizky (BMus’74) was commissioned by the Pacific Wildlife Foundation to create Gathering Flock, a new composition for brass. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra brass quintet performed the piece to open the 2018 Vancouver International Bird Festival and the 27th International Ornithological Congress held in Vancouver, B.C. this past August.


Conductor Al Cannon (DMA’12) recently accepted the position of Assistant Conductor with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra on a three-year contract.

In June, pianist Bogdan Dulu (DMA’15) appeared on short notice as concerto soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for the premiere of Bramwell Tovey’s (LLD’12, honoris causa) new work, Shalimar Variations for Piano and Orchestra.

  Michael Park (DMA’15)

Michael Park (DMA’15)

In August, composer Michael Park (DMA’15) staged a wildly creative concert fundraiser for the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Vancouver. With the help of organ builder David Quinton, he combined a bouncy castle with organ parts to create a one-of-a-kind instrument that makes music as kids jump inside it. It’s also, Park notes, a “proof of concept” for further musical experiments. In August, Michael also performed a one-man recital of music for speaking pianist, narrating stories about love, death and everything in between at the historic Roedde House Museum in Vancouver’s West End.

Alan Corbishley (BMus’98) directed a new production of Side by Side by Sondheim, the Tony Award-winning musical about Stephen Sondheim, at theatres in Vancouver, Kamloops, and Sidney, B.C.

  Trevor Hoffmann

Trevor Hoffmann

The Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra launched its 2018-19 season with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concerto No. 1 that involved three School of Music alumni, including pianist Libby Yu (BMus’96, MMus’98, DMA’10), artistic director and conductor Kenneth Hsieh (BMus’03), and assistant conductor Kemuel Wong (BMus’08, MMus’10), who gave the pre-concert talk. Premiering alongside the Tchaikovsky pieces was a new work by VMO composer-in-residence and former student Trevor Hoffmann.

This past spring, Simone Osborne (DMPS'09) released her debut album, Simone Osborne: Live in Concert with Anne Larlee, and was nominated for the 2018 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance – Female (Opera Division) for her role as Adina in The Elixir of Love with the Canadian Opera Company.

  Simone Osborne (DMPS’09)

Simone Osborne (DMPS’09)

Marco Del Rio (BMus’14, B.Ed’15) is the composer-in-residence of the Laudate Singers. For the Singers’ recent Celtic Spirit concert he created new arrangements and works for the choir to sing with the North Shore Celtic Ensemble.

Based in North Vancouver, the Laudate Singers were founded by Lars Kaario (BMus’79). Lars is Artistic Director of the choir and is Director of Choral Studies in the Diploma of Music Program at Capilano University where he directs the Capilano University Singers and Capilano University Festival Chorus. He is also the head instructor in the university’s Conducting Certificate Program.

Baritone Sheldon Baxter (BMus’14, MMus’15) recently performed Trouble in Tahiti and Cabaret with the Kammer Theatre of the Semper Opera. He made his mainstage debut at the Semper Opera in Dresden, Germany in August.  

  Roydon Tse (BMus’13)

Roydon Tse (BMus’13)

In June, Roydon Tse (BMus’13) won the the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award. This is a prestigious prize worth $10,000 and is awarded every two years to emerging artists of all disciplines from Alberta. Below are some links and a video made to accompany the award citation.

In May, Alfredo Santa Ana (MMus’05, DMA’10) premiered three works for string quartet and voice at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

Soprano Eva Tavares (BMus’14) sang the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera in a North American tour of the musical this year.

Bass-baritone Scott Brooks (BMus’08, MMus’17), baritone Max van Wyck (BMus’11, DMPS’13) and tenor Spencer Britten (BMus’15, MMus’17) are currently performing with Opera Atelier.

This summer, Nat Jay (Minor’04) taught as a sessional instructor in the Digital Music Program at Langara College.

  Clara Shandler (BMus’12)

Clara Shandler (BMus’12)

This past spring, Clara Shandler (BMus’12), also known as The Sidewalk Cellist, staged performances on Burnaby Mountain, at MP offices in Vancouver, and at UBC in support of the protests against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline project.  

In May, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra performed The Promised Hand, an exciting new work by composer Iman Habibi (BMus’08, MMus’10). 

In October, Jordan Back (BMus’07) won a seat on the District of North Vancouver council. A former voice student, he also sings with the Vancouver choir Chor Leoni.

Former opera student Matthew Mori is now an otolaryngologist and assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. His brother, Michael Mori (BMus’04, MMus’06), is the Artistic Director of Tapestry Opera, which won the 2017 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production in the Opera Division for Rocking Horse Winner, with Michael receiving an award for outstanding direction.

Fall 2018 concerts online

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

Poulenc and Vaughan Williams

UBC Symphony Orchestra and Choirs team up for a spectacular, term-ending performance at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

 

Scenes II

The UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble performs works by renowned composer-in-residence Joel Puckett, Giovanni Gabrieli, and Kathryn Salfelder. Featuring DMA student and soloist Paul Hung, flute.

Silverman Winners’ Concert

Benjamin Hopkins, grand prize winner of the Silverman Piano Concerto Competition, performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major Op. 58 with UBC Symphony Orchestra. Also featuring competition winners Evgenia Rabinovich, Ayunia Saputro, and Aydan Con. Watch on Livestream

Mahler, Carruthers and Tsu

UBC Symphony Orchestra perform the Mahler masterpiece Das Lied von der Erde along with Taiwanese composer Tsang-Houei Hsu’s The Splendid Universe, Chinese Festival Overture, Op. 18, and Slippages, an exciting experimental piece based on the graphic scores of artist Deborah Carruthers. Watch on Livestream

Fall Choral Showcase

The University Singers, Chamber Choir, Choral Union and Combined Choirs sing works by Brahms, Dvořák, Haydn, Schubert, Copland and more. Watch on Livestream


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

New Research and Publications

  Prof. John Roeder and Assistant Prof. Claudio Vellutini

Prof. John Roeder and Assistant Prof. Claudio Vellutini

Prof. Nathan Hesselink recently spoke at two universities as a Distinguished Speaker for the Association of Asian Studies Lecture Series and presented talks at two international conferences. He gave the lecture “Korean Drumming and Cosmology: Music Reflecting and Shaping Local Culture" at Mt. Allison University (New Brunswick, Canada) and the University of California-Davis (U.S.A.); and he presented "Cross-Cultural Resonance in the Cadential Hemiola” at the Fifth International Conference on Analytical Approaches to World Music in Thessaloniki, Greece, and "Cultural Legacy, Transmission, and Future Prospects for Gochang Nongak" at the 2018 World Forum for Intangible Cultural Heritage in Jeonju, South Korea.

Prof. John Roeder gave three keynote addresses in 2018: at the Analytical Approaches to World Music conference in Thessaloniki, Greece; at the Rocky Mountain Music Scholars conference in Tucson, AZ; and at the Meter Symposium 3 in Sydney, Australia. This summer Prof. Roeder gave lectures at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, and at the 2018 Perspectives on Chinese Contemporary Music Conference, sponsored by the Harvard Shanghai Center.

Dr. Claudio Vellutini has been awarded an Insight Development Grant for his research project “Entangled Histories: Opera and Cultural Networks between Vienna and the Italian States, 1815-1848.” Recently, he presented two conference papers on topics related to this project: “Opera Networks between Vienna and the Italian States: Domenico Barbaja and Der Freischütz” at the 20th Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music; and "Donizetti's Italianità and Viennese Publishers" at the third conference of the international research network Re-Imagining Italianità: Opera and Musical Culture in Transnational Perspective.

Prof. Stephen Chatman published two new compositions: “Life Has Loveliness,” a work for SATB choirs and piano, and “Six Preludes” for alto saxophone and piano.

Dr. Ève Poudrier published “Tapping to Carter: Mensural Determinacy in Complex Rhythmic Sequences" in Empirical Musicology Review. The article investigate the influence of style-specific expertise on musicians' ability to find the beat in a passage from Elliott Carter's 90+ for piano (1994).

Sessional lecturer Dr. Maria Virginia Acuña received an SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship for her project, “Cultural Transfer in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Spain: The Italian Castrato in Madrid.” With Susan Lewis, she co-authored a book, Claudio Monteverdi: A Research and Information Guide. She also published two peer-reviewed articles: “Love Conquers All: Cupid, Philip V, and the Allegorical Zarzuela during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–16),” in Eighteenth-Century Music (March 2018), and “Sobbing Cupids, Lamenting Lovers, and Weeping Nymphs in the Early Zarzuela: Calderón de la Barca’s El laurel de Apolo(1657) and Durón and Navas’s Apolo y Dafne (ca. 1700)” in Bulletin of the Comediantes (2017).

Dr. Brandon Konoval published “Pythagorean Pipe Dreams? Vincenzo Galilei, Marin Mersenne, and the Pneumatic Mysteries of the Pipe Organ” in Perspectives on Science (February 2018), and “Is the Essay Dead? Research and Writing in the Humanities at a Research-Intensive University" in Higher Education Review (50th Anniversary Issue, Spring-Summer 2018).

Harpist and adjunct professor Elizabeth Volpé Bligh published “Cracking the Nutcracker,” a new article in Harp Column about the ballet’s iconic harp part.

New Recordings

CD_John Stetch_Ballads_2018.jpg

Graduate composition student John Stetch released his 16th record, Ballads, an album of “quiet classics from the 1930's to the 1950's that never get louder than mezzo forte. Perfect for non-intrusive background ambience, but also for discerning listeners and tough critics of creative music. All tracks are complete takes with no editing.” Available on CD Baby, iTunes and Spotify.

 
2018+Simone+Osborne+Live+in+Concert+with+Anne+Larlee+|+CD+Cover.jpg

Alumna Simone Osborne (DMPS'09) released her debut album, Simone Osborne: Live in Concert with Anne Larlee. A classical song recital by Osborne, a celebrated Canadian soprano, including works by Mozart, Fauré, Schumann and Canadian composer Matthew Emery. Available on CDBaby, iTunes and Spotify.

 

Comings and Goings

  Dr. Valerie Whitney and Dr. Richard Kurth

Dr. Valerie Whitney and Dr. Richard Kurth

This summer, Dr. Richard Kurth completed his second term as Director of the School of Music. In June he published “A Letter, a Soliloquy, two Duets, and a Sextet,” his reflections on the School and his time at the helm.

Following in his footsteps for the 2018-19 academic year is Dr. Alexander Fisher, in the role of Acting Director, and Dr. John Roeder, as Associate Director for term one, and Dr. Keith Hamel, Associate Director for term two.  Thank you, Dr. Kurth, and welcome, Drs. Fisher, Roeder, and Hamel!  

Dr. Valerie Whitney joined the School of Music as Assistant Professor of Horn , starting in the 2018-19 academic year. An accomplished performer and teacher, Dr. Whitney will play a leading role in the brass division at the School of Music. Her duties will include undergraduate and graduate studio instruction, brass chamber music coaching and coordination, and brass curriculum leadership — all while working in partnership with our accomplished team of VSO principals and other top professionals in the city.

Sessional lecturer and alumna Dr. Laurel Parsons (MA’91, PhD’03) recently accepted a full-time position as Associate Teaching Professor of music theory and aural skills at the University of Alberta.

Beyond the Gates: The Western Canadian Music Awards, a B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame induction, Bands tour, and more

  Robert Taylor, Nancy Hermiston, and Turning Point’s Jeremy Berkman

Robert Taylor, Nancy Hermiston, and Turning Point’s Jeremy Berkman

This November, Prof. Nancy Hermiston was inducted into the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame alongside renowned tenor and School of Music alumnus Ben Heppner (BMus’79). Prof. Hermiston this year also received the Faculty of Arts 2017-18 Dean of Arts Award, the most prestigious award that the Faculty bestows on a colleague, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to creative research, teaching, and service to UBC and the broader community. As part of the award, she was bestowed with the title of Professor Emerita.

In October, composer and instructor Jocelyn Morlock (MMus’96, DMA’02) won Classical Composer of Year at the 2018 Western Canadian Music Awards. The award is the latest highlight in a big year for Morlock that also includes a Juno Award for Best Classical Composition for her orchestral work, “My Name Is Amanda Todd” and the Jan V. Matejcek New Classical Music Award from SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada).

The WCMA Classical Composer category was dominated by faculty and alumni from the School of Music’s vibrant Composition Division, including Morlock, Prof. Keith Hamel, and Prof. Stephen Chatman.

In March, Director of Bands Dr. Robert Taylor and the UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble were invited by peers to perform at the College Band Directors National Association regional conference held at Sonoma State University. The tour included residencies with several of the San Francisco Bay Area’s top high school bands, and culminated in a featured performance at the Green Music Centre’s acoustically-stunning Weill Hall.

Harpist and adjunct professor Elizabeth Volpé Bligh was featured on the cover of Harp Column and interviewed in a story about her long and varied career as a teacher and performer.

This fall, Dr. Terence Dawson, chair of the keyboard division, partnered with soprano Theresa Plut from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia to give two recitals sponsored by the Honorary Consul of Slovenia, Dr. Margaret Rudolf. The recitals featured songs of Strauss, Mahler and Wolf as well as Slovenian composers Benjamin Ipavec, Anton Lajovic and Vasilij Mirk. These concerts were in addition to Prof. Plut's work as a visiting scholar with voice and opera students and in the Collaborative Piano classes of both Dr. Dawson and Prof. Rena Sharon.

In June, the award-winning Turning Point Ensemble — which features UBC faculty members Brenda Fedoruk (flute), Jeremy Berkman (trombone), Ingrid Chiang (bassoon), and School of Music admissions manager Katherine Evans (trumpet) — toured Asia, performing concerts in Taiwan, Beijing, and Singapore. Turning Point also performed this year at the New Opera Days Ostrava Festival in the Czech Republic, where they premiered The Mute Canary by composer Rudolf Komourous.

At the Spectrum in Brooklyn, New York, Prof. Corey Hamm performed Frédéric Rzewski’s hour-long solo piano epic The People United Will Never Be Defeated! as the first of a series of concerts celebrating Rzewski’s 80th Birthday year. While in New York he gave a piano masterclass at NYU Steinhardt.

 

 

Catching Up with Our Students: UBC students tour with the National Youth Orchestra, the Opera ensemble visits the Czech Republic plus more

  Simran Claire

Simran Claire

Six School of Music students and alumni, including Eva Toncheva (BMus’18), violin; Madelynn Erickson, violin; Nina Weber, viola; Emily Richardson, flute; Carlos Savall-Guardiola, clarinet; and Lukas Hildebrandt (BMus’18), percussion, have been accepted to the 2018 National Youth Orchestra of Canada. This summer they embarked on an exciting Canada-European tour, with stops in Ontario and Quebec and in Germany and Scotland.

John Stetch has won the BC Canadian Music Centre’s Pentland Prize, a $1,000 scholarship awarded annually to a graduate composition student at UBC, SFU, or UVic. You can read more about Stetch and his unique synthesis of jazz and classical music here.


Mezzo soprano Simran Claire (BMus'18, current MMus student) has won a position with the Glimmerglass Ensemble and will begin performing with the ensemble in June 2019.

  The UBC Trumpet Ensemble in San Antonio

The UBC Trumpet Ensemble in San Antonio

Members of the UBC Trumpet Ensemble — Dasa SilhovaWilly WangMatheus MoraesErica Binder, and Shira Adam — were selected to participate in the International Trumpet Guild of Miami, Florida in June. They travelled to San Antonio from May 27th to June 3rd, attending valuable workshops, lectures, masterclasses and concerts. 


The UBC Opera Ensemble had a successful tour to the Czech Republic this past summer, where they performed Rossini’s Italian Girl in Algiers in Teplice, Decin and Jablonec. They returned to Vancouver in August to performed an evening of opera and operetta excerpts at Bard on the Beach. They were joined by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. 

Silverman Piano Concerto Competition winners Benjamin Hopkins, Evgenia Rabinovich, Ayunia Saputro and Aydan Con performed iconic concerto movements with the UBC Symphony Orchestra at the Chan Centre this September. Hopkins, the grand prize winner, performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, while Rabinovich, Saputro, and Con played movements by Beethoven and Mozart. Watch their peformances online.

At the 2018 BC Provincial Music Festival, BMus student Julia Johnstone won first place in the National Vocal Variety category and was the runner-up in the National Classical Voice category. MMus student Thomas Law was the runner-up in the National Woodwinds category, while BMus student Braden Eguia won Honourable Mention in the Senior Piano category.

PhD student Curtis Andrews and his world jazz ensemble, The Offering of Curtis Andrews, collaborated with legendary South Indian percussionist Trichy Sankaran this September. The concert, “A World of Rhythm,” presented music rooted in South Indian classical Carnatic music, with an exciting array of rhythmic exploration, improvisation and devotional compositions.

Playlist: Music that changed how we listen to music

Our Playlist column features music curated by our faculty, students, and staff around an interesting idea or theme. For the latest column, we invited conducting student and jazz composer Jaelem Bhate to share some of his favourites. 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 Jaelem Bhate

  Beethoven, Kaija Saariaho and John Coltrane

Beethoven, Kaija Saariaho and John Coltrane

I’m in my final year of the graduate conducting program here at the School of Music, so I spend a lot of time thinking about big, important pieces of music. The ironic thing about masterpieces is that, over time, they grow so familiar to our ears that they actually become hard to appreciate. We begin to lose sight of what made them so great and so influential in their own time. So even as we celebrate them, we take them for granted.

With that in mind, I thought it might be fun and illuminating to put together a playlist of music that in some way changed how we listen to and experience music. These are works that were pivotal in the evolution of music through the ages, and in many cases were also landmark works for the composers themselves. It has been more than difficult to narrow down this list to only a few works, but here are some tracks and artists in my regular rotation.

You can listen to the songs via Spotify (login required) or YouTube, below. (You can also access the full playlist in Spotify — subscription also required).


J.S. Bach — Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BMV 1049

Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos hold a special place in the development of early music as traditions developed from Renaissance to truly Baroque, foreshadowing the Classical era. These six works pushed apart independency between string instruments further than it had ever been pushed before and are notable for their written out, virtuosic lines. In the past, these types of lines may have been left to a soloist to improvise, but the practice of fully notating these melodies for an entire section opened up a new front of musical possibilities.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K 550

There are so many revolutionary pieces to pick from when talking about Mozart. His symphonic output arguably shows the most maturity and growth of any composer. His First Symphony was deeply influenced by Haydn, whereas later works like Symphony Nos. 40 and 41 truly showcase the maturity and forward-thinking nature of an adult Mozart. Symphony 40 is only one of two in a minor key and totally reimagines symphonic form and harmonic structure.

 
Ludwig Van Beethoven — Symphony No. 3 in Eb Major, Op. 55

Beethoven’s Third Symphony, many say, was the point where Beethoven came into his own and broke away from the traditions of the past. It defines the transition from the early to middle period of his creative output and was the longest and most complex symphony ever composed at the time. Beethoven famously scratched out his dedication of the symphony to Napoleon after he crowned himself Emperor of France, and instead rededicated it to the true heroes of Europe—an unheard-of social commentary in a musical work.

 

Hector Berlioz — Symphony Fantastique, Op. 14

When Beethoven died in 1827, the musical world was at a loss for an answer to the question of what would come next for Western music and the symphony. Beethoven had only premiered his game-changing Ninth Symphony in 1827, and composers in 1830 were struggling to live in his shadow. Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique was totally off the wall for its time. A hugely expanded orchestra with never-before-seen instruments and two sets of timpani, along with the codification of programmatic musical elements in symphonic form, meant that Fantastique was to forever serve as a marker for the evolution of music.

 

Richard Wagner — Act III, Scene III of “Die Walküre” from The Ring

Wagner wasn’t a great guy, and indeed his politics and morals were ugly by the standards of today, as well as of the time he was writing in. However, his music was undeniably groundbreaking, and his Ring cycle, featuring very long operas that tell an epic story, paved the way for not only how we experience opera and classical music, but how we consume entertainment. He wrote the libretto as well as the music, and laid the foundation for Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and almost every modern movie that tells a hero’s tale.

 

Igor Stravinsky — “The glorification of the chosen one” from The Rite of Spring

In many ways, having a riot break out at the premiere of your work is a composer’s dream. It means you moved folks in such a profound and strong way that they responded in the strongest way they could. This ballet score changed so much about how music is written, and liberated rhythm from the bar line.

 

George Gershwin — “Rhapsody in Blue”

The invention and development of jazz introduced the possibility of cross-genre composition in ways that had not even been attempted. “Rhapsody in Blue,” while not the first instance of jazz making an appearance in an orchestra in the 1920’s, certainly was one of the most influential, and remains so even today.

 

Duke Ellington — “Tell Me It’s the Truth”

The big band era, at least as popular mainstream entertainment, was essentially over by the end of WWII. However, this opened the door for large ensemble jazz to be developed as concert music meant for listening, and not just background music for dances. Near the end of his career, Ellington wrote a concert of sacred music, intended for listeners of all religions, and considered it one of the most important works he ever completed. His sacred music cemented jazz as a genre of serious, concert music.

 

Elvis — “Can’t Help Falling in Love”

Need I say more about Elvis? Elvis in many ways resurrected the renaissance tradition of the troubadour— the singer-songwriter who performed at popular events and festivals. He was a cultural sensation and helped to pave the way for the huge popular music stars we enjoy today in stadiums around the world.

 

The Beatles — “Come Together”

It is difficult to find a more iconic or more recognizable group, not only in music, but in history. As the Beatles progressed musically, their cultural status allowed them to expand their listeners’ tastes and introduce them to compositional techniques that were completely novel in rock music.

 

Miles Davis — “So What”

Miles Davis was his own person and his own artist. He didn’t let anyone tell him what to do or how to play. While this may have hindered him in his early career, he forged a sound that was innovative and even shocking for the time. He is considered one of the greatest jazz musicians to ever live, and his album Kind of Blue remains the top selling jazz album of all time. “So What,” an iconic track from that album, is notable for its use of modal modulation and progression to advance the composition, rather than traditional ii-V-I harmony.

 

John Coltrane — “Giant Steps”

Just like Miles, Coltrane was a legend both musically and as a person. Nobody could ever accuse him of being unoriginal. His mastery of the saxophone was and remains unparalleled, even with all the innovations in instrumental technique, the improvement of the instrument mechanically, and an influx of young jazz musicians whose sole purpose is to learn Coltrane solos. Beyond his saxophone skills, he was also a devout student of harmony. “Giant Steps” shocked the jazz world for its bold harmonic changes, utilizing the entire circle of fifths in a relatively short melody—along with a famous, blazing fast solo from Coltrane himself, handling incredibly difficult chord changes.

 

Thad Jones — “Groove Merchant”

Whereas Ellington took jazz and big band from a dance genre to one of high art, Thad Jones made it popular again and resurrected the sounds of the big band era in an updated and exciting setting. Without the innovations of Thad Jones as a composer and bandleader, the many jazz inspired theme songs of famous TV shows of the 1970s would not have existed. One of Jones’s legacies is his reimagining of how to write for a saxophone section.

 

Bruce Springsteen — “Born to Run”

The Beatles represented the start of the British invasion — the influx of British artists into mainstream United States and global culture, and the domination of bands from the UK. As the 1980s and 90s progressed, the world saw the age of the American rocker — the hair bands, the Midwestern guitar-slinging aching hearts, and the great American rock movement. Bruce Springsteen was a main figure of this movement and helped craft the soundtrack of America and the world into the 21st century.

John Adams — “Short Ride in a Fast Machine”

America had always struggled in the 19th century and early 20th century to forge a true, national sound. Leonard Bernstein made vast inroads, introducing jazz and other American musical calling cards into older European forms of symphonies and operas. After Bernstein passed away in 1990, there was an absence of an obvious heir, similar to the period after Beethoven’s death. John Adams has arguably filled that void more successfully than anyone else, forging ahead with his distinctive new sound and unique approach to composition.

 

Kaija Saariaho — Asteroid 4179

As scientific discovery and research accelerates in the 21st century, composers have begun to reflect these topics in their work. Harkening back to the programmatic elements that were so revolutionary in Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Saariaho has a knack for producing music that represents scientific themes in her music.

 

Esperanza Spalding — “I know you know”

Spalding has shattered barriers in the jazz world, becoming one of the most popular and best-selling jazz artists in the last decade. She has performed all over the world, including at the White House as a guest of President Barack Obama, and has spearheaded a more inclusive era. Beyond her popularity, she has also changed the tradition of how to compose for small jazz ensembles, bringing new attention to her instrument, the bass, as a melodic voice rather than strictly a harmonic one.

 

Adele — “Rolling in the deep”

Adele burst onto the scene and shaped a sound that was distinct from the heavily edited pop music of the 2000s, and harkened back to the time of Elvis, in a way — a singer with a song, presenting it in a simple and unassuming setting. She helped revitalize the power ballad, selling out stadiums with just her voice and a small, primarily acoustic band.

Improvising the music of glaciers

Director of Orchestras Dr. Jonathan Girard and artist Deborah Carruthers discuss slippages, an exciting new collaboration that tackles climate change from an unusual angle

  Jonathan Girard and Deborah Carruthers.

Jonathan Girard and Deborah Carruthers.

How do you create the music of a glacier?

Artist Deborah Carruthers was grappling with this question when she met Dr. Jonathan Girard, the School of Music’s Director of Orchestras, at a talk last year at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Carruthers was just emerging from months of intensive research into glaciers, on everything from their topography and ecology to their significance in different cultures and the threat they face from climate change.

In her talk she outlined an idea for a ‘graphic’ score — a sequence of images inspired by these enigmatic and threatened landscapes — that musicians could then interpret and perform.

The project seemed a little crazy, even to her. “I am not a musician, so the score was going to have no actual musical notation,” Carruthers says. “But when I explained all of this to Jonathan, he said—”

“I said, Tell me more!” Girard interjects, laughing. A crazy idea, maybe, but he was struck by Carruthers’s sense of urgency. “So we started talking, and we quickly realized that together we could do something that no one had done before: create an orchestral work about climate change that would be totally improvised from abstract visual art.”


WATCH: The slippages trailer video. Watch the full concert online

At the time, Carruthers was the Wall Institute’s inaugural artist-in-residence; together she and Girard decided that the Institute was an ideal place to incubate the collaboration. Girard quickly applied for, and received, a Wall Scholar Research Award, which “provides support for UBC faculty to spend one year in residence at the Peter Wall Institute, in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment.”

Working with a palette of yellows, blues and greys similar to the hues she observed during her fieldwork in the Columbia Icefields, Carruthers painted the scores on special paper perforated at random with small holes. The idea was that, when stacked, they would mimic the layers of a glacier.

“Glaciers form slowly over thousands of years, layer by layer, from bottom to top. There are all these miniature ecologies that make each one unique, holes within the ice and on the surface. So as a glacier changes and holes form between the layers, the past is always revealing itself,” she says.

This notion of the past influencing the present would become one of the guiding principles behind the work.

But how do you go about translating abstract images into music? With their subtle colours and mixture of slashing lines and dribbly curls — not to mention the holes in the paper — the scores presented an unusual challenge.

Girard and Carruthers struck upon an ingenious solution. First, they created a sort of geography of the orchestra by mapping the seating arrangement onto the images themselves: “We created a transparent overlay of the seating chart and went page by page, figuring out which instruments would take responsibility for which parts of the images,” Girard explains.

But how do you go about translating abstract images into music?

“The fascinating thing was how, through this lens, the images suddenly made musical sense. The musicians looked at the depth and the saturation of the colours and began translating those into musical intensity, texture, and so on. They used the different types of brushstrokes as interpretive cues, too.”

Second, Girard and Carruthers mapped out the relationship between the pages, or layers, of the score — approximating what Carruthers calls the “language of glaciers.”

“We think of history as being chronological,” she says. “With glaciers the present is on the surface so you’re working from the present to the past. So what you’re revealing through the graphic scores is in a sense, their language: the way they ebb and flow and how, as they melt, thanks to climate change, these ancient histories are unlocked.”

In practical terms, this means that “as you go deeper into the score, you see the holes, where parts of the score two pages down become part of the page you’re on right now. So parts of the score begin to be played several pages before they are fully realized,” Girard says.

The UBC Symphony Orchestra debuted the piece, titled slippages, at the Chan Centre on October 5th, 2018. The months and weeks of planning and ‘structured’ improvisation produced a luminous, yearning experimental work that celebrates the beauty of the natural world while mourning its disappearance.

Following the premiere, Girard and Carruthers want to bring slippages to as many different audiences as possible.

“We think this project is really timely. The fact that slippages combines so many different disciplines, from science to visual art to music — speaks, we hope, to the urgent need to bring the best that humanity has to offer to bear on the problem of climate change. We’re not going to solve anything unless we work together,” Girard says.

Look out for information about upcoming performances on the School of Music website.


Banner graphic: Deborah Carruthers

School of Music grads win big at OSM Manulife Piano Competition

 Carter Johnson

Carter Johnson

School of Music alumnus Carter Johnson (BMus’18) has just won the grand prize in the 2018 Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal (OSM) Manulife Piano Competition, with his outstanding performance of Prokofiev's Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26.

The prize includes a $10,000 scholarship, a performance with the OSM in January 2019, a professional broadcast on Radio-Canada’s ICI Musique, and concert opportunities with the Orford Arts Center, National Arts Center, Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and YOA Orchestra of the Americas.

 Nicole Linaksita

Nicole Linaksita

At the same competition, alumna Nicole Linaksita (BSc/BMus’16) won the Orford Music Prize, a scholarship covering accommodation and tuition for an advanced program at Orford Music in 2019.

During their time at UBC, Johnson studied piano with Prof. Mark Anderson, while Linaksita studied with Prof. Corey Hamm.

Congratulations, Carter and Nicole!