High Notes | Spring 2017 Edition


Welcome to the Spring 2017 edition of High Notes

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

Also in this issue:

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


Celebrating the Chan Centre at 20 — live on CBC Music

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

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

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

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

Photo: Chris Randle

Photo: Chris Randle


Turning Point Ensemble on music and entrepreneurship

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

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

Read the full Q & A with Jeremy Berkman

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

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


A homecoming in Onegin

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

Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki.

Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki.

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

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

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

Read the full Q & A with Krzysztof Biernacki 

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

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

New dual degree program gives students career flexibility

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

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

Read the full story


Winter concerts available on Livestream

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

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

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

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

New research and publications

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

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

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

Continue reading research and publications news


Mixtape by Maestro Jonathan Girard

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Continue reading alumni news

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

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


Beyond the Gates

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

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

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

Continue reading faculty news

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

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


Catching up with our students

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

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

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

Continue reading student news

New recordings

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

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

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

Do you have a story? Let us know!

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