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The 2018 UBC Concerto Competition winners

 Carter Johnson

Carter Johnson

Congratulations to everyone who competed in the 2017/18 UBC School of Music Concerto Competition!

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

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

 Carlos Savail-Guardiola

Carlos Savail-Guardiola

This year's winner is Carter Johnson (piano) for his terrific performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26

The runner-up is Carlos Savail-Guardiola (clarinet), for his excellent performance of Francaix's Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op. 36.

Carter wins the opportunity to perform as the soloist with UBC Symphony Orchestra on Friday, March 9th at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Carlos will perform with the Orchestra next autumn — details to be confirmed. 

 

Photos: Takumi Hayashi/UBC

New research and publications

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Dr. Hedy Law’s essay on the female “citoyenne” in 18th-century French opera — including Sapho (1795) by librettist Constance-Marie de Salm and composer Jean-Paul-Gilles Martini — was published this spring in The Opera Quarterly.

This November, Dr. Ève Poudrier presented a talk entitled “The influence of grouping and tempo on subjective metricization” at the Auditory Perception, Cognition, and Action Meeting (APCAM) in Vancouver, British Columbia. The presentation slides are available here.

Dr. David Metzer’s new book, The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé, was published by Cambridge University Press.  It is the first history of the ballad in recent popular music. Prof. Metzer chronicles a musical history of the ballad, looking at how such celebrated singers as Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, and Whitney Houston have shaped the genre. He also offers a history of emotions in popular culture, showing how ballads capture the changing ways in which feelings have been understood and experienced. You can listen to Prof. Metzer talk about his book on the School of Music podcast.

Music theorists and editors Dr. Laurel Parsons (MA ’91, Ph.D ’03) and Dr. Brenda Ravenscroft (Ph.D ’93) won the Society for Music Theory’s 2018 award for the Outstanding Multi-Authored Publication for Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers: Concert Music, 1960-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2016). It is the first of a four-volume series.

Dr. John Roeder gave the keynote address at a conference in London about the operas of Thomas Adès. At the Society for Music Theory annual meeting in November, he also presented papers on music of Chen Yi, and on teaching musical meter.

  P’ungmul: South Korean Drumming and Dance

P’ungmul: South Korean Drumming and Dance

Dr. Nathan Hesselink gave three talks in the past year: "The Backbeat as Expressive Device in Popular Music," presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Music Theory in Vancouver; "Korean Drumming and Cosmology: Music Reflecting and Shaping Local Culture," presented at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon; and "Radiohead’s OK Computer," presented as part of Rain City Chronicles “The Record Club” Series, Macmillan Space Centre, Vancouver. The Korean translation of his first book on Korean folk drumming, P’ungmul: South Korean Drumming and Dance (University of Chicago), was published by the Academy of Korean Studies.

The School of Music’s Rhythm Research Cluster hosted its first symposium, "Entrainment and the Human-Technology Interface," in September. UBC faculty, students, and guest lecturers together explored the history and nature of interactions between live human agents (performers and composers) and an externalizing and regulating entraining agent (both metronomes and click tracks). The next symposium, titled "Modeling Rhythmic Complexity," will focus on the cognition and production of complex rhythmic structures (such as polyrhythm and syncopation) using tools and methods from fields as diverse as linguistics, music information retrieval, behavioural psychology and neuroscience. It is scheduled for January 2018.

Elizabeth Volpé Bligh published a new article in the November issue of Harp Column

During his first year at UBC, Dr. Claudio Vellutini was invited to present at the conference London Voices, 1820-1840 hosted by King's College London and at the Rossini 2017 Conference organized by the Rossini Foundation in Pesaro, Italy. He also gave a paper at the Second Transnational Opera Studies Conference in Bern, Switzerland. His article "Opera and Monuments: Verdi's Ernani in Vienna and the Construction of Dynastic Memory" has been accepted for publication and is forthcoming in the Cambridge Opera Journal. In Vancouver, he was a guest of the radio programme Place à l'opéra on Radio Canada), and gave pre-concert talks on Verdi's Macbeth and Otello at the Italian Cultural Institute and at the Vancouver Opera Festival.

Prof. Stephen Chatman published four new books of sheet music: Shine! shine! shine! from A Song of Joys, Dawn of Night, Forever, Remember Me, and O Clap Your Hands. All are available via Morningstar Music

In May, Dr. Brandon Konoval presented a conference paper for the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science: "The Disenchanted Flute? Music, Max Weber, and Early Modern Science." He also published an article in Modern Intellectual History: "Between Aristotle and Lucretius: Discourses of Nature and Rousseau's Discours sur l'inégalité."

Oboist and DMA student Kristen Cooke experiences UK music life thanks to new scholarship

  Kristen Cooke

Kristen Cooke

By Michelle Keong
 

Over the summer, Doctor of Musical Arts student Kristen Cooke received an opportunity of a lifetime. 

As the first winner of the Royal Over-Seas League UK Scholarship for a BC Emerging Musician, the UBC oboist got a taste of professional music life in the UK, working with British and Commonwealth musicians, and performing at London's Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and British Isles Music Festival.

The Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL) has had a long history of supporting and nurturing talent from Commonwealth countries. Along with existing scholarships for aspiring professional musicians from Australia and New Zealand, ROSL has now offered their first musical scholarship in Canada. Each scholarship package includes an incredible itinerary of performing concerts at iconic venues and attending coaching sessions with prominent musicians in London. To top it off, recipients enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip with time to explore.

“We are thrilled and grateful that the Royal Over-Seas League has generously offered this opportunity to a UBC student,” said Richard Kurth, director of the UBC School of Music. 

“ROSL provided Kristen with a wealth of artistic experiences that were wonderfully multi-faceted, carefully tailored to her needs, and comprehensively transformative for her professional development. The ROSL Arts programs, under the leadership of Geoff Parkin, are very impressive indeed. And much credit goes to Elizabeth Murray, president of the BC ROSL chapter, and to local members, for creating this wonderful opportunity for UBC Music students!"

In addition, Cooke received complimentary tickets to attend some of the finest concerts of the season, including a BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall, featuring a new work by Mark Simpson.

“It was a reminder that classical music is relevant to our time and appreciated by millions of people around the world,” said Cooke of Simpson’s The Immortal. “The combination of the crowd’s energy, the brilliant performance, the iconic, massive beauty of the hall is something I will never forget.” 

Here are excerpts from an interview with Cooke, fresh from her month-long UK tour: 
 

How has the ROSL UK Scholarship for a BC Emerging Musician supported your learning as a doctor of musical arts (DMA) candidate and prepared you for a career after graduation?

Going to the UK as a BC Emerging Musician contributed to my confidence as a performer, my awareness of the greater musical world, and my development as an artist. As a DMA candidate in oboe performance, I have spent the last several years refining my playing while deepening my understanding of my instrument in a historical and cultural context. 

I gained a greater appreciation for the history of classical music; it’s one thing to read a textbook and quite another to stand in the church frequented by Handel! I made connections that I hope to maintain with colleagues from 70 different countries. Most of all, I was reminded that art has the ability to cross the borders of countries, languages, beliefs, and even time to bring the world closer together.

What was the most memorable experience from the tour?

My most memorable moment was warming up before my final recital of the tour at St. Martin-in-the-Fields church. I was nervous for this performance: it would be my biggest audience by far, and the venue was so iconic (St Martin’s is a popular tourist destination and a big name in the classical music world, famous for its acoustics, architecture and central location in Trafalgar Square).

As I ran through the repertoire with fellow ROSL scholars, people from all over the world began filtering in. I was struck, in that moment, by the absolute beauty of what we do as musicians. It’s easy to forget, given the often competitive nature of our field and the solitary hours spent in the practice room, but the main point of all of this is to connect with our shared humanity. It was this connection that I felt at St. Martin’s that day, and I hope to remember it as I go forward in my career.

Any final thoughts?

I would first and foremost like to thank the BC chapter of the Royal Over-Seas League, and in particular Elizabeth Murray, president of ROSL’s BC branch, for starting this excellent scholarship program. I’m also grateful for the ROSL ARTS team in London. They were the primary organizing force behind my visit. I felt warmly welcomed at every stage of the trip, from offers of concert tickets to suggestions of what to eat in Scotland! Finally, a big thank you to Dr. Richard Kurth, director of the UBC School of Music, for helping to bring this opportunity to UBC performers. I sincerely hope that the UBC-ROSL relationship can continue for many years in the future.

Auditions for the 2018 Royal Over-Seas UK scholarship happen on Jan. 20th, 2018. They are open to the public.

To learn more about ROSL, visit https://www.rosl.org.uk/rosl-arts

“Decades later, you see the whole landscape”: Robert Silverman on performing Beethoven and finding your way as a young musician

By Andrew Hung

 Robert Silverman

Robert Silverman

On Nov. 10th, renowned pianist and Professor Emeritus Robert Silverman performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 with the UBC Symphony Orchestra  to a packed house at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

Silverman, who first studied the Beethoven concerto as a student nearly 50 years ago, brought a lifetime of knowledge and accomplishment — and a continued sense of wonder — to the legendary work. And it showed.

“I can’t tell you how different the piece is [to me] now,” he says. “Some people who’ve been around for a while, every time they get asked to do something, they just take the music off the shelf, blow the dust off, and play it. Telephone in their last performance. I just can’t do that. I never have. This [concert] gave me the opportunity to relook at this great piece.”

For Silverman, the “Emperor” — as the concerto is popularly known — has lost none of its freshness and excitement. If anything, his appreciation of the concerto has deepened over years of studying, teaching, and performing.

“When one studies a piece for the first time, there are so many notes. Decades later, you just see the whole landscape. When you’re a pensioner, you don’t have the chops that you had when you were younger. But there are other things that are easier. Just understanding the piece, and how this fits in.”

Silverman’s “chops” are still formidable. The pianist pulled off the thunderous chords and virtuosic flourishes of the Beethoven masterwork with brilliant fluency. You can watch the performance online at https://livestream.com/ubcschoolofmusic. Here's a clip from a practice session:

There was a time, however, when Silverman could only dream of mastering a concerto like the “Emperor,” let alone performing with a symphony orchestra. Though he played piano throughout his childhood and youth, his parents never encouraged him to pursue music professionally. Instead, Silverman studied engineering at McGill and arts at Concordia. Making a living as a pianist seemed to be out of the question.

On finding his way as a young pianist

Even after he dropped out of engineering and headed to the Vienna Academy of Music to study piano, Silverman was unsure of the career possibilities that lay ahead. One day, he brought up the dilemma to his friend – what were they supposed to do once they returned to North America?

His friend’s answer was simple: “You’re going to go back, go to the States, get a doctorate and teach somewhere.”

“It was around then, in the early 1950s, that Silverman’s future alma mater, the Eastman School of Music launched its groundbreaking-at-the-time Doctorate of Musical Arts degree.” For the first time, musicians could graduate from school with hopes of obtaining a position at a university that would allow them to both teach and perform.

“That’s when I learned that there was some light at the end of the tunnel. I was lucky that I was talented and good, and also that the competition was not quite what it is today.”

That is not to say that Silverman didn’t face any competition at all. While at the Vienna Academy, he studied in the same class as future luminaries such as Mitsuko Uchida, known today for her interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann. He remembers being daunted by the much younger virtuoso (she was 13, he was in his twenties).

Still, he persevered and returned to North America with a newfound sense of purpose. At Eastman Silverman studied with Cecile Genhart and Leonard Shure, the former assistant to Artur Schnabel, one of the great pianists of the 20th century. He absorbed the philosophies of both Genhart and Shure, who influenced him in different but significant ways. Genhart was all about “polishing and listening, getting the nitty gritty of it.” Shure, on the other hand, taught him how to play Beethoven in a way that stood out from other pianists. He remembers a masterclass that Shure gave on the piano sonatas as a life-changing experience. He also studied the “Emperor” concerto under Shure’s guidance.

It was these teachers who impressed upon him the value of a diverse and varied musical education — something that informed his own approach to teaching.

“It’s very important, I think, for everyone to be exposed to many different teachers,” he says. “I never felt that, when I taught, the students were my property. I tried to ensure that all my students got certain basic things that I understand, [such as] melody shaping and technique. On the other hand, I didn’t want them to sound like each other.”

The Robert and Ellen Silverman Piano Concerto Competition

One thing Silverman firmly believes is that all serious piano students, regardless of their teacher, should have the chance to play with a symphony orchestra.

“Professionally, if any pianist is going to “make it” as a career, playing a concerto and knowing how to do it is very important.  There are only so many opportunities to play with the orchestra. So my wife and I thought, rather than offer yet another scholarship, what can we do that would be good for the students and a good feature for the school?”

And so, the Robert and Ellen Silverman Piano Concerto Competition was born. Open to all UBC School of Music piano students, the first competition takes place in March 2018 and will run every two years thereafter. The grand prize? An opportunity to perform a concerto with the UBC Symphony Orchestra at the Chan Centre.

“[Maestro] Jonathan Girard is a great guy and a fabulous conductor. He doesn’t only conduct what he wants, but also considers the students’ needs,” Silverman says.

Learn more about the Robert and Ellen Silverman Piano Concerto Competition.

 

How does music work? Introducing the new School of Music podcast

  Graphic by Dina MacDougall/UBC School of Music

Graphic by Dina MacDougall/UBC School of Music

How does music work? Why do we respond to a particular piece of music in a particular way? What can music tell us about ourselves and the world?

These are some of the big questions that our new School of Music podcast grapples with. Launching today, On That Note is a monthly deep-dive into the music you love — and music you may have never heard of. Join host Graham MacDonald and musicians and scholars from the UBC School of Music as they investigate everything from Beyoncé to Bach to Balinese Gamelan.

Up first: What is a ballad? In our debut episode, Graham talks to UBC professor and music historian David Metzer about his new book, The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé. They discuss how we define ballads, how they change with the times, and why they continue to grab us. Musicians discussed include Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Sam Cooke, Tori Amos, Cat Power, Otis Redding, Bing Crosby and more. 

Subscribe on iTunes or play the episode below:

The Chan Centre at 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New dual degree program gives students career flexibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Juno Connection

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

 Alexander Weimann

Alexander Weimann

  Thirst

Thirst

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

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

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

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

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

Listen: 

Announcing the Concerto Competition winners

 Benjamin Hopkins

Benjamin Hopkins

 Aidan Mulldoon Wong

Aidan Mulldoon Wong

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

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

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

This year's winners are:

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

 Marie Civitarese

Marie Civitarese

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

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

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

Introducing the new-look School of Music website

By Dr. Richard Kurth and Tyler Stiem


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tracking the beat

 Dr. Poudrier

Dr. Poudrier

By Michelle Keong

The UBC School of Music welcomes Assistant Professor Ève Poudrier. Formerly at Yale University, Poudrier focuses her research on music cognition, an area of study that brings together various disciplines including psychology, musicology, linguistics and computer science.

Poudrier is particularly interested in rhythms and their potential impact on cross-cultural understanding and medical sciences among possible applications. By building a database of 800 excerpts of pieces from 1900-1950, she hopes that analyzing the structure of complex rhythms and how people perceive them will help uncover how cognitive mechanisms interact with musical practice and the communication of specific affects. High Notes caught up with Poudrier to learn about her work and what inspired her to move across the continent.

What excites you about your field of research?

I am interested in uncovering the psychological mechanics of perceiving rhythm.

With the development of brain sciences, neuroscientists are very interested in taking music as a topic of study for learning about the brain. Music and language are two human inventions that all humans share are that are very complex.

By studying language and music, you can actually learn about the brain in sophisticated ways. It has potential applications in the medical sciences, for example, to help stroke patients recover their gait.

How did you get into this field? Why rhythms?

When I was doing my PhD, I was really interested in 20th century composers, especially Elliott Carter who spent a great deal of time developing the rhythmic aspect of his work and aimed to express his vision of life by manipulating rhythms in some interesting ways. In many of Carter’s compositions, each portion of the ensemble represents a character and he defines those characters in very specific terms musically. One of those ways is by giving each character different rhythmic gestures—played together. And that really spoke to me–this idea that you could have all these different speeds at the same time.

Earlier when I was playing piano, I always liked music that was more rhythmic. I liked the passionate style of the Russians and I also played some South American music that had more syncopated rhythms.

What are you hoping to discover through polyrhythms?

You find polyrhythm in many different cultures and I think studying how these rhythmic patterns are perceived and how they come to take different meanings in different cultures is a way to appreciate diversity.

I’m very interested in cross-cultural studies as a way to understand human creativity more deeply but also to appreciate the diversity that different musical cultures have to offer.

What attracted you to UBC?

These days, there’s a lot of talk about diversity, of people from different cultures and also people with different abilities. I have a daughter with disabilities. It has been a very difficult experience for us because she was critically ill for so long, but now she is doing really well. It made me discover that there is this whole other part of society that I never thought of before.

I feel that through my research, which is not directly about disability, I’m trying to be inclusive of people who come from different backgrounds. By asking questions about music that comes from different places, I’m contributing to making the world a more inclusive place. That’s something that is really important for me. It’s really something that has come out from my personal experience with my daughter.

I thought that UBC was a good place for this kind work, a place that is multicultural with people who seem to be thinking about these issues and creating a society for everybody. I was also very attracted to the collaborative research on rhythm in world music that was coming out of the UBC School of Music, particularly in the work done by John Roeder and Michael Tenzer.

What are you looking forward to most this academic year?

I am really looking forward to teaching an introduction to Schenkerian analysis. Schenker was interested in finding the fundamental structure that was the basis of masterpieces. Schenkerian analysis is a different way to think about musical creativity and in some ways it also addresses questions of auditory perception.