laurel parsons

Success stories for International Women's Day

It’s International Women's Day! Let’s pause to celebrate the incredible women who have graduated from the School of Music over the years. Here are recent profiles of just a few of the musicians, composers, producers, and other alumni from the School:

Dr. Laurel Parsons and Dr. Brenda Ravenscroft

Dr. Brenda Ravenscroft, left, and Dr. Laurel Parsons, right

Dr. Brenda Ravenscroft, left, and Dr. Laurel Parsons, right

 “There’s so much wonderful music that you learn in university. Not to take anything away from that, but once you start looking for music by women, or people who are not white men, in particular because classical music is such a Eurocentric discipline, it really becomes shocking to see how narrow that representation of composers really is... we wanted to change that.”

–Dr. Laurel Parsons (MA’91, PhD’03) talks about Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers, the award-winning book she co-edited with Dr. Brenda Ravenscroft (PhD’93) which tackles the problem of representation in the Western musical canon.

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Hildegard Westerkamp and Kiran Bhumber

Kiran Bhumber (left) and Hildegard Westerkamp (right)

Kiran Bhumber (left) and Hildegard Westerkamp (right)

“Listen to where your passion is located, where your skill is located and how that resonates with which part of society. Trust your own ears, trust your own inclination on, especially for women, where your interests lie.”

– Pioneering sound ecologist Hildegard Westerkamp (BMus'72) and up-and-coming composer, producer, and performer Kiran Bhumber (BMus’14) discuss tech, gender, and “trusting your inner voice”

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Suzanne Windsor-Liscombe

Suzanne Windsor-Liscombe

Suzanne Windsor-Liscombe

“I used to play for ballets, musicals, sing in choir, direct things, teach, go to concerts. All of that was just completely washed out when I couldn’t hear anymore. I think composition saved me…. More than anything else I’ve done in music, this makes me the proudest.”

– Musician and educator Suzanne Windsor-Liscombe (BMus’80, DipEd’91, MEd’92, EdD’14) talks about how she lost her hearing and found her true calling — as a composer of children’s operas

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Awards, fellowships, and new albums

Jocelyn Morlock

Jocelyn Morlock

2018 was a great year all around for our alumni and faculty. Here are some more stories worth celebrating:

Composer and instructor Jocelyn Morlock (MMus’96, DMA’02) won Classical Composer of Year at the 2018 Western Canadian Music Awards, 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).

UBC Opera director Prof. Nancy Hermiston was inducted into the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame and 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.

Pianist 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.

Simone Osborne

Simone Osborne

Soprano 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.

Music theorist 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.

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

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.

Rethinking the canon

Music by women composers represent only a small part of the Western canon, in spite of important contributions which date back to at least the Middle Ages. A new project by UBC faculty and alumni is helping to change that.
 

By Graham MacDonald

LaurelParsons02.jpg

UBC School of Music's Dr. Laurel Parsons (MA’91, PhD’03) and Dr. Brenda Ravenscroft (PhD’93) of McGill University are the editors of Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers, a four-volume series of essays devoted to the study of music written by women composers. The first volume, which features essays on concert music composed between 1960 and 2000, recently won the Society for Music Theory’s 2018 award for Outstanding Multi-Author Publication. With the release of the second volume fast approaching, we sat down with Parsons to discuss the project.
 

Laurel, how did the project come about?

I did my dissertation on the music of Elisabeth Lutyens, who was a British composer. I started reading about how influential she was on British music of the time, but I couldn’t find anything more specific about how she was influential. I decided I would explore her music for my dissertation. At the same time, I started noticing how few papers there were on music by women. After tracking this for many years, it became clear to me that we had to do something to improve the representation of composers who were women in our discipline.

When complete, there will be four volumes of essays on approximately 35 composers from the middle ages, with Hildegard of Bingen, up to 2014. The four volumes will be mostly 20th and 21st century music, but the volume that we have coming up will be music from the middle ages to 1900. Our final volume will be electro acoustic, experimental, and multimedia music.

 

In the first volume you write that, between 1994 and 2013, only 23 out of 1524 papers published in eight peer-reviewed journals were about music composed by women. How did you interpret these numbers?

We weren’t surprised at all because we’ve been tracking them informally for years. This confirmed what we already knew. Although it’s rather stark when you start looking at numbers like this – even 23 seemed like more than we expected.

 

Can you talk about what your experience was like as a music student and, what kinds of music tend to make up the classical canon?

Dr. Brenda Ravenscroft, left, and Dr. Laurel Parsons, right

Dr. Brenda Ravenscroft, left, and Dr. Laurel Parsons, right

There’s so much wonderful music that you learn as a student and there’s so much wonderful music that you learn in university. Not to take anything away from that, but once you start looking for music by women, or people who are not white men, in particular because classical music is such a Eurocentric discipline, it really becomes shocking to see how narrow that representation of composers really is. It wasn’t that women weren’t composing; there is a long history of women composing from the Middle Ages until now. But they definitely were composing less frequently than men because they didn’t have the same opportunities.

 

Each essay begins with a biography of the composer. How important is biography to this project, and what role does it play in how we listen to this music?

Many people have not heard of these composers, so it was necessary to provide a little bit of background on who these women were. The more we did this, the more we have seen how extraordinary these women were, and are. For example, when we go through music school, we’re often taught about Clara [Schumann, nee] Wieck as a young woman having this domineering father — Friedrich Wieck — and the influence he had on her relationship with Robert Schumann. But we never hear about her mother. In reading Nancy Reich’s book on legendary concert pianist and composer Clara Schumann, we learned that Clara’s mother had briefly performed as a concert pianist. After the birth of her fifth child, she took Clara and the baby and left what may have been an abusive marriage, but Friedrich forcibly retrieved the children and raised them himself. So Clara’s mother had been an extraordinary musician in her own right, but it’s a remarkable part of the story that we never hear. We also want to highlight these women independently of their husbands, or their brothers. It’s often the way we hear about these women. 

 

Is the balance of representation changing in music scholarship?

It is changing a little bit, but it is still slow to change. So we would like to move it along. What we’re hoping with this project is that it provides ideas for music theory instructors in university music programs to come up with their own lesson plans based on these chapters, so they can incorporate them into their classes. And we hope that radio broadcasters might use this as a sourcebook of ideas for programming and giving them ideas about what they might say about the work that they’re broadcasting.

 

What is the impact that you hope for this project?
We see ourselves as contributing to a larger movement. There are many people involved in the cycle that is musical activity. You have teachers, you have students, you have performers, you have broadcasters, you have listeners. There are lots of places you can enter that cycle. So as music theorists, this is what we can do. We hope to inspire more activity and it’s great to see some of that happening. There are websites now, musictheoryexamplesbywomen.com for example, where theory instructors who want to incorporate music by women into their courses can find score examples of various compositional techniques. It’s exciting to see those online resources happening, and it’s exciting to see concerts of music by women.

We began this project as a kind of compensatory analysis, trying to rectify an imbalance.  Through this we’ve learned about so many composers we had never heard of,  and we’ve heard so much music that we didn’t know was out there. It’s been tremendously exciting for us to hear this fresh repertoire that we feel anybody can to enjoy,  and we should be hearing this music, not in order to create some political balance, because it’s really good music! It’s an exciting venture of discovery, not just political duty.  We want to share that with our readers and with anyone who’s interested in discovering what they’ve been missing.
 

Watch out Dr. Parsons and Prof. Ravenscroft on the next episode of On That Note, the School of Music podcast, out later this month.

Alumni Making Waves: An outstanding new book, a (very) modern adaptation of Handel, orchestra news, and more  

This November, Rose-Ellen Nichols (BMus ’05, MMus ’08) performed the role of the Native Mother in Missing, the new Pacific Opera Victoria/City Opera Vancouver co-production that “gives voice to the story of Canada's missing and murdered Indigenous women.” 

Julia Chien (BMus ’14, MMus student) has won the Principal Percussion position with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and the Principal Timpani position with the Kamloops Symphony, while Stephanie Bell (BMus ’14) is the new Second Flute with the Victoria Symphony. Catch Julia at Barnett Hall on Feb. 14th, 2018.

Left to right: Julia Chien, Debi Wong, and Rose-Ellen Nichols

Left to right: Julia Chien, Debi Wong, and Rose-Ellen Nichols

Choral composer Matthew Emery (BMus ’14) has been awarded the University of Toronto’s 2017 William and Phyllis Waters Award. The $25,000 award recognizes “graduating students… who are deemed to have the greatest potential to make an important contribution to the field of music.” 

Debi Wong (BMus ’08) debuted Acis & Galatea: A Gender Liberation Opera, her adaption of the Handel opera, in Vancouver this fall. The production also featured performances by UBC alumni Rachel Fenlon (BMus '10, MMus '12) and Peter Monaghan (BMus '14, MMus '15), with Alan Corbishley (BMus ’98) directing. Debi performs in Barnett Hall on March 7th, 2018 as part of the Wednesday Noon Hour series. 

Music theorists and editors Laurel Parsons (MA ’91, Ph.D ’03) and 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. 

Fiona Blackburn (BMus ’82, BEd (Sec) ’02, MMus ’10) was recently appointed as Conductor of Pacifica Singers, a select vocal ensemble that exists as part of the Vancouver Chamber Choir organization. Fiona's eclectic musical career has included performing as a classically trained soloist and recording artist, teaching voice, adjudicating festivals, conducting choirs, and educating in classrooms.

Natalie Calhoun (BMus ’95) was nominated for an East Coast Music Award as part of the ensemble Atlantic String Machine. Their album, Lost Time, was nominated in the category of Classical Recording of the Year.

Shang Ko (Sunny) Chan (BMus ’16) was named as a finalist in the Shean Strings Competition. The finals were held May 18–20, 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta. 

Nicole Linaksita (BMus/Bsc ‘16) has had a busy few months. She was Guest Artist for Music Without Borders, performed Moszkowski’s Piano Concerto Op. 59 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, and won a Silver Medal and Best Performance of a Canadian Work at the Vancouver International Music Competition. She also performed numerous concerts with Musica Moderna Camerata and others.

In May, world-renowned pianist and former School of Music student Jon Kimura Parker, O.C, received an honorary Doctorate of Lettershonoris causa, from the University of British Columbia in recognition of his countless contributions to the world of classical music. 

Jocelyn Morlock (MMus ’96, DMA ’02) and John Estacio (MMus '91) were among four composers commissioned by the National Arts Centre Orchestra for Life Reflected, an “immersive symphonic experience” that celebrated four exceptional Canadian women. Jocelyn’s piece, “My Name is Amanda Todd” tells the story of the vibrant 15-year-old who, after suffering for years from cyber abuse, spoke out against harassment and bullying on YouTube. For his piece, “I Lost My Talk,” John draws inspiration from the life and work of acclaimed Mi'kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe. Life Reflected premiered in Vancouver in October.  

Violist Sarah Kwok (MMus ’11, DMA student) and percussionist Julia Chien made their debuts with the award-winning Turning Point Ensemble during International World Music Days in November. You can watch their performance here

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."