matthew emery

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 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 compliation, 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." 

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In 2016, the chamber duo Couloir — featuring UBC lecturer Heidi Krutzen (harp) and Ariel Barnes (cello) — teamed up with composers James B. Maxwell and Nico Muhly to release Maxwell Muhly & Couloir, a recording that features "gossamer, glacial sonorities as well as aggressive, pounding rhythmic structures, all bound together over the course of an epic sonic journey."

In October Couloir won a Western Canadian Music Award for Classical Music Artist/Ensemble of the Year.


In March, Dálava — the award-winning duo of Ph.D. student Julia Ulehla (vocals) and Aram Bajakian (guitar) — released The Book of Transfigurations, a new album of Moravian folk songs channeled through 21st century jazz, world, and post-rock music. The Georgia Straight calls it "astonishing music."


Also in March, composer Matthew Emery (BMus'14) released Sing Your Song, an album of choral works performed by Amabile Choirs of London, Canada and released on the Canadian Music Centre's Centrediscs label. 

Amabile’s performances and Emery’s writing "question and challenge the human spirit and exemplify why Canadian choral music is renowned around the world." 

An all-female orchestra, tours in Europe and Canada, and awards galore

School of Music alumni who are making waves in the world of music and beyond

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.”

Cynthia Yeh teaches a masterclass in Paris.  Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography

Cynthia Yeh teaches a masterclass in Paris. Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography

Cynthia Yeh (BMus’99), principal percussionist with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, gave a masterclass at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris during the CSO’s European tour this winter.

Jocelyn Morlock (MMus’96, DMA’02), the current Composer-in-Residence for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, has been recognized with a City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in the music category.

Pianist Bogdan Dulu (DMA’15) recently embarked on a seven-week, 19-date Canadian tour with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada.

David Sabourin (BMus’79), owner of Tapestry Music in White Rock, recently opened a new location in Vancouver. Tapestry specializes in classical instruments, school band rentals, and private music education, and more.

The Canadian Music Centre recently welcomed five UBC alumni among its latest cohort of Associate Composers: Kathleen Allan (BMus’11), Adam Hill (DMA’16), Stefan Hintersteininger (BMus’04), Lucas Oickle (MMus’15), and Michael Trew (BMus’72, MMus’82, DMA’86). The CMC “represents composers working in a variety of areas including concert music, music for instrumental and vocal ensembles, electroacoustic music, improvised music, educational music, music with other disciplines, and music that crosses a variety of genres and responds to different cultural influences.”

Janna Sailor (MMus'08, DMPS'12)

Janna Sailor (MMus'08, DMPS'12)

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.”

In 2016 John Trotter (BMus’98), an associate professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, directed a production at Wheaton College called Handel’s Messiah: Unexpected. This was the culmination of Trotter’s years-long dream to offer a convincing and semi-staged performance of Handel’s masterwork during the Easter season. It featured 10 student soloists and a number of unexpected elements. Watch the performance here.

Pianist and composer Lisa Cay Miller (DMA’07) debuted “Lessing Stories,” a piano concert inspired by the work of British writer Doris Lessing, at Pyatt Hall in October 2016. Guest artists who performed alongside Miller included fellow UBC alumna Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa (DMA’07).

Composer Christopher Tyler Nickel (BMus’01) received a 2016 SOCAN Award for Achievement in Music for a Television Movie, for his score for the TV movie Honour Student. Always busy, Nickel recently completed scores for the movies Anything for Love, starring Erika Christensen, Love in Paradise, starring Luke Perry, as well as for the TV series Highway Through Hell for Discovery Channel.

Annie Yim (BMus'02) 

Annie Yim (BMus'02) 

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.

Antonio Bittar (MMus’16) is now working at Vancouver’s Goh Ballet Academy as Administrative and Operations Coordinator. In his other life as an opera singer, he recently performed in Opera Kelowna’s production of The Magic Flute.

Clara Shandler (BMus’12), also known as the Sidewalk Cellist, recently released “Lights in the Dark,” a brand new single. You can listen to it here

Three School of Music alumni won prizes at the SOCAN Music Foundation Young Composer Awards. Roydon Tse (BMus'13) won the Sir Ernest MacMillan Award for his composition "Genesis 2015," while Joseph Glaser (BMus'14) was second runner up in the same category for "Ecstasis."  David Storen (MMus'16) was first runner up for the Serge Garant Awards for "Mångata." Tse also placed third overall in the Pierre Mercure Award category for "Meditation."   

Music theorist and pianist Dr. Lucas Wong (BMus’04) published “Humour in Late Debussy: multiple perspectives on Douze études,” a fresh take on the composer’s Twelve Etudes, in the British journal The Musical Times. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Piano at Soochow University School of Music in China.  

Sergei Saratovsky (DMA’12) and his brother, Nikolai, recently completed their tour of British Columbia. The four-hand piano duo performed in Nelson, Oliver, West Vancouver, and Vancouver.

Pianist Natalie Lo (BMus’16) won the 2016 Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra Clef Concerto Competition (Senior Category). 

Pianists Jocelyn Lai (BMus’13) and Natalie Lo won second and fourth prize, respectively, in the 2016 Shean Piano Competition, taking home prizes of $5,000 and $3,000. Natalie also won the $1000 Paul J. Bourret Memorial Award for Best Performance of a Test Piece. She played The Lark by Mikhail Glinka, transcribed by Mily Balakirev, revised and edited by Leopold Godowsky.

Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus'95, DMA'12)

Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus'95, DMA'12)

Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus’95, DMA’12) recently stepped down from his role as artistic director of the Powell Street Festival Society to join the faculty at the University of Victoria School of Music as Instructor of Flute for the fall semester. He also recently served as invited flute faculty for Nucleo Musica’s International Symposium of New Music 2016, a week-long festival of masterclasses, workshops, and performances in Curitiba, Brazil. 

Harpist Samantha Ballard (BMus’15) performed at the Rio Harp Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. Ballard played two full programs and made special appearances at two other concerts. She performed a number of works by Canadian composers, as well as some of her own arrangements.

A number of UBC alumni have performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra recently! They include violinist Sunny Chan (BMus'16), clarinetist Syndey Tetarenko (BMus'16), and percussionist Graeme Tofflemire (BMus'15).

Pianist Amy Seulky Lee (BMus) has been appointed a fellow for the 2017 Toronto Summer Music Festival. Lee studied with Terrence Dawson during her time at UBC School of Music.