Transcending boundaries to co-create beauty 

How do chamber musicians make agreements without a conductor — and what does that have to do with world peace? 

Join us for a festival of big ideas and great performances and discover the back-stage secrets of chamber music negotiation and collaboration. Whether you're a musician, artist, scholar, or music lover, we’ve got something for you! 

What Is Chamber Music?

It usually means a piece for two or more Western classical musicians, rehearsed and played without a conductor. It’s a mysterious process — thousands of artistic decisions are made by a group of diverse individuals with strong opinions. Their negotiated interpretations then have to be performed in incredibly precise embodied synchrony. 

In concert it may look like it’s all under control, but every rehearsal agreement can be completely overturned on stage in real time. Without words. It’s always an improvisation.

If the players are open to each others’ viewpoints, they may find the portal to extraordinary co-created beauty.

This weekend we’re talking about transcending boundaries and co-creation across viewpoints and fields of practice. We’re blowing open the term “chamber music” to include all sorts of interdisciplinary collaborations, and serving up a gigantic banquet of amazing speakers and a gamut of great chamber music played by terrific UBC students and renowned UBC artists.

Speakers include musicians, scholars, scientists, community social justice activists, sustainability activists, international peace-builders, and more. 

Every talk is partnered with a musical work, and there are five full concerts with all kinds of ensembles: 

  • Saxophone quartets to string quartets

  • The UBC Wind Ensemble to new Balinese compositions for traditional and Western instruments

  • Piano duos to art song duos

  • Violin/piano sonatas to percussion ensembles

  • And much more!

Please note: All events FREE except for the Friday evening concert of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble happening at the Chan Centre


(Roy Barnett Recital Hall and various classrooms in the UBC Music Building, except for evening concert 7:30 pm at the Chan Centre)

1–3 pm 
Art Song: The Unique Alchemy of Poetry, Sung and Played” (Gessler Hall, Room 116)

Informal concert with short commentaries. Graduate Song Interpretation students from UBC Opera, Voice, and Piano, facilitated by Prof. Rena Sharon

3:30–5 pm  

“Score and Parts: A Balinese Composer Writes his Way Beyond Tradition” (Rm 400B)

School of Music colloquium featuring Dewa Ketut Alit (Pengosekan, Bali) in conversation with Prof. Michael Tenzer

7:30–9:30 pm 

UBC Wind Ensemble in Concert: Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” with visual art projections (Chan Centre for the Performing Arts)

Prof. Robert Taylor, director, featuring Prof. Jose Franch-Ballester, clarinet 

Tickets: $8.00 | Visit to purchase tickets in advance
FREE Rush tickets available for UBC Students 2 hours in advance at the door

(Roy Barnett Recital Hall except for 8:00 pm Innovations from Bali Concert happening at Western Front)


1–2:45 pm

Transcending Boundaries, Part One: Intersections and Collaborations Across the University

Chamber music prelude

Introduction: “Chamber Music as a Metaphoric Model of Leaderless Negotiation and Co-Creation” Rena Sharon, Prof. of Collaborative Piano Studies, UBC

Does Chamber Music really have anything to do with world peace? The collective interpretation of works written long ago has resonances with many fields of collaborative engagement. Its performance protocols require individual views to coalesce into meta-visions. Like most negotiations, it’s complicated — and when it succeeds, it’s quite wonderful. 

Chamber music interlude

“The Human Brain as a beautiful metaphor for trans-disciplinary intersections and collaborations”  Dr. Andrew Vosko, Associate Provost and Director, Transdisciplinary Studies, and Clinical Associate Professor, Claremont Graduate University

Classrooms, universities, societies can all be viewed as "complex adaptive systems”.  The human brain - and the grand mysteries of consciousness - can also fit that frame.  Dr. Vosko leads a fascinating exploration of how, what and why neurobiology offers a powerful metaphorical roadmap for navigating the labyrinthine research university - including the daunting art-science divide! 

Chamber music interlude

Why Do You Love Chamber Music?"

A panel of UBC faculty artists talk candidly about the tribulations and triumphs of collaborative interpretation and performance. Hosted by pianist Dr. Patricia Hoy, with Dr. Terence Dawson, Prof. Valerie Whitney, and Katherine Evans.

3–4:15 pm

An Afternoon with the Borealis Quartet in Concert and Conversation

  • Brief excerpt from the film "A New Economy,” featuring the Borealis Quartet 

  • A performance of favourite string quartet movements 

  • Panel discussion: “How does a String Quartet Get to ‘Yes’?”  The Borealis members discuss hard truths about constructing elegant collaborations

4:30–5 pm

Turning Point Ensemble: Community and Social Justice initiatives

Jeremy Berkman, UBC faculty and trombonist with the award-winning Turning Point Ensemble, talks about group’s many community engagement, education, and social justice projects. Katherine Evans, trumpet, and Valerie Whitney, horn, join in brief performance of Owen Underhill’s powerful “Memorial.” 

5:30–7:30 pm

Discoveries: Known and Unknown Chamber Music (Barnett Hall)

A concert of very diverse, thrilling ensembles and repertoire, featuring terrific UBC students and renowned faculty artists including Jeremy Berkman, Terence Dawson, Katherine Evans, Valerie Whitney, and Rena Sharon.

8:00 pm

Innovation from Bali: A World Premiere (Western Front — 303 E 8th Avenue)

Featuring Balinese composer Dewa Ketut Alit with Balinese colleagues and UBC students of strings, piano, and percussion.

SUNDAY, FEB. 10TH (Roy Barnett Recital Hall)

1:30–4:15 pm

Transcending Boundaries, Part Two: Arts in Community and Global Change

Chamber music prelude

“Finding Resonance in Community through Arts Engagement” — Dr. Laura Barron, Executive Director, Instruments of Change  

Dr. Laura Barron highlights how her organization's arts-based community development projects foster a spirit of collaboration and cross-cultural understanding by allowing their participants the opportunity to find their own voice through co-creative processes. She will also discuss the successes and challenges that her organization has faced in meeting these objectives. 

“Arts and Conflict Transformation” — Dr. Michelle LeBaron, Professor, Peter. A. Allard School of Law, UBC 

Artists see from the creative edge, offering not only aesthetic pleasure but incisive insights into political and social events. In this prevention, Professor LeBaron will share examples from South Africa to illustrate the pivotal roles of arts and artists in transformative social change.

Chamber music interlude

“Trance Formations: Altered State and Deep Change” — Dr. Leonard George, Chair of the School of Social Sciences, Capilano University

Over the past century, researchers in disciplines across the Arts and Sciences have cast light on the causes and conditions of self-transformation. Intense, often deliberately triggered shifts in conscious states can lead to deep changes in the self and its relation to the world. As our species now needs such changes to dodge looming extinction, understanding these processes may be vital.

Chamber music interlude

4:30 pm

“Extreme Partnership - Marriage as a Piano Duo, or Who plays Primo?”Mark Anderson and Michelle Mares

Reflections and revelations about the intimate art of Piano Duos shared by the renowned and wonderfully exuberant pianists/life partners, with interviewer Evgenia Rabinovich. In keeping with the weekend’s research themes, Mark and Michelle are devising a performance experiment.

5:30–7:30 pm

Concert: A Romantic Pre-Dinner Grand Finale (Barnett Hall)

Favourite movements from the Romantic chamber music repertoire, featuring terrific UBC students and renowned faculty artists Mark Anderson with Michelle Mares, Valerie Whitney, and Rena Sharon. And — you know you don’t want to miss a rare Cello Octet appearance — extreme chamber music beauty!


Friday, Feb. 8th to Sunday, Feb. 10th at the School of Music Building, UBC Vancouver Campus

Admission is free