New student welcome

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Now that classes are back in session, it’s time again for our annual Fine Arts New Student Welcome soiree, where we welcome our first-year students in style.

ice-social_960x540But rather than offer yet another year of pizza, this time around the Fine Arts faculty and staff will be serving something different: ice cream! Yep, we’re throwing an ice cream social—but better still, this Sept 11 event will feature tasty gourmet ice cream sandwiches by Cold Comfort, local purveyor of high-end ice cream yumminess.

ColdComfortRather than just the humdrum likes of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, Cold Comfort offers ice cream sandwiches with flavours like Vanilla Bean sandwiched between chocolate cookies and Salted Caramel (that’s dairy and gluten-free, no less). We’ll also have a mystery box of random flavours for the more daring ice cream gourmands.

Coastal Giant

Coastal Giant

But there will be more than just ice cream up for grabs. In addition to popcorn and cookies (for those who don’t like chilly treats), we’ll also be featuring the music of local country funk band Coastal Giant.

Come for the food, stay for the fun! The New Student Welcome is always a great chance to connect with Fine Arts faculty and staff in a casual environment. All Fine Arts students, staff and faculty are welcome to join us from 4 to 6pm Thursday, September 11, in the Fine Arts Courtyard.

A September full of events

Now that  university classes are back in session (at least some BC students have returned to school), Fine Arts is also back in action with a full slate of September events. Here’s a chronological list of what’s coming up in the next few weeks—be sure to check back in early October for next month’s lineup.

irontomahawksThe annual Audain Exhibition presents returning Audain Professor Jackson 2Bears and his live cinema/scratch video performance, Iron Tomahawks. Digitally-encoded vinyl records—created in conjunction with specialized software developed by the artist—enable the manipulation of audio/video media in realtime, creating a multimedia performance that simply needs to be seen. Pop in and see the kind of contemporary work our Visual Arts professors are creating.

Iron Tomahawks should be open by Sept 12—they’re just dealing with some technical issues at the moment. Once it opens, it will run 10am-4:30pm Mondays-Fridays through to Sept 26 in the Audain Gallery, found off the main foyer of the Visual Arts building. And it’s free to watch, of course.

TiaCasperPhotoMagicPosterVisual Arts alumna Tia Casper is opening her first exhibit since graduating. Photo Magic offers a series of photographs taken in Las Vegas over 48 hours.These analog, pseudo tourist snapshots show Las Vegas through its lights, signs and grandiose architecture. The images juxtapose the glamour of greed against the detritus and decay of a failing dream. The images are dark, yet the lights shine through to create a parody of what Las Vegas symbolizes.

Photo Magic opens Thursday, Sept 11 and runs to Sept 28 at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective, 2516 Douglas.

From Thomas Kneubuhler's "Access Denied" series

From Thomas Kneubuhler’s “Access Denied” series

Staying on the visual arts beat, we’ve got the first of the 2014/15 Visiting Artist series—Thomas Kneubuhler. A Swiss-born multimedia artist, Kneubuhler creates work that often deals with social issues and how technology affects people’s lives. His work has been presented in many exhibitions in both Europe and North America. He’s appearing here as part of his participation in Open Space’s Work’PLACE’ exhibit. (Thanks to Open Space for jointly sponsoring his illustrated talk here on campus.)

If you’ve never caught one of the Visiting Artist talks, they’re a great chance to hear about what’s happening in the contemporary art scene around the world. Thomas Kneubuhler appears at 8pm Wednesday, Sept 17, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building. Also free!

Iron Chink imageAs mentioned above, Open Space’s fall exhibit is Work’PLACE’, and it features a number of connections to the Visual Arts department. Work’PLACE’—curated by longtime Visual Arts professor Lynda Gammonuses a variety of strategies to interrogate the rapidly transforming definitions of “work”. Work’PLACE’ features Visual Arts MFA alumnus Dong-Kyoon Nam, previously mentioned Visiting Artist Thomas Kneubuhler, and London’s Tommy Ting, along with a film by Christine Welsh of UVic’s Women’s Studies.

Work’PLACE’ opens 7pm Friday, Sept 19, and continues to Oct 25 at Open Space, 510 Fort. If you’re interested in the ideas behind the art, the exhibit’s Artist’s Talks is at 2pm Saturday, Sept 20.

ReBirth of the Cool_PatrickBoyle9 copyThe School of Music is keeping the “cool” in “school” (but, you know, spelling it correctly) with the first of the season’s Faculty Concert Series: Re-Birth of the Cool. Jazz professor Patrick Boyle is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the iconic Birth of the Cool sessions—featuring Miles Davis, Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan—by performing innovative arrangements from these classic charts on guitar and trumpet, as well as a duo with Juno Award-winning local trombonist and School of Music professor emeritus Ian McDougall.

Re-Birth of the Cool kicks off at 8pm Saturday, Sept 20, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets are $14 & $18. Can’t make it to the show? Tune in here for a live broadcast of the concert.

Our colleagues at the Legacy Art Galleries are offering a pair of exhibits focusing on Salish art: Perpetual Salish: Contemporary Coast Salish Art from the Salish Weave Collection and Salish Reflection: Coast Salish Art and Artists on Campus.

lessLIE's "wHOle_W(((h)))orl(((d)))"

Art by lessLIE

Perpetual Salish presents a wide range of art forms and ideas, and gallery visitors will gain a better understanding of the cultural and stylistic elements that unify and inspire these contemporary artists in their own artistic practices. Artists featured are Maynard Johnny Jr., lessLIE, John Marston, Susan Point and Dylan Thomas, and the exhibit runs to January 10, 2015.

Meanwhile, Salish Reflection honours Coast Salish artists Chris Paul, Maynard Johnny Jr., and knitters May Sam and the Olsen family (Adam, Joni, and their mother Sylvia), who were all part of UVic’s Artist in Residence Program through the Department of Anthropology between 2011 and 2013. During their three-month residency, they collectively taught students about their own artistic practices as well as aspects of Coast Salish history and contemporary culture.

Chris Paul's "Conservation"

Chris Paul’s “Conservation”

This exhibit illustrates the teaching methodology and experience of students and artists in collaboration along with examples of the artists’ work. (The Artist in Residence Program is facilitated by Dr. Andrea Walsh, who teaches the Anthropology of Art, and the program is supported by donors George and Christiane Smyth.)

All are welcome to join the artists and curators of both exhibits for a reception at 2pm Saturday, Sept 20, at Legacy Downtown, 630 Yates. Light refreshments will be served

You can also hear a curator’s talk with lessLIE at 2pm Saturday, Sept 27, at the Legacy Downtown.

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Sarah Treadwell (top) and West My Friend

A great new project by the School of Music is their Emerging Artist Alumni Series. Not only does it allow recent Music graduates a chance to shine in the spotlight, the Emerging Artist series also offers a fantastic opportunity for students to meet with and learn from young alumni. The first in the series brings together classical and folk traditions in a double-bill of violist Sarah Tradewell and the chamber folk group West My Friend—featuring Eden Oliver, Jeff Poynter and Alex Rempel. 

The Emerging Artist Alumni Series kicks off at 7:30pm Sunday, Sept 21, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Admission is by donation.

WR Faculty reading poster_14If the literary arts are more your style, the Department of Writing is holding its Annual Faculty Reading Night this month. Featuring the words of Carla Funk, Bill Gaston, Kevin Kerr, David Leach, Tim Lilburn, Joan MacLeod and an excerpt of a film by Maureen Bradley, plus grad students Leah Callen, Heather Clark, Danielle Janess, Michael LaPointe and Sam Shelstad, the evening will be hosted by Fine Arts communications honcho and Writing department sessional instructor John Threlfall.

The Annual Faculty Reading Night starts at 7pm Tuesday, Sept 23, in room A240 of the Human & Social Development building. Guess what? It’s also free.

spearin_CAREWORN

Gary Spearin’s “Careworn”

Over the past two decades, the multi-media installations of Ontario-based multimedia artist Gary Spearin have utilized painting both on and off the canvas. A repertoire of painting techniques and styles had been employed to magnify issues of site and context within museums, private and public galleries, public and domestic architecture, and the natural and historic landscape.

Come hear Spearin talk when he’s the next in the Visiting Artist series. That’s at 8pm Wednesday, Sept 24, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building. Yep, it’s free.

Suzanne SnizekAnd you can end your month in harmony thanks to another of the Faculty Concert Series. This time it’s School of Music flute professor Suzanne Snizek performing works by composers Mel Bonis, Charles Koechlin, Kaija Saariaho and J.S. Bach. This concert will also feature School of Music guests, pianist Bruce Vogt and soprano Anne Grimm.

That’s at 2:30 pm Sunday, Sept 28, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets are $18 & $14, and you can tune in here for a live audio webcast.

 

New degree for Music

Over the past few years, the School of Music’s string faculty has been working with the university to establish a program for young musicians to study intensively—not as individual artists, however, but as a quartet. The School of Music is now proud to announce the launch of the Masters Degree Program in String Quartet Performance—a first in Canada.

The Lafayette String Quartet

The Lafayette String Quartet

While there are other institutions where individual musicians can earn graduate degrees in string performance, UVic is now the first Canadian degree-granting institution to offer a Masters with a string quartet emphasis. This new program will allow previously formed quartets the opportunity to study both as a group and individually with the Lafayette String Quartet, UVic’s acclaimed Artists-in-Residence.

“This will bring an outstanding student quartet to UVic to work directly with the Lafayette String Quartet for a two-year residency,” says School of Music director Susan Lewis Hammond. “The program will bring the high level of the LSQ’s creative activity directly to students. The result will be an innovative student experience that builds directly on the creative and research expertise of the Lafayette String Quartet.”

The LSQ's Ann Elliott-Goldschmid with students at QuartetFest West 2013

The LSQ’s Ann Elliott-Goldschmid with students at QuartetFest West 2013

For more than two decades, the LSQ has taught some of Canada’s finest young string players, and also used their residency to enhance local performances and community involvement.

“Not all universities have a resident string quartet, and there’s a real mentoring by having all of the string teachers in one ensemble,” says LSQ violinist Sharon Stanis. And as the renewed success of their annual QuartetFest West summer teaching program for string quartet players proved, it seems only natural to create a Masters in String Quartet here at UVic.

Biró’s Mediterranean voice

School of Music professor and internationally recognized composer Dániel Péter Biró will be spending the 2014/15 academic-year at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, thanks to the prestigious Fellowship he recently received—a first for the University of Victoria. But he is also currently engaged with his latest round of international projects as well.

Dániel Péter Biró

Dániel Péter Biró

Biró’s new composition Al Ken Kara (That Is Why It Was Called) will be performed on July 26 at the Teatro Fondamenta Nuove in Venice, Italy. It was originally composed as part of the film project Mediterranean Voices, which premiered in February 2014 at the Eclat Festival in Stuttgart, Germany. Biró was one of 12 international composers invited to participate in the ambitious undertaking.

“It’s a project that incorporates video, architecture and music,” he explains. “There are six rooms, so in between pieces they go to these rooms where there are 12 video screens. The video artist traveled for eight months through 12 countries shooting different themes.”

Take a few minutes to watch and listen to the video of the premiere of Biró’s composition Al Ken Kara Kara as part of the Mediterranean Voices project.

Biró in Tunisia

Biró in Tunisia

Mediterranean Voices explores themes like “public places” (religious buildings, demonstrations) and “borders” (both political and physical). Biró himself traveled to Tunisia in December 2013, where he visited the ancient El Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, an island where the oldest Jewish community outside of Jerusalem has existed for 2,500 years.

Click here to listen imam Slah Ben Daoued’s amazing recitation.

“My piece dealt with the problem of language in the Mediterranean. It’s based on the Tower of Babel, is written for seven voice and uses 36 languages,” he says. “It was quite intense at times in Tunisia due to the tense political atmosphere. We witnessed a major demonstration just in front of our hotel.”

Biró also just returned from Istanbul in June, where he was participating in the Fourth International Workshop on Folk Music Analysis at Bogazici University. The conference dealt with computational ethnomusicology, the study of indigenous musical cultures using cutting-edge technology.

When asked how he gets involved with so many global projects, Biró chuckles. “People actually know about Victoria through our contemporary music scene,” he explains. “Last year I was in Vienna and just met someone by chance on the street and they said, ‘Oh, you run the SALT New Music Festival.’ So people know Victoria is a place for contemporary music composers. There’s a long history of this also—Victoria has always been known as kind of a weird place, a place for experimentation. Our students also go out into the world and they continue, and come back here.“

Biró and students

Biró and students

Biró feels the School of Music‘s alumni also enhance our reputation. “We just had our interviews with potential student composers and we asked them why they came here to Victoria and a number of them said, ‘I met this former student who said I should come here.’ So our students in the world are spreading the word that this is a place where students can develop a voice, experiment and do things.”

Ultimately, Biró sees the School of Music—and the Faculty of Fine Arts as a whole—as something of an incubator. “It’s small enough and lively enough that people are able to develop things here and not get too distracted,” he says. “That’s also a strength we have in our program too—a lot of people go to McGill or other large schools and they say it’s really a factory out there. But we’re not a factory; we’re small and personal and that’s necessary for not only acquiring skills but for incubating material.”

Harald Krebs wins Craigdarroch Award

Scholar, pianist, author, artistic collaborator and professional speaker—School of Music professor Harald Krebs is one of Canada’s finest music theorists, and has been named this year’s winner of the Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Artistic Expression.

Harald Krebs (UVic Photo Services)

Harald Krebs (UVic Photo Services)

“It’s very touching that my colleagues would do this, given the nomination process,” says Krebs. “In fact, I really thought someone else should be nominated this year, but it’s very sweet that the department nominated me. I have such great colleagues.”

Recognized internationally as an expert on musical meter and rhythm— especially in the 19th-century German art song known as Lieder—Krebs was also named a UVic Distinguished Professor in 2010. This award comes with a $1,000 prize, which Krebs characteristically is considering using for the greater good. “One thing I’ve done with other awards I’ve received is to bring in a guest speaker, so it’s not just for my benefit but also for the benefit of the School and the faculty,” he says. “It’s really nice to contribute in this way.”

Now the Head of Theory, Krebs joined the School of Music back in 1986 “It’s been almost 30 years, and there have been a lot of changes over the years,” he says. “Good friends have retired, but we’ve been very lucky with the new people who have come in—they’ve maintained the collegial atmosphere that was there when I came in. I’m really proud of my colleagues, and the students too—it’s not just about doing scholarly work, it’s also about performing.”

Krebs pauses for a moment. “I think that’s probably why I was nominated,” he continues. “The award says ‘uses artistic expression to further knowledge’—and that’s certainly what I try to do. My talks always have a live performance aspect; I always clarify my points by actually performing—which makes it more fun for me, and the listeners too.”

Krebs' 2007 book

Krebs’ 2007 book

In his 34-year academic career, Krebs has produced two groundbreaking books, a steady stream of peer-reviewed articles and collaborative performances fusing scholarship and musical practice. At the core of this work is his talent as a pianist, which he shares regularly with the broader community of music lovers—notably through his Lieder at Lunch series, which has been running since 2001. “It took a bit of time to take off—it is an esoteric genre, after all,” he chuckles. “But now we have quite a large following from town as well as campus.”

Immediate plans include traveling to Belgium for a pair of conferences (“I’m a little stressed about it, but I’m sure it’ll be fun once I get there”) and a German research trip to both Berlin and Bonn.

Only three other Fine Arts representatives have won Craigdarroch Awards: Marcus Milwright in 2013, Lorna Crozierin both 2012 and 2011, and the Lafayette String Quartetin 2010.

The Craigdarroch Research Awards were established in 2003 to recognize outstanding research-focused and creative contributions at UVic. They were named for Craigdarroch Castle, the estate that was once home to UVic’s predecessor institution, Victoria College, from 1921 to 1946.

Summer plans (part two)

What else is on the horizon for Fine Arts faculty members?

book-U6-A146-B319-R493Department of Writing professor Lee Henderson has his sophomore novel, The Road Narrows As You Go, coming out this fall . . . which he’s, uh, still putting the finishing touches to this summer. But it has already been touted as “one of the most anticipated (Canadian) titles of 2014″ by the National Post . . . no pressure, eh? Henderson has previously released the short story collection The Broken Record Technique and the novel The Man Game (which the Post described as “an audacious, wildly inventive novel that deserved a wider audience”). For  The Road Narrows As You Go, Henderson is fusing his love of art and graphic novels into a story about Victoria-born comic artist Wendy Ashbubble, who may or may not be the illegitimate love-child of then-US President Ronald Reagan

Described as “a highly entertaining and unendingly surprising novel about love, comics, Ronald Reagan, and the true meaning of success,” The Road Narrows As You Go is “simultaneously the portrait of a young woman struggling to find her place and a bright, rollicking, unflinching depiction of the 1980s.” Stay tuned for more details.

Over in the School of Music, sessional instructor Anita Bonkowski spent the month of June performing in Europe and will have a full summer slate of playing gigs as well, both locally at out in Winnipeg.

Hogg, (left) on the set for Two 4 One  (photo: Arnold Lim)

Hogg, (left) on the set for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

After producing Maureen Bradley’s transgender rom-com Two 4 One this spring, busy digital media staffer and filmmaker Daniel Hogg just finished shooting the short film Gord’s Brother with Writing department alumnus filmmaker and frequent collaborator Jeremy Lutter. “Gord’s Brother is about a boy trying to find a place for his monster brother to fit in, the film grapples with unspoken issues of discrimination from a child’s perspective, accessible by a layer of fantasy,” says Hogg.

The Lafayette String Quartet has a busy recording session ahead of them this summer, thanks to the August release date set for their world premier recording of Piano Quintet by Canadian composer Kelly Marie-Murphy, featuring pianist Alexander Tselyakov. Marie-Murphy was commissioned by the Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival to compose a piano quintet for Alexander (the festival’s artistic director) and the LSQ in celebration of the festival’s 10th anniversary. As a bonus, the CD will also feature the Shostakovich piano quintet. The LSQ will perform the world premier of Marie-Murphy’s quintet at the fest in August, where they will also launch the CD.

The Lafayette String Quartet

The Lafayette String Quartet

And in other LSQ news, having just completed QuarteFest West here on campus, the busy quartet will be in Ontario for a large part of the summer performing in Leith, Waterloo, Ottawa, and the 35th annual Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound. Just by way of showing the range of works they’ll be tackling this summer, their lineup of composers includes Murray Adaskin, Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn, Benjamin Britten, Beethoven (“Op. 95 String Quartet and the 9th Symphony with a smash-up band organized to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Festival of the Sound,” says the LSQ’s Ann Elliott-Goldschmid), Alberto Ginastera, Felix Mendeslssohn, Luigi Boccherini, Arthur Foote, Rebecca Clarke, Joseph Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Dmitri Shostakovich (quartet and piano quintet), and Ernst Chausson.

David Leach

David Leach

In addition to getting up to speed on his duties as the new Department of Writing chair, David Leach will be off to Madison, Wisconsin, for the Games Learning Society conference. “I’ll be presenting a paper on the results of our research study into the benefits of ‘gamification’ tools—badges and leader boards—to promote online learning,” he says. “David Broome plus colleagues in Education, the Library and an undergrad research assistant are listed as co-authors for helping with the research.” Leach will also be on a panel about using augmented reality tools in the classroom, as his TS400 students created AR guides to the future of the campus, using a geolocative tool called ARIS. Got all that? (Good, ’cause there’s going to be a quiz!) Any extra spare time will find Leach “finally finishing my damn book! (Maybe…)”

Noted pianist and School of Music professor Arthur Rowe is back in his role as the artistic director of the 19th annual Victoria Summer Music Festival in July—a position he has held for at least 10 years now. “It’s a good festival, ever growing in stature and popularity,” he says.

poster-bellaAlthough it’s a bit further off than the summer, acclaimed theatrical set designer, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Department of Theatre professor Mary Kerr is in the planning stages of her upcoming musical about Bella Chagall—the wife of famed artists Marc Chagall. Titled Bella: The Colour of Love, Kerr designed and co-wrote the production with Theresa Tova, who will be playing Bella. The show will have a 3-week run at Toronto’s Harold Green Theatre in October

Also in the theatrical vein is news from famed playwright and Writing professor Joan MacLeod. “I’m just writing, starting a new play,” she says. “What it’s about? No clue!” MacLeod latest play, The Valley, was most recently mounted in Winnipeg, and the book of the script was released this spring by Talon Books.

Summer plans (part one)

Who doesn’t like summer? Classes are finished, the fall semester is still far enough away to not worry about and we’ve all got some time to put towards our own creative practices. What’s on deck for some of our faculty this summer? Let’s find out.

Lynne Van Luven

Lynne Van Luven

Outgoing Associate Dean Lynne Van Luven has been busy winding up her job in the Dean’s Office and trundling all her books back upstairs to her permanent home in the Department of Writing. But, before she assumes full teaching duties again, she’s taking a well-deserved administrative leave for the 2014/15 academic year.

“In the period of my leave, I hope to get a whole lot of work done on Flesh Wounds, which is the working title for my new book of essays about the hilarious and hair-raising process of ageing,” she says. “I have lots of research and writing to do, so I am most appreciative of the time off.” But having time off doesn’t come naturally to the diligent Van Luven. “I have never—since I started teaching at universities back in 1981—had a full year off to work on a project,” she admits. “I hope I just don’t blow all my time pursuing Skittles and beer . . . or, alternately, wine and roses.”

Bland with Canadian actress Neve Campbell

Bland with Canadian actress Neve Campbell

Busy Department of Theatre continuing sessional instructor Leslie Bland always has some fascinating side-projects on the go. Recently back from a trip to Paris and from attending the Banff World Media Festival in June, he’s currently completing his latest film project.

“I’m wrapping post production on our feature documentary Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood,” Bland reports. “There will a world premiere of it in August in Los Angeles hosted by the LA Consul General for Canada.” Word is the premier might even be held at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. (Maybe Bland can give a tour of all the famed Canadian hand-prints in the concrete there.) Gone South comes on the heels of the all-female stand-up comedy series She Kills Me that Bland recently produced and directedfor broadcast on APTN.

Lewis Hammond & Monteverdi

Lewis Hammond

School of Music director Susan Lewis Hammond is cracking the books this summer—her own book, that is. “I’ll be finishing a textbook titled Baroque Music: History, Culture, Performance—forthcoming with Routledge in 2015″, she says. On top of that, she’ll be presenting on a panel “on the value of a Bachelor of Music degree” at Congress 2015 at Brock University, and traveling to do research at the University of Toronto. Let’s hope there’s time for some relaxing in her schedule, too.

Writing professor and filmmaker Maureen Bradley recently completed editing her locally-lensed debut feature film Two 4 One—Canada’s, and possibly the world’s, first mainstream transgender romantic comedy— and is now in the process of submitting it to major film festivals, both Canadian and international.

Dániel Péter Biró

Biró

As well as preparing for his prestigious Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University in 2014/15, School of Music professor Dániel Péter Biró will have his new composition Al Ken Kara (That Is Why It Was Called) performed on July 26 at the Teatro Fondamenta Nuove in Venice, Italy. This piece was originally composed as part of the Mediterranean Voices film project. In addition, the book The String Quartets of Béla Bartók: Tradition and Legacy in Analytical Perspective that he co-edited with fellow School of Music professor Harald Krebs, has just been released by Oxford University Press.

Youds photoVisual Arts professor Robert Youds currently has his light-based sculpture “turn on your electric* on view as part of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibit Out of Sight: New Aquistions, running to September 1. He’s also completing a major sculptural commission which will be opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite this fall. Locally, his piece “soft works for complicated needs*” is featured in the current AGGV exhibit Through the Looking Glass until September 7.  In addition to that, Youds will have the paintings “our aurora borealis and everything else” as part of the Transformation of Canadian Landscape Art: Inside and Outside of Being at the Xi’an Art Museum in China from August 10 – September 21. Better still, he’ll be travelling to Xi’an and Beijing to give talks and to meet foreign dignitaries as part of the exhibit.

Stay tuned for more summer plans!

School of Music alumna needs votes for top teaching award

School of Music alumna Andrea Blair has been nominated as one of Canada’s top teachers by Canadian Family magazine.

andrea-top-v2Blair, who received her Masters in Music Education in 2007, is among the top 12-finalists selected in Canadian Family’s annual awards—only one of two teachers from BC, and the only one on Vancouver Island. “It was completely out of the blue,” says the Gordon Head Middle School music teacher, who has now been teaching for 19 years. “It’s quite an honour to even be nominated and be one of the 12.”

The awards are decided by reader voting, which means Blair needs as many votes as possible before the June 25 cut-off date; click here to vote—and you can vote from any device once a day, so don’t be shy. (As of this writing, she’s in second place!) The teachers with the top-three vote tally will each win $2,500 for their schools.

Daniel Davenport in band class (Photo: Travis Paterson, Victoria News)

Daniel Davenport in band class (Photo: Travis Paterson, Victoria News)

But it wasn’t like Blair put herself into the running—she was actually nominated by the parent of one of her students, Daniel Davenport. “My son has learning disabilities—he is dyslexic and dysgraphic,” wrote Leslie Davenport in her nomination letter. “When he started middle school he told us he wanted to join the band. The problem was that he was incapable of reading music. I approached the music teacher, Mrs. Blair, and asked if he might be able to join in some way. I was thinking of him banging a tambourine or something. Mrs. Blair said she would find a way. This started a three-year project of my son’s journey into music. For Mrs. Blair, it was not enough for him to just do some simple percussion; instead, she designed a whole new sheet music system for dyslexics.”

Having dyslexia and dysgraphia means Daniel can’t read or write either music or the English language—but, thanks to the creative and continued efforts of his dedicated band teacher, he is now playing clarinet in the school band.

Read more about Andrea and Daniel in this recent Victoria News article.

Andrea Blair's innovative music system

Andrea Blair’s innovative music system

Blair was inspired by a toy xylophone with coloured bars and colour-coded sheet music to create a musical system that didn’t rely on notes, bars and musical staffs. Instead, she used coloured markers and graph paper to create a system that Daniel could read and understand.

“I was taking a class with [UVic Music educator] Mary Kennedy and thought, ‘Why not just put it on graph paper?’,” Blair recalls. “So, a 2×2 block of squares represents a quarter note, and a half note would be four squares. It’s all based on math. You know how music sometimes gets all jumbled up? This is quite simple.”

Blair says she spends a “couple of hours” transposing the music for Daniel. “If I was going to do it for anyone else, I would use Excel, but for him it would be too much.” Obviously, her system works. “He’s doing pretty well,” she says of Daniel’s ability. “For the most part, he’s able to play all of our classes music.”

Andrea Blair leading one of her band classes

Andrea Blair leading one of her band classes

Given the success she’s had overcoming Daniel’s dyslexia and dysgraphia, does she see a future for her innovative system? “Yes, it’s got good potential,” she says. “My thing here at Gordon Head is inclusion for all, and this is a good system. I would definitely like to explore it more. Dr. Kennedy was saying to me, ‘Would you please start your doctorate?’” she pauses and laughs. “It’s a possibility.”

As for the prize, Blair doesn’t want to put too much thought into that yet. “The wish-list keeps growing,” she laughs. “The kids in my class certainly have some ideas about what’s needed, but we’ll deal with that when it happens—if it happens. I did tell Daniel he would be able to choose something for the room as well.”

Right now, Blair just needs people to vote. “You can vote daily, on as many devices as you wish,” she says. “It’s now literally a popularity contest—but everyone on the list is deserving.”

And that’s not false modesty—every teacher on the list has amazing stories to share. “When I got the email saying I was nominated, I went to my administration and said, ‘I really feel like I was just doing my job’,” Blair recalls.

QuartetFest West celebrates strings

Quartet Fest West, the popular summer string quartet intensive, returns to the School of Music from June 9 – 20. Attracting participants from across Canada, the US and Italy, the festival of concerts, workshops and coachings is hosted by UVic’s beloved quartet-in-residence, the Lafayette String Quartet.

The LSQ's Ann Elliott-Goldschmid with students at QuartetFest West 2013

The LSQ’s Ann Elliott-Goldschmid with students at QuartetFest West 2013

Anchored by the chamber music workshop, QuartetFest West is an in-depth study of the string quartet literature that also features a series of public concerts (see below) and masterclasses (open to the public by donation). Another highlight is an open discussion with Andrew Dawes, first violinist of the Orford String Quartet and the Tokyo String Quartet.

“It’s really intensive,” says LSQ violinist Ann Elliott-Goldschmid of the QuartetFest West experience. “The students learn how to communicate very effectively, they have to learn the music quickly and come to agreements quickly—they don’t have a semester to work on something, they only have 10 days.”

Alcan String Quartet

Alcan String Quartet

Participants and the public alike will have the opportunity to soak in the host quartet’s prowess in a concert on June 18. Performing works by Boccherini, Shostakovich and Mendelssohn, the Lafayette String Quartet will share the stage with David Ellis, cellist of the Alcan String Quartet—this year’s guest coaches from Chicoutimi, Québec. One of Canada’s most celebrated chamber music ensembles, the Alcan String Quartet is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

The festival culminates in a student concert on June 20 featuring chamber groups made up of Quartet Fest participants.

Andrew Dawes

Andrew Dawes

Open Discussion with Andrew Dawes
7:30pm – 9:00pm Friday, June 13 • Maclaurin Building Room B037
Admission by donation

Join a chat with teacher and soloist Andrew Dawes, founding member and first violinist of the Orford String Quartet and first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet. During his career he performed over 3,000 concerts on six continents and made 60 recordings.

Lafayette String Quartet with David Ellis, cello
8pm Wednesday, June 18 •  Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (UVic MacLaurin Building, B-Wing) • Tickets are $12 (students) and $25 (general) from the UVic Ticket Centre (250-721-8480).

Don’t miss this concert featuring Boccherini’s Cello Quintet, Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 10, Op. 118 and Mendelssohn‘s Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2

Participating Quartets Concert
8pm Friday, June 20 • Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (UVic MacLaurin Building, B-Wing)
Admission by donation

Featuring participating quartets of Quartet Fest West 2014, the program for this concert is yet to be announced.

Be sure to check the School of Music’s online calendar for more QuartetFest West workshops and events.

Call for Courses

The Faculty of Fine Arts is requesting expressions of interest for the following sessional assignments:

Got a great course idea?

Got a great course idea?

Fall Term - FA 200 A0: Special Topics in Fine Arts (maximum enrollment: 150 students), September-December 2014.
A multi-disciplinary investigation into various aspects of the arts. Focus may vary from year-to-year. Class runs Monday and Wednesday, 4:30pm – 5:50pm.

Spring Term -FA 335 A01 – Popular Culture (maximum enrollment: 75 students), January – April 2015.
An interdisciplinary examination of the popular arts and their place in society. The topics for
examination will vary in different years and sections. Class runs Monday and Thursday, 8:30am – 9:50am.

Expressions of Interest are due by 4:30pm Thursday, June 19th, 2014. Positions will be assigned no later than June 27, 2014.

Insert your course here

Insert your course here

Please submit a written letter of interest indicating qualifications and experience,
potential course outline along with a current Curriculum Vitae to:
Samantha Knudson, Academic Administrative Officer
Faculty of Fine Arts (Fine Arts Building, Rm 116)
University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 Stn CSC, Victoria BC V8W 2Y2

If you are interested in proposing future courses that fit within the Fine Arts curriculum (see Undergraduate Calendar pg. 310), please contact the Dean of Fine Arts Office to schedule an appointment. Sessional Instructors are CUPE 4163 (Component 3) positions with Sessional Lecturers Certification.

The University of Victoria is an equity employer and encourages applications from women, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, aboriginal peoples, people of all sexual orientations and genders, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of the University. The University reserves the right to fill additional teaching assignments from the pool of applicants for this posting. All positions are subject to enrolment and budgetary approval.