Top 10 Fine Arts stories of 2015

It’s the end of another busy—and rewarding—year here at the Faculty of Fine Arts, where there was never any shortage of things to keep everyone busy. With five departments offering literally hundreds of annual concerts, theatrical productions, readings, exhibits, symposiums and lectures by visiting artists, academics and professionals, Fine Arts remains one of the most community-engaged faculties on campus. Here’s a quick wrap-up featuring some—but certainly not all—of the leading Fine Arts stories of the year.

A very Meigs year

Sandra Meigs with the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada (photo: Sgt Ronald Duchesne)

Sandra Meigs with the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada (photo: Sgt Ronald Duchesne)

It was quite the year for Department of Visual Arts professor Sandra Meigs. Hot on the heels of being named one of eight recipients of the Governor General’s Awards for Visual and Media Arts in March—an honour that saw her work featured in a special curated exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada this past summer—she presented her most recent solo exhibit of new work, All to All, at Toronto’s acclaimed Susan Hobbs Gallery. Plus, she was announced as the winner of the $50,000 2015 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO in October, an award that also comes with a solo show at the Art Gallery of Ontario and a further $10,000 towards a publication on her work. Read more about Meigs’ successes here and here.

A Royal event

UVic's new RSC honorands featuring Hodgins (third from left), Biro and MacLeod (far right). (UVic Photo Services)

UVic’s new RSC honorands featuring Hodgins (third from left), Biro and MacLeod (far right). (UVic Photo Services)

More than 400 of Canada’s brightest academic minds converged on Victoria in November when the Royal Society of Canada—Canada’s national academy—honoured three of our own. Celebrated playwright, Writing professor and UVic alumna Joan MacLeod was one of three UVic professors elected as new fellows, while noted composer and Music professor Dániel Péter Biró was elected as one of three new members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Finally, acclaimed author and retired Writing professor Jack Hodgins was presented with the RSC’s 2014 Pierce Medal for outstanding achievement in imaginative literature. Find out more about UVic’s Royal Society connections here.

Really made in BC

Maria Tippett speaks to a full house

Maria Tippett speaks to a full house

Back in September, Fine Arts was proud to host the launch of Made in British Columbia: Eight Ways of Making Culture—the latest book by noted cultural historian Dr. Maria Tippett. “UVic has always impressed me as being sensitive to art in British Columbia, and is a superb place to launch the book,” noted the Governor General’s Award-winning Tippett. It was a packed event with nary a seat in the house and, despite nearly having to cancel due to ill health, Tippett proved a real trouper and carried on with a fantastic event. Read more about the book here.

Singing his praises

Benjamin Butterfield (UVic Photo Services)

Benjamin Butterfield (UVic Photo Services)

A tenor of international renown with a repertoire ranging from baroque to classical and contemporary, Music professor Benjamin Butterfield was announced in June as the 2015 winner of UVic’s Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Artistic Expression. “The measure of Professor Butterfield’s impact on the musical world can truly be found in how he applies his talent and expertise to the training of a new generation of singers,” says Dr. Susan Lewis. “He makes the difference for young singers, providing both inspiration and sound teaching to prepare them for the world stage.” Discover more about Butterfield here.

(Re)Acting to a crisis

Conrad Alexandrowicz

Conrad Alexandrowicz

Back in March, a first-of-its-kind national symposium co-organized by Department of Theatre professor Conrad Alexandrowicz questioned and examined traditional acting methods, as it addressed what has been described as “the crisis of actor training in Canada.” Acting Training in a Shifting World saw 34 instructors from the majority of Canadian post-secondary drama institutions—ranging from universities and colleges to conservatory programs—converge on the Phoenix. “It’s good for UVic to host a discussion where we’re questioning all the things we’ve taken for granted for decades—that acting always comes out of a printed script,” says Alexandrowicz. “We’re under a lot of pressure to think of theatre training as a greater part of a liberal arts education, so we should be including people from all across campus, people who want to learn about performance but have no interest in professional acting per se.” Read the original Ring article here.

Mile-high research

Art History & Visual Studies professor Allan Antliff

Art History & Visual Studies professor Allan Antliff

Being the first to gain access to an archive is the kind of research opportunity most academics dream of—and it’s how Art History & Visual Studies professor Allan Antliff spent his summer. Antliff was recently announced as the inaugural Research Fellow in Residence at the Clyfford Still Museum Research Center in Denver, Colorado. Named for the famed American painter—whom Antliff describes as “a leading artist in the abstract expressionist movement”—the position at the CSM represented an exciting opportunity. “No scholars apart from those at the CSM have had access to his archive or library before this—I’m getting first crack at it,” said Antliff, who spent two months on site. Read more about Clyfford Still here.

Welcome to the (faculty) club

Fine Arts was pleased to announce three new hires this academic year: Music’s Joseph Salem, plus Cedric Bomford and Megan Dickie in Visual Arts. “Dr. Salem comes to us from Yale University, where he completed a doctoral degree with a dissertation on Pierre Boulez,” says Dr. Susan Lewis. “A scholar with expertise in music after 1950, he brings a strong analytical focus to his approach to music. He is a passionate teacher who will ignite the classroom and instill a love for music our students.”

Salem, Dickie & BOmford

Salem, Dickie & BOmford

Joining Visual Arts from the University of Manitoba is sculptor and photographer Cedric Bomford. “[His] career is on a upward trajectory as evidenced by an international exhibition record and his work being recently nominated for the prestigious 2014 Sobey Award,” noted Visual Arts chair Paul Walde.

And stepping up from her longtime position as a sessional instructor is local sculptor Megan Dickie. “Megan has been teaching with Visual Arts for 10 years now,” says Walde. “She is consistently one of our most highly ranked instructors and is extremely popular with our students. In the past four years, Megan’s studio research has developed in new and innovative ways, bringing her more exhibition opportunities both nationally and internationally.”

Nominating success

Director Maureen Bradley on the set of Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

Director Maureen Bradley on the set of Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

An impressive 26 nominations in the 2015 Leo Awards for films created by Department of Writing faculty and alumni proves we’re punching above our weight when it comes to film futures—truly, a surprising number for a university that doesn’t even have a film production program. “Film is just a development of the Writing department’s already well-known streams,” says film professor Maureen Bradley, whose groundbreaking feature film Two 4 One (produced by Fine Arts Digital Media Technician Daniel Hogg) was nominated for six awards. “I don’t know anywhere else in the country where this is happening. There are good student films being made, but they’re not being driven by faculty [led-courses].” Read more about our film course here.

Finding art in conflict

Applied Theatre professor Dr. Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta became the latest Fine Arts TEDx speaker in November, when she enthralled audiences with her talk “Utopia of Unwanted Spaces: Art in Conflict.” From her experiences bringing theatre to some of the most seemingly hopeless places in our world, Sadeghi-Yekta has learned what it takes for art—and culture—to not just live on, but thrive in conflict zones. “Theatre transcends the destructive places where a horrendous physical world exists,” says Sadeghi-Yekta. Some of her most notable work has been with working with the children in the Downtown East Side in Vancouver, young people in Brazilian favelas, disabled women in areas of Cambodia, adolescents in Nicaragua and students with special needs in schools in the Netherlands. You can watch the video here:

Gone but not forgotten

Finally, this past year saw the passing of three important figures in the Faculty’s history: School of Music professor Gene Dowling, Visual Arts professor Don Harvey, and Writing professor Dave Godfrey.

An inspirational teacher and invaluable colleague, Dowling passed away in June. “He showed incredible generosity and thoughtfulness towards his students and helped make the School of Music a great place to be,” says Acting Dean of Fine Arts and former School of Music Director Susan Lewis.

Dowling, Godfrey & Harvey

Dowling, Godfrey & Harvey

Also passing in June was former Writing chair Godfrey, a Governor General’s Award winner. Retired Writing professor Lorna Crozier remembers him as being “generous, sharp and excited about ideas and young people. He was a central figure in the Canadian renaissance, in our belief that our own stories have value. We need more of his kind now.”

Professor Emeritus Harvey passed away in August. A founding member of the Visual Arts department, current professor Robert Youds recalls Harvey as having “a formidably quick wit and a razor sharp eye for anything to do with colour, mark-making, and the pictorial in art. He played an enormous role in the early development of the Visual Arts department at UVic—for which we current members owe a real debt of thanks.”

RSC honours Fine Arts professors

More than 400 of Canada’s brightest academic minds will be converging on Victoria this weekend as the Royal Society of Canada—Canada’s national academy—comes to town. The RSC’s annual general meeting runs November 26-28 at the Fairmont Empress and will feature scientists, scholars and artists from across the country. But while such a grand gathering of vibrant minds is notable in itself, it’s triply important for Fine Arts as three of our own are being honoured.

UVic's new RSC honorands featuring Hodgins (third from left), Biro and MacLeod (far right). (UVic Photo Services)

UVic’s new RSC honorands featuring Hodgins (third from left), Biro and MacLeod (far right). (UVic Photo Services)

Celebrated playwright, Department of Writing professor and UVic alumna Joan MacLeod is one of three UVic professors elected as new fellows—the country’s highest academic honour—while noted composer and School of Music professor Dániel Péter Biró has been elected as one of three new members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists (colloquially known as the RSC’s “rising stars”). Finally, acclaimed author and retired Writing professor Jack Hodgins will be presented with the RSC’s 2014 Pierce Medal for outstanding achievement in imaginative literature, alongside two other UVic medal winners.

“The Faculty of Fine Arts is fortunate to have colleagues of the calibre of professor Joan MacLeod and Dr. Biró, both of whom bring their research and creative practice to bear on their teaching and mentorship of our students,” says Susan Lewis, Acting Dean of Fine Arts. “We congratulate our two colleagues on their appointments to the RSC.”

Joan MacLeod

Joan MacLeod

Lewis is quick to praise MacLeod’s creative output. “One of Canada’s foremost playwrights, MacLeod’s works explore contemporary social justice issues with characters who are often on the margins of Canadian society,” she says. “She has received numerous awards including the Governor General’s Award for Drama, two Chalmers’ Canadian Play Awards, a Dora Award and the Siminovitch Prize.”

For her part, MacLeod seems equally happy and surprised by the honour. “I’m pleased about the Royal nod because my research is my stage plays, of course—my artistic practice,” she says. “I have always had a sense of community in theatre and writing, but academic community is something else. To be included in a group of eminent scholars, scientists . . . it’s astounding.” MacLeod joins existing Faculty of Fine Arts Royal Society Fellows Tim Lilburn, Mary Kerr and Lorna Crozier.

Lewis, also the Director of the School of Music, well knows the work of her colleague Biró, noting his position at the forefront of music composition and research. “In 2011, Dániel was Visiting Professor at Utrecht University and in 2014-2015, Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. His compositions are performed around the world and he is internationally active as a composer, researcher, performer, lecturer and teacher,” she says.

Dániel Péter Biró (photo: Linda Sheldon)

Dániel Péter Biró (photo: Linda Sheldon)

“I am happy to be elected a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists,” Biró says. “Composing music is not only creating something new, but also discovering the past. It’s almost like we’re conservationists of culture.”

Biró notes that the Aventa Ensemble’s Mark McGregor will be performing one of his pieces—Kivrot Hata’avah (Graves of Craving), for solo bass flute—during the RSC Gala. “This composition was selected to represent Canada in the International Society of Contemporary Music 2013 World New Music Days in Vienna,” he says. “McGregor commissioned the piece and will premiere this new version.”

Be sure to check out this new UVic video featuring Biró discussing his work.

For those not familiar with his many books, the Comox Valley-born Jack Hodgins is an influential writer dedicated to chronicling the people and stories of Vancouver Island. Winner of the Governor General’s Award in 1979 for The Resurrection of Joseph Bourne, he was also presented with the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence in 2006, was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2009, and won the 2011 City of Victoria Book Prize for his recent novel The Master of Happy Endings. He taught with the Department of Writing from 1983 to 2002 and, in the process, became a mentor to a whole new generation of authors.

 Jack Hodgins (photo: Don Denton)

Jack Hodgins (photo: Don Denton)

Yet Hodgins’ creative efforts are not limited to the page. In 2014, he wrote “Cadillac Cathedral” which he performed live on stage with the Vancouver men’s choir Chor Leoni, composer Christopher Donnison created an opera based on several short stories from Hodgins’ book The Barclay Family Theatre, and his life has been commemorated in the NFB documentary Jack Hodgins’ Island.

The Royal Society AGM kicks off with a public event—a special day-long symposium on Canadian marine biodiversity on Thursday, Nov. 26—followed by the welcoming of new fellows and college members into its fold and awarding medals for outstanding achievement. UVic is undeniably proud to have eight researchers among those being honoured. “This incredible breadth of expertise and impact really speaks to this university’s research strength as a whole,” says David Castle, UVic’s vice-president research.

UVic President Jamie Cassels is equally excited by the event. “We’re very pleased to be the presenting sponsor for this event,” he says. “This gathering is an opportunity for all of us to welcome Canada’s eminent scholars and celebrate their impacts in areas vital to Canada and the world.”

UVic’s other new Fellows include chemist Frank van Veggel and philosopher James Young, while exercise psychologist Ryan Rhodes and astronomer Sara Ellison become members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Ellison also joins Hodgins as a medal winner, receiving the RSC’s Rutherford Medal for outstanding achievement in a branch of physics, as does cosmologist Julio Navarro, who wins the 2015 Tory Medal for outstanding achievement in astronomy.

For those who want to stay up on our honorands’ creative practice, Joan MacLeod’s latest play, The Valley, will appear at the Belfry Theatre from Feb. 2-28, 2016. A stage version of Jack Hodgins’ Spit Delaney’s Island—based on the short story, which earned him his first Governor General’s Award nomination for the book of the same name—is being adapted for the stage by Victoria’s Theatre Inconnu from December 1-19.

Finally, Dániel Péter Biró was recently commissioned by the Klangforum Heidelberg to write a new work for voices and ensemble. The Schola Heidelberg and Ensemble Aisthesison at the University of Heidelberg premiered Biró’s Messiaen, Couleurs de la Cité Celeste in October 2015, with additional performances in Mannheim and Ludwigshafen that same month—but you can hear it right here.

Free performance of Mary’s Wedding

It’s an eternal story: boy meets girl, they fall in love—but, since the year is 1914, the boy must go off to war and their love must face an uncertain future.

The School of Music is pleased to welcome Pacific Opera Victoria for a special free production of Mary’s Wedding, a notable new Canadian opera about the impact of the First World War on the homefront. Described as “a love letter to the power of memory and innocence, and to a generation of Canadians who were caught in the crucible of the First World War,” Mary’s Wedding is an apt way to mark Remembrance Day on campus.

Kaden Forsberg & Caitlin Wood in a scene from Mary's Wedding

Kaden Forsberg & Caitlin Wood in a scene from Mary’s Wedding

Originally written for the stage by Stephen Massicotte and later developed into a full-scale English-language opera featuring music by Andrew P. MacDonald and Massicotte’s own libretto, POV has now created a re-imagined one-hour version of Mary’s Wedding that they will be presenting at 7:30pm Friday, November, 13, in the Phillip T Young Auditorium.

Set in Western Canada in the aftermath of World War I, Mary’s Wedding was originally commissioned by Pacific Opera Victoria and had its world premiere in November 2011. This production—directed by Art History & Visual Studies alumna Glynis Leyshon—features a strong School of Music presence, with first-year Masters candidate Kaden Forsberg in the lead role as Charlie, as well as third-year undergrad soprano Margaret Lingas in the chorus; joining her in the chorus is also Music tenor alumnus Cedric Spry. “The chorus is only a quartet, so it’s nice that two of our students are there,” notes proud Opera and Voice professor Benjamin Butterfield.

Mary’s Wedding explores the fleeting nature of time and the lasting power of love, evoking prairie thunderstorms and ladies’ teas, and, as innocence rides off to war, the horror of the battles of Ypres and Moreuil Wood, in which Canada came of age as a nation. Much of the production’s power comes from its sense of the fluidity of time, the shifting of past and present, here and there, reality and dream. The emotional impact is stunning: everything becomes present for us here and now . . . we are the children of Mary’s Wedding.

Seating is limited, so do arrive early.

Suppressed Music & the Third Reich

During the Third Reich, two generations of composers and performers of Classical music were silenced, and with them, an important musical heritage. Many works by these composers are of truly exceptional quality but are rarely performed to this day.

Suzanne Snizek

Suzanne Snizek

But School of Music professor and flutist Dr. Suzanne Snizek has dedicated much of her research and performance practice to music suppressed by Nazi Germany and will bring a program of works by Czech composers to the UVic stage on Thursday, November 5.

“Suppressed music is a term that could mean many things,” Snizek explains in an interview with the University of Alberta’s Curious Arts blog. “The usual ‘classical’ meaning of this term within musicological circles concerns music that was suppressed by the Third Reich. Often this music was suppressed simply because it was written by Jewish composers. Sometimes music might be suppressed for other ideological reasons—for example, the music was written by someone involved in leftist politics—or for aesthetic reasons—the regime was not fond of the avant grade generally.”

Snizek’s November 5 concert, accompanied by pianist Alexandria Le, will include works by suppressed composers Bohuslav Martinu, E. F. Burian, Jindrich Feld and Petr Eben.
Eben was a child survivor of the Holocaust; as an adult, he was further persecuted by the Communist regime of his native Czechoslovakia because he was a life long devout Catholic. Snizek will perform Eben’s Miniatures, which she describes as “a set of extraordinarily succinct and colourful character pieces.” Bohuslav Martinu, whose works are regarded as part of the Suppressed Music repertoire as well, fled the Nazi invasion of France by immigrating to the US in the 1940’s. His music has a strong folk quality to it and, in Snizek’s opinion, is always rhythmically satisfying to perform.

“Of course when we talk about suppression, we are also referring to more violent and sinister approaches, including deportation to concentration camps and murder,” notes Snizek. “A wide variety of incredibly talented composers from many countries were killed, including Erwin Schulhoff, Leo Smit, Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein, Victor Uhlmann and Hans Krasa. The loss to musical life on an international scale was enormous. The extent and depth of cultural damage is still striking to me after many years of studying this era.”

Suppressed composer EF Burian

Suppressed composer EF Burian

On the other end of the political spectrum is composer E. F. Burian, a political insider who was very active as an artist during the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia. His music has often been avoided as a result of his political engagement during that era.

“I have never seen his work here in North America,” says Snizek, who picked up his Lost Serenade while she was in Prague in 1993, shortly after the fall of Communism. She describes the Burian as a “very sparse and technically simple” piece, making it a nice counterpart to the intricate Jindrich Feld Sonata on the program “which has all the notes—and more—that the Burian does not use!”

Music by Czech Composers is at 8pm Thursday, November 5, in UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets are $14-$18.

—Kristy Farkas

LSQ forum explores healing power of music

Health and music have a remarkable relationship. Studies have shown that music has the ability to affect our mental and physical well-being due to the way our autonomic nervous system responds to sounds and rhythms. To mark a decade of the Lafayette String Quartet’s Health Awareness Forum, the group has aptly devoted this year’s October 1 forum to “The Power of Music on Emotion and Health.”

LSQ_HW_10_poster_w1021h1649Music and well-being are integral in the daily lives of the Quartet—from their own practice and health to the students they teach at UVic and the audience members with whom they share their music.

The Quartet quickly became aware of how the health of one person can directly impact the lives of others when LSQ cellist Pamela Highbaugh Aloni was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 2001. “I played and played [the cello] during my treatment,” recalls Highbaugh Aloni, who believes that music was an aid in her recovery.

Following that experience, the Quartet wanted to give something back to the community and created the annual Health Awareness Forum to provide expert and updated health information to the public. Since the first forum in 2006, topics have ranged from menopause and aging to mental health and happiness. Many of the guest speakers have been experts from the Victoria area and the Forum always strives to provide the opportunity for specialists, health professionals and the general public to meet and dialogue on important health topics.

The Lafayette String Quartet

The Lafayette String Quartet

This year’s guest speakers include Dr. Lee Bartel, Professor of Music at the University of Toronto and acting director of the Music and Health Research Collaboratory; Dr. Johanne Brodeur, head of music therapy at the Victoria Conservatory of Music; and Dr. Brian Christie, director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at UVic.

But if you can’t make the event or tickets have already sold out, you can still click here to listen live.

The Lafayette Health Awareness Forum on “The Power of Music on Emotion and Health” runs 7 to 9pm Thursday, October 1, in UVic’s David Lam Auditorium (MacLaurin A-Wing). Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Victoria Symphony starts 75th season with new Butterfield piece

When the Victoria Symphony opens its 75th anniversary season on September 21, School of Music professor Christopher Butterfield will be helping them celebrate—courtesy of the world premiere of his latest composition.

Christopher Butterfield

Christopher Butterfield

Simply titled Canter, Butterfield’s piece will be conducted by maestra Tania Miller alongside the likes of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkries and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, among others. Vaunted company, to be sure, but apt considering Butterfield’s latest was commissioned by the Victoria Symphony itself.

“They called me up and asked me to do a piece for their 75th anniversary. The only thing they said was, ‘Don’t make it a dirge.’” Butterfied pauses and laughs. “’Don’t worry,’ I said to them, ‘I don’t do dirges.’”

Butterfield—a School of Music alumnus himself—has been a professor of composition and theory at UVic since 1992. His music has been performed across Canada and in Europe, is recorded on the CBC and Artifact labels, and he’s no stranger to the Victoria Symphony. From 1999 to 2002, he was their first composer in residence and a number of his compositions have been showcased by the Symphony—including his popular WWII inspired Convoy PQ 17 requiem, which has been remounted a number of times since its 2001 debut.

Butterfield describes the eight-minute Canter as being like a concerto for the orchestra. “That just means it’s focussed more on individual players, rather than the orchestra as a whole,” he explains. “Instead of just having the first or second violins playing in unison, for instance, I have a lot of individual string parts—18 separate violin parts, 6 separate viola parts, 6 separate cello parts and 4 separate bass parts. The result will be an impressionistic conveyance of either motion or utterance.”

Did the commission come with any specific requests? “There are orchestras that say they want this kind of a piece or that kind of piece,” he says, “but I’m very lucky. For whatever reason, nobody has ever told me what to do, so I usually just do whatever it is I feel like doing. ”

Victoria Symphony

Victoria Symphony

There are a number of decisions that go into creating a commissioned work, Butterfield explains, ranging from the composer’s circumstances and a symphony’s season context, to the size of the orchestra and what else may be on the program the night the piece debuts. The beauty of a commission, he says, is that it provides a composer with an ideal opportunity to play.

“When you find out you have orchestra to work with, it gives you the chance to try out ideas that otherwise might’ve only done with smaller groups,” he says. “Canter, for instance, has radical dynamic changes in volume within the ensemble—a great scattered sound that creates almost a perspective from very quiet to very loud but happening all at once. I’m very fortunate that I’ve got a bigger orchestra for this one  than I might have . . . I’ve even got a harp.”

And what happens to Canter once it has debuted? “It’ll go to the symphony library,” he says. “When an orchestra commissions a piece, it’s very much part of their artistic capital—it’s been written specifically for them.” Sometimes, he explains, new pieces will languish in the library for years before being dusted off, while others—such as his Convoy PQ 17—goes on to be performed internationally by other orchestras. Butterfiled mentions the first piece he ever wrote for the Victoria Symphony which he was able to revise 10 years later as part of their New Music Festival. “I didn’t change anything structurally at all, just essentially tidied it up, and that worked really well. So sometimes the material goes in the library and gets quite a long life.”

Butterfield is looking forward to hearing the complete Canter . . . especially now that he can move on to other projects. “It’s funny how eight minutes can absorb weeks and weeks and weeks of work,” he chuckles.

 

Remembering Gene Dowling

The Faculty of Fine Arts mourns the passing of an inspirational teacher, invaluable colleague and dear friend: School of Music professor Eugene Dowling. Following a 2013 diagnosis of prostate cancer, Dowling passed away at his home on June 30 with his family and close friends at hand.

edowling_x200“Gene was a wonderful teacher, talented performer and delightful colleague and friend,” says Acting Dean of Fine Arts and former School of Music Director Susan Lewis. “He showed incredible generosity and thoughtfulness towards his students and helped make the School of Music a great place to be. He is sorely missed.”

An inspirational mentor to more than one generation of students, Gene Dowling worked in the School of Music for 39 years before retiring as a Teaching Professor in 2014, but he was perhaps best known locally for his 35 years leading the annual Tuba Christmas ensemble which raised thousands of dollars for local charities. “He was a devoted and insightful instructor, often offering extra hours of teaching and mentoring to his students,” recalls fellow professor and School of Music Acting Director Harald Krebs. “The many successes of his students worldwide honour his legacy. He will be sorely missed by the many in whose lives he made a difference.”

A young Eugene Dowling shows his brass

A young Eugene Dowling shows his brass

Raised as a Michigan farmboy, he intitially took up the tuba at the prodding of his sixth grade school band teacher—but Dowling’s professional career really began in Chicago, where he was a student of the legendary pedagogue Arnold Jacobs, tubist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He joined the School of Music faculty in 1976, where he taught low brass and aural skills, conducted the Wind Symphony (in 2010 and 2013-14) and made significant contributions as both the School’s graduate advisor and Music Education advisor. “Over the decades, Gene maintained a strong studio in tuba and euphonium and taught an impressive range of courses, including musicianship, music appreciation, theory and Symphonic Winds,” notes Lewis.

Dowling leading his final TubaChristmas event in 2014

Dowling leading his final TubaChristmas event in 2014

But in addition to his teaching duties, Dowling was also a very active performer: for 25 of his 39 years at UVic, he was Principal Tubist with the Victoria Symphony, as well as an internationally known soloist. He was also nominated for a Juno Award for his first recording, The English Tuba (Fanfare/Pro Arte), featuring Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Tuba Concerto” with the London Symphony Orchestra, which received favourable reviews and radio play throughout North America and was recently re-released. A recent CD features Dowling performing with Stephen Brown and the Bastion Band, and he even played in bands for the surprising likes of Sarah Mclachlan and the Moody Blues. “His recitals, always featuring a wide spectrum of music, were a joy to attend,” says Krebs.

In this Times Colonist memorial of his life and legacy, fellow trombonist and School of Music instructor Scott MacInnes credits Dowling with helping him get hired at UVic a decade ago . . . at the tender age of 24. “If he saw someone who he thought had a love of music, teaching ability or ability to play, he definitely went out of his way to make sure they had every opportunity possible,” recalled MacInnes, who played with Dowling in the Pinnacle Brass Quintet.

Gene Dowling takes a bow at his final School of Music concert, alongside accompanist Charlotte Hale (photo: Robert Davy)

Gene Dowling takes a bow at his final School of Music concert, alongside accompanist Charlotte Hale (photo: Robert Davy)

But if there’s a natural successor to Dowling’s legacy, it’s his former student and Faculty of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Paul Beauchesne. Beauchesne succeeded Dowling as principal tubist with the Victoria Symphony, will continue to organize Tuba Christmas and will now be teaching at the School of Music this fall. “He was really dedicated to sharing his musical gifts with people around him,” Beauchesne told the Times Colonist.

Always concerned with the future and well-being of students, Dowling recently established a scholarship for the benefit of low brass students at the School of Music. True to form, he even appeared at a concert supporting the Eugene Dowling Scholarship—just two days before his death, despite having to travel to and from the concert by ambulance. A donation to this scholarship would be an appropriate way for anyone to remember him.

“He was widely recognized as a dedicated teacher and advisor,” concludes Lewis. “We will miss Gene’s expertise, good humour, and collegial nature.”

Appropriately enough, we’ll give the last word to Gene Dowling himself. “It’s a hard way to make a living,” told the Times Colonist back in 2012, “but it’s a glorious way to be involved in music.”

A public memorial for Eugene Dowling is planned for 1pm Saturday, September 26, at St. John the Divine, 1611 Quadra St. All are welcome.

Last-minute electives!

Looking for a last-minute Fall elective to replace the course that sounded good in June but now has you scratching your head? (“Uh, did I really intend to register for A History of Molds and Fungi?”) You’re in luck—Fine Arts has you covered with a wide ranging of fascinating electives guaranteed to enhance any degree.

Missy Elliott's in the house for an Intro to Hip Hop

Missy Elliott’s in the house for an Intro to Hip Hop

Check the technique behind An Introduction to Hip Hop (FA 200). As well as looking at the roots of hip hop and groundbreaking originals like Kook Herc, you’ll be doing case studies on artists like Missy Elliot, Kanye West and Jay Z. You’ll also focus on the role of graffiti, turntablism and bboy/bgirl culture. Taught by Melissa Avdeef—the creator of last year’s popular Beyonce course— An Intro to Hip Hop runs 4:30-5:50 pm MW to Dec. 4.

HA200PosterThe creation of art has always been a hands-on process, but now you can look back at the historical roots of arts & crafts with How is Art Made? (HA200) Very much a hands-on course  itself, this Art History elective with Marcus Milwright examines how people actually make beautiful objects and buildings. From the painting of an icon to the casting of a bronze figure, you’ll have the chance to connect and handle a wide variety of ancient and medieval objects. How is Art Made? runs 3:30-4:20 pm MWR to Dec. 4.

Last year's Phoenix production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (photo David Lowes)

Last year’s Phoenix production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (photo David Lowes)

Thanks to the likes of the Belfry Theatre, Intrepid Theatre, Theatre SKAM, Theatre Inconnu, Langham Court, UVic’s own Phoenix Theatre and many others, there’s no question that Victoria is a theatre town. But watching—or creating—a stage play can often be daunting if you have no background to it. That’s where An Introduction to Theatre (THEA 101) comes in. Taught by local theatre artist and filmmaker Leslie Bland, you’ll be introduced to practical and theoretical approaches to play analysis, dramatic criticism, theatrical form and to the principles of stage production. Better still, attendance at live performances is required—which means you’ll get to go to plays, for credit! An Introduction to Theatre runs 3:30-4:50 MTH to Dec. 4.–

ICarraccideal for anyone interested in History, Medieval or Italian studies, as well as Art History, consider going for Baroque with the fascinating  Baroque Art in Italy 1550-1700 (HA342A). Taught by Anne Williams, this course explores the innovations in Italian art & architecture at a time marked by clashing dogmas of faith, political upheaval and scientific discovery. We will examine in depth selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture by artists including Caravaggio, Bernini, and the Carracci. Baroque Art in Italy runs 2:30-3:20pm MWR to Dec. 4.

VA_painting labMore interested in developing your own artistic skills than studying the legacy of others? Check out Foundation Drawing and Painting
 (ART 103), which explores both drawing and painting. Normally reserved for Visual Arts students, ART 103 is now open to general enrollment. Discover how developing basic art skills can contribute to a wide variety of academic pursuits, from anthropology and engineering to law, sciences and more. Through studio exercises and exciting creative projects, you’ll get hands-on with a wide variety of methods and materials. Foundation Drawing and Painting
 runs to Dec. 4 at a variety of times.

Experimental photography by Victoria's own Hannah Maynard

Experimental photography by Victoria’s own Hannah Maynard

We live in a world ruled by Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, but how did we get to the point where everyone always has a camera with, or on, them? Find out with the History of Photography (HA369). Taught by Menno Hubregste, you’ll discover how this medium has developed since its invention in 1839, both technically and aesthetically, as well as the different types of images created by artists, journalists and scientists. From travel and documentary photography to Dada, Surrealism and conceptual art, you’ll also look at the rise of women photographers and how photography changed in the age of Postmodernism and advertising. The History of Photography runs 12:30-1:20pm TWF to Dec. 4.

Interested in learning why people practice thea394.2theatre in places of conflict and war? Want to know how theatre can be used in international development settings? Wondering what kind of techniques work in conflict zones? Back by popular demand, Theatre professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta still has space in her popular Applied Theatre elective, Theatre, Conflict & Development (THEA 394). This exploration into the practice of theatre in places of conflict and war—a topic Sadeghi-Yekta knows well—will include examples from the likes of Cambodia, Sudan, Kosovo, Nicaragua, the Congo and Brazil. Theatre, Conflict & Development runs 9-10:20am MR to Dec. 4. To register, contact the Theatre Department secretary directly at theatre@uvic.ca.

Joseph Salem joins School of Music

The School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of its latest faculty member, Dr. Joseph Salem.

Joseph Salem

Joseph Salem

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Salem studied piano at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and holds a BM in Piano from the University of Texas at Austin and an MA in Music Theory from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a lover of new and old traditions, Joe pursues topics at the boundaries of the musicological discourse: musical/intellectual history, analytical studies of post-Wagnerian music and writings, semiotics, music aesthetics, and hermeneutic trends in the arts.

“Dr. Salem comes to us from Yale University, where he completed a doctoral degree with a dissertation on Pierre Boulez,” says Susan Lewis, Director of the School of Music. “A scholar with expertise in music after 1950, he brings a strong analytical focus to his approach to music. He is a passionate teacher who will ignite the classroom and instill a love for music our students.”

French composer, conductor, writer & pianist Pierre Boulez

French composer, conductor, writer & pianist Pierre Boulez

Salem’s dissertation examines the development of Boulez’s serial techniques between 1948 and 1962, through a close examination of the composer’s manuscripts housed at the Paul Sacher Stiftung. “Recent scholarship on Pierre Boulez has emphasized the rigorous, thoroughly serial nature of the composer’s music during the 1950s and the corresponding shift toward more transparent compositional techniques in later works due to Boulez’s increasing interest in musical perception,” writes Salem in this abstract.

“My paper nuances this perspective by arguing that practical compositional concerns (commissions, deadlines, and the like) led Boulez to reuse compositional material in ways that contradicted his early serial aesthetics while also expanding the expressive range of his compositional style—all well before his post-1970s writings and compositions . . . . Changes to this essential compositional process reveal Boulez’s shifting priorities as a serial composer well before the publication of Boulez on Music Today, such as his changing conception of structural coherence and musical organicism.”

Salem’s previous studies have focused on the manuscripts of Francesco Cavalli and WA Mozart, among others. He will be filling the Assistant Professor position vacated by Jonathan Goldman, who has now moved over to the Université de Montréal.

Joe is also a cat lover and describes himself as being “silly for culinary delights”—so we’re sure he’ll enjoy discovering Victoria’s epicurean treats.

Victoria Summer Music Festival celebrates 20 years

Twenty years is a long time in the life of any festival, and it’s especially exciting when it’s a music festival. As such, this summer marks the 20th anniversary of the Victoria Summer Music Festival, which has been presenting a series of chamber music concerts every summer since July 1996.

School of Music professor & VSMF artistic director Arthur Rowe

School of Music professor & VSMF artistic director Arthur Rowe

VSMF Artistic Director and School of Music professor Arthur Rowe has lined up a fantastic celebration for their anniversary: the artistry of some of North America’s finest soloists and chamber musicians performing music that resonates in UVic’s intimate Phillip T. Young Recital Hall with its terraced, comfortable seating, excellent sightlines and warm acoustic.

Rowe has arranged seven great concerts featuring sublime music by a range of favourite artists from previous seasons and outstanding new talent. Back again too are the popular pre-concert talks, in which the artists get personal about their music and their repertoire (starting at 6:40pm on most evenings).

Returning to the VSMF stage this year are Gary Karr and Harmon Lewis with their amazing evening of 18 double basses, the Alcan Quartet, cellist Eugene Osadchy with pianist Arthur Rowe, and the amazing Dover Quartet, back for two concerts. New for the 20th anniversary are the internationally renowned Gryphon Trio as well as Victoria’s dynamic violin duo, the Chooi Brothers.

All concerts take place at 7:30 pm in the UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, School of Music’s Maclaurin B-wing.Tickets range from $10 to $30, with a 10% discount for tickets to four or more concerts. Here’s the complete schedule:

Basses Loaded 19 • 7:30pm Tuesday, July 28

In the traditional festival opener, Gary Karr, double bass, and Harmon Lewis, piano, introduce 18 double bassists from around the world who have spent July at the KarrKamp summer workshop. Audiences will marvel at the deep, resonant sound of heartfelt music-making.

The Alcan String Quartet

The Alcan String Quartet

The Alcan Quartet • 7:30pm Thursday, July 30

Featuring Laura Andriani and Nathalie Camus (violins), plus Luc Beauchemin (viola) and David Ellis (cello),the Alcan Quartet performs quartets by Haydn (op.52 no.1) and Beethoven (op. 135); Borodin’s A-flat Major Scherzo, and Andrew MacDonald’s Perfect Day—a work specially commissioned for their 25th anniversary.

Eugene Osadchy and Arthur Rowe • 7:30pm Tuesday, August 4

Eugene Osadchy (cello), former principal cello of the CBC Radio Orchestra, joins the Festival’s artistic director Arthur Rowe (piano) in sonatas by Beethoven (G Minor op. 5, no.2), Debussy, and Rachmaninoff (G Minor, op. 19).

The Chooi Brothers

The Chooi Brothers

Nikki and Timothy Chooi • 7:30pm Friday, August 7

Victoria natives Nikki and Timothy Chooi (violins) and Lorraine Min (piano) join forces in a wide-ranging program of works for one or two violins and piano by Saint-Saëns, Prokofiev, Sarasate, and Arcuri. All three have been on the wish list for a few seasons, and it will be thrilling to have these dynamic performers together in one program.

The Gryphon Trio • 7:30pm Saturday, August 8

Long-overdue to the VSMF, this performance by Annalee Patipatanakoon (violin), Roman Borys (cello) and Jamie Parker (piano) highlights the 20th anniversary celebration with piano trios by Haydn and Mendelssohn, as well as Wijeratne’s Love Triangle.

The Dover String Quartet

The Dover String Quartet

The Dover String Quartet • 7:30pm Monday, August 10 & 7:30pm Tuesday, August 11

After two sold-out VSMF concerts last season, the Dover String Quartet—Joel Link and Bryan Lee (violins), Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt (viola) and Camden Shaw (cello)—returns with Wolf’s Italian Serenade, Dvorak’s American Quartet, and Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 2 on August 10, then perform with guest artists Arthur Rowe (piano), David Harding (viola) and Ariel Barnes (cello) as they present Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet and Tchaikovsky’s stirring Souvenir de Florence string sextet.