CBC host guest stars with Writing

Popular CBC radio host Jo-Ann Roberts is stepping out of the broadcast booth and into the classroom as the latest Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction with the University of Victoria’s acclaimed Department of Writing.

Live, from UVic: it's Jo-Ann Roberts

CBC’s Jo-Ann Roberts

Roberts is currently teaching a lecture and discussion course called “Public Broadcasting and the Public Good,” examining the proud history and somewhat uncertain future of public broadcasting in Canada, and around the world. She will also be offering a free public lecture on the same topic at 7:30pm Wednesday, January 30, in room 240 of UVic’s HSD building.

“Public broadcasting matters to every journalist in this country,” Roberts explains. “We keep the bar high, and that means private broadcasters can’t go any lower—but the lower we get, the lower their bar goes. As a journalist, you don’t have to be working for a public broadcaster to care about it.”

A respected journalist with 35 years experience in radio, print and television, the award-winning Roberts has been at the helm of CBC’s Victoria-based All Points West for six years now, building it into the top-rated afternoon show in the province.

“I think I have a pretty broad classroom between 3 and 6 each day,” says Roberts. “Not that I’m out there to teach, but radio is very much a learning environment. You have to engage an audience, give them something they didn’t know before, get a good discussion going . . . that sounds like a pretty good class to me.”

But, as she explores in both her Southam class and upcoming lecture, Roberts is concerned about the future of the broadcaster about which she cares so deeply. “I worry not that government will get rid of the CBC, but that it will simply underfund it. That makes the CBC just what most governments would rather have—a lapdog, instead of a watchdog. I don’t want that.”

“We’re thrilled to be able to bring Jo-Ann Roberts to the campus to mentor students and engage the community,” says David Leach, Director of Professional Writing. “Jo-Ann is a dynamic personality, with rich and varied experiences, who will be a real inspiration for students and the public alike. The future role of the CBC, in our current political climate and our ever-changing digital media environment, is one of the most urgent and complex issues facing the profession of journalism in Canada.”

Her class runs through to April 5, from 4:30 to 6pm Mondays and Thursdays.

Roberts is the sixth person to hold the prestigious Southam Lectureship, following Charles Campbell (Georgia Straight), Sandra Martin (Globe and Mail), Jody Paterson (Times Colonist) and authors Richard Wagamese and Terry Glavin.

obits books(Speaking of Sandra Martin, she’ll be returning to UVic for a free, one-night-only Department of Writing reading event with veteran journalist Tom Hawthorn in February. The event— Obituaries to Die For—will feature Martin reading from and discussing her recent book, Working the Dead Beat: 50 Lives That Changed Canada, while Hawthorn will do the same for his Deadlines: Obits of Memorable British Columbians. That’s at 7:30pm Tuesday, February 12, in room 105 of the Harry Hickman building . . . don’t be, uh, late.)

The annual Harvey Stevenson Southam lectureship is made possible by a significant gift from one of the country’s leading publishing families. Harvey Southam, a UVic alumnus and journalist, was heir to his family’s publishing empire when he died suddenly in 1991.

Learn more about the Harvey Stevenson Southam lectureship by clicking here.

Orion Series presents stellar concerts

Who doesn’t love a free concert—especially when it awards the opportunity to witness the musical prowess of an international legend or a star on the rise? That’s exactly what this season’s Orion Series in Fine Arts has lined-up. Not only are there some great concert offerings, but there are also free lectures and masterclasses open for the public to enjoy.

Established in the Faculty of Fine Arts by an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts gives faculty the opportunity to invite distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada and the world to the University and the wider Victoria community. Here are some upcoming Orion events not to be missed over next two months:

Georgy Tchaidze

Georgy Tchaidze

Every three years, Calgary’s prestigious Honens International Piano Competition discovers and launches a star. Georgy Tchaidze, the 2009 Honens Prize Laureate, has performed across Europe and North America since his win and will be taking to the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall stage for a concert on Monday, January 14 at 8:00 p.m. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Tchaidze’s engagements have included a performance for the Governor General of Canada, a stunning debut recording on the Honens label, soloist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra under the baton of Pinchas Zukerman, among many others. Tchaidze will display his “fine sensibility and perfectly honed technique” (The Telegraph) at UVic in a program of works by Beethoven and Shostakovich. In addition, piano students will have the opportunity to receive coaching from Tchaidze in a masterclass on Tuesday, January 15.

Corey Hamm

Corey Hamm

On Saturday, January 26 at 8:00 p.m., international performing artist and proponent of new music, Corey Hamm, will premiere new works written specifically for him by Canadian composers. Associate Professor of Piano and Chamber Music at The University of British Columbia (UBC) since 2005 and director of the UBC Contemporary Players, Dr. Hamm has commissioned, premiered and recorded over 200 solo, chamber and concerto works. His concert at the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall on January 26 will include works by Dorothy Chang, Keith Hamel, Jordan Nobles and Scott Godin. Hamm will also lead a piano masterclass on Friday, January 25.

Pepe Romero

Pepe Romero

Don’t miss classical guitarist, Pepe Romero’s masterclass on Friday, February 15. Known the world over as a superb performer and recording artist—with accolades including knighthood from the King of Spain and recognition from the White House and the Vatican—Romero holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Victoria. In this masterclass, four talented UVic guitarists will perform for Maestro Romero, followed by a brief Q&A period. The class will run from 3-6:30pm in the David Lam Auditorium. On Saturday, February 16 at 7:30pm, Romero will also give a performance at the First Metropolitan Church with UVic faculty guitarist, Alexander Dunn, along with several other guests. For more information visit the Victoria Guitar Society.

lanza & Sheppard

lanza & Sheppard

Pioneering Canadian-Argentinian composer of electronic & instrumental music, alcides lanza, and partner Meg Sheppard (voice, percussion) will present a concert & lecture of contemporary works on February 28. Born in Argentina and having lived in the United States and Canada (where he currently resides), lanza’s active international career as a pianist and conductor focuses on presenting avante garde music of the three Americas. The 12:00 p.m. lecture features an analysis of lanza’s vôo, with live examples. At 8:00 p.m. the duo will perform selected works for voice, piano, percussion & electronics by lanza & others.

For more information on these events, visit the School of Music website.

—Kristy Farkas

Music For and In the Moment

Nearly 20 School of Music faculty will converge on the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall stage on Saturday, January 12, for an extraordinary Faculty Chamber Music concert, Music For and In the Moment.

Music for and in the MomentThis program to commemorate UVic’s 50th Anniversary will feature music composed by UVic’s renowned faculty composers. Recognized nationally and internationally for their work, John Celona, Dániel Péter Biró, alumnus Rudolf Komorous and Christopher Butterfield will present compositions that were either written for the occasion, or dedicated to this celebration.

“UVic has much to celebrate in its support and educational influence in the arts and music,” says performance faculty member Pamela Highbaugh Aloni. “For 50 years the School of Music has contributed significantly to music in Canada and beyond. This is one way to highlight this distinction and share it with our greater university community.” Highbaugh Aloni, resident cellist and member of the Lafayette String Quartet, is spearheading the event, which she thinks is a unique way to commemorate this milestone for posterity. “Long after the event is finished, there will be a continued association of this music to the 50th Anniversary.”

John Celona’s Networks

John Celona’s Networks

The pieces range from solo performances such as Biró’s Palimpsests, for solo piano and Salvim (Quails), for solo viola, to Celona’s Networks (seen on the right)— his homage to John Cage—featuring the majority of the School of Music’s performance faculty. The faculty will also give the world premiere of Christopher Butterfield’s Omar Khayyam in Belfast – Six Postcards for Chamber Ensemble.

Local classical music writer Kevin Bazzana also featured the concert in the Times Colonist, noting that, “Butterfield will contribute two recent major works: Pastorale, for the unusual quartet of accordion, violin, double bass and piano; and Omar Khayyam in Belfast, a song cycle for tenor, harmonium, guitar and seven assorted brass, woodwind and string instruments. The latter, receiving its première, will be sung by the composer’s brother, Benjamin. Butterfield devised his texts by combining verses from The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam, as printed on six old postcards, with the messages scribbled on those postcards by a man in Belfast writing to his wife in England in 1920.”

Organizer Highbaugh Aloni is definitely looking forward to the event. “Our full-time and sessional faculty are well-respected in their fields and it is very rare that we can combine so many of us in one event,” she says. “It is great fun for us as well!”

The concert is at 8pm Saturday, January 12, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets are $17.50 & $13.50 and available through the UVic Ticket Centre and at the door.

—Kristy Farkas

Current Writing student named Victoria’s Youth Poet Laureate

Aysia Law, a second-year UVic Writing student, has been named the City of Victoria’s Youth Poet Laureate—a first not only for Victoria, but for Canada itself.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity for a youth in the community, like me or future ones, to have some power in the community in shaping the vision of their own city,” Law told local Times Colonist reporter Amy Smart in this recent article.

Aysia Law is Victoria's first Youth Poet Laureate

Aysia Law is Victoria’s first Youth Poet Laureate

The Youth Poet Laureate will receive a $1,500 honorarium, $1,000 of project funding and a year-long mentorship during the term (January to December 2013) with Victoria’s 2012 Poetry Slam Champion, Jeremy Loveday, administered through the City of Victoria Youth Council.  “I knew there’d be great interest, because we have an amazing youth poetry community in Victoria,” says Loveday, who also runs the Youth Outreach Program for the Victoria Poetry Project.

Loveday says there were 32 applicants, which was narrowed down to six finalists—including one other UVic Writing student—with the final judging based on what he describes as someone with “a full package.” “We needed someone with quality poetry and great creative ideas, but also a presence and the skills and experience to make that project come to life,” says Loveday. “Basically, Aysia was that person.”

Law winning the Diversity Writing Contest in 2011

Law winning the Diversity Writing Contest in 2011

Law admits she entered “on a bit of a whim” after hearing about the call for entries from her poetry professor, Carla Funk (who, coincidentally, was Victoria’s inaugural Poet Laureate). But there’s nothing whimsical about her talent, as Law earned first place in the fiction category of UVic’s Diversity Writing Contest in 2012, and has been performing at local spoken word events since moving here from Vancouver in 2011. She also volunteers with South Island Pride Youth and organizes Queer Quills, a writing group for queer, transgendered/transsexual and allied youth that meets weekly at downtown’s Solstice Café.

Her major project will be a poetry flash mob during National Poetry Month in April, and she will appear alongside Victoria’s current Poet Laureate, Janet Rogers, at various city events throughout the year. But Law is also interested in organizing other events, including one that’s close to her heart: a diversity slam.

“It would be a springboard for an open forum discussion about what our community needs,” Law explains. “The problem now is that we have more experienced poets coming to slams and spoken word nights—they are wonderful and have really good insights, but they’re not everyone we need to hear from. I’m hoping to bring in more youth and marginalized categories of people to come and speak about what they see; it would be a more inclusive event than the poetry slams I’ve seen so far. We need to bring more people in, make it more accessible, have more voices represented.”

One of Law’s other Writing professors, Lee Henderson, helped her prepare for the competition. “I jumped out of my socks and shoes when Aysia called to tell me she had been chosen as Victoria and Canada’s first Youth Poet Laureate,” says Henderson. “She’s such a passionate and dedicated writer with a great sense of humour and a natural instinct for language. She is the perfect choice as our first public voice for the city’s young poets. I know she’s going to make sure to include as many people in this experience as possible
. . . . This is great news for the local literary scene and the first year of a great new legacy.”

Law will perform the first poem of her new position to Victoria City Council at City Hall on January 17 with Janet Rogers. “She’ll read a poem, I’ll read a poem, then we split.” She pauses and gives a nervous laugh. “Okay, I’m a little scared.”

Click here to listen to an interview with Law and local CBC Radio’s All Points West host (and the Writing department’s 2013 Harvey S. Southam Lecturer) Jo-Ann Roberts.

There’s also this piece on Aysia from Vancouver’s Metro Times. And this piece from UVic’s Martlet. 

You can also click here to see Law perform a piece at a local slam back in October 2012.