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
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 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
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 • 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.
Looking for the finest in new music? Add a taste of SALT to your musical diet—with an international flair! This year’s fifth annual SALT New Music Festival & Symposium focuses on “Voices Without Borders” and will present a diverse and exciting range of global talent. Running July 23 to 27, SALT will focus around the voice and will provide an opportunity to hear a variety of new and recently composed work for voice and vocal ensemble.
The Tsilumos Ensemble
This fifth annual SALT festival will feature five concerts at Open Space, as well as a series of lectures, masterclasses and open rehearsals at the School of Music. The Festival’s Hosted by the Tsilumos Ensemble—made up of School of Music professors Ajtony Csaba, Joanna Hood and Dániel Péter Biró, plus Kris Colvin—is pleased to collaborate with the internationally acclaimed German vocal ensemble Neue Vocalsolisten, Austrian flautist/ composer Sylvie Lacroix, School of Music technician Kirk McNally, and local vocalist & School of Music alumna Cathy Fern Lewis. Concerts will feature new works by Biró, plus Canadian and international composers Charles-Antoine Fréchette, Annesley Black, Justin Christensen, Georg Friedrich Haas, and Samir Odeh Tamimi.
All concerts will be performed at downtown’s Open Space and the masterclasses will be here in UVic’s School of Music. Tickets range from $11 to $20 and you can get a festival pass for $55 to $75. View the full schedule of events here.
The festival opens with a performance by the Tsilumos Ensemble on Thursday, July 23, followed by Sylvie Lacroix on July 24, Neue Vocalsolisten on July 25, Cathy Lewis on July 26 and the UVic Alumni Ensemble on July 27.
Since 2011, the Tsilumos Ensemble has been performing chamber music ranging from duos to large instrumental combinations. Its main objective is to give new and little-known Canadian and international works an optimal performance, regardless of technical and intellectual demands or compositional style. Since its inception the ensemble has brought high quality, challenging new music to the larger community of British Columbia.
The Neue Vocalsolisten established as an ensemble specializing in the interpretation of contemporary vocal music in 1984. Founded under the artistic management of Musik der Jahrhunderte, the vocal chamber ensemble has been artistically independent since the year 2000. Each of the seven concert and opera soloists, with a collective range reaching from coloratura soprano over countertenor to “basso profondo”, shapes the work on chamber music and the co-operation with the composers and other interpreters through his/her distinguished artistic creativity.
Sylvie Lacroix is an accomplished flute soloist and chamber musician with a special emphasis on contemporary and new music. The freelance flutist lives in Vienna, Austria and works regularly with composers side-by-side, searching for new sounds and expressions all the way through until their first performances. This interest in working with living composers has accompanied Sylvie Lacroix since the beginnings of her career. A founding member of Klangforum Wien, she remained an active member until 1997.
School of Music alumna Cathy Fern Lewis is an ambassador and active exponent of the professional new music and art scene in Canada since 1974, versatile and experimental soprano/voice artist Catherine Fern Lewis graduated from UVic’s School of Music, where she specialized in contemporary music. Lewis spent a further three years in Europe, predominantly in Paris, studying French song with the noted Peirre Bernac, Madame Chereau and Winifred Radford.
UVic is once again leading the pack with the creation of the Digital Fabrication Lab (DFL). A collaboration between the Department of Visual Arts and the preexisting Maker Lab in UVic’s Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, the DFL is the first of its kind to encompass the arts and humanities in North America. Additionally, no university or college in North America yet has a computer numerical control (CNC) lab in the humanities, meaning the DFL is the first humanities facility of its kind on the continent.
It’s early days for the DFL in Visual Arts
“There are far-reaching effects for this type of technology in just about everything we do,” says Department of Visual Arts chair Paul Walde. “Photography was the first area where there was almost a complete paradigm shift towards digital, and we’re now seeing digital technology move into every aspect of visual arts production. This represents a way for us to move forward not only with new sculptural techniques and projects but also printmaking and even certain kinds of painting.”
The DFL will include CNC routers, an industrial grade 3D scanner, a laser cutter, a milling machine, and 3D printers, together with various machining tools. “Visual Arts is a leader in material practices and material culture,” says Walde, who notes they already have extensive workshops and the necessary support staff to expand into this area. “We have purpose-built facilities for the safe handling and research of these applications. It’s a perfect fit for us . . . it’s an investment in the future.”
Materials for making a small solenoid (photo: Maker Lab)
The Maker Lab at UVic, housed in the Technology Enterprise Facility, is a collaborative space of new techniques and old technologies involving the invention of imaginative and often outsized revisions of objects that don’t always exist in the world. Because its research is innovative, multi-faceted and occasionally intangible, it does not easily fit a simple definition.
The lab is inspired by experimental art, design and D.I.Y. cultures. The inter-disciplinary research team from UVic English, CSPT and Visual Arts includes faculty as well as undergraduate and graduate students who use physical computing and digital fabrication for cultural research.
The lab was launched in September 2012, under the leadership of director Dr. Jentery Sayers, an assistant professor, English and CSPT, with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada Foundation for Innovation and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund.
Sayers describes the Maker Lab as an “intersection of cultural criticism and comparative media studies with computation, prototyping, electronics and experimental methods. Its design is anchored in blending a humanities research lab with a makerspace—a design that affords its team of students and faculty opportunities to build projects through various modes of ‘knowing by doing,’ such as programming, markup, new media production, data modeling, 3D printing and circuit design.”
The lab’s research will ultimately “inform policies on the ethics, distribution, licensing and derivation of 3D objects,” says Sayers, policies which currently do not exist in Canada. The lab also trains students in physical computing and desktop fabrication in non-STEM fields. Sayers points out that fabrication and physical computing are popular in STEM fields, but are virtually unknown in the humanities.
Paul Walde (photo: Times Colonist)
The Maker Lab and DFL are two of several initiatives at UVic—including the Humanities Computing and Media Centre (HCMC); Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL); Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE); Modernist Versions Project (MVP); Internet Shakespeare Editions; Map of Early Modern London; and the annual Digital Humanities Summer Institute—which continue to position the university at the forefront of digital humanities.
“I’m very excited about it,” says Walde about the DFL and this new Visual Arts collaboration with Humanities. “I can’t wait to see what the possibilities are with this equipment. That’s usually what gets the imagination stirring.”
—Tara Sharpe, with contributions by John Threlfall
This story was originally published in a longer form in UVic’s Ring newspaper
While students and alumni of the Department of Theatre tend to show up on stages all over—and far out of—town, one place to keep an eye on local talent is the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival. Running July 8 to August 8 and this year celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Shakespeare Festival is packed with Phoenix folks past and present, on stage and off.
GVSS Artistic Director & Writing MFA Karen Lee Pickett
“We trace our genealogy back to 1991, when the first Shakespeare Festival was started in the Inner Harbour by Clayton Jevne,” says GVSS Artistic Director and local playwright Karen Lee Pickett—an MFA alumna of the Department of Writing. (Jevne himself was both an alumni and former instructor with the Department of Theatre.) “And after Clayton moved on, a couple of members wanted to keep it going so they formed the non-profit Greater Victoria Shakespeare Society and eventually found this home at Camosun College—and now it’s our tenth year at Camosun.”
This year’s outdoor productions include A Midsummer Night’s Dream—directed by Bard on the Beach’s Christopher Weddell—and Romeo & Juliet, directed by Phoenix alumna Britt Small, of Ride the Cyclone! and Atomic Vaudeville fame.
“Being the 25th anniversary, it’s good to have two plays with a broad appeal,” says Pickett, who was hired as festival producer back in 2011 and is now in her second year as Artistic Director/Producer. “The last time we did Dream was our first year at Camosun.”
The triple Phoenix alumni Dream, starring Trevor Hinton (Oberon), Sarah Jane Pelzer (Titania) & directed by Britt Small (photo: David Bukach)
This year’s productions, running in repertory from July 8 to August 8 on the grounds of Camosun College—include Phoenix alum Trevor Hinton, Sarah Jane Pelzer, Cam Culham, Michelle Morris and Taylor Lewis, plus stage managers Rebecca Marchand and Delaney Tesch. And School of Music instructor Colleen Eccleston’s son Kiaran McMillan will be playing Romeo, as well as Lysander in Dream.
Pickett, who recently performed her own one-woman show Slick at Intrepid Theatre’s Uno Festival in May 2015,, admits her current gig is nominally a year-round position, despite being a summer festival. “It’s a lot for one person,” she says with a bit of a tired laugh. “My big push last year was to concentrate on the artistic quality of the productions. We have a great history of including a lot of students and community actors—which is an important part of our mandate—but I want to make the shows the best that we can make them.”
Phoenix alumna Sarah Jane Pelzer as Juliet with Kiaran McMillan as Romeo (photo: David Bukach)
As a playwright and actor herself, does being an artistic director help her own creative activity? “It’s challenging, especially with a small but growing organization, but I always feel grateful that I work in the arts; I don’t pull down any other jobs. That said, my hours are ‘when I’m awake.’ But living an artistic life means doing a lot of different things.”
Looking to the future, Pickett sees great opportunities for growth in the festival. “I really want to bring our young actors up through the ranks, so they have the opportunity to work with more established actors,” she says. “And I would like to expand our education program, so we can include more youth.”
The Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival runs July 8 to August 8 at Camosun College. Tickets run from $19 to $24, or you can get a festival pass for $33 to $42.