by John Threlfall | Mar 28, 2019 | Events, Undergraduate, Visual Arts
April is definitely the month for exhibits in UVic’s Visual Arts department, thanks to a pair of annual exhibitions by graduating artists in both the BFA and MFA programs. While the MFA exhibit is now closed, the annual BFA exhibition is set to engage your senses with a remarkable display of work.
This year titled Scatter, the BFA exhibit will feature work by nearly 30 student artists and will completely fill the Visual Arts building. Work will range from painting, photography and sculpture to performance, digital media, installations and more.
Scatter starts with the always-popular opening night reception at 7pm on Thursday, April 18, before continuing 10am-6pm daily to April 27. (Note: the exhibition will be closed Easter Sunday/Monday.) Opening night will feature catered food and a cash bar open until 11pm.
This exhibit only happens once a year and is the artistic equivalent of a final concert or mainstage theatrical production. Don’t miss your chance to share in this celebration of student creativity, dedication and innovation!
by John Threlfall | Mar 28, 2019 | Events, Graduate, Visual Arts
April is definitely the month for exhibits in UVic’s Visual Arts department, thanks to a pair of annual exhibitions by graduating artists in both the BFA and MFA programs.
First up is the annual MFA exhibition, showcasing Victoria’s best emerging contemporary artists. This year titled It’s Only An Island If You Look At It From the Water, the exhibit run April 5-14 at downtown’s Victoria Arts Council (1800 Store Street).
It’s Only An Island offers a diverse and compelling range of painting, photography, installation and sculpture by graduate student artists Lauren Brinson, Kaitlyn Dunsmore, Angus Fergus, Levi Glass, Mona Hedayati, Dani Proteau and Claire Scherzinger.
Please join us for the closing reception, starting at 7pm Friday, April 12.
Keep your eyes open for the upcoming BFA exhibit, Scatter, opening April 18 in the Visual Arts building on campus.
by John Threlfall | Mar 15, 2019 | School of Music, Undergraduate
The UVic Wind Symphony is joined by special guests for their season finale concert on March 29. Featuring solos by trumpet legend Jens Lindemann and School of Music trumpet professor Merrie Klazek, the evening finale—a concerto for wind symphony and jazz quartet—will star Music instructor Wendell Clanton on alto saxophone.
“Something Borrowed, Something Blue” offers an eclectic program featuring contemporary pieces that have borrowed from other composers or take their inspiration from jazz and Latin music.
UVic’s Wind Symphony (photo: Fiona Ngai)
With works by Shostakovich, Hindemith, Gershwin, Mackey and world premieres by UVic student Deborah Baynes and Esquimalt High School student Julian Glover—both commissioned by the UVic Wind Symphony—this concert presents some of the most innovative and exciting pieces written for the genre.
The UVic Wind Symphony, conducted by Steven Capaldo, is recognized as one of the leading wind ensembles in the Pacific Northwest. Recently, as the featured ensemble at the Okanagan Music Festival, the Wind Symphony performed concerts to over 800 students, parents and teachers. If you can’t make the concert, you can listen to it live here.
Trumpeter Jens Lindemann is hailed as one of the most celebrated soloists in his instrument’s history and is the first classical brass player ever to receive the Order of Canada. As an internationally recognized virtuoso and multiple Juno and Grammy nominee, he has performed in every major concert hall in the world and has an extensive discography in a multitude of styles ranging from solo and chamber to jazz and contemporary.
Trumpet legend Jens Lindemann
Lindemann is also the recipient of numerous international awards including the Prague Spring Festival, the Ellsworth Smith, ARD in Munich, was recently named “International Brass Personality of the Year” (Brass Herald), and is the only trumpeter to win the Grand Prize in the 60-year history of the Canadian Music Competition.
Presented as part of the Orion Series in Fine Arts, Lindeman will also offer a short performance featuring classical and jazz repertoire followed by a Q&A session at 11:30am Thursday, March 28, and lead a masterclass with School of Music brass students at 1:30pm on Friday, March 29.
This Wind Symphony concert will present some of the most innovative and exciting wind ensemble pieces written for the genre. Don’t miss it!
The UVic Wind Symphony’s finale concert, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” starts at 8pm Friday, March 29 in The Farquhar at the University Centre. Tickets range from $5 to $20 and are available from the UVic Ticket Centre (250-721-8480) and at the door. Tickets are also complimentary for all UVic students!
by John Threlfall | Mar 11, 2019 | Events, Theatre, Undergraduate
Every play needs a set, whether the audience realizes it or not. From a bare wood floor to a drab apartment that slides open to reveal a musical fantasy land, the set is the canvas upon which the actors come to life. But, rather than creating a set from scratch, what happens when a director asks you to simply adapt a design that’s 30 years old? The short answer, as student designer Conor Farrell discovered, is that there’s nothing simple about it.
Conor Farrell in front of his set for 7 Stories, running March 14-23 at the Phoenix
Running March 14-23, Phoenix Theatre is presenting 7 Stories by Canadian playwright Morris Panych as the final production of their mainstage season. Given that the play is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, director and theatre professor Fran Gebhard wanted to see the original set design brought back to life for her production in Phoenix’s Bishop Theatre.
7 Stories takes place entirely on a seventh-storey window ledge, where a man is in the midst of a life crisis. While reflecting on his life, he is interrupted by the quirky residents and their self-absorbed problems; through their interactions, however, the man finds the courage to take the next step. Panych’s quick-witted, fast-paced comedy philosophizes about life and death, right up to its existential conclusion.
You can read more about the Phoenix production of 7 Stories in some of the advance media coverage it received, including this Times Colonist story, this CTV Vancouver Island segment and this piece from Monday Magazine.
“Ken MacDonald’s original set—inspired by the fabulous art of René Magritte—is iconic and adds an important layer to the meaning of the play, with the surreal elements of Magritte’s work perfectly underscoring Panych’s existential themes,” says Gebhard. “I really couldn’t see the play with any other design.”
For Farrell, that meant adapting the 2009 version of MacDonald’s set—which was originally designed for the 1989 production at Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre, before needing a few modifications for a 20th anniversary mounting at Theatre Calgary—into one cohesive construction that works with the Bishop’s entirely different stage shape.
Rene Magritte’s “La Condition Humaine” (1933)
“Ken’s original design was built for a very different space, so we’re changing it slightly,” explains fourth-year design student Conor Farrell, who is credited with “design adaptation” for this challenging production. “We’re taking the base design and trying to keep all the integral parts. We’ve spoken with him about how we need to change it and gotten his okay for that.”
Given that 7 Stories happens entirely on the ledge of an apartment building, Farrell’s set is a massive 23-foot-tall facade, shooting up from below the stage’s edge and melding into a sky of clouds. As we talk in the audience of the 208-seat Bishop Theatre, we get quick glimpses of the set crew through the faux-windows; swinging hammers and laughing as they work, the students create mini-stories of their own as they assemble the massive design.
“It’s a new kind of challenge,” says Farrell. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if I would do something differently, because it needs to keep the spirit of the original design alive.”
In addition to his actual design work—using Vectorworks, a drafting program, and building a traditional maquette or set model (“the maquette helps people visualize how big the set is, whereas Vectorworks is about sizes and sightlines”)—Farrell also did a fair bit of research into 7 Stories itself: writing a research paper about three-decade’s worth of productions of this now Canadian classic, meeting with director Gebhard and design professor Patrick Du Wors, working with the all-student creative team, overseeing the actual set construction, and having a Skype call with MacDonald himself. “He wasn’t 100 percent sold on it at first, so we had a small back-and-forth and adapted our design,” he chuckles.
With no real theatrical background before moving from Saskatoon to attend UVic, Farrell seems incredibly confidant about undertaking this project, thanks to the skills he’s developed while at the Phoenix. “The best thing about the Theatre department is all the practical experience on offer,” he says. “You can go have a conversation with any professor or talk to the production staff about a problem and figure out how to solve it together.“
As for 7 Stories, Farrell is looking forward to seeing it come to life on opening night. “That’s the fun of the show: how to act with very limited space,” he says. “This set is a challenge that the actors have to solve.”
The public is also invited to a free preshow lecture with award-winning playwright and Fine Arts alumnus Mark Leiren-Young at 7 p.m. Friday, March 15. Currently an instructor with the Writing department, Leiren-Young will discuss the significance, history and secret origins of Morris Panych’s modern masterpiece.
7 Stories previews at 8pm Tuesday and Wednesday, March 12-13 (just $8). It opens at 8pm Thursday, March 14, and runs to March 23, with 2pm matinees on March 16 (with sign language interpretation) and March 23. Tickets range from $16-$26 at the Phoenix Box Office, which is open noon to 8:30pm, Monday to Saturday and at (250) 721-8000.
by John Threlfall | Mar 8, 2019 | Faculty, Writing
Award-winning poet and novelist Patrick Lane passed away on March 7 at age 79, the result of a heart attack. His publisher, McClelland & Stewart, made the announcement, calling Lane “one of Canada’s most renowned writers” — a claim few would argue.
Patrick Lane, 1939-2019
Lane’s distinguished career spanned 50 years and 25 volumes of poetry, as well as award-winning books of fiction and non-fiction, published in over a dozen countries. The winner of numerous accolades — including the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, the Canadian Authors Association Award and three National Magazine Awards — he was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2014.
His passing made headlines in media outlets nation-wide, including (but not limited to) CBC News, the Globe & Mail, CBC Radio’s As It Happens and On The Island, the Toronto Star, Radio-Canada, Times Colonist, the Vancouver Sun, CHEK TV, CTV, Victoria News, The Tyee, CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter and North By Northwest (skip to the 00:56 mark to hear Writing professor Bill Gaston and alum Carla Funk, and 2:07 for alum Steven Price, and then jump to the 2:08 mark to hear this March 10 archived interview with Patrick Lane himself).
An influential member of the Department of Writing from 1992 to 2004, Lane was also famously married to Writing professor emerita Lorna Crozier; indeed, the Globe and Mail once described the beloved pair as “BC’s poetry power couple” and, in her acclaimed poetry collection The Book of Marvels, Crozier wrote of her husband, “We are at home with one another; we are each other’s home.”
Crozier herself reflects on Lane’s legacy in this March13 Canadian Press interview: “He brought beauty into even those places that do not have beauty on their own, and into the lives of people who are struggling,” she said. “He gave them a voice, and he gave them a place in letters. And I can’t think of many other poets who have done that.”
A free community gathering to honour and remember Patrick will be held from 7-9 pm Saturday, April 20, in UVic’s David Lam Auditorium (MacLaurin Building). This event will replace a previously scheduled ceremony to present him with the George Woodcock Award, originally slated for April 27 at the sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ James Bay branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.
Organizers are expecting a capacity crowd for this limited-seating event; please arrive early to avoid disappointment.
There will also be a second public memorial on May 19 at Langham Court Theatre.
A writer to remember
An editor, anthologist and frequent media commentator about poetry and Canadian culture in general, Lane was also a much sought-after teacher, having held positions at the University of Saskatchewan and as writer-in-residence at the universities of Toronto, Alberta, Manitoba and Concordia University. In recognition of his service to Canadian literature, he received a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from UVic in November 2013, as well as honorary doctorates from UBC, McGill University, UNBC and VIU.
“BC’s poetry power couple”: Lane & his wife, Lorna Crozier
“Patrick inspired several generations of new writers with his poetic vision and generous spirit,” says David Leach, current Writing chair. “He would mentor and champion his students long after they had graduated from his classroom, and UVic. And while he was known as one of our country’s greatest poets, he was also a masterful and incisive prose stylist in fiction and personal essays with a voice unique to Canadian literature.”
He was also honoured to be one of the few poets to see his work gathered and published as a collected works in his lifetime: 2011’s The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane included more than 400 poems, dating back to 1962.
“What makes this career even more remarkable is that Patrick’s formal education stopped with the completion of high school. However, through wide reading and dogged perseverance, he became one of the best educated and unconventionally brilliant people I have ever encountered,” wrote noted Canadian author Guy Vanderhaeghe in support of Lane’s honorary doctorate.
Remembered by students, colleagues
Formal awards and designations aside, Lane was admired and well-loved by colleagues and former students, many of whom have gone on to influential literary careers themselves.
Patrick Lane (right) with Esi Edugyan & Bill Gaston at the 2013 BC Book Prizes
“No one can sum up adequately what a major figure like Patrick contributed,” says Writing professor Tim Lilburn, a literary colleague and close friend of Lane’s. “I can’t think of anyone who has had a more profound impact on Canadian poetry over the last 50-plus years. He was a great poet and an extremely generous mentor.”
That’s a sentiment with which double Giller Prize-winning author Esi Edugyan clearly agrees; having studied under Lane at UVic, she has described him as “my first great teacher.”
Carla Funk — the City of Victoria’s inaugural poet laureate — credits Lane with her future path; he was her first poetry instructor when she first enrolled at UVic when she was just 18 years old. “It was my very first creative writing class,” she told CBC Radio’s As It Happens in this interview from March 8. “He was the instructor who pushed me toward that, coaxed me and guided me and encouraged me toward this way of poetry, which was a different way of looking at the world, a different way of being in the world.”
Fellow alumni including acclaimed novelist Steven Price and former Victoria poet laureate Yvonne Blomer also fondly recalled Lane as an influential teacher, supportive mentor and close friend, when they spoke to both CBC Radio’s North By Northwest and the Times Colonist, respectively.
“He was a giant of Canadian letters, one of our most essential writers,” wrote UVic Chancellor Shelagh Rogers upon the news of Lane’s passing. The long-time host of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, Rogers well knows Lane’s esteemed place in the world of Canadian literature. “He was also a mensch. #RestinPoetry.”
Lane’s first book (1966), and his last (2018)
Born in 1939 in Nelson, BC, Lane earned early praise for his poems based on his “working man” experiences, and helped spearhead a new generation of Canadian poets by co-founding the small press Very Stone House in 1966. His first poetry collection, Letters From The Savage Mind, debuted that same year, and his final novel, Deep River Night, was published in 2018. His frankly honest 2005 memoir, There Is A Season, chronicled his rehabilitation from alcoholism, and earned him both the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence and the BC Award for Canadian Nonfiction.
He was, as Vanderhaeghe notes, “a writer’s writer, universally respected and applauded by his peers as one of the most significant and gifted Canadian poets of the last half-century.”
Honoured by UVic
“We express our condolences to Lorna and their family for this deep loss,” says Susan Lewis, Dean of Fine Arts. “Patrick is a legend in the field of Canadian poetry. I was deeply moved by his 2013 convocation address when we honoured him as Doctor of Letters.”
During that address which can be read in its entirety here, Lane poetically encapsulated 65 years of his life, reflecting on the changes he had seen both in the world and himself during that time. It seems only fitting to offer these final words from the poet himself:
Lane receiving his Honorary Doctorate in Nov 2013 (UVic Photo Services)
“I stand here looking out over this assembly and ask myself what I can offer you who are taking from my generation’s hands a troubled world. I am an elder now. There are times many of us old ones feel a deep regret, a profound sorrow, but our sorrow does not have to be yours. You are young and it is soon to be your time. A month ago I sat on a river estuary in the Great Bear Rain Forest north of here as a mother grizzly nursed her cubs. As the little ones suckled, the milk spilled down her chest and belly. As I watched her I thought of this day and I thought of you who not so long ago nursed at your own mother’s breast. There in the last intact rain forest on earth, the bear cubs became emblems of hope to me.
Out there are men and women only a few years older than you who are trying to remedy a broken world. I know and respect their passion. You too can change things. Just remember there are people who will try to stop you and when they do you will have to fight for your lives and the lives of the children to come.”