A creative community

A creative community  

Welcome to week two of The Fine Arts Connector, your weekly listing of news, resources, activities and other shareable content from the Faculty of Fine Arts, specifically compiled for distribution during the current health crisis. 

One thing we’re all increasingly aware of these days is the vital importance of the arts when it comes to a sense of community. While a vast and varied range of socially distant arts options continue to flourish online, and people are discovering the quirky joys of things like choir practices via Zoom, we are still being rocked by news of event cancellations now stretching into the summer—like the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, originally scheduled for June 18-28, and all of Edinburgh’s festivals through to the end of August . . . including the fabled Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

But we’re continually heartened by the collective outreach efforts of our Fine Arts community—consider recording stars and School of Music Distinguished Alumni Twin Kennedy, who have pivoted #TheHomeboundTour they had planned for this spring into a series of Facebook live performances from their living room

Please enjoy—and circulate—this collection of material featuring our faculty, students, alumni, staff and guests as a way of both sharing what our creative community is up to and keeping us connected in this difficult moment in history. You can also help by keeping us in the loop if you’re working on a live-streaming project, have online material to share or are involved in something you’d like people to know about: just email either fineartsevents@uvic.ca or johnt@uvic.ca. Finally, you can sign up here to receive automatic notice of The Connector each week. 

Catch alumni recording stars Twin Kennedy live from their living room


#CanadaPerforms update

The funding for the National Arts Centre’s admirable short-term relief fund series #CanadaPerforms is now up to $600,000, thanks to additional donations of $200,000 each from the RBC Foundation and SiriusXM Canada. They’re currently scheduling content by professional Canadian performing artists through to April 30, so you’ve still got until April 13 to apply with your 45-to-60-minute online performance concept. #CanadaPerforms was originally launched with a pair of $100K donations by each Facebook Canada and Slaight Music, as a way for the NAC to ease the financial strain for Canadian artists impacted by the closure of performance venues across Canada related to COVID-19, and to lift the spirits of Canadians during the crisis. 

In related news, the Hollywood Reporter is reporting that “Netflix has donated $1 million to the Toronto-based Actors Fund of Canada for emergency financial relief to reach out-of-work artists in Canadian film, TV, music, theatre and dance. Netflix also gave another $500,000 to The Fondation des Artistes, which supports Quebec artists in need.”


Germany invests in their artists

Looking for an inspiring national story during these trying times? As noted in this story on ArtNet.com, Germany’s federal government has announced a €50 billion aid package for the country’s creative and cultural sectors. The €50 billion will be provided specifically to small businesses and freelancers, including those from the cultural, creative, and media sectors. “Artists are not only indispensable, but also vital, especially now,” says Germany’s culture minister, Monika Grütters.

Compare that to the $300 million US the American government is giving to arts organizations—a small fraction of the overall $2 trillion recently approved bailout package, which saw $500 billion going to big business—or the £160 million earmarked by Arts Council England for arts relief efforts. 


Heads-up for Phoenix students and recent grads

Canada’s National Theatre School is earmarking $60,000 in financial help for theatre school students and recent graduates during the current health crisis—regardless of what theatrical institution they attended. NTS will award 80 Art Apart bursaries of $750 each to young and emerging actors, playwrights, directors and designers, who will present a piece of art online. Selected applicants will also get their work disseminated through the school’s social networks with the hashtag #ArtApart.

“There are a lot of folks in theatre programs with cancelled plays, readings, end-of-year performances,” says Gideon Arthurs, the chief executive officer of NTS, said in this Globe and Mail interview. “Our fund also is open to students who have graduated in the last five years . . . . All those part-time jobs [many emerging artists] rely on are evaporating as well.”


BC Arts Council administers $3 million relief fund

Recent news that BC’s provincial government is setting up a $3 million fund comes as a bit of relief for eligible arts organizations, who will receive up to $15,000 to help pay their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Times Colonist is reporting. Administered by the BC Arts Council, the fund will provide 50 percent advances on 2020-21 funding for arts groups. Workers in the arts sector who have lost income because of COVID-19 are also eligible to apply for a one-time payment of $1,000 under the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers.

For more information, see the BC Arts Council’s COVID-19 FAQs for Arts and Culture Grant Recipients & Applicants—where you can also find answers to questions about travel, performance gatherings, cancellations, pending applications and more.


CBC Arts a key resource 

If you’re not subscribed to the weekly CBC Arts newsletter, you really should be. Each week it offers an invaluable roundup of specifically arts-related news, profiles and funding options for these difficult times. Their latest issue lists over 22 arts advocacy groups and more than a dozen emergency funding sources for writers, musicians, LGBTQ2S artists, technicians and others.

All’s quiet at the Phoenix Theatre these days

A scene from the 2014 Phoenix Theatre production of Unity (1918), written and directed by Kevin Kerr (photo: David Lowes)

Kevin Kerr’s Unity (1918)

Inspired as it was by the global Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, Department of Writing professor Kevin Kerr‘s 2001 play Unity (1918) is an apt example of the oft-repeated phrase “art imitates life”—but, as we’re seeing with the current health crisis, it’s also a good example of how life sometimes imitates art, now that we’re faced with another flu pandemic just a century later.

Set during the final few weeks of World War I, Unity (1918) sees the Spanish Flu spreading across the country and has the entire town of Unity, Saskatchewan, under siege from an invisible enemy . . . more horrifying and deadly than the war. Seen through the lives of the charming, eccentric townsfolk—including several young women driven by their dreams of finding true passion—this gothic romance explores human needs of love, sex and faith, during their desperate embrace of life at the edge of death.

While Kerr’s play won the 2002 Governor General’s Award for its touching, intensely human and darkly comic portrayal of a forgotten chapter in Canadian history, the 2014 Phoenix Theatre mounting was ironically rocked by a flu outbreak during its run, with a number of cast and crew falling ill—to the point that Kerr, who also directed this production, had to step in and act in some performances.

Developed as part of Touchstone Theatre’s Playwright-in-Residence Program during the 1999/2000 season, and originally produced in March 2001 at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, Unity (1918) has since become a staple in the Canadian theatre scene. Most recently, it was presented by our colleagues at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in November 2019, where it was directed by Distinguished Alumni Glynis Leyshon. The leads of that production were interviewed in this March 28 Victoria News article about the show’s parallels to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“Basically, all fun things were canceled then too,” said actor Darren Saretsky. “The town people were quarrelling with one another, not because of illness, but because of fear of illness.”


Listen to Kevin Kerr’s 35-minute pre-show lecture about the play.

Unity (1918) writer & director Kevin Kerr backstage at the Phoenix production

Short films by Writing students

While UVic’s Department of Writing is well-known for producing outstanding authors, poets, playwrights and journalists, it has also been producing some fantastic filmmakers over the past decade. Case in point? Connor Gaston, who completed both his BFA and MFA with Writing and is currently building a name for himself as a feature film director (The Devout) while helping to develop the next-generation of talent as a sessional instructor in Writing. We’re happy to present here a pair of short films Gaston directed, featuring the talents of Writing students.        

The first, 2013’s ‘Til Death, was penned by Writing alumni Ryan Bright, produced by Writing professor Maureen Bradley and created with the talents of the Writing 420 film production and screenwriting class. After losing his soul mate in a fatal bicycle accident, 10-year-old Zachary sets out on a journey to bring Samantha back to life in this magical, modern fairytale. 

Til Death won a number of awards, including “Best Student Short” at the Montreal World Film Festival, Phoenix Film Festival and Vancouver Short Film Festival, plus “Audience Choice” at the Victoria Film Festival and “Best Screenplay” at the Vancouver Short Film Festival. 

’Til Death


The second, 2012’s Bardo Light, was written, directed and edited by Gaston, and features the talents of a number of UVic alumni, including actors Shaan Rahman (Phoenix Theatre) and Chris Mackie (Law), and producer Sandi Barrett (Writing). Accused of murdering his father, a young inventor maintains his innocence, claiming the real culprit was a modified television set.

Bardo Light was an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and film festivals in Newport Beach, Sedona, Victoria and the Short Circuit festival.

Bardo Light

Jazz up your day

Looking for some new sounds to liven up your day? School of Music professor Patrick Boyle has a brand new album out: Swivel features 10 solid tracks with Boyle on trumpet and flugel, plus Lorne Lofsky on electric guitar and Sean Drabitt on double bass. A chance meeting between the three musicians at one of the most famous recording studios in the world—Vancouver’s fabled The Warehouse—led to Boyle inviting Lofsky and Drabbit to spend an afternoon together playing a few originals and standards.

Listen to Swivel now at this Bandcamp link—where you can also pick up a digital or physical copy of it. And if you buy the CD, it features album art representing both the old and new blue bridges here in Victoria, with photography by Boyle as well. That same link also features a link where you can buy all six of Boyle’s releases on Bandcamp and save a whopping 50 percent. (“Almost all my records are on Spotify, too,” Boyle reminds us.) 

Also, you can get a taste of Boyle’s talent in the classroom via this archived performance of the UVic Jazz Ensemble, of which he is the director (far right in the picture below). This concert was recorded on March 16, 2019. This concert features music by Horace Silver, Jimmy Giuffree, Wayne Shorter, Clifford Brown and more. 

This version of the UVic Jazz Ensemble includes students Baylie Adams, Karsten Brewka, Matthew Gannon, Adam Jaseniuk, Todd Morgan & Michael Vielguth (saxophones); Espen Lyngberg, Sophia Olim, Ben Pakosz, Darius Pomeroy & Will Quinn (trombones); Anthony Shackell (trumpet); Taya Haldane (flute); Dante Andre-Kahan, Lachlan Barry, Cole Burns, Rachel Burtman, Owen Chernikhowsky, Will Lynch & Isley Owens (percussion).

"Four Brothers"

by Jimmy Giuffre, as performed by the UVic Jazz Ensemble


by Horace Silver, as performed by the UVic Jazz Ensemble

"My Little Suede Shoes"

by Charlie Parker, as performed by the UVic Jazz Ensemble

"Adam's Apple"

by Wayne Shorter, as performed by the UVic Jazz Ensemble

"Strasbourg St. Denis"

by Roy Hargrove, as performed by the UVic Jazz Ensemble

"All The Things You Are"

by Jerome Kern, as performed by the UVic Jazz Ensemble

"Red Clay"

by Freddie Hubbard, as performed by the UVic Jazz Ensemble

"The Blues Walk"

by Sonny Stitt, as performed by the UVic Jazz Ensemble

Step inside this student art project

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Department of Visual Arts is simply walking through the building and discovering what students are working on. One of the busiest undergrads this past year has to be Josh Franklin, whose various projects were remarkable in both scale and concept. As well as being the recipient of a Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award (JCURA) for his project, “Holon Inc: A Multidisciplinary Exploration of Holistic Process Based Art”, Franklin was also recently named the recipient of the $1000 Pat Martin Bates Legacy Award at the 2020 Victoria Visual Arts Legacy Society Awards.  

Working under the supervision of Visual Arts professor Rick Leong, Franklin describes his JCURA project “Holon Inc” as “a durational, multimedia, performance-based, installation project where I will live within a self-built and site-specific structure for seven days and while in it, complete a finite number of pre-dictated tasks. The main objective and or explorative aspect of this performance are to present an unadulterated experience of viewing what occurs from a projects genesis to its dynamic resolution.”

Franklin feels that by exhibiting his my own body in the action of building an environment, the viewer will be given the opportunity to watch and contemplate the work that must be undertaken to actualize the project. 

Now the fun part—you can take a self-guided 360-degree walking tour of “Holon Inc” simply by clicking on the image on the right and then using your mouse or keyboard to navigate your way around it. 

And once you’ve gotten the hang of that, you can take the same kind of virtual tour of Franklin’s 2019 project, “A Paradox in Connection (Walk-In Structure)”

Take a self-guided 360-degree walking tour of Franklin’s “Holon Inc”

Josh Franklin’s 2019 project, “A Paradox in Connection (Walk-In Structure)”

A glimpse inside Urban Regalia 

Last fall, the first part of Urban Regalia: An Exhibition in Two Movements opened at UVic’s downtown Legacy Gallery. Curated by Art History & Visual Studies professor Carolyn Butler Palmer, it offered a stunning collection of Indigenous couture by Gitxsan designer Yolonda Skelton, whose Sug-ii-t Lukxs Designs mixes the aesthetics of Gitxsan button blanket robes with a twist of Audrey Hepburn’s style.

“I started to make different things, because you can’t wear your regalia out,” Skelton explains in this CBC article about the exhibition. “It’s [the regalia] for the feast. It is for special ceremonial purposes . . . you don’t walk around town wearing it. So, I start to think, OK well, I need to start to make things that can show who I am and where I come from.” 

Skelton grew up learning her Indigenous culture from her relations in Haida Gwaii, but her designs have since appeared on fashion runways in both Paris and Vancouver.

“Colonialism had and continues to have a devastating impact on indigenous peoples all over the world,” says Skelton. “My hope is that a step towards de-colonization is possible, by learning about each other’s cultures through the medium of art. Peoples of the world want to glimpse the true essence of other cultures and to respect the people they are learning about. They want to understand the impact of colonization and do their part to change it—and I would like to do my part and help them.”

As the name suggests, Urban Regalia was conceived as a two-part Legacy Gallery exhibit; the first part, featuring Skelton’s designs, ran September 28-December 21 2019, while the second part—Urban Regalia: Westshore Stories—opened on January 18 and was still up when the COVID-19 health crisis closed the galleries. Curated by Butler Palmer’s AHVS students and featuring button blankets by Skelton’s students at the Westshore Centre for Learning and Training-Colwood Campus, Westshore Stories offered a dynamic pairing of students on both sides of the gallery process. (Watch for a gallery of images of that exhibit next week in this space.)

Enjoy these images of the first part of Urban Regalia, taken by current Fine Arts student photographer Leon Fei


Gitxsan designer Yolonda Skelton’s artist talk at Legacy Gallery on October 10

More to come weekly

We’ll be posting more content from our faculty, students and alumni each week—be sure to check back!

The show can go on

The show can go on

When the Phoenix Theatre’s season-ending production of The Children’s Hour closed on its March 12 opening night due to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic, it signalled the swift cancellation of all public programming in the Faculty of Fine Arts. End-of-the-year performances by our School of Music ensembles and the annual graduating BFA exhibit in Visual Arts matched the closure of performance venues and galleries around the city and across the world.

Yet we’ve also started to see a remarkable flourishing of online content and sharable resources while we practice social distancing and self-isolation. And while our Fine Arts faculty and students have been shifting to completing the academic year online—a particularly challenging scenario for a faculty rooted in hands-on learning—our greater Fine Arts community is already helping to bridge the cultural gap.   

“The wonderful accomplishments of our colleagues and students in the Faculty of Fine Arts remind us that the arts can raise our spirits during uncertain times,” says Acting Dean, Allana Lindgren. “Creativity is always an assertion of hope.​”

With that in mind, we will now be offering the Fine Arts Connector—a weekly update of activities, resources and archival material featuring our faculty, students, alumni, staff and guests as a way of both sharing what our creative community is up to and keeping us connected in this difficult moment in history. You can help us by keeping faculty communications officer John Threlfall in the loop if you’re working on a live-streaming project, have archival material to share or are involved in something you’d like people to know about.  You can also sign up here to receive automatic notice of The Connector each week. 

“During this time, I am reminded of the important role that universities play in the lives of individuals and communities through education, research and public engagement,” says UVic president Jamie Cassels. “Despite the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves, we continue to play that role. We have offered our facilities, resources and capabilities to others, and we continue to challenge ourselves to find new, creative ways to continue to serve our students and communities.” 

phoenix theatre set

Theatre student Emily Friesen’s set of the “The Children’s Hour”


While our colleagues across the arts spectrum continue to create and offer innovative solutions to fill the cultural gap during the current health crisis — like the Social Distancing Festival started by Toronto theatre artist Nick Green, which offers an incredible number of daily viewing options — we are also starting to see valuable information-sharing happening.

This CBC Arts page list a wide range of resources for artists and cultural workers during the current shutdown, ranging from emergency funding and advocacy groups to online resource for training, health & mental health, and temporary/remote job listings.

The BC Alliance for Arts & Culture’s resource list is a treasure trove of links leading to arts-specific resources (including the likes of the Canada Council and the BC Arts Council), digital tools for the arts sector (live streaming options), data (COVID-19 impact surveys) and general resources during the health crisis (“care for your coronavirus anxiety”).


The National Arts Centre has also launched the $200,000 relief fund #CanadaPerforms, a short-term relief fund that pays Canadian artists for their online performances. Launched via a pair of $100K donations by each Facebook Canada and Slaight Music, the NAC is looking to ease the financial strain for Canadian artists impacted by the closure of performance venues across Canada related to COVID-19, and to lift the spirits of Canadians during the crisis. 

You can apply until April 13, 2020, if you’re a Canadian performing artists interested in streaming 45 to 60-minute performances from home— including musicians, comedians, dancers, singers, theatre artists and ensembles of less than 10 people. Selected artists will receive $1,000 and their online performance will be broadcast on the NAC’s Facebook page. You can apply by email to the NAC at CanadaPerforms@nac-cna.ca with a description of your performance, when you wish to share and on what platform. 

Follow #CanadaPerforms or the NAC’s social media channels to find out what’s coming up—including the award-winning play Kamloopa by current Writing MFA candidate Kim Senklip Harvey on March 27 and a live reading of Theatre alum Meg Braem‘s play Flight Risk on March 29 (see below for details on both).

The monumental installation The Witness Blanket, by Carey Newman

The Witness Blanket

While the original version of Visual Arts Audain Professor Carey Newman’s heartfelt and emotionally powerful installation The Witness Blanket is being restored at its new permanent home at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, a high-end reproduction is currently touring around Canada.

You can learn more about the creation and intention of The Witness Blanket via this short curated online narration with Newman and Alberta’s CKUA radio, done during the Blanket’s current appearance at Calgary’s Mount Royal university, where it is on view until April 30.

The tour is also scheduled to include stops at the Winnipeg Airport (June 1–Aug 31), the Simcoe County Museum in Minesing, Ontario (Sept 28-Nov 30) and Brantford’s Woodland Cultural Centre (Dec 21-Feb 26, 2021), with future appearances at Ontario’s Nipissing University in North Bay (2021), BC’s Fraser Fort-George Regional Museum (2022) and Whitehorse’s Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre (2022).

Kamloopa on #CanadaPerforms

Have a laugh on the ride to Kamloopa—the largest powwow on the west coast—as you hang with the matriarchs of Kamloopa at 4pm PST Friday, March 27, as part of the new #CanadaPerforms partnership with the National Arts Centre and Facebook Live.

Written by current Writing MFA candidate Kim Senklip Harvey, this high-energy Indigenous matriarchal story follows two urban Indigenous sisters and a lawless trickster who face the world head-on as they battle to come to terms with what it means to honour who they are and where they come from.

As Harvey describes, “Kamloopa is not restricted to the four walls of theatre but instead invokes our ancestors to embody their true selves throughout the story. In developing matriarchal relationships and shared Indigenous values,Kamloopa explores the fearless love and passion of Indigenous women reconnecting with their homelands, ancestors and stories. This boundary-blurring adventure will remind you to always dance like the ancestors are watching.”

The March 27 livestream will feature excerpts from the play and a romping good chat with members from the creative team, the Fire Company: Kim Senklip Harvey, Yolanda Bonnell, Samantha Brown, Kaitlyn Yott and Emily Soussana. 

Nominated for eight Jessie Richardson Awards and four SATAwards, Kamloopa won the 2019 Jessie for Significant Artistic Achievement for Decolonizing Theatre Practices and Spaces, and was also the first Indigenous play in the award’s history to win Best Production. Kamloopa is also the recipient of the Sydney J Risk Prize, a SATAward and was published by Talonbooks.

Livestreaming recitals

While all year-end performances by the School of Music‘s large ensembles have been cancelled—including the UVic Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Chamber Singers, Sonic Lab, Don Wright Symphonic Winds and Vocal Jazz Ensemble—alongside final concerts by faculty and guests, there are still some graduating recitals scheduled to be livestreamed via Music’s website.    

Upcoming livestream recitals can be heard at 8pm Thursday, March 26 (BMus Jeanel Liang, violin) and at 3pm Friday, March 27 (BMus Todd Morgan, saxophone). 

While much of the world is just tuning into the idea of livestreaming, the School of Music has actually been doing it for years now as a way of connecting our performers with audiences who can’t always make the concerts. You can also listen to any previous livestreamed events for up to 30 days on Music’s dedicated Listen Live! site—including a number of recent degree recitals, faculty pianist Bruce Vogt‘s recent Steinway concert, the Emerging Steinway  Stars student concert, and our annual Thank You Concert, which features a range of students showcasing their talents.   

The Canadian Play Thing 

Celebrated playwright, Theatre alum and current Writing sessional Janet Munsil has put her years of experience as the former artistic director of the Victoria Fringe Festival to use by creating The Canadian Play Thing—a virtual theatre that seats 100 and offers live readings of new and under-performed Canadian plays online. 

Designed to fill the void of empty theatres, The Canadian Play Thing launched on March 22 with Dave Deveau’s Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls. The idea, writes Munsil, is to “celebrate the work of playwrights and to stay in touch with our theatre family . . . artists and audiences around the world welcome.”

Performed for free on Zoom Webinar, the “seating” is limited to 100 people and is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Next up is local playwright David Elendune’s The Loved One, running at 7pm on Thursday, March 26. “Bring your drink, your crinkly wrappers, your cat, wear your pjs, leave your phone on . . . say hi to your friends and chat in the comment box,” says Munsil. 

Follow their Facebook page to keep up to date with what’s coming next. 

Meg Braem on #CanadaPerforms

Also happening this week, Governor General’s Award-nominated playwright and Phoenix Theatre alum Meg Braem is presenting a live reading of her play Flight Risk at 6pm PST Sunday, March 29, as part of the National Arts Centre’s #CanadaPerforms series.  

Flight Risk explores aging, grief and death through the unlikely friendship between Hank, a WWII tail gunner, and Sarah, a nursing student completing course requirements in his nursing home. Seemingly opposites, Hank and Sarah find common ground in navigating personal tragedies that have kept them isolated from the world. Told through humour and honesty, Flight Risk is the story of finding exactly who you need when you least expect it. 

Braem—currently the Lee Playwright in Residence at the University of Alberta and Artist-in-Residence at the Calgary Arts Academy—was featured in Phoenix’s Spotlight on Alumni back in 2009 with her play, The Josephine Knot.

Exploring artifacts

While you won’t be able to sit in on a class with him right now, you can still learn about the material research of Art History & Visual Studies chair Marcus Milwright via this short video exploring the history of a late 19th/early 20th century Syrian slipper (or clog). 

A world-renowned expert and author of a number of books, Milwright’s research focuses upon the archaeology of the Islamic period, the art and architecture of the Islamic Middle East, cross-cultural interaction in the Medieval and early Modern Mediterranean, the history of medicine, traditional craft practices, and the architecture and civil engineering of southern Greece during the Ottoman sultanate. 

This particular video was shot while he was in residence at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design in Hawaii. 

More to come weekly

We’ll be posting more content from our faculty, students and alumni each week—be sure to check back!

Fine Arts events cancelled in response to COVID-19

In response to the ongoing and global spread of the COVID-19 virus and the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, the University of Victoria is following provincial guidelines regarding large gatherings.

These actions have been taken in consideration of the recent declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization, confirming that the virus is likely to spread to all countries with a corresponding rise in the risk level of all international travel. It also supports our commitment to the safety and well-being of our campus community and the health of our broader community.

As part of our response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, UVic has created a COVID-19 response website to provide the university community with the most up-to-date information — including tips for staying healthy, information for travellers, and other resources for students, faculty and staff.

Cancelled events

Following the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, gatherings of more than 50 people are now cancelled. These events involving Fine Arts faculty, students and alumni have been cancelled:

  • The Children’s Hour, Phoenix Theatre
  • Belfry Theatre’s SPARK Festival
  • MFA Connect: Floatation Devices exhibit
  • Legacy Gallery downtown (including Urban Regalia FLUID exhibits)
  • Yvonne Blomer book launch (March 18)
  • Heng Wu guest lecture (March 19)
  • Sonic Lab (March 20)
  • Betsy Tumasonis AGGV guest lecture (March 22)
  • Vocal Jazz Ensemble (March 22)
  • Visiting Artist: Chantal Gibson (March 25)
  • Chamber Singers (March 28)
  • Faculty Concert: Connie Gitlin (March 29)
  • Gendered Threads of Globalization symposium (March 27-29)
  • UVic Wind Symphony (March 27)
  • Don Wright Symphonic Winds (April 2)
  • UVic Orchestra (April 3)
  • Middle East & Islamic Studies Consortium conference, UVic (April 4)
  • Mallory Tater reading, Munro’s Books (April 9)

Livestreaming events

The School of Music will be live-streaming a limited number of degree recitals in the coming weeks: please see their events calendar for specific details.

Stay up to date

Please see UVic’s COVID-19 website for all the latest information on UVic’s response to this health crisis.

The Children’s Hour looks at power of lies & culture of fear

MARCH 13 UPDATE: Following the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, gatherings of more than 250 people are now cancelled. As a result, this current production of The Children’s Hour has been cancelled. Ticket holders will be contacted by the Phoenix box office.


Within the context of today’s politics and accusations of “fake news,” Department of Theatre professor and director Peter McGuire believed that it was important to look back to a previous time in history and chose a period drama about a valiant struggle for truth. With that in mind, UVic’s Phoenix Theatre is proud to present Lillian Hellman’s 1934 classic The Children’s Hour, from March 12 to 21, 2020.

Set in 1937 in New England, with fascism on the rise in Europe, The Children’s Hour tells the story of two long-time friends and headmistresses, Karen and Martha, whose reputations are threatened when Mary, a spiteful student, lashes out by whispering a lie.

Director McGuire was struck by the pertinence of the play when he first saw it at the Shaw Festival in 1997 and feels it has only grown in relevance. “This play holds up a mirror to the audience and says, ‘See these people? This is us—a reflection of the society in which we live.’”

Another era of lies & propaganda

Hellman’s first play, The Children’s Hour was extremely controversial when it was produced in 1934. It was being considered seriously for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but the judges were accused of rejecting it because of the play’s reference to the two women having an affair. (One judge refused to even watch the play.)

“Important plays ask big important questions,” says McGuire. “Lillian Hellman lived in a time of political conflict similar to that of today. It’s part of what makes this piece so timely.”

The original production

Outraged by the Pulitzer decision, the New York Drama Critic’s Circle responded by awarding its own award the next year. In following years, many municipalities banned it from being produced in their towns. After a revival on Broadway in 1952, it was also adapted into a 1961 Hollywood movie featuring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, and James Garner.

Setting the stage for student achievement

McGuire has worked with student designers to create a world both realistic and nostalgic. The headmistresses’ school is set in a bright and cheerful farmhouse, designed by fourth-year student Emily Friesen. With nine-foot-tall windows, cosy furniture and period wallpaper, the set evolves with the progression of Mary’s deceit. In contrast, the austere home of Mary’s grandmother is dramatic and dark.

Cast of The Children’s Hour (Photo: Dean Kalyan)

The costume design by third-year student Brodie Needham gives each student a distinct personal style within the restrictions of their 1930s pinafore uniform. The costumes for Karen and Martha also transition to reflect their changing circumstances. Masters candidate and lighting designer Zhe (Harry) Lin captures the passage from day to night and back again.

Cast of The Children’s Hour (Photo: Dean Kalyan)

Fourth-year student and sound designer Aaron Smail chose the American composer he was named after (Aaron Copland) to evoke the many colours of New England. The orchestration begins rich and full, but slowly simplifies, peeling away instruments over the course of the play. Third-year student Cassie Holmes is the stage manager.

A free preshow lecture is offered at 7pm Friday, March 13, with Dr. Michael Nowlin, a professor of pre-WWII American literature and the Chair of UVic’s Department of English.

The Children’s Hour previews  at 8pm Tuesday-Wednesday, March 10-11 (day-of tickets just $8 after 5pm), then runs at 8pm March 12-21, Tuesday to Saturday, with 2pm matinees on March 14 and 21. There is also a special Vocal Eye performance at 2pm Saturday, March 21,  with live description for the visually impaired. 

Tickets are $15 to $28 (depending on day), with $16 Student Rush tickets (30 minutes before performance at the door). Visit the Box Office in person Monday to Saturday, noon to 8:30pm or charge by phone (250) 721-8000

All-Steinway School celebrations continue

The School of Music’s 12th anniversary celebration as an all-Steinway school continues through March with a special series of concerts and events. UVic became Canada’s very first all-Steinway school in 2008 when we acquired 63 new Steinway pianos—and our students, faculty, guest performers and concert-goers have been appreciating the beauty and quality of these incredible instruments ever since!

In addition to hearing some fantastic concerts, you’ll be able to see a special display of parts from a deconstructed piano shipped directly from the Steinway factory in New York City at Mark Anderson‘s March 5 concert (see below).

The School of Music became Canada’s very first All-Steinway School in 2008 when we acquired 63 new Steinway pianos—including 49 uprights for practice rooms and faculty offices, 13 grand pianos for the teaching faculty and rehearsal halls, and a Steinway Concert Grand for the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall.

Proceeds from these events will benefit our Steinway Legacy Fund, dedicated to the enhancement and expansion of our valuable collection instruments. Donate online to support this important ongoing achievement in the School of Music.

Mark Anderson & a deconstructed piano

Guest artist Mark Anderson

At 8pm Thursday, March 5, guest pianist and Steinway artist Mark Anderson performs Mozart’s Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 282, the Canadian premiere of Röntgen’s Sonata in C-sharp Minor, and the last piano sonatas by Schubert (No. 21 in B-flat Major, D.960) and Brahms (Sonata No. 3). A piano professor at UBC’s School of Music, Anderson’s appearances as recitalist, soloist and chamber musician have been met with widespread critical acclaim around the globe.

But you can also find out the “secrets of Steinway” with Simon Phillips, Island Regional Manager at Tom Lee Music, who are generously sponsoring this concert. Learn more about the inner workings of a Steinway by getting a closer look at the mechanisms that technicians and piano rebuilders are often only privy to in this special deconstructed piano—shipped directly from the Steinway factory in New York City. Seating for this talk is limited, however, so we suggest RSVPing in advance at music@uvic.ca to reserve a seat.

Technology meets classical styling

Drop by the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall from 2:30-6:30pm on Thursday, March 12, for open masterclasses and demonstrations of the Steinway Spirio | r, the world’s finest high-resolution player piano capable of live performance capture and playback.

The new Steinway Spirio | r

The Spirio | r uses an iPad to record performances, correct mistakes and play back the perfect version on the piano itself. The instrument can also play performances recorded in Steinway’s own studio, with all the subtleties of a live concert.

The School of Music’s main lobby will have a special display of parts from a deconstructed piano shipped directly from the Steinway factory in New York City. Learn more about the inner workings of a Steinway by getting a closer look at the mechanisms that technicians and piano rebuilders are often only privy to. Guided virtual reality tours of the Steinway factory will also be available in the lobby. Visit our website for a detailed schedule.

Emerging Steinway Stars

Curious about the difference a Steinway makes? Take an afternoon break and enjoy a concert of varied repertoire featuring UVic School of Music piano students at 12:30pm Friday, March 6, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall.

Then, hear some of the brightest piano students from the School of Music at this special concert showcase, starting at 8pm Thursday, March 12.  This concert will actually be performed on Steinway’s Spirio | r.

Faculty pianist Bruce Vogt

Bruce Vogt

Finally, School of Music professor Bruce Vogt performs a dynamic program of works by Liszt and Chopin, including a waltz and six Nocturnes, at 2:30pm Sunday, March 15. Among the elite of Canadian pianists, Bruce Vogt is a unique and dynamic performer. He appears regularly in concert within Canada, but has also inspired audiences in England, the USA, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Bulgaria, China, and Japan.

Join Vogt for a special pre-concert talk at 1:30pm, where he will discuss two titans of the piano—Chopin and Liszt—and their very different paths. Seating for the pre-concert talk is limited, so please RSVP to music@uvic.ca to reserve your seat.

Canada’s very first All-Steinway School

Still Canada’s only All-Steinway School, UVic’s School of Music is justifiably proud of this designation. Back in 2008, we were the 99th All-Steinway School in the world, joining famous schools such as The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music. It was announced at the time that the $1.1-million acquisition was being funded through a financing arrangement between UVic and Tom Lee Music.

You can help us grow and maintain our Steinways by donating online here.