Fine Arts well represented at the 2022 Victoria Film Festival

Running February 4-13, both online and in theatres, the Victoria Film Festival will descend on Victoria with a new raft of films to delight movie goers of all stripes.

No stranger to the VFF, you’ll once again find Fine Arts well-represented in these films and events:

Writing alum Sean Horlor (co-director, Someone Like Me, Feb 5) : this award-winning documentary follows the story of Drake, a gay asylum seeker from Uganda. When a queer group unites to support Drake seeking asylum in Canada, unexpected challenges lead them down an emotional road together in search of personal freedom.

Writing’s David Leach (moderator, Welcome to the Metaverse, Feb 9) : Join Brett Gaylor (documentary filmmaker) and Mike Wozniewski (President & CTO, Hololabs) for a hands-on demonstration and discover the power and perils of facial-recognition data-harvesting technologies — and how to make your “metaverse” a “better-verse”. Moderated by UVic’s David Leach and SFU’s Kate Hennessy.

Theatre’s Leslie D. Bland (co-director, Tzouhalem, Feb 13) : This documentary examines the near-mythic figure of Cowichan Chief Tzouhalem, the account of his life from both historians and First Nations Elders, the folkloric tales concerning him, his impact on the modern relationship between the Crown and First Nations, and how his legend remains alive to this day, examining critically how his story has been told and passed down to us.

Writing’s Dan Hogg (producer, Esluna: The Crown of Babylon, Feb 6) : In this action-packed animated feature set in the retro-futuristic world of Esluna, a relic hunter and her crew must track down an ancient artifact known as the Crown of Babylon.

MFA alum Katherin Knight (director, Still Max, Feb 10) : See how artist Max Dean learned to cope with his cancer diagnosis the same way he has dealt with everything in his life: through art. Sometimes whimsical, ultimately touching, this journey is a life enhancing story as only an artist can tell it.

Theatre alum Trevor Hinton (actor, Fragile Seeds, Feb 10) : The dramatic thriller Fragile Seeds follows Ryann Temple, a therapist working with sex offenders who uncovers haunting secrets in her family’s past through the disturbed men she counsels every day.

Visual Arts alum Laura Gildner and former Visual Arts student Enda Burke (Posterful art exhibit, Feb 4-13) : We’ve asked 10 local artists to reinterpret their favourite indie film poster at the Atrium Building.

Visit the Victoria Film Festival’s website for how to attend these and other entertaining and thought provoking shows.

Orion Series presents visiting artist Linda Catlin Smith

The Orion
Lecture Series in Fine Arts

Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the School of Music, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:

Linda Catlin Smith


4 – 5:30 pm (PST) Wednesday, Feb 9, 2021

Rm. A169, MacLaurin Building, A-Wing


Free & open to the public in-person

Presented by UVic’s School of Music

For more information on this lecture please email:

“Music and Thought: a composer’s reverie…”

Visiting composer and School of Music alumna Linda Catlin Smith (BMus ’79) presents the lecture Music and Thought: a composer’s reverie… Derived from an essay she wrote for the journal Continental Thought and Theory, Smith delves into the kind of thought we are involved in when composing and listening to music. In large part about the art of listening, Smith looks at a variety of ways of listening and the different kinds of understanding we have of what we listen to.

Linda Catlin Smith grew up in New York and lives in Toronto. She studied music in NY and at the University of Victoria (BMus ‘79). Her music has been performed and/or recorded by: BBC Scottish Orchestra, Tafelmusik, California Ear Unit, Kitchener-Waterloo, Victoria and Vancouver Symphonies, Arraymusic, Tapestry New Opera, Turning Point Ensemble, Vancouver New Music, and the Del Sol, Penderecki, and Bozzini quartets, among many others. She has also been performed by many notable soloists including Eve Egoyan, Elinor Frey, Philip Thomas, Colin Tilney, Vivienne Spiteri, and Jamie Parker. Her work has been supported by the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, Chalmers Foundation, K.M. Hunter Award, Banff Centre, SOCAN Foundation and Toronto Arts Council and in 2005 her work Garland (for Tafelmusik) was awarded Canada’s prestigious Jules Léger Prize. In addition to her work as an independent composer, she was Artistic Director of the Toronto ensemble Arraymusic (1988-1993), and she was a member of the ground-breaking multidisciplinary performance collective, URGE (1992-2006). Linda teaches composition privately and at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Attend in person. No RSVP required.

*As per BC Public Health orders, indoor mask mandates and proof of vaccination will be required. See further information about COVID protocols at the School of Music


About the Orion Fund

Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work.

The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting  artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.

Free and open to the public  |  Seating is limited (500 Zoom connections) |  Visit our online events calendar at

Orion Series presents visiting artist Tanya Linklater

The Orion
Lecture Series in Fine Arts

Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:

Tanya Lukin Linklater

Visiting Artist

7:30 – 9:00 pm (PST) Wednesday, Feb 9, 2022

Room A162, UVic Visual Arts building


Free & open to the public in-person or via Zoom

Presented by UVic’s Department of Visual Arts

For more information on this lecture please email:

An Alutiiq artist from Alaska, Linklater’s performances, works for camera, installations, and writings centre the histories of Indigenous peoples’ lives, lands and structures of sustenance.

Tanya Lukin Linklater’s performances in relation to objects in exhibition, scores, and ancestral belongings generate what she has come to call felt structures. She investigates insistence in both concept and application.

She has shown work at SFMOMA, Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019, EFA Project Space + Performa, Art Gallery of Ontario, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Remai Modern, Winnipeg Art Gallery, and elsewhere. She will participate in Soft Water Hard Stone, the 2021 New Museum Triennial. Her collection of poetry, Slow Scrape, was published by The Centre for Expanded Poetics and Anteism in 2020 with a second printing in 2021.

Tanya studied at University of Alberta (M.Ed.) and Stanford University (A.B. Honours). In 2021 Tanya received the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts for Visual Art and was long listed for the Sobey Art Award. She is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University.

Her Alutiiq homelands are in southwestern Alaska where much of her family continues to live.



About the Orion Fund

Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work.

The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting  artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.

Free and open to the public  |  Seating is limited (500 Zoom connections) |  Visit our online events calendar at

“Never less than amazing”: Lafayette String Quartet take its final bow in 2023

The Lafayette String Quartet at UVic, January 2022 (l-r): Pam Highbaugh Aloni, Ann Elliott-Goldschmid, Sharon Stanis, Joanna Hood (Credit: UVic Photo Services)

A Detroit McDonald’s may be the most unlikely place to start the story of UVic’s internationally acclaimed chamber music ensemble, yet under the golden arches is precisely where the newly formed Lafayette String Quartet (LSQ)—violinists Ann Elliott-Goldschmid and Sharon Stanis, violist Joanna Hood and cellist Pamela Highbaugh Aloni—had made the decision to pursue a career as a professional string quartet in 1986.

Even more unlikely? Getting their first big international break thanks to the Chernobyl meltdown: when fears of radioactive fallout prompted another string quartet to cancel an appearance at a Munich music festival, the nascent LSQ snapped up the offer to step in as replacements—and never looked back.

Now, with over a dozen albums and a thousand appearances worldwide behind them, the members of UVic’s multiple award-winning Lafayette String Quartet have announced their decision to retire as a performance ensemble in August 2023—a decision made collectively and unanimously, as all their decisions have been…including the anonymous vote on whether or not to accept the newly created position as artists-in-residence at UVic’s School of Music in 1991.

“We just thought we’d do this for two or three years, but here we are over 35 years later—and what an experience we’ve had,” says Highbaugh Aloni. “But great things have to stop at some point, and this feels like the natural time to finish.” 

A passionate commitment as artists and teachers

 While plans are currently underway for the LSQ’s final season—including the recording of five new commissions by female composers, among other performance projects—the university community has been quick to praise the ensemble’s accomplishments.

“The Lafayette String Quartet and UVic have created musical history for over 35 years. Supporting the world’s only all-female string quartet with its original members is a distinct rarity, and we are extremely proud of their accomplishments,” says acting Vice Provost Susan Lewis, who as former dean of UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts and former director of the music school, has known the LSQ for 20 years. 

“In addition to their internationally acclaimed performance history, the quartet has transformed the teaching of chamber music at UVic, training and mentoring a generation of over 400 string musicians and developing the master’s of music in string quartet performance—the only program of its kind in Canada,” continues Lewis.

Read the university’s January 27 news release 

Not only has the LSQ enhanced UVic’s reputation, it has also played an essential role in Greater Victoria’s extended music community, as both musicians and champions of public-school string programs, as well as bolstering Canada’s chamber music reputation and legacy.

“The Lafayette Quartet helped put UVic on the map as a string and chamber music destination by setting an internationally recognized standard of excellence,” says Alexis Luko, current director of UVic’s School of Music.


(Left) The Lafayette String Quartet at UVic in 1991, just after the musicians were hired as artists-in-residence, and now in 2022 (left to right: Elliott-Goldschmid, Stanis, Hood, Highbaugh Aloni)

A musical lineage of performance and teaching

Named for both the street and early home of two of their members (the Lafayette Towers on Detroit’s Lafayette Avenue), the LSQ’s musical lineage is far more vaunted: among their own musical mentors were the Cleveland String Quartet and the noted Russian violinist Rostislav Dubinsky, founder of the Borodin Quartet, who had the unique opportunity of working directly with famed 20th-century Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

Indeed, one of the LSQ’s career highlights—along with performing the complete Beethoven cycle of string quartets and the full Mozart quartets and quintet cycles—was the unique performance of a chronological cycle of Shostakovich’s 15 string quartets over a series of five concerts at UVic in 2017.

“The great thing about being in a string quartet is that it’s repertoire-driven: it’s the music that we play that makes being in a string quartet worthwhile,” says Elliott-Goldschmid. “Our career took such a rich trajectory with teaching—had we been strictly a performing group, we would have gotten through much more repertoire—but our role models were always great musicians who taught.” 

Highbaugh Aloni agrees. “Teaching enhances so much of our playing: one of my own teachers said you don’t really learn how to play until you can teach. We have all benefited from being teachers; it really affected how we play individually and as performers.”

Music director Luko, who was herself an undergraduate music student in the 1990s, clearly recalls the impact of the LSQ’s early years—and their importance as female faculty members.

“When I was a student, nobody missed a Lafayette String Quartet concert. The sheer performance energy and powerful bond of these four women made a huge impression on me . . . . It felt like a real feminist moment. This group brought ‘woman power’ to the highest levels of chamber music,” says Luko. 

Pianist and long-time School of Music colleague Bruce Vogt was the one who called the LSQ to see if they might be interested in moving to UVic, and he clearly recalls their arrival on campus in 1991. “They brought an instant energy, a joy in performing and in collaboration,” he says. “It was always an inspiration to play with them . . . individually or together, they brought us closer, inspired so many of us.”

The quartet at the School of Music’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall in January 2022 (l-r): Hood, Stanis, Highbaugh Aloni, Elliott-Goldschmid. (Credit: UVic Photo Services)

The senior string quartet in Canada

From their earliest days as a quartet, the LSQ earned both praise (“These people are good!” exclaimed Detroit’s Metro Times in 1987) and international attention (“The Lafayette String Quartet resides at the heart of chamber music life in Canada” noted a 1993 cover feature in UK’s historic Strad magazine), which continued throughout their career.

“They are never less than amazing,” says James Campbell, who has known the LSQ since he performed with them—on Dubinsky’s recommendation—for his debut faculty concert at Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music in 1988. Dubbed “Canada’s premier clarinetist,” Campbell has since performed with and booked the LSQ numerous times at Ontario’s acclaimed Festival of the Sound, of which he has been artistic director since 1985.

“They were definitely unique as one of the only all-female quartets, but it was their spirit that set them apart,” he recalls. “Technical and musical excellence is assumed at that level, but there was an extra personality to their group that connected with us all—audiences included.”

That’s a sentiment shared by Jennifer Taylor, artistic director of Music TORONTO—Canada’s pre-eminent chamber music series. “Our audiences love the Lafayette Quartet,” notes Taylor, who has been booking the LSQ for 32 years—including the upcoming closing night gala of Music TORONTO’s 50th anniversary season in April 2022.

“Their longevity without a change of personnel is remarkable—and they clearly still like each other,” she says. “As the senior string quartet in Canada, we are proud to call them ‘Friends of the House’.”

Campbell agrees with their remarkable legacy.

“They’ve been together through children, through illnesses, through injuries, through all the ups and downs of a musical career, which are many,” he says. “Most quartets have players that come and go—the name continues but the personnel change—but the Lafayette are united as sisters: it’s unique and quite amazing.” 

The healing power of music

In addition to their musical and teaching legacy, the LSQ also created the annual Lafayette Health Awareness Series in 2005 to provide expert information on various health topics ranging from COVID and aging well to brain health and breast cancer—the latter of which both inspired the series and profoundly impacted the LSQ, following a 2001 diagnosis and treatment for one of its members.

As such, music and well-being have become integral to the daily lives of the LSQ—from their own practice and health to both their students and the audience members with whom they share their music.

A generational legacy

While certain aspects of the LSQ’s final season will depend on the current pandemic—including a number of local and national performances—what isn’t in question is their remarkable legacy spanning more than 35 years.

“They will never be replaced,” says the Festival of the Sound’s Campbell, who is scheduled to perform with them in fall 2022. “Those four personalities are unique and special, so you’ll never get another quartet like them.”

As a long-time colleague, UVic’s Lewis can’t help but see their influence on campus.

“If you look at the history of the School of Music, there’s before the Quartet and after the Quartet,” she says. “They didn’t just arrive and head off into a rehearsal room for 30 years: their influence permeated every aspect of the school—and beyond.”

For Allana Lindgren, the dean of UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts, they represent the pinnacle of performance and pedagogical rigour.

“”In addition to being world-class musicians, the members of the LSQ have been inspiring role models of elegance, intelligence and artistic brilliance throughout their impressive careers,” says Lindgren. “They embody our guiding aspiration in Fine Arts to challenge our students to excel through our own passionate commitment to excellence as artists and teachers.”

Their final year 

With plans currently underway for the LSQ’s final season—including decisions around who will be retiring from teaching, as well as the ensemble—each member offers a more personal reflection on their legacy.

“We could never have dreamed of this adventure,” says Highbaugh Aloni. “We’ve really had a great run.”

“I just feel so blessed to have had such rich opportunities,” says Stanis. 

Elliott-Goldschmid considers their impact on the local music scene. “There was chamber music here when we arrived, of course, but there’s been such growth over the past 30 years…Victoria had incredibly fertile ground and we just helped to plant the seeds. We’ve made music with so many colleagues around the city over the years, and our students are now playing in chamber groups everywhere in Victoria and across the country.”

It’s this final thought that may well offer the best coda to the Lafayette String Quartet’s legacy. Thanks to their dedicated mentorship, the LSQ is surrounded by a generation of student musicians who are now succeeding as peers in ensembles, symphonies and quartets of their own.

“It is so fulfilling to play with our former students,” concludes Hood. “Nothing beats that.”

Michael LaPointe’s debut novel blurs the lines between facts & fictions

Twenty years into the post-truth world of the 21st century, it’s hard to remember a time when both the rise and fall of a promising young journalist could be caused by mixing a bit of fiction into the facts. We might call it journalistic fabrication, but Writing alumnus Michael LaPointe (MFA ’15) has a better name for it: “the creep”—an overpowering need to improve a story by adding intriguing untruths and undetectable white lies.

In LaPointe’s debut novel, The Creep (Penguin/Random House), we follow journalist Whitney Chase out of the culture pages of the venerable New York magazine, The Bystander as a chance encounter gives her the inside scoop on a potentially game-changing (and highly lucrative) medical discovery: synthetic blood. But when Whitney’s investigation puts her on the trail of a string of grisly fatalities across the country, she becomes drawn into a much darker and more nefarious story than even her internal creep could imagine.

Blood type

Set in the lead-up and immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks—and the subsequent decline of print journalism—The Creep is a skillfully plotted science-thriller exploring how deceitfulness can be transfused into fact. But LaPointe also sees 2001 as the logical jumping-off point for the beginning of the end of truth in journalism.

“Once I started building the world around this artificial blood substitute—wherein the broader metaphor of fiction being transfused into fact and the artificial being transfused into the real—it seemed to map very quickly onto a broader historical vision of 21st century media, the way in which the world of so-called objective media has gradually morphed into the very subjective media ecosystem we have now, where people’s media diets are determined by their pre-existing ideological or cultural beliefs,” he explains.

“It seemed to me that the immediate post-9/11 period was one of the major crucibles of this change,” he continues. “For me, speaking generationally, 9/11 and the run-up to the Iraq war was the first time I really saw obvious fabrications being accepted and touted as real, where the media was actually becoming a vessel for the intrusion of artificial information into the historical record. It seemed like an apt time to set a story of someone who is susceptible themselves to lying—but is also being lied to and being manipulated into becoming a vessel for untruths.”

Life as a full-time writer

LaPointe is based in Toronto, but takes a decidedly international approach to his writing— which has appeared in the likes of The New YorkerThe AtlanticThe New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement and The Paris Review (for which he pens a column titled “Dice Roll”). His fiction has appeared in The WalrusHazlitt and has been anthologized in Best Canadian Stories; he has also been nominated for the National Magazine Awards, the Journey Prize and the Digital Publishing Awards. The Creep was published in June 2021.

“I’m probably one of the 0.01 per cent of Creative Writing graduates who works full-time in writing,” he chuckles. “Between freelance magazine work, the books and some TV/podcast writing, I’ve been able to cobble together a living as a writer.”

While familiar with the cases of Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass—both high-profile writers dismissed by the New York Times and the New Republic (respectively) for journalistic fabrications in the late ’90s/early ’00s—LaPointe quickly points out that he’s never been susceptible to “the creep” himself.

“I’ve never met anyone who’d done it or done it myself,” he says. “I could see the temptation in my own journalism—especially when writing about hard news. There was always a frustration where I thought, ‘If only they had said this or done this, then the story would have had more shapeliness.’ Because fiction has always been my main writing practice, I could see ways to improve the story—if I could just have the lenience of fiction, I could make it a better story.”

The Creep offered him an ideal outlet. “I think of Whitney as a novelist trapped in a journalist’s life: what for her is a great existential crisis—this urge to fabricate and improve reality by giving it an artfulness it lacks—is just normal artistic practice for a novelist. That’s how I imagined myself into her: I pictured myself trapped in a journalist’s life.”

Inspired by horror

Not that The Creep will leave readers feeling trapped: LaPointe’s inherently cinematic writing offers a gripping mix of Michael Crichton-style science thriller and Cronenberg-esque body horror anchored by sound editorial ethics, and seems ideally suited to a limited-run series. 

The Creep was actually inspired by horror films and is very visual, but I think that’s one of its stumbling blocks,” he admits. “For me, it seemed like a plus to borrow from different genres—it’s exciting, it’s filled with sex and violence and it’s very plotted—but for people who are strictly literary readers, it has a waft of genre fiction, which perplexes them. And people who like straight-up thrillers are wondering why it’s talking about media and history and has all these digressions about George W. Bush.” 

LaPointe’s time as an instructor in UVic’s Writing department also influenced his style.

“So much literary fiction has that ‘vitamin quality’ to it, but I like to engage the audience and pay off their attention with something exciting,” he says. “I started writing that way at UVic, actually. I think it came from reading a lot of student work with good style and good characters but not much story … that energized me to always have a strong, propulsive storyline onto which I could hang all these other ideas: if the reader is worried about who’s going to die, that will grant you a degree of attention and a bunch of pages where you can discuss other ideas that are important to you. I don’t read a lot of genre fiction, but I do have a strong desire not to be boring.”

Currently working on his second novel (“this one takes place in the world of cinema”), LaPointe is hoping The Creep offers enough to set him apart from the latest crop of debut authors. “It’s like being the new kid in town: you have to be interesting. You have to come at them with something that’s bright and vibrant and exciting.”

This article originally appeared in the fall 2021 issue of UVic’s Torch alumni magazine