Saying farewell to the Lafayette String Quartet

When violinists Ann Elliott-Goldschmid and Sharon Stanis, violist Joanna Hood and cellist Pamela Highbaugh Aloni made the decision to pursue a career as a professional string quartet in 1986, they had no idea where their collective journey as the newly formed Lafayette String Quartet would take them. But with over a dozen albums and a thousand appearances worldwide behind them, the members of UVic’s multiple award-winning string quartet have chosen to retire as a performance ensemble in August 2023.

“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.”

Scroll down to see a list of the LSQ’s upcoming final events.

Making musical history

Not only have they made musical history as the world’s only all-female string quartet with all original members, but their career includes feats achieved by few other quartets: performing the complete Beethoven cycle of string quartets, the full Mozart quartet and quintet cycles, and the chronological cycle of Shostakovich’s 15 string quartets.

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

Since becoming permanent artists-in-residence at the School of Music in 1991, the LSQ has also enhanced UVic’s reputation by training and mentoring over 400 string musicians, and by developing the Master’s of Music in string quartet performance—the only program of its kind in Canada.

“Our career took such a rich trajectory with teaching,” says Elliott-Goldschmid. “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.”

They have also played an essential role in 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 LSQ in 1993 (left) and now

Their final season

The LSQ’s final season has been as busy as any in their illustrious career, including recording five new commissions by female composers, two film projects, hosting the final installations of both the long-running Lafayette Health Awareness Series and Quartet Fest West, undertaking one last tour and even having an asteroid named for them.

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

Perhaps the best coda to their legacy is that, thanks to their dedicated mentorship, the Lafayette String Quartet’s 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.”

Documentary film premiere

Join the LSQ for the premiere of Creating Harmony, which delves into the challenges and joys of three decades in the life of a string quartet, including their famed 2017 journey performing the Shostakovich Cycle.

Creating Harmony runs at 5pm and 7pm Saturday, August 19, at UVic’s Cinecenta movie theater. There will be a Q&A with the LSQ and director Arwen Hunter after each showing. Film premiere tickets are available on Eventbrite. (Use promo code LSQFRIENDS for discounted tickets!)

Final concerts at UVic

The LSQ’s final concerts on August 18 & 20 at UVic have now sold out, but a waitlist is being taken.

They will also be performing select dates in Ontario this July:

  • With clarinetist James Campbell (Midland): July 25
  • Ottawa Chamber Music Festival: July 30
  • Festival of the Sound (Parry Sound): August 1

Visit their website for full info

Harald Krebs & A Place of Infinite Possibility

It was a very different world when Harald Krebs stepped in front of his first School of Music class as an assistant professor in 1986: CDs were cutting-edge technology, email was still unheard of, and zooming simply meant going faster. Fast-forward 37 years and Krebs is an internationally respected music theorist, an award-winning Distinguished Professor, past president of the Society for Music Theory, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; also the head of Music’s theory program, he is now retiring after 37 years of scholarship and teaching.

Looking back, Krebs reflects on what the School of Music was like when he first arrived after completing his PhD at Yale, and teaching briefly at UBC and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “UVic’s School of Music was smaller and cozier,” he recalls, “but it seemed like a place of infinite possibility.”

The art of the possible

Proof of that came during his first year, when the Faculty of Fine Arts launched the interdisciplinary Adaskin Festival—named for noted Canadian composer Murray Adaskin, then living and working in Victoria. “It was an amazing opportunity to meet some of the icons of Canadian art. It was also an introduction to what could happen at UVic—and, later on, I helped to make some things happen myself.”

Indeed, Krebs has organized or co-organized seven academic conferences at UVic, plus two symposia in connection with the Lafayette String Quartet’s Second Viennese School and Shostakovich festivals, bringing illustrious scholars from around the world to campus.

A working theory

Both a music theorist and a pianist, Krebs has spent his career thinking about the structure of music. His award-winning monograph, Fantasy Pieces: Metrical Dissonance in the Music of Robert Schumann (Oxford, 1999), has shaped the study of rhythm and meter in music theory, but has also impacted the fields of comparative literature, Germanic studies, music therapy, psychology and music cognition. His theories of meter are being applied in the study of music from the early modern era to the present day, and in scholarship on many different musical styles and genres, including jazz, bluegrass, rock, techno, and metal.

It was former School of Music director Michael Longton who first suggested that Krebs should teach a course on his own theories. “I had never thought of doing that—it felt presumptuous,” says Krebs. “But when Michael suggested it, I thought, ‘Well, I could put together a nice course on my theories of rhythm and meter’. And that was another exciting course to teach: I only delivered it three times, but both the students and I loved it.”

This also offered Krebs a rare opportunity to share his research directly with undergraduate students. “A lot of students go through the program and know me only as a teacher, not as a scholar—and that’s fine—but it was fun to share some of my writing with them.”

A passion for the 19th century

Further areas of which Krebs has long been a champion are the music of Robert Schumann and of 19th-century women composers, topics on which he has lectured and published widely. When asked about his favourite courses to teach over the years, it’s the 19th century to which he looks. “The second-year course on analysis of 19th century music has always been my favourite,” he says. “That’s my era: I live in the 19th century, so it was a joy sharing that music with students.”

Sharing that music led to both his creation of the “Lieder at Lunch” series (which ran for over 20 years in the School of Music), and to popular presentations on German Lieder through the UVic Speakers Bureau, offered to community groups and retirement homes for more than 30 years with his wife and research partner, soprano Sharon Krebs.

“In seniors’ homes, you can really experience how music affects people: it can have a huge impact,” he says. “I actually never thought of what I do as a wellness initiative, I just wanted to share what I’m excited about and to make people happy. But of course, happiness and wellness are closely linked, so I hope I’ve contributed to people’s wellness.”

Krebs clearly has no intention of giving up his scholarship—his immediate plans include traveling to Germany in September 2023, where he and Sharon will be presenting their latest research on 19th-century composer Josephine Lang at a 10-day festival in Lang’s hometown of Tübingen (one of the great university towns in Germany,” he notes). Despite her being one of the most gifted, respected, prolific and widely published song composers of the 19th century, Lang’s life and works sank into oblivion after her death in 1880, until their gradual rediscovery in the late 20th century.

Krebs first ran across her work in an anthology of songs by women composers while preparing for a 1993 conference on women composers. “Sharon and I just started playing and singing through them and Josephine Lang’s songs jumped out at us: we had never heard of her, so we thought this would be a good topic for me.”

That instinct definitely proved right, given their continuing research and resulting book, Josephine Lang: Her Life and Songs (Oxford 2007).

Time to reflect

While he’s excited to continue his research (still to come is a collection of Lang songs arranged for saxophone quartet, a talk within the plenary session at the Society for Music Theory this autumn, and continuing research trips to various archives in Germany and Austria), Krebs doesn’t see it as an all-consuming passion. “I don’t want to be one of those people who works harder after retirement than before,” he chuckles. “And I really need a rest. I’ve been under constant pressure for years with scholarship as well as teaching, so I do plan to take a bit of time off now and then.”

And when asked what he’ll miss most, Krebs points to the obvious: “The students! I’ll miss my colleagues too, but the students have always been very special. They’ve been a lot of fun to work with and have inspired me in various ways. I’ll really miss those interactions.”

Diamond in the rough

As anyone who has suffered the slings and arrows of a theatrical life knows, working on stage can be a risky business. But Theatre grad Emily Bailey (née Lindstrom, BFA ’19) has taken her production-management experience in a new direction by putting herself into situations more perilous than a bad review.

Not only is she the co-chief of her local volunteer fire department, but she’s also a certified mine rescuer and member of the Diamonds in the Rough, Canada’s all-female, internationally competitive, mine-rescue team.

“One of my professors once told me that a degree in theatre is a degree in team organization and creative problem-solving,” says Bailey. “I think that’s the best way to describe how I’ve adapted my fine-arts skills into the industrial world.”

Striking gold

Growing up in the small BC industry town of Fraser Lake, Bailey worked in a sawmill for three summers before enrolling in theatre at UVic—a surprise to many, as she recalls. “I was a jock in high school, but what I loved most about sports was the organization of teams and tournaments and events,” she says. “I wanted a career doing that.”

Bailey found her niche behind the scenes in production management at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre. “I realized this was totally where I was supposed to be and knew I’d made the right choice.” And it was those very organizational and problem-solving skills that got her hired as a stage manager in Barkerville Historic Town, BC’s legendary 1860s gold-rush heritage site.

Today, Bailey lives just 10 minutes down the road in Wells—the site of its own 1930s gold rush. But it’s also the centre of the current Cariboo mining renaissance thanks to her employer—Osisko Development, Cariboo Gold Project—where she was hired as health and safety coordinator at the end of 2019. “They saw value in my background, which was surprising but also kind of cool,” she says.

If the idea of gold mining conjures up images of Bugs Bunny-style mine shafts with rail tracks and ore carts, you’re about a hundred years out of date.

“Mining today is very different… it’s a lot bigger than you’d expect for being underground. A pick-up truck fits really comfortably into a mine drift, with room above and beside you. Our mine entrance is basically a road with a small incline—you can walk out of it at any point if you need to, which is a big comfort to my parents.”

Raising the profile of women in mining

The outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020 meant she could put her skills to good use. “COVID-19 hit about four months after I was hired and, with my organizational and first-aid skills, I began to head the screening and management section of our health and safety department,” she recalls. As well as monitoring potential exposures, Bailey focused on workplace injuries (“equipment failure, sore backs, broken legs, an amputated toe”) more than the widely known mining risks such as gas exposure or cave-ins.

“We’re an hour away from the nearest hospital, so critical-injury care is really important if something does happen,” she says. “But mine rescue is also a huge component of what we do. I took my entry-level mine rescue course in 2020, which covers the basics of rescue gear and techniques—but it doesn’t stop there: we continue training monthly with our company.”

It was during one of those training sessions that Bailey first learned about the Diamonds in the Rough (DITR) Emergency Rescue Organization. “During the course, I found myself getting increasingly sassy with the instructor, because all of his material had photos of men, he used all-male pronouns and I was the only woman in the class.” Sensing her frustration, the instructor mentioned that his company sponsored an all-female competitive team, Diamonds in the Rough. She researched to learn more.

Founded in 2016, DITR started as an effort to both raise the profile of women in the mining industry and in non-traditional roles through underground mine rescue. DITR challenges the traditionally male-dominated environment by competing at an international level.

“We compete in a variety of areas, including mine simulation, high-angle rescue, first aid, firefighting and BG4 [breathing apparatus] technician and theory. Our team is made up of women from across Canada… which means that the rescue regulations for each jurisdiction may be slightly different.”

Stage manager in the mining world

While some international mine-rescue teams train together for years, Bailey had never met her other DITR team members and had just four days to train before her first competition in West Virginia in 2022. “It was quite the learning curve,” she recalls. “We all work in different types of mines—gold, hard rock, pot ash—and all have different professions—engineers, technicians, health and safety—yet we had to learn the same mining language and match up our training strength and weaknesses.”

The pressure resulted in a dazzling performance: Bailey’s team came in sixth out of 22 teams, earning a second place in high-angle rescue and third in technician and theory. “The [hosts] said we were one of the best training experiences they’d ever had,” she says. “It was an amazing experience!”

Challenging gender expectations

Winning competitions is all well and good, but the Diamonds in the Rough also have a role to play when it comes to challenging gender expectations. “When you’re a female in mining and mine rescue, it’s always about more than just doing your job,” she points out. “It’s also about proving you deserve to be there. Miners need to have trust and confidence in you: they need to have no doubt in their minds that you’re there to help.” Fortunately, she feels those attitudes are changing, albeit slowly.

“In Canada, it was illegal for women to work underground until the 1970s and, for some of the international teams we compete against, it’s still illegal for women to work in the mines or even be on the mine site,” she says. “Just like sailors have superstitions about women on boats, miners have the same kind of superstitions… we had groups who were so excited that we were there and others who wanted nothing to do with us.”

For Bailey, mining is more than just her day job and competitive pastime: it’s also quite literally the world in which she lives. The house she shares with her actor husband Brendan Bailey—who portrays a historic miner in nearby Barkerville—was originally built for a mine superintendent in the 1930s, and she’s working for the company that’s on the precipice of another potential Cariboo mining boom.

“When you live in Wells, you’re not just living in any town—you’re part of a town that was built by mining,” she says. Together with her husband, she shares the role of co-chief of the Wells Volunteer Fire Brigade, with emergency calls mostly involving vehicle incidents and house fires.

“Given where we live, it’s more about having a helping spirit, being ready and willing to help out,” she concludes. “I’d rather be competent and be able to help than be caught in an emergency situation and be helpless.”

Alumni lead 23/34 Phoenix season

It’s an all-alumni season coming up at Phoenix Theatre this year, with three alumni directors returning to lead the mainstage productions!

First up is Oscar Wilde’s comic masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, running November 9-25. Although it debuted in 1895, it’s hard to believe that this is the first time it will be produced here at the Phoenix!

This famed classic remains one of the best loved and most frequently revived comedies in Western theatre. Although its radically and socially daring author was ultimately too much for Victorian Britain, Wilde’s comic masterpiece of identity, transition and transformation continues to delight audiences to this day.

Guest director for this production is Alistair Newton (BFA 2004). Now a Toronto-based director and co-founder of Ecce Homo Theatre, Newton has produced for Fringe Festivals, indie festivals and has worked on such mainstages as Canadian Stage, the Shaw Festival, Buddies in Bad Times and the Canadian Opera Company. Most recently, he has expanded the range of his theatre practice by creating boutique adaptations of ‘classical’ work for educational institutions.

This fall, he’ll also be teaching a special Theatre department course called “Drag U” focusing on the history of drag from the ancient times to RuPaul’s Drag Race.

All that jazz

Following that, get your toes tapping for 100 Years of Broadway, running February 15-24. You’ll be in safe (jazz) hands with guest director Pia Wyatt, who celebrates the history of musical theatre with this playlist of Broadway classics.

Like a night of speed-dating for musical theatre lovers, this high-energy revue will take audiences of all ages through a century of Broadway in one fun, crowd-pleasing, magical evening. From Carousel to Cabaret, Gypsy to Grease and Peter Pan to The Phantom of the Opera, get ready to revisit the musical theatre songs you know and love while discovering some new favourites. Discover how the Broadway legacy grew from its roots to the multimillion-dollar powerhouse it remains today, with this collection of timeless musical treasures.

Pia Wyatt (BFA ’92, MFA ’94) has a wide-ranging background, including seven seasons producing original musicals for Fort Steele Heritage Town, being the co-artistic director of the local KIDCO Dance Company, working in film and television, and being one of the regional chairs for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Currently head of performance and directing at Louisiana’s Northwestern State University, her students are performing on Broadway, in tours that extend all over the world, on cruise lines, regional theatres, and a variety of amusement parks.

“I look forward to breathing new life into each theatrical production, helping create a masterpiece that entices the hearts and minds of the audience,” she says. “Theatre and dance provide freedom of expression and the power to communicate, to educate, and to entertain—this outreach is what makes it exciting for me to create theatre.”

An American classic

The final show of the season is the American classic THE HOT L  BALTIMORE, running March 14-23.
Winner of multiple awards — including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play — this classic comedy by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson is set in the lobby of the formerly grand Hotel Baltimore, where a community of outcasts make the now-rundown hotel their home . . . despite a looming eviction crisis and threatened demolition.

During a single day in 1972, we meet an eccentric group of residents, waitresses, students, prostitutes, hotel clerks and cab drivers who create a rich mosaic of human experiences. Humour and compassion highlight Wilson’s celebration of resilience, stifled dreams, past glories and the sheer stubbornness to carry on.

THE HOT L  BALTIMORE is directed by award-winning Theatre professor and alum Peter McGuire, whose most recent Phoenix shows include PicnicWild Honey, Crimes of the Heart and The Children’s Hour. McGuire has enjoyed a 40-year career in the professional theatre that has included stage management, production management, talent management, administration, producing and directing.

He has worked at several major regional theatres including long-term residencies at the National Arts Centre, the Charlottetown Festival and the Stratford Festival. He has toured regionally, nationally and internationally, and worked for the Maybox Group of theatres in London’s West End and as the Associate Conservatory Director at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.

More than just entertainment

Remember, Phoenix Theatre productions are an integral part of the academic requirements for our BFA and MFA students. When you attend the Phoenix Theatre, you experience some of this city’s most exciting and eclectic theatre—while also participating in the education of our students. They are involved in every aspect of these productions, from acting to the design, creation and management of sets, costumes, props, sound and lighting.

Discover the difference that the youth, talent and energy of our students can make and get a preview of Canada’s next generation of theatre artists!

A three-show subscription package is just $48, offering up to 50 percent off single ticket costs!