This May, UVic’s second annual REACH Awards celebrated UVic artists, scholars and scientists for their extraordinary contributions in research, creative practice and teaching—whether from a field school in Cuba or a performance atop a glacier in BC’s interior.
That’s where this year’s Award for Excellence in Artistic Expression comes in: the 2018 recipient is Visual Arts chair Paul Walde, whose Requiem for a Glacier performance and subsequent gallery installations have earned him international attention.
“This year’s REACH Award recipients again demonstrate the strong link between research and learning,” says UVic President Jamie Cassels. “They share and advance knowledge and wisdom in a range of areas. UVic is privileged to be home to such a talented and dedicated array of people.”
While the history of Canadian art has been built on our relationship with landscape and the environment, Paul Walde has fused that artistic legacy with decidedly 21st century concerns and practices by exploring unexpected interconnections between landscape, identity and technology.
“Both the Visual Arts department and Faculty of Fine Arts are tremendously privileged to have such an important artist and educator shaping our program,” says Dean Susan Lewis. “Paul Walde’s art draws attention to the important landscape that makes up our province and nation.”
Since joining UVic in 2012, Walde has enhanced the student experience while expanding his reputation as one of Canada’s leading extended media artists. 2014’s Requiem for a Glacier saw him take a 50-piece orchestra and chorus to the top of BC’s threatened Jumbo Glacier (Qat’Muk) and, while the performance earned international headlines at the time, the subsequent gallery installation continues to impact viewers across Canada and Europe—notably this spring’s exhibition in Paris.
“We want[ed] to call attention to this project and recognize its significance as an artwork that advocated for environmental awareness,” says nominator and Visual Arts colleague Jennifer Stillwell. “Paul’s extensive and thoughtful career has made a large impact on the landscape of Canadian visual art. His distinguished achievements and the social impact of his work are worthy of celebration and recognition, both within our institution and beyond.”
The awards were presented at a special on-campus evening ceremony on May 24.
It was big news last year when internationally acclaimed School of Music professor Dániel Péter Biró was named the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship — one of North America’s most prestigious awards. Biró’s intention was to use the one-year award (worth $50,000 US) to reflect on one of the most important issues of today: global migration. Now, audiences in select North American cities will have the opportunity of hearing the results when his large-scale musical composition Ethica is performed this month.
2017 Guggenheim Fellow Dániel Péter Biró (UVic Photo Services)
Based on Baruch Spinoza’s philosophical work of the same name, Ethica will debut at the Americas Society/Council for America in New York City on May 4, as performed by Schola Heidelberg and the ensemble aisthesis, featuring pianist Donald Berman and conductor Walter Nussbaum. Kirk McNally, the School of Music’s assistant professor of Music Technology, will also be collaborating in the performance of electroacoustic pieces in this concert.
Following the New York debut, Ethica will also have live performances in Winnipeg (May 6) and Vancouver (May 10-11), as well as here in Victoria Victoria (May 8-9). Click here for a complete schedule of events.
The Victoria performance is part of the 2018 SALT New Music Festival and Symposium, and the public is welcome to attend a free lecture and performance of Ethica at 7:30pm Wednesday, May 9 at Congregation Emanu-El (1461 Blanshard Streeet). Ethica will be performed byBiró, Klangforum Heidelberg and the ensemble aisthesis; they will also perform a work by the late Czech pianist and composer Gideon Klein, written in during his internment in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during WWII.
The KlangForum Heidelberg is where two very distinctive ensembles for contemporary and ancient music come together: the voices of the Schola Heidelberg and the instrumentalists of the ensemble aesthesis. Together, they have built an international following, thrilling audiences around the world with their innovative concert formats and injecting new life into the relationship between music and society.
A taste of SALT
While at the SALT Festival, Klangforum Heidelberg will also be presenting a reading session for young composers and an open rehearsal of works by Canadian composers including Claude Vivier, Philippe Leroux and Örjan Sandred, who will be in attendance.
Now in its seventh year, the SALT Festival is a series that reverberates far beyond Victoria’s shores. “People actually know about Victoria through our contemporary music scene,” Biró explained in this recent article. “I was in Vienna and just met someone by chance on the street and they said, ‘Oh, you run the SALT New Music Festival’ . . . . Victoria has always been known as kind of a weird place, a place for experimentation.”
These events are happening in collaboration with the SALT New Music Festival and Symposium, Open Space, the University of Manitoba and Vancouver New Music and made possible through support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council and the Goethe Institute.
Biró’s composition Ethica is inspired by the time he spent as a visiting professor in the computing and information sciences department of Netherland’s Utrecht University in 2011, where he was living not far from Spinoza’s burial site in The Hague. While one of the greatest philosophers of the 17th century, Spinoza was banned from the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam because of his views — which, says Biró, proved too radical for the time.
Spinoza’s burial site in The Hague
“In his philosophical treatise Ethics, Spinoza attempted to present a new type of theology, one that was autonomous from organized religion, such as that of his own Portuguese Jewish community,” he explains. “[My] composition explores historical dichotomies between religious and secular thinking from the perspective of modern-day globalized existence.”
His Ethica cycle will be scored for voices, ensemble and electronics, and will also incorporate text from Spinoza’s philosophical work.
“Exploring concepts of ‘space and place,’ the composition will deal with questions of one’s place in the global world and how music informs and influences our perception of our place in this world,” he explains. “Looking at musical creation as an analogy to the movement of the immigrant — who discovers, remembers, forgets and rediscovers places on his voyage — the composition will investigate relationships to historical space, space of immigration and disembodied space.”
Ever wanted to have an intimate, interactive moment with a baby orca? A new student-created sculpture allows viewers to have just that, while also learning something about the threats currently facing our local killer whale population.
“Resonant Disintegration” is an intermedia installation created by Visual Arts/Computer Science undergraduate student Colton Hash. Featuring a life-size representation of three-year-old J53, the youngest surviving female of the endangered southern resident orcas, the eight-foot-long hollow sheet-metal sculpture is suspended by wires to simulate an aquatic environment.
After cutting, shaping and welding it, Hash then submerged the piece in a quiet bay off Esquimalt’s Saxe Point to achieve a rust-textured coating that allowed it to be “physically infused with a sense of local place and local water,” as Hash says. But creating the physical sculpture was only half the concept: he also wanted to fuse ocean data and climate change concerns into his sculptural installation. As a result, when installed, a projected visualization of climate data plays across the surfaces of both the whale and the room, while underwater recordings of passing freighters fill the space with a disturbing rumble.
“When people enter into the interactive space, their movements are recorded by a motion sensor and, as they approach the whale, the background noise and the speed of the climate data slows down, so they have somewhat of an intimate moment with the sculpture,” Hash explains.
Add in a microphone and another set of speakers playing the same sounds from inside the whale, all connected by a real-time computer program, and the whole effect becomes both beautiful and haunting.
Colton Hash with his “Resonant Disintegration” sculpture
“Because it’s a hollow object, it acts as a resonating chamber, and the contact microphone picks up vibrations that create a feedback loop and cause the sculpture to make its own sound,” says Hash. “Essentially, the sculpture is responding to underwater noises, as well as the interactions of the viewer.”
While visually appealing, Hash’s sculpture is firmly rooted in science—entirely appropriate, given that he’s also working toward a minor degree in environmental studies. The project data is gathered from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, located on the UVic campus. It includes variables such as precipitation, ocean temperatures and ground surface temperatures, all of which impact the health of different aquatic systems. The audio recordings are taken from UVic’s Ocean Networks Canada hydrophone stations in the Salish Sea.
“Climate change is happening and it’s already having devastating impacts on species we love, such as orcas,” says Hash. “This whole installation is an attempt to create a reflective and emotionally driven space where people can be present with their feelings. In this world of social media and information saturation, we’re not really allowing ourselves the time to reflect on how we’re feeling about the state of the world.”
While Hash’s sculpture is not currently on view, a short film documenting its creation and intention recently won both first-place prizes at UVic’s Research Reels video showcase during March’s Ideafest, earning him $1750 in cash prizes. He was also just awarded the Jorgensen Legacy Artist Bursary, courtesy of the Victoria Visual Arts Legacy Society.
“I’ve always loved sculptures honoring animals that are important to us,” he continues. “Obviously, there’s a lot of fascination with orcas around Victoria . . . but there’s a real disconnect between how they’re shown in art and the reality of their rapidly declining numbers.”
While there are no immediate viewing dates lined up for the installation, Hash is hoping to exhibit it again in the near future.
“It offers the chance for people to engage spiritually and emotionally with the art and the issues,” he says. “Art has the ability to engage on those levels more than through intellectual or scientific information, which often seems overwhelming.”
Only 76 orcas remain in the endangered southern resident killer whale population, which forages for chinook salmon in its core range off southern Vancouver Island. The primary cause of their decline is chronically low chinook numbers, although pollution and noise disturbance from vessels are contributing factors.
Three UVic researchers were recently awarded a total of $935,000 in federal funding to study the impact of underwater noise on southern resident killer whales and on the chinook salmon that make up almost 80 per cent of their diet. Read the story.
UVic’s Ocean Networks Canada operates world-leading cabled ocean observatories for the advancement of science and the benefit of Canada. These observatories collect data on physical, chemical, biological, and geological aspects of the ocean over longer time periods, supporting research on complex Earth processes in ways not previously possible.
Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada currently have a call out for a new ONC Artist-in-Residence project. Visit the page to find out more about this fusion of art and science, running May to October 2018, with an April 27, 2018 application deadline.
UVic’s annual Department of Visual Arts BFA graduation exhibit will feature the work of 40 emerging artists and showcase the exciting interdisciplinary work being created by students. The free exhibit runs 10am to 6pm daily, April 20–28, in the Visual Arts building, and opens with a 7pm reception on Friday, April 20.
The Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, are sponsoring an Artist in Residence program. The concept strengthens connections between Art and Science to broaden and cross-fertilize perspectives and critical discourse on today’s major issues such as the environment, technology, oceans, cultural and biodiversity and healthy communities. This program is open to local, national and international applicants.
The Artist in Residence will interact with Fine Arts faculty members and scientists at Ocean Networks Canada as well as with other individuals using the world-leading ocean facilities to ignite cross-disciplinary exchanges. Open to artists working in any visual, written, musical or performance discipline, this residency is suitable for an early- or mid-career artist.
The Artist will learn from and engage with the current research, connecting it to the Artist’s own practice, and to wider societal and cultural aspects, creating a body of work to be presented at the end of the residency. The selected Artist will actively engage with researchers on a variety of ocean science themes, that may include:
The ONC Artist in Residence program is established to:
explore arts or alternative cultural practices’ potential in the area of the visions, challenges, philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical aspects of the ocean and the impacts humans have on it;
add a complementary artistic and creative perspective to ocean science, the societal ramifications of its exploitation, and its cultural aspects; and
help envision the potential long-term impact of ocean changes on humanity.
The residency period can start any time between May and December 2018 and last for up to eight months. A cost-of-living stipend of up to CAD $2000/month will be paid to the selected Artist. Following the residency, a public exhibit of the resulting art will be displayed, performed and promoted by ONC and the Faculty of Fine Arts.
Please note: the application period closes on 27 April 2018.
If interested, please send your application to email@example.com at Ocean Networks Canada with the subject line “Artist in Residence Ocean Program.” The application should include your CV, a concise portfolio of previous relevant artistic work, and a letter of motivation outlining your project proposal for the residency. Applications will be reviewed by representatives of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada, and artists may be contacted for an interview or to supply further information.
About Ocean Networks Canada: Established in 2007 as a major initiative of the University of Victoria, Ocean Networks Canada operates world-leading ocean observatories for the advancement of science and the benefit of Canada. The observatories collect data on physical, chemical, biological, and geological aspects of the ocean over long time periods, supporting research on complex Earth processes in ways not previously possible. The observatories provide unique scientific and technical capabilities that permit researchers to operate instruments remotely and receive data at their home laboratories anywhere on the globe in real time. These facilities extend and complement other research platforms and programs, whether currently operating or planned for future deployment.
About the Faculty of Fine Arts: With experiential learning at its core, Fine Arts provides the finest training and learning environment for artists, professionals, and students. Through our departments of Art History and Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing and School of Music, we aspire to lead in arts-based research and creative activity and education in local, national, and global contexts. We integrate and advance creation and scholarship in the arts in a dynamic learning environment. As British Columbia’s only Faculty exclusively dedicated to the arts, Fine Arts is an extraordinary setting that supports new discoveries, interdisciplinary and diverse contributions to creativity, and the cultural experiences of the students and communities we serve.
It’s doubly fitting that the upcoming concert by UVic’s Wind Symphony is titled “Finale” — not only is it the final Wind Symphony concert of the 2017/18 season, but it will also mark the final bow for beloved conductor and highly respected music educator Dr. Gerald King.
Dr Gerald King
For the past 29 years, King has been the primary conductor of UVic’s highly praised Wind Symphony, but the maestro will put down his baton after the March 23 concert as he prepares to retire from UVic’s School of Music in June. And, fittingly enough, the program for this special concert includes pieces significant to both the Wind Symphony and to King himself.
“These are works which I consider to be cornerstone pieces,” he says. “They are not necessarily all incredibly profound, but they have contributed to the growth of the Wind Symphony and have very personal meaning for me.” This includes Fantasia on Klezmer Themes by Russian-Canadian composer Airat Ichmouratov, which he recalls “the audience went wild for when we performed it in 2013.”
Clarinetist Patricia Kostek— who retired from the School of Music at the end of 2017 after 28 illustrious years at UVic — will return for this encore performance. As colleagues, the two have collaborated extensively (clarinet is also King’s instrument), so it was fitting to bring the piece back to the stage in March with Kostek.
Other works on the program include Jack Stamp’s Gavorkna Fanfare — a nonsense title that King conducted in his very first concert with the Wind Symphony — as well as Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre, LOL by Robert Buckley, A Movement for Rosa by Mark Camphouse and others.
An enviable legacy
The UVic Wind Symphony is recognized as one of the premiere performing wind ensembles in the Pacific Northwest and among the finest university wind ensembles in Canada — and much of that credit goes to King’s expertise, commitment to the students, and his sometimes “tough-love” approach to teaching — as evidenced by the praises to Dr. King coming in on social media once word of his retirement got out.
Leading the Wind Symphony
“His seriousness encouraged us to put in maximum effort,” recalls Shannon McCready (BMus ’02). “He had very high expectations, which let us know that he believed in us, sometimes more than we believed in ourselves,” agrees Cooper Reed (BMus ’17), who feels especially grateful for all of his words of encouragement and support. “I have had so many wonderful performance opportunities since graduation because he gave me the confidence and tools I needed to be a successful musician.”
See below for even more reaction to Dr. King’s retirement.
But King’s work with the Wind Symphony is but one of the many legacies he will leave behind. He started his teaching career at UVic 30 years ago in the Faculty of Education, and his appointment as conductor of the Wind Symphony in 1989 was the first of many stepping stones in his vision to see Music Education formally housed within the School of Music; this became a reality in 2014 following King’s two terms as Director of the School of Music.
As Fine Arts Dean Susan Lewis notes, King leaves behind an enviable legacy. “Dr. King’s service to the School, the province and Canada more broadly is significant — over the past 25 years he has worked with over 10,000 ensembles and soloists representing more than 500,000 musicians,” she says. “His vision and leadership of the music education program has led to UVic alumni directing music programs in the K-12 sector across the province; his mentorship of new and continuing faculty and students, his leadership of Music Education, and his expertise as a band conductor are most appreciated and will be missed. As Dean, former Director of the School of Music and a colleague, I’d like to express my warm congratulations to Dr. Gerald King as he retires after 29 brilliant years in the School of Music.”
Indeed, UVic’s Music Education program is nationally recognized and many of the province’s elementary and secondary school music educators were once students of his. “I owe Dr. King so much for helping shape me into the music educator I am today,” says Cameron Kenis (BMus ’15), band and musical theatre teacher at Abbotsford Traditional Secondary School. “He has influenced my teaching is so many ways and I thank him for it.”
During his eight years as Director of the School of Music, King was also instrumental in UVic’s 2008 designation as Canada’s First and only All-Steinway School (a title which still stands today), leading the campaign to equip all Music classrooms, practice studios and concert halls with over 60 Steinway pianos. Given that Steinway pianos are known for their outstanding acoustical and performance properties, the opportunity to play on the best pianos in the world puts UVic students at a tremendous advantage.
New scholarship looks to the future
One final nod to the future is the establishment of the Dr. Gerald King Legacy Scholarship in Music Education. This new student award will see one or more scholarships awarded to academically outstanding undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Music (Music Education) program. Selection of the recipients will be made by the Senate Committee on Awards upon the recommendation of the School of Music. Please join us in contributing to this outstanding scholarship worthy of Dr. King’s years of service to the students and the university community. Donation cards will also be distributed at the March 23 concert.
King describes his upcoming retirement as bittersweet. “I love the students and faculty that I’ve worked with over the years, but the new horizons are also very exciting,” he says. (Already on his calendar are numerous engagements for guest conducting, adjudicating, keynote speaking and working with graduate students at other institutions.) “The biggest change will just be my office,” he says with a chuckle.
Don’t miss maestro King’s Finale concert with the UVic Wind Symphony on March 23 in the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium — sure to be a memorable evening!
—by Kristy Farkas, with files from John Threlfall
School of Music alumni offer some thoughts on the legacy of Dr. Gerald King
“I thank my lucky stars to have been a student at the School of Music between 1998-2004,” writes Mandart Chan. “One of my favourite memories was being the Ensemble Librarian for the Wind Symphony and Orchestra. Gerry taught me so much about repertoire, programming, conducting, teaching, cooking and life; I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for his mentorship over those years and now. He will be missed at UVic!”
“I’m thankful to Gerry for modeling that a teacher’s job is to set a very high standard for our students while sharing our passion of music,” notes Jenn McVie-Britton.
“I basically put UVic on my dream-school list because of the awesome experience of playing flute and piccolo in the MB provincial honour band with Dr. King,” says Erin Bardua. “I didn’t get to take Education classes and I think I only spent one term in Wind Symphony, but he continued to terrify and impress me in the halls.”
“I am so honoured to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. King in my journey to become a music teacher,” writes Emily McDermid. “I have very fond memories of instrumental techniques where he suggested I learn the ‘most noble instrument’ — the clarinet. At the end of the semester he joined us in a barely recognizable version of ‘Jingle Bells.’ Point is, I got to play clarinet with Gerry!”
“Gerry recruited me right from high school to come to UVic,” recalls Ken Roberts. “I did four years of Wind Symphony on tuba and I also took his Music Ed classes. I have to say although my life took me in a different direction, I cherish the time I spent learning, laughing and playing. I’ll always remember the many looks I received from over the top of his glasses. Enjoy your retirement, Gerry!”
“I did directed studies with Gerry and have corresponded at length with him about social action through music,” says Jonathan Govias. “He is the kind of person you imagine will always be there . . . until he isn’t.”
“Gerry King jacked me up, military style, when I told him I wanted to quit the Wind Symphony,” recalls Nadia Pona. “I left in tears, got my shit together, and now I’m in the Navy. The irony is not lost on me. That conversation in his office was a pivotal moment in my introduction to professionalism as a young adult and a very important memory. I learned a great deal under his baton as well. I hope he enjoys a well-deserved retirement.”
“I had the pleasure of playing in Wind Symphony for one year with Dr. King,” writes Heather Raines. “It was a difficult year for the French horns, as it was the year that Dick Ely, our beloved horn teacher died. Dr. King was sympathetic and understanding. I’m not sure if it was intentional but he found a piece of music that was exceptionally challenging for the French horn. Before introducing it to the orchestra, he showed it to the horn section and asked if we’d be able to play it. By involving us in this decision, he managed to engage us and have us interested in the music, while we were grieving.”
“In my first or second rehearsal ever with Wind Symphony, Gerry tore me apart for not being able to play a tom solo,” recalls Jay Schreiber. “I practiced hard for the next week and nailed it at the next rehearsal. He looked at me in his signature ‘over the glasses’ glare and sincerely remarked, ‘percussion . . .good job.’ Taught me a lot about playing in a section, and doing a service to the greater musical cause. Next semester I was section leader in Wind Symphony until the end of my tenure at UVic.”
“I had never been in a band like the Wind Symphony before and I had never had a conductor like Gerry,” writes Ethan Shoemaker. “I was terrified and inspired at the same time; I knew from the minute he stepped on the podium that I didn’t want to let him down and that at the very root of it, all he wanted was for each and every one of us to succeed. From my very first rehearsal to my music education classes to our conducting classes, I was lucky enough to learn and grow from the careful and honest guidance of Dr. King. So much of how he taught, conducted, and carried himself off and on the podium impacted me personally and professionally. I can honestly say that a day does not go by where I don’t have a ‘What would Gerry do?’ moment in my teaching and conducting life. I am privileged to have been taught by Dr. King and I am honoured to call him my friend: this is truly the end of an era. All the best with your retirement Gerry! Thanks for more than you will ever know!”
“I am very thankful for Gerry’s guidance and support throughout my years at UVic,” says Kristen Birley. “I remember being unsure about whether I wanted to go into music education and he was pretty determined to encourage and convince me that it was where I belonged. He was right! Thank you, Gerry!”
Some people train for years to achieve Olympic glory, but two local school groups are already sounding like gold thanks to the efforts of three local music teachers — all of whom are School of Music alumni.
CBC Music Class Challenge winners & Music alumni (from left) Jennifer Hill, Jody Onuma, Michael Mazza
“We’re really proud of our students,” says Mazza. “We were just looking for something new to do in our music program, a way to fire the kids up and connect with other schools across the country doing the same thing.” And while it’s a first-time win for Mazza and Hill, this is the second time Onuma’s class has won their category, following their 2016 win for their cover of “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes.
The annual contest sees K-12 schools across the country competing to arrange and record one of 17 specially selected Canadian songs. (2017’s other winning schools were from Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland.) Among the 17 options for songs were tracks ranging from current hitmakers like Basia Bulat, Jully Black and The Strumbellas to Canadian icons kd lang and Joni Mitchell, and the regional likes of Quebec’s Jérôme Minière and Inuktitut artists the Jerry Cans. But both local schools chose Marc Cholette’s “CBC Olympic Theme” to work with.
“CBC said if schools chose the Olympic theme, they might be able to be broadcast it,” says Mazza. “And that was part of it—I wanted the kids to be watching the Olympics with their parents and have the thrill of seeing themselves on TV.” As a result, not only does each winning class receive a state-of-the-art recording kit (valued at over $5,000), but they will now have their videos seen on CBC TV during the Winter Olympics broadcast in February.
The 2017 contest saw 500 submissions from every province and territory, which were judged by rocker Ewan Currie (The Sheepdogs), concert violinst Ming-Jeong Koh, Indigenous singer-songwriter IsKwé, CBC Radio’s Tempo host Julie Nesrallah, CBC Music Class producer Kelly Kitagawa and representatives of Canadian music education charity and contest co-creators MusiCounts.
Mazza says music is a “big part of the fabric of our school,” noting that over 75 percent of Arbutus students are enrolled in 10 performing ensembles led by their two full-time music teachers. The Arbutus Mixtape Orchestra is made up of grade 7 and 8 students in Mazza and Hill’s music classes. Their contest entry began with one class, then expanded as more and more kids became interested in the project; Mazza says the whole project took about seven 30-minute rehearsals, plus time for arrangement and recording.
“It started out just with the brass and string quartet, but we wanted to fill it out some more so we added the boy soprano at the beginning, then the vocal jazz singers in the background,” he says. “I’d wake up in the middle of the night sometimes thinking, ‘Oh yeah, we should add some clapping.’ It just organically evolved as we went along in a way we couldn’t have predicted and then came together in the end.”
One interesting aspect are the Indigenous drums being played in the video are all student-made, which Mazza says act as a “representation of the diversity of our school and our country. We also really liked the juxtaposition of the indie-rock claps and the First Nations drumming.”
Judge Julie Nesrallah of CBC’s Tempo says she “loved the performance because it had so many fun and interesting things going on: singing, drumming, the funky guitar solo, clapping and the ‘heys’ all came together to provide a dynamic, multi-layered performance that was very entertaining and moving. The whole performance was delightful to listen to.”
As for their recording-kit prize, Mazza says he’s just setting it all up and learning the software. “There are some students who are really interested in recording engineering and technology, so I’ll help them understand how it works and give them the opportunity to record some of our school ensembles,” he says. “Part of my philosophy is I want music to be part of the kids’ identity when they leave school—whether that’s playing the trumpet or knowing how to record.”
Mazza is both an alumni and sessional instructor with the School of Music (teaching, appropriately enough, a course on Music in the Middle School Curriculum). A band kid himself in high school (on trumpet), he says he always intended to become a music educator. “The best thing about going to UVic is that I basically got two degrees: music education and performance.” When asked if he still plays, he chuckles. “You can catch me down at Pagliacci’s every second Sunday—I’ve been playing there in a klezmer band since 2001.”
While all three alumni — Mazza, Hill and Onuma — represent the kind of top-flight talent that come out of UVic’s Music Education program, Mazza singles out Music professor Gerald King as a shining example of how inspiring a music educator can be to students of any age. “Gerry was a mentor to all three of us. He set such high standards and inspired us to do excellent work with the kids. We’re lucky to have him.”
As for the course he teaches in UVic’s School of Music, Mazza brings third-year Music Education students directly into his middle-school classroom. “It’s real experiential learning on their part; for many of them, it’s their first time being in front of a large group and teaching real kids. It’s a wonderful partnership between the university and the school district.”
And while the Music Class Challenge is a great salute to music education in Canada, Mazza says it pales in comparison with the effort his students made.
“We’re really proud of our kids,” he says. “They really aspired to do something memorable, and I don’t think they’ll ever going to forget this.”