Doc screening features Canadian theatre & TV legends

The Department of Theatre is dipping into the world of film for a special screening of Robin & Mark & Richard III. Better still, the filmmakers — Canadian theatrical legends themselves — will be on hand for an exclusive session only for Fine Arts students and faculty.

McKinney and Phillips in “Robin and Mark and Richard III”

The free screening begins at 12:30pm on Tuesday, September 19, in UVic’s Phoenix Theatre, with a post-screening Q&A featuring the film’s producers and co-directors Martha Burns and Susan Coyne. Then, at 12:30pm on Wednesday, September 20, Burns and Coyne will return for the special, Fine Arts-only intimate conversation.

Robin & Mark & Richard III tells the story of an unusual collaboration between one of Canada’s most influential directors—Robin Phillips (Stratford Festival)—and  gifted comedian and actor Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live and Slings and Arrows). Together, they delve into the one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays: Richard III.

Click here to watch the film’s trailer and discover the power of “Shakespearituality”.

Centuries after its debut, there have been countless stage versions and numerous screen adaptations over the past 100 years — including notable interpretations by Sir Laurence Olivier, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Dreyfuss and Julian Glover — as well as documentary explorations like Al Pacino’s 1996  Looking for Richard. With Robin & Mark & Richard III, Phillips and McKinney had not met before, and they had no idea what might happen when they begain this project: it was to be an adventure of two brilliant minds exploring Shakespeare’s world.

Burns (left) and Coyne

Captured over the course of three years by Burns and Coyne — award-winning Canadian stage veterans, co-founders of Toronto’s famed Soulpepper Theatre and Slings and Arrows co-creators and co-stars —  they filmed Phillips and McKinney rehearsing in the intimacy of Phillips’ home outside of Stratford. Although the filmmakers didn’t know it at the time, Phillips was actually quite ill and would die shortly after the film was finished.

For the Fine Arts-only conversation, hosted by Theatre professor Fran Gebhard, Burns and Coyne will discuss their diverse careers on stage, writing for theatre, film and TV, and directing and producing several short films together, including How Are You? (an official selection for the 2008 Toronto Film Festival).

Screened at the Hot Docs Cinema festival in 2016, Robin & Mark & Richard III is described as a love letter to a passionate, complicated, irreplaceable genius. The film has been called “a wonderful look into how actors build performances over time” (Toronto Film Scene) and “equal parts interview, scene study class and in-memoriam tribute to Phillips” (Now Magazine).

Shakespeare wrote: “It is required you do awake your faith”, and Robin Phillips lived this every day. An Officer of the Order of Canada and winner of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, his profound insights, exacting standards, and belief in the transformational power of theatre made him one of this country’s great mentors—one who touched the lives of three generations of artists, including Dame Maggie Smith, Brent Carver and Martha Henry, who all appear in this film.

(And for those who don’t know it, the acclaimed Canadian satirical TV series Slings and Arrows is required watching for theatre buffs! It’s a hilarious three short seasons of life back- and on-stage at a Shakespeare-specific theatre festival very much like Stratford, and no aspect of theatre — from acting and directing to marketing, production, reviewing, and post-show schmoozing — is spared.)

New Student Welcome — and welcome back!

If you’re new to Fine Arts, we’d just like to offer you a big welcome — as well as a hearty “welcome back” to all our returning students! We/re happy to have you join our vibrant student community here in Fine Arts.

But we appreciate that first year can be a difficult time for any student, so here’s a quick round-up of orientation activities that will help you feel more grounded in your life as a Fine Arts student.

Theatre Course Union Meet and Greet: 4-6pm Monday Sept 4 in the Theatre department’s Barbara McIntyre Studio

This is a great chance for first year and transferring Theatre students to meet returning Phoenix students before classes begin. We’ll all introduce ourselves, play some games, and get to know each other. Towards the end of the event, you will be paired up with a Phoenix buddy (an upper-year student) who will give you a tour of the Phoenix building and insider information on studying here. You can ask your buddy any questions you have about being a Phoenix student!

New Student Welcome: all day Tuesday, Sept 5, all across campus.

The New Student Welcome is the main program for approximately 3,000 first-year and short-term UVic students. After check-in and late registration on the quad lawn west of Petch Fountain, students will be officially welcomed with the opening invocation ceremony by the Elders in Residence, UVic president Jamie Cassels and celebrated grad Craig Kielburger of Me to We and Free the Children. Students will then move through a variety of components in the afternoon including a services tour of campus, academic presentations with the faculty deans, a barbeque lunch with the president, library tours, a welcome by the Campus Cousins to the First Peoples House, and an information fair at the end of the day.

As part of this, Fine Arts will be hosting our annual welcome and orientation from 1-3pm in the Bishop Theatre, with departmental tours and orientation sessions to follow.

UVSS Campus Kick Off: Sept 6 to Sept 8, various locations

Let the UVSS welcome you back in style with three days of free food, events, music, and excitement at The Student Union Building!

Wednesday is a big day with a free pancake breakfast (8:30-11am), the SUB local market (10am-4pm), Bands on the Roof and a free hot dog BBQ at the SUB (noon-4pm), a 19+ Welcome Back DJ Party (4pm-midnight) plus a free outdoor movie in the Quad (The Breakfast Club, 9-11pm), you may just forget to attend classes.

Thursday offers a Farmer’s Market (10am-4pm), more Bands on the Roof (noon-4pm), and the 19+ Felicita’s Karaoke (7pm-midnight), and Friday offers the Vikes Thunderfest (noon-4pm), plus even more Bands on the Roof (noon-4pm), Days of Thunder Soccer at Centennial Stadium (6:30-8:30pm) followed by the 19+ Blue & Gold After Party (9pm-12:30am) and the all-ages Back in Black Light Party (8:30pm-midnight).

• The School of Music Welcome Assembly: 12:30-1:15pm Friday, Sept 8, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall

All School of Music students are welcome at this annual event, which will be immediately followed by cake in the courtyard. Cake!

• Theatre Department Welcome & Photo12:30 – 1:45pm Monday, Sept 11 in the Roger Bishop Theatre

If you’re a Theatre student and haven’t felt welcomed enough, you’ve still got one more chance. All Theatre students are encouraged to join us for the Department Welcome and learn about what’s new, who’s new and important upcoming events in the building, then you’ll move outside for the annual group mug shot. Show off your smile and jazz hands and officially become part of Phoenix’s historic and ever-growing photo wall!

• Week of Welcome for Indigenous Students: September 11-14, First Peoples House

If you’re a new or returning Indigenous student, connect with the Indigenous community on campus during this week of celebration. Meet our Elders-in-residence, LE,NONET Campus Cousins and Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement staff, learn about Indigenous student groups and be introduced to student supports on campus. All sorts of activities are happening throughout the week, including an Indigenous Student Support Open House, Totem Pole Rededication, Brunch with the Elders, Indigenous Co-op Information Session, Salmon Barbecue, Native Students’ Union Open House, Evening with LE,NONET Campus Cousins and UVic’s Indigenous Plan Launch.

• UVic Co-op & Career Info Day: 10am-3pm Tuesday, Sept 12, at in the SUB’s Michele Pujol Room

Student life is great, but what comes next? Co-op and Career Info Day is the place to discover our career services and programs, learn about the co-op program and how you can gain paid work experience that’s relevant to your degree, find out about our flexible work experience program and check out entries in our annual photo contest!

Dodge in the Dark6:30pm Wednesday, Sept 13 in CARSA

Ready? Set? GLOW! The free, annual Vikes glow in the dark dodgeball event returns. Get in on a night of mayhem! Make sure you wear your brightest clothes, as there will be black lights everywhere to make you pop. Then, we’ll start throwing down with some intense dodgeball.

• UVSS Clubs & Course Union Days: 10am-4pm Sept 13 & 14 at the SUB

There are over 200 clubs on campus dedicated to environmental, cultural, political, religious, and recreational causes. Clubs are funded through student fees and receive a stipend from the UVSS every semester. They are free to join and are open to students and community members. From swing dance to game development to the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, there is something for everyone. Come see what strikes your fancy!

• Fine Arts Welcome Party: 4:30-6pm Thursday, Sept 14 in the Fine Arts Courtyard

We’ve saved the best (well, maybe the best tasting) for last. All new and returning Fine Arts students are invited for free pizza, salads, drinks and prize draws at our annual welcome back celebration. Meet the faculty and staff in this fun and relaxed social environment.

Did we mention the free pizza?

Patrick Du Wors is the only Canadian accepted at 2017 World Stage Design in Taiwan

When it comes to outstanding alumni, it’s hard to beat award-winning theatrical designer Patrick Du Wors. Not only has he made a name for himself on both national and international stages, he was recently hired as the new assistant professor of design for the Department of Theatre.

Theatre professor Patrick Du Wors

But this month, Du Wors is in the spotlight as the only Canadian stage designer selected to participate in the prestigious 2017 World Stage Design exhibition and Scenofest conference in Taiwan.

Running July 1-9, the juried showcase features 350 outstanding examples of international theatrical design in two categories: professional (200 displays) and emerging (150). Du Wors is firmly in the professional category, with his design for the Ghost River Theatre production of The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst selected from nearly 500 submissions worldwide. His work will be seen by between 13,000 and 15,000 visitors during the exhibit’s 10-day run on four floors of the Taipei National University of the Arts museum space—with nearly half those visitors coming from abroad.

Despite being the only Canadian production accepted, Du Wors is characteristically humble about his inclusion. “It’s such an honour to be exhibiting my design,” he says. “There were a number of [Canadian] submissions, so it is nice to be selected.”

One of Du Wors’ designs for “The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst” (photo: Benjamin Laird)

Described as “a multimedia meditation on ambition and the artistry of deception,” the world premiere of Last Voyage was produced by Alberta’s Ghost River Theatre during their 2014/15 season. It won six awards at Alberta’s Betty Mitchell Awards, and also received multiple nominations in the 2016 Alberta Literary Awards and the Calgary Critics’ Awards.

Du Wors — who is both attending World Stage Design and was on the jury for the “emerging” category — is proud to have his work seen beyond the original production. “This is a traditional exhibit in that we’re showing artifacts from the process: models, costume drawings and production photos,” he says.

This is in stark contrast to the inherently ephemeral nature of theatre as an art form, where many productions only exist for their run and are then never seen again. “One thing I learned from my classes with Mary Kerr is the importance of exhibitions, being included in catalogues, having some trace of your work.”

Du Wors’ design for the Belfry’s “Turn of the Screw”

His work on the Belfry Theatre’s 2008 production Turn of the Screw — alongside fellow alum Erin Macklem and frequent Phoenix contributor Brian Linds — was also one of only six Canadian design teams selected for the 2015 Prague Quadrennial, which Stichbury described in this story as “the Venice Biennalie of stage design.”

Du Wors (BFA ‘02) began teaching at the Phoenix in 2016, following the retirement of veteran stage designer Allan Stichbury. “Having seen what other institutions are doing, I was happy to come back here,” says Du Wors, who also trained at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Banff Centre and the University of Alberta. “I’m ready to make this position my own.”

Brother of noted School of Music alumna violinist Kerry Du Wors, Patrick followed his UVic BFA with a position as resident assistant at England’s prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, where he spent a year working on RSC productions in both London and Stratford-Upon-Avon. “That was incredible, because I got to work with a number of really incredible designers, including Richard Hudson who became famous for The Lion King.”

After another year freelancing in the UK and working on productions for the likes of Frankfurt Opera, Royal Scottish Ballet and Netherlands Opera, he returned to Toronto to design for various national theatre companies — including locals the Belfry and Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre — as well as being a guest designer at a number of universities (National Theatre School, Sheridan, York, Ryerson, George Brown) before earning his MFA from University of Alberta. He was on faculty at the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts before being hired at UVic.

Phoenix’s “Dark of the Moon” (photo: David Lowes)

“I loved Calgary, but when this position came open I couldn’t help to see if I could come back home,” he says. “I had quite a good sense of what kind of students would thrive in different training environments, and it made me realize that the UVic program was incredibly strong and a program I could get behind 100 percent. Having seen what other institutions are doing, I was happy to come back here.”

And while he’s a product of our own Theatre department, Du Wors is also an advocate for the more comprehensive Phoenix model, which allows students to get a sense of what everyone does backstage regardless of specialization. “As a designer, there’s a big difference working with a student who went to UVic and a student who went to a conservatory — their interactions with the rest of their collaborators is very different.”

But it’s his on-stage work designing sets, lighting and costumes for which Du Wors is mostly know, including such memorable local productions as the Phoenix’s Dark of the Moon (2008) and The Monument (2002), the Belfry’s Turn of the Screw (2008) and A Number (2006) and many Blue Bridge shows, including Death of a Salesman (2009), A Streetcar Named Desire (2010), Fire (2011), Little Shop of Horrors (2012) and My Fair Lady (2013).

“The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst” (photo: Benjamin Laird)

As for the future of The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst — which tells the story of the titular British sailor who was poised to win a solo, non-stop round-the-world sailing competition before disappearing — Du Wors remains optimistic that it will reach a wider audience.

“As a theatre production, it was a massive experiment,” he says, noting that show creators David van Belle and Eric Rosehad had worked on it for five years — including an unusual 10-week rehearsal process “where tech and design were integrated from the first day of rehearsal.”

“We were simultaneously working out the projection design, the set, the acting, the blocking and adjusting the script accordingly,” he continues. “It broke all the rules of conventional, English-Canadian theatre making . . . . I remain optimistic that a larger audience will get to see it, because it was a very special production.”

 

Experiences of migrant youth explored in new play

How can theatre activate the experiences of migrant youth, while at the same time providing a window into the experiences they face while assimilating into a new culture, new society and new city? Questions like this are at the heart of a new Applied Theatre performance directed and devised by Theatre PhD candidate Taiwo Okunola Afolabi.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps welcomes the cast on June 20

Commissioned for World Refugee Day 2017 and created in partnership with the Victoria Immigrant & Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) and the Applied Theatre program in UVic’s acclaimed Theatre department, the live interactive play Journeys of Arriving, Belonging and Becoming was first performed to a packed house of 65 people at Victoria’s City Hall on June 20 — including Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, City Councillor Jeremy Loveday, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) director David Lau, and Michael Shamata, Artistic Director of the Belfry Theatre. It was also remounted as a free outdoor theatre performance on June 29 in the #UVic quad.

“The performance explores complexities that surround refugees and migrant movements, which can be overwhelming — especially when we don’t have a clear way to actively engage with the issues and individual experiences,” explains Afolabi.

Director Taiwo Afolabi during the audience talkback session

Afolabi is a graduate fellow with UVic’s Centre for Global Studies and a Queen Elizabeth Scholar with UVic’s Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives. He arrived in Canada two years ago, and his research focuses on artistic practices among internally displaced persons.

The powerful 50-minute show features a mix of drama, dance, music and spoken word, all aimed at exploring the very real process of relocation, resilience, settlement and integration. It showcases common experiences like choosing an English name, learning a new language, and the difficulties that come with navigating everyday situations like ordering coffee, finding a job or dealing with the donation of unwanted goods from well-intentioned but thoughtless people.

The cast of “Journeys of Arriving, Belonging and Becoming”

But more than just presenting these difficulties, Journeys of Arriving also provides a creative platform for a cast with a truly global background: Syria, Israel, Russia, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Nigeria and Canada.

Most of the eight-person cast are Department of Theatre students — including Annie Konstantinova, Jasmine Li, Megan Chandler, Olivia Wheeler, Thiptawan Uchai and Victoria Stark — with the addition of UVic student Tianxu Zhao, and community member Samer Alkhateb.

“Actors’ experiences and stories from refugees, immigrants and newcomers in Victoria inspired the performance,” says the Nigerian-born Afolabi. “We asked ourselves challenging questions around identity, language, assimilation, psychological needs and the other experiences that refugees and immigrants face.”

The cast performing on campus on June 29

VIRCS youth program coordinator Jasmindra Jawanda says the seed of the idea began about a year ago when she first met Afolabi.

“We both discussed the possibility of working together on a youth theatre play . . . as we both felt youth were often left in the shadows. They are the forgotten ones, standing on the margins of society wanting to fit into Canadian culture but because of the many barriers and challenges that they face, they struggle to integrate into their new communities. We wanted to shine a light onto their stories and truths.”

For his part, Afolabi says he wanted “a storytelling approach” to the material — thus the inclusion of monologues, dialogue and action with music — and occasional moments of humor and comedy allow the cast to address highly emotional and socially sensitive issues. “I worked with an amazing, passionate and dedicated team. Each person volunteered almost 50 hours to devise this performance.”

Applied Theatre is the use of theatre and drama skills for the purposes of teaching, bringing about social change and building a sense of community. UVic’s program is recognized around the world for its innovative applied theatre projects, including a field school in India and exchange programs in Thailand.

Two artists, one lake, 100 years apart

Paul Walde (UVic Photo Services)

On July 8, 1917, iconic Canadian painter Tom Thomson drowned in Algonquin Park’s Canoe Lake. Now, on the 100th anniversary of Thomson’s death, intermedia artist and Visual Arts chair Paul Walde will swim the length of Canoe Lake — accompanied by a synchronized swim squad, canoe flotilla, brass band, film crew . . . and a minute of silence recorded at the bottom of the lake.

Not only will The Tom Thomson Centennial Swim allow Walde the opportunity of commemorating the centenary of Thomson’s death with this site- and temporally-specific piece, but he will also be reframing the enduring images and legacy of the early 20th-century artist for future gallery installations.

Walde training at a local lake (photo: Brandon Poole)

Media interest in this story has been high, with Walde being interviewed for 10 different media outlets in BC and Ontario, ranging from CBC Radio’s Up North in Sudbury to The Early Edition in Vancouver (skip to the 1:20 mark) and talking about “Canada’s Van Gogh” on radio shows in Victoria, Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George, as well as this June 22 Times Colonist article and this Saanich News article.

But the most interesting piece was this story that ran on page A3 of the July 9 issue of the Toronto Star, where arts reporter Murray Whyte actually traveled to Canoe Lake to witness the swim itself.

“Landscape painting is about beauty,” Walde says in the piece. “But the landscape is dangerous. It doesn’t care if you live or die. That was the very limit of what I could do. For me, to be in the water where he died — that was powerful.”

Walde is well-known for his bold and innovative sound and video installations, including Requiem for a Glacier in 2013, filmed live onFarnham Glacier in BC’s Purcell Mountains and earning international headlines, and Alaska Variations for an Anchorage Museum exhibition in 2016, which was singled out by USA Today as one of the top US museum exhibits of the year and was recently exhibited in Norway. 

Tom Thomson’s 1912 painting The Canoe, painted at Canoe Lake

“I grew up in Northern Ontario near where the Group of Seven did their first trip together,” he says. “This is what was presented to us as Canadian art, and through my work I’ve been trying to find other ways of engaging with the landscape, especially around issues of the environment and colonialism.”

“I’m trying to give people a sense of what [the landscape] sounds like, what it looks like below the surface, to try to create . . . a different understanding,” Walde told the Times Colonist.

The Tom Thomson Centennial Swim will be documented by a professional film and audio crew. Footage from the event — including underwater body-cam, mobile boat units and stationary positions — will be combined with shots of the lake and locations featured in Thomson’s paintings.

Thomson was also the subject of Walde’s 1997 theatrical performance, Index 1036, a collaborative work created with his wife Christine Walde, a UVic librarian, which fictively examined Thomson’s death in the context of contemporary performance art.

A former competitive swimmer who uses lake swimming to inform his practice as an intermedia artist, composer and curator, Walde has created a body of work exploring interconnections between landscape, identity, and technology with historical events as a recurring theme.

Tom Thomson

Canoe Lake, where Canadian artist Tom Thomson died in 1917, is located in Ontario’s Algonquin Park, Canada’s oldest provincial park (est. 1893) where Thomson worked as a guide from 1913 until his death.

UVic’s Visual Arts department is recognized nationally and internationally for developing innovative artistic voices and is one of Canada’s leading contemporary art programs.

Maestro Timothy Vernon becomes Honorary Doctor of Music

When this year’s group of graduating Fine Arts students cross the stage of UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium on June 13, they’ll find themselves in the presence of a true master — or maestro — as Timothy Vernon will also be receiving an Honorary Doctor of Music (DMus) on the same day.

Maestro Timothy Vernon

The founding artistic director of Pacific Opera Victoria, Maestro Vernon has earned the admiration of audiences by virtue of his artistic vision and fashioned POV into one of the city’s true cultural treasures. Renowned for the quality of its often challenging productions and for bold programming that can range from Handel to contemporary works, Pacific Opera Victoria has proven itself as arguably the most successful, innovative and progressive arts organization in the country — primarily thanks to Timothy Vernon.

“Timothy is an active community leader, volunteer, and an inspiration to aspiring students and professional musicians,” says Dr. Susan Lewis, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. “He has conducted for opera companies and orchestras across Canada and is deeply committed to the careers of emerging Canadian artists.

Vernon’s leadership and dedication to the Victoria arts community — and beyond — is well known. As the founding Artistic Director of Pacific Opera Victoria, he has led most of POV’s more than 100 productions since the company’s inception in 1979, including at least three world premieres and numerous Canadian premieres. He has conducted for opera companies and orchestras across Canada, served as Conductor Laureate for Orchestra London (Ontario) and has been a leader in education with his tenure at McGill University and his role as artistic director of the Courtenay Youth Music Centre.

Vernon receiving his Honorary Doctor on June 13. (Photo: Darren Stone, Times Colonist)

Inspiring graduates

In his address to graduating students on June 13, Vernon admitted that he was worried about the future of opera and how its “quiet voice” is in danger of being drowned out — particularly with the disappearance of music programs in the public school system.

“How do we find the faith in this elusive thing that is art, in the face of an apparently indifferent and hostile world?” he asked. Citing a POV rehearsal for La Traviata on September 11, 2001 — the day of the 9/11 attacks in the USA — Vernon spoke of the inspirational realization that came from that terrible day.

“We asked ourselves, what were we doing here making opera in the face of these horrific events? But from that low point came a discovery: that real artists fight. The real way of dealing with the demons within is to invoke the angels of our better natures — and who better than our great creators in all of our arts and traditions and histories? Even reading a page from one of Mozart’s masterpieces offers a glimpse of perfection . . . every performer understands that. Can the world ever have enough of beauty, truth, depth and grandeur? Never, we decided, should we apologize for pursuing a life in the arts; it needs no defense. It is essential for the spiritual heath of society, as in the individual . . . fashion may change, but the truth of the achievement of great art remains relevant.”

School of Music voice professor Benjamin Butterfield has a long history performing with Vernon and POV, and was quick to laud the maestro. “No one deserves greater recognition for their achievements,” he says. “Timothy is a role model to so many, crossing all generations. His unflagging enthusiasm for everything and anything, his integrity towards all he involves himself in and his inexhaustible desire to learn makes him a crucial member of this community. He is eternally young at heart — and yet, at the same time, he can engage about anything with anyone by drawing on his wealth of experience, knowledge and diverse personal interests. It is not only his enthusiasm about life but his understanding of what is important that keeps him firmly embedded in the conscience of this community.”

Timothy Vernon with Benjamin Butterfield at the special reception following Convocation (photo: Kristy Farkas)

In recognition of his work in expanding professional opera in Canada and his commitment to young musicians, Vernon was presented with the Order of Canada in 2008, and is also the recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, among numerous other honours.

A life lived in music

Raised in Victoria, Vernon studied conducting as a teenager at the Victoria School (now Conservatory) of Music and, at just 14, held appointments as organist and choirmaster in local churches. He went on to study in Europe at the Vienna Academy of Music and Salzburg’s Mozarteum, as well as in Nice, Sienna and the Netherlands, before returning to Canada in 1975 to become conductor and music director of the Regina Symphony Orchestra. In addition to beginning his work as POV’s artistic director in 1980, he began teaching at McGill University’s Faculty of Music in 1986, where he also served as conductor of the McGill Symphony Orchestra and associate director of Opera McGill.

Butterfield fondly recalls participating in Mahler’s 2nd Symphony under Vernon’s leadership while both were at McGill. “That concert remains for many one of the greatest experiences of their lives; Timothy’s knowledge and love of the piece was beyond comprehension — he taught everyone, through that one event, how to love what they do. The fiery ease with which Timothy brought the orchestra and choir to life is still talked about in musical circles. Timothy stood tall that day — as tall as any true leader.”

School of Music chair Christopher Butterfield with Fine Arts Dean Susan Lewis and Timothy Vernon (photo: Kristy Farkas)

Most recently, Vernon was appointed artistic director of Opera Lyra Ottawa in 2015, but it is his continuing work with Pacific Opera Victoria for which he is best loved locally. And given the long history the School of Music’s has with POV — where numerous students, graduates and faculty in the voice program continue to perform — Maestro Vernon is an ideal choice to receive this latest award.

“Timothy has always thrived on sharing his talents, knowledge and wisdom with students,” concludes Butterfield. “He is witty, clever, well-read, well-spoken and a man of great integrity, and has much to offer through his decades of experience in music and in the world. UVic has done a good thing in acknowledging Maestro Vernon with this Honorary Degree. Our arts community is better for it.”