Quartet Fest West now in its 11th year

UVic’s campus will be alive with the sound of music this summer as Quartet Fest West returns for another exciting session from July 9 to 19.

The Lafayette String Quartet in rehearsal (photo: Kristy Farkas)

Now in its 11th year, Quartet Fest West is an intensive chamber music workshop, welcoming select students from universities across North America. Originally launched in 1993 by the School of Music’s artists-in-residence the Lafayette String Quartet, QFW offers an unparalleled string quartet experience, including a series of concerts, masterclasses and workshops — all of which are open to the public in UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall.

See the School of Music events calendar for full details on all concerts.

This year features string players (plus a pianist!) hailing from Alberta, Texas, Arizona, Vancouver and Victoria. They will spend 10 days working closely together — divided into two quartets and two quintets — to hone their individual and ensemble skills. Alongside the LSQ, guest coaches and performers include their long-time friends and collaborators the Penderecki String Quartet, esteemed local violists Yariv Aloni and Gerald Stanick, and renowned pianist Alexander Tselyakov.

QFW students

A highlight each summer, QFW is an ideal example of the immersive study and supportive practice that has made the School of Music such an essential part of Victoria’s arts community over the past 50 years.

“The festival is a significant annual event for UVic’s School of Music,” says Susan Lewis, Dean of Fine Arts. “I extend my warm thanks and appreciation to members of the Lafayette String Quartet for their ongoing efforts, commitment, and mentorship of generations of musicians. Together, we strengthen the cultural fabric of the city, the province, the country and, indeed, the world.”

The highly-anticipated QFW concert series kicks off on July 14 with performances by the LSQ and Tselyakov, counted in the ranks of Canada’s leading concert pianists; that program features the beautiful “Viola Quintet in C” by Mozart and the rarely performed piano quintet by Ernő Dohnányi. The Penderecki Quartet will perform music by Beethoven and Kelly-Marie Murphy, as well as the Shostakovich Piano Quintet — joined by Tselyakov — on July 17.

Penderecki String Quartet

The Gala Concert on July 18 — a fundraiser for future QFW student scholarships — brings together the LSQ, PSQ, plus special guests and festival participants. On this program you’ll hear some of the most cherished chamber music literature throughout the ages including works by Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Haydn (Michael and Joseph) and more. The festival then culminates with a July 19 concert showcasing the QFW student participants.

All concerts are performed in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, located in the B-Wing of UVic’s MacLaurin building. Single tickets ($10-$25) are available at the door for all concerts, as is a festival pass ($60). The public is also welcome to observe daily masterclasses.

 UVic is accessible by sustainable travel options including transit and cycling. For those arriving by car, pay parking is in effect Monday to Saturday; evening parking is a flat rate of $3.

Off to the races with UVic’s Summertime Staff Challenge

Thanks to all who came out for the Summertime Staff Challenge on June 20! It was a great day for a race and, despite some last-minute Nerf technology backfires, everyone seemed to have a great time. For those who like stats, here’s a fun game-day breakdown:

  • 20 teams
  • 75 players
  • roughly 15 units represented
  • 18 new employees participated
  • 8 volunteers helped out
  • Maximum possible score: 103 points (plus new employee/clothing bonus)
  • The shortest slow bike ride was 1 minute
  • The longest slow bike ride was 5 minutes (a tie between Cycle Paths & Last Minute Charlies, so each team got 10 points)
  • 7 teams got disqualified on the slow bike ride (or didn’t have a bike)
  • 11 teams successfully completed the admittedly challenging Finnerty Challenge
  • 11 teams created a recycled hat (some were fantastic!)
  • 3 teams had only 3 players — one of which (Edge-y Broads) made it into the top-3
  • Only 5 teams successfully answered their trivia question
  • Only 6 teams got points on the bocce challenge
  • Only 4 teams didn’t do the Twitter tree challenge
  • Only 3 teams answered all 4 of their photo-based questions
  • Only 3 teams didn’t find a rock
  • Only 3 teams didn’t draw a S’YEWE Pole face

We’ll be doing this again next summer as part of the Connect U staff conference, so be sure to sign up again!

Here’s a selection of photos from the event:

And now the results!

FIRST PLACE TEAM: East of the Equator (Office of Research Services): Meghan Rountree, Michael Chin, Michael Kravec, Dean Rysstad     Final score:    75
This was the first time playing for East of the Equator. If you would like to congratulate the winning team, you can contact them here.

2nd PLACE TEAM: Devs Doughnuts (Systems)     Final score:     70

3rd PLACE TEAM: Edge-y Broads (Media Relations)     Final score:     65

 4th PLACE TEAM: Cycle Paths (Health Services)     Final score:     64

5th PLACE TEAM: Heal Racers (Health Services)     Final score:     62

6th PLACE TEAM: CERE4 (Ceremonies & Events)     Final score:     61

7th PLACE TEAM: Last Minute Charlies (Budget & Capital Planning)     Final score:     60

8th PLACE TEAM: Code Blue (Health Services)     Final score:     59

9th PLACE TEAM: Math R Us (Math & Stats)     Final score:     59

10th PLACE TEAM: The Service Providers (Student Services)     Final score:     56

11th PLACE TEAM: Team Corrina (Chemistry)     Final score:     54

12th PLACE TEAM: ROC Bottom Resurrected (Undergraduate Records)     Final score:     53

13th PLACE TEAM: Two is Better Than None (Co-op & Career)    Final score:     52

14th PLACE TEAM: The Cat’s Pajamas (Fine Arts)     Final score:     51

15th PLACE TEAM: Adva Cadabra (Academic Advising)     Final score:     46

16th PLACE TEAM: The Deductions (unidentified unit)     Final score:     45

17th PLACE TEAM: Twisted Blister (Health Services)     Final score:     44

18th PLACE TEAM: The Heather Mooney (Business)     Final score:     40

19th PLACE TEAM: Brain Stormers (Continuing Studies, Marketing)     Final score:     36

20th PLACE TEAM: Team AJ (unidentified unit)     Final score:     3

 


Get Ready for the June 20 Summertime Staff Challenge

Can’t wait for summer to start? Eager to bust loose with some lunchtime fun? Get ready for the fun & frantic Summertime Staff Challenge, running 12:10 to 12:40pm Wednesday, June 20, at the MacLaurin Pyramid.

Your four-person UVic team will compete against others in a series of on-campus zany challenges ranging from information- and image-gathering to tests of physical skills and accuracy.

Designed to be more of a team-building activity than anything seriously physically difficult, the whole point of this event is to have fun going up against other UVic teams while discovering more about the campus.

You’ll also get bonus points for each new employee of 1 year or less on your team. (They don’t have to be from your unit, so start poaching now!) Sign up either as a team or individually, and we’ll connect you with other people looking for teammates.

What your team will need:

  • Four UVic staffers (or majority staff)
  • Running shoes or comfortable walking shoes
  • A smart phone, iPad or other similar device that can take photos & post to Twitter
  • Water shoes / flip flops & a towel (?!)
  • A bicycle
  • Keen eyes
  • Steady hands

Deadline for team registration is Friday, June 15.

For more information or to sign up, please contact John Threlfall at johnt@uvic.ca. Yep, he’s the same kooky guy who was behind the Connect U Scavenger Hunts.

Two MFA exhibits: one downtown, one crossing borders

Following a series of on-campus solo exhibitions in the Audain Gallery this spring, this year’s graduating MFA artists have taken their work downtown for their final public exhibit.

Titled In Toto, the annual Visual Arts MFA graduation exhibition runs May 4 to May 14 at 821 Fort Street, between Quadra and Blanshard, with a special opening reception at 7pm on Friday, May 4.

Update: the MFA show will now return for one day only, 11am-2pm Sunday, May 27, as part of the City of Victoria’s Fort Street Celebrations. The MFA show will be used as the venue for a public drop-in session discussing the use of vacant store fronts as art spaces. Live music & refreshments will also be on hand to celebrate the opening of the bike lanes,

Featuring the work of David Michael Peters, Marina DiMaio, Leah McInnis, Connor Charlesworth and Evelyn Sorochan-Ruland, In Toto offers 10 different pieces, ranging from painting and sculpture to installation and media works.

Interestingly, the same storefront was home to the HeARTspace exhibit in the fall 2017, a pop-up art gallery featuring the work of people who have died from overdoses, as well as tributes to them; that exhibit was organized by UVic interdisciplinary PhD candidate Marion Selfridge.

The free exhibit is open noon to 4pm daily.  

In addition to this exhibit, MFA candidate Marina DiMaio has also organized the second in the MFA Connect exhibit series. Running May 13-19 in the Audain Gallery in the Visual Arts building, this second iteration reconsiders the long-standing tradition of Mail Art through an entirely digital correspondence. This conception of MFA Connect integrates the work of six MFA students from Newcastle University in England and six UVic MFA students in a group show that will then travel to the Ex Libris Gallery in northeast England.

MFA Connect is like a conference for visual arts,” says DiMaio in this article about the inaugural MFA Connect exhibit in November 2017. “Other departments make these kind of ‘connections’ all the time, but when we get together we share a visual language. This is about challenging each other’s research, getting our research out into the world, creating our own opportunities, establishing communities, and continuing the larger conversation of the place of the visual arts in an academic institution.”

In addition to Marina DiMaio, MFA Connect also features work by UVic’s Connor Charlesworth, Leah McInnis, David Michael Peters, and Evelyn Sorochan-Ruland, plus Xristia Trutiak. Participating artists from Newcastle U include Shaney Barton, Elizabeth Green, Peter Hanmer, Paul Jex, Hania Klepacka and Gill Shreeve.

Could this be the beginning of ongoing creative alliances between Newcastle University and UVic? Only time—and inspiration—will tell.

Concert debuts results of Guggenheim Fellowship

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 by Biró, 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

KlangForum Heidelberg

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.

About Ethica

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.”

During the 2016/17 academic year, Biró was an artist-in-residence with UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society; in 2015, he was made a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and he was awarded a Fellowship at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2014; he has also received numerous other international prizes and commissions.

And, as a result of his Guggenheim Fellowship, Dániel Péter Biró was the only UVic professor —and the only arts researcher — included in the prestigious Universities Canada publication, Canadian Excellence, Global Recognition: Canada’s 2017 Winners of Major International Research Awards.

Annual Visual Arts BFA show fills building with art

Always one of the most exciting events of the year for the Department of Visual Arts, the annual Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) graduating exhibit is back and ready to showcase the work of nearly 40 emerging artists.

This year’s exhibit is titled Good Grief! and kicks off with a special opening reception at 7pm Friday, April 20. Expect to see over 50 pieces of art by the BFA students on view, ranging from sculpture and painting to drawing, photography, digital and multimedia. The pieces below are just an example of the kind of work that will be on view.

Good Grief! runs 10am to 6pm daily from April 20 to 28 in UVic’s Visual Arts building — if you can’t make the opening, be sure to pop in while the exhibit is on.

The annual BFA exhibit is a highlight of the year in Fine Arts. Much like School of Music students with their final concerts and Theatre students with their mainstage performances, the BFA show is an important milestone in the training of Visual Arts students.

“The work represents the self-directed nature of our program, where students learn to invest in their own research using a variety of artistic mediums to bring their projects to fruition,” says Visual Arts professor and faculty supervisor Megan Dickie.

The show is free, open to all members of the public and is fully wheelchair accessible.

Click on the images below to see the pieces in full.

 

Grand “Finale” for Wind Symphony Maestro Gerald King

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!”