Come to our pizza welcome party!

If you’re a Fine Arts student in Art History & Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing or our School of Music, then you’re invited to our annual Welcome (Back) Pizza Party!

Join us from 4-6pm Thursday, Sept 14, in the Fine Arts courtyard.

Enjoy free pizza, cake, drinks and lawn games, and be sure to enter the prize draw for 5 Fine Arts hoodies (one given to a student in each of our departments).

The Fine Arts teaching faculty & staff will be serving, so swing by and say hi!

Legacy gifts transform student experiences

Performance infrastructure may not be top of mind when it comes to supporting the student experience, but it’s always a primary concern in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Such is the case with the School of Music’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall: named for the former professor whose vision led directly to the construction of both the Music building and UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium, the 220-seat PTY is an exceptional performance venue that has provided essential opportunities for generations of student musicians.

“We know so many people find solace, beauty and meaning in music at our beloved PTY,” says School of Music director Alexis Luko.

Yet while the PTY hosts over 140 events a year, it is showing its age. Case in point? A ceiling-mounted projection screen and laser projector may not have been on the plans when it was built in 1979, but both are now must-haves in this increasingly multimedia era. Both were included in phase one of the recent donor-assisted audio-visual renovations; phase two will see the installation of a built-in sound system.

“The generosity of our donors is fundamental: it shapes the future of music performance, creation, research, technology and education here,” says Luko, who notes the new AV system will offer myriad opportunities for screenings, slideshows, multimedia performances and projected surtitles during concerts.

“This new system will position our students for success with 21st-century tools to create and perform at their best,” she says. “And an upcoming campaign focusing on stage and seating renovation will further enhance our audience experience and ensure the longevity of the PTY—where we are always excited about the next performance!”

Saying farewell to the Lafayette String Quartet

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

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

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

Making musical history

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

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

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

“Our career took such a rich trajectory with teaching,” says Elliott-Goldschmid. “Had we been strictly a performing group, we would have gotten through much more repertoire—but our role models were always great musicians who taught.”

They have also played an essential role in Victoria’s extended music community, as both musicians and champions of public-school string programs, as well as bolstering Canada’s chamber music reputation and legacy.

The LSQ in 1993 (left) and now

Their final season

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

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

Perhaps the best coda to their legacy is that, thanks to their dedicated mentorship, the Lafayette String Quartet’s is surrounded by a generation of student musicians who are now succeeding as peers in ensembles, symphonies and quartets of their own.

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

Documentary film premiere

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

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

Final concerts at UVic

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

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

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

Visit their website for full info

Harald Krebs & A Place of Infinite Possibility

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

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

The art of the possible

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

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

A working theory

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

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

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

A passion for the 19th century

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to reflect

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

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

QFW performances & new LSQ video

Over 20 brilliant young musicians from across the world will descend on our beautiful campus for the return of Quartet Fest West chamber music festival and concert series. Running from June 26 to July 8, students will undertake two weeks of intensive chamber music study with the Lafayette String Quartet plus guests the Penderecki String Quartet and the Bellas Artes String Quartet. Better yet, the general public is invited to hear everyone perform . . . including the final LSQ concert before they retire as an ensemble, as their both final performances in August are now sold out.

About Quartet Fest West

QFW 2023 brings together two of Canada’s most beloved string quartets: the Lafayette and Penderecki Quartets, who are also longtime friends and colleagues. Also performing and giving masterclasses is Cuarteto Bellas Artes, the School of Music alumni quartet formerly known as the Chroma Quartet, who were also the first quartet to come out of UVic’s Graduate String Quartet in Performance program.

Among the events is a concert with the LSQ and celebrated local violist Yariv Aloni, followed by the premiere of John Bolton’s new film Singing Through Generations featuring music by Nicole Mandryk and Leila Lustig. Currently an MFA candidate with UVic’s Visual Arts department, Mandryk (seen above) is an artist of Anishinaabe, Irish and Ukrainian descent who has created three songs which were then orchestrated for voice, drum and string quartet by Leila Lustig. A Q&A will follow the screening.

In addition to the concerts (see below), QFW students will be receiving private lessons, daily coachings and masterclasses, and workshops on string instruments and using their bodies in the most optimal way.

All concerts, masterclasses and workshops are open to the public and happen in the School of Music’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. A festival pass will support the participating musicians and allow you to enjoy all the concerts and public masterclasses for one low price, but you can also order individual concert tickets here.

More to come this summer

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

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

And while the LSQ’s final UVic concerts on August 18 and 20 have now sold out (remember, you can still hear them at Quartet Fest West), they will be performing select dates in Ontario in July. Check their site for full info.

QFW schedule

Mozart and Movie Night: 7pm Thursday, June 29 

  • Violist Yariv Aloni joins the Lafayette String Quartet in Mozart’s Viola Quintet in G minor, K. 516, plus the premiere screening of Singing Through Generations

Penderecki String Quartet: 2pm Saturday, July 1 

  • Featuring Mozart’s String Quartet No. 14 in G Major, K. 387, Erwin Schulhoff’s Five Pieces for String Quartet and Johannes Brahms’ String Quartet in C minor, Op. 51, No. 1

QFW Gala Concert: 7pm Wednesday, July 5

  • Featuring the Lafayette, Penderecki and Bellas Artes String Quartets and QFW Participants performing octets by Murray Adaskin, Dmitri Shostakovich and Felix Mendelssohn, plus Johannes van Bree’s Allegro for Four Quartets

Cuarteto Bellas Artes: 7pm Friday, July 7

  • Performing Mozart’s “Dissonance” Quartet K. 465, Joaquín Turina’s “La oración del torero” and Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major

Participant’s Concert: 2pm Saturday, July 8 

  • After nearly two weeks, the young musicians of Quartet Fest West will perform the new repertoire they’ve developed together—full program will be announced on the LSQ website during second week of festival (reception to follow).

As in years past, Quartet Fest West is partnering with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and the Victoria Summer Music Festival to showcase talented young musicians.

Witness Blanket seeks “soundtrack of resilience”

Carey Newman demonstrating his VR Witness Blanket project (photo: Ella Matte/Saanich News)

Already widely acclaimed for his powerful art installation the Witness Blanket, Kwakwaka’wakw and Coast Salish multi-disciplinary artist and Fine Arts professor Carey Newman is now planning to weave in a digital layer by collecting sounds to contribute to an interactive virtual reality version into his much-loved art project.

Newman, UVic’s Impact Chair in Indigenous Art Practices, is working with School of Music professor Kirk McNally to collect sound recordings from residential school survivors to create a “soundtrack of resilience” for a digital version of the installation—the original of which is now permanently installed at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. Together with partners from the CMHR, UVic and Camosun College’s Camosun Innovates, Newman is developing a VR version of the Witness Blanket and he’ll be working with a team of Indigenous musicians to create a living soundtrack for the project.

The original Witness Blanket is a large-scale series of panels containing hundreds of items reclaimed from residential schools, churches, government buildings and traditional and cultural structures from across Canada. Just as Newman gathered the original objects, he and McNally are now looking to collect sounds for the digital version.

“In virtual reality, sound is part of the experience and audio allows people to explore the blanket in a new way,” Newman explains in this CHEK News story. “If each of the objects on the Witness Blanket had a voice, what would they sound like? What language would they speak? What songs would they sing?”

Participants are invited to record and provide a sound that can include music of traditional instruments, sounds of cultural activities like paddling or carving, the ambient tones of the natural world, spoken languages, songs, or any other sound associated with a person’s Indigenous identity or community.

As a sculptor and master carver, Newman himself is planning to contribute a recording of the sound of knives carving wood. “It was something that was taught to me by my father. To me, that’s something that I closely associated with culture,” he told the Times Colonist in this article.

Local and national media outlets are helping to spread the word about Newman’s latest project, with additional stories appearing in this Saanich News video story and this separate Saanich News story, Capital Daily newsletter, plus live interviews on CFAX Radio and CBC’s On The Island.

While the call for sound contributions is specifically for Indigenous peoples, there are opportunities for non-Indigenous allies to help with things like equipment and studio space. You can connect with the team by e-mail at

Click here to watch a video about the new interactive project, including links to learn more about the original Witness Blanket.

You can also make an audio contribution to the project through this online form.