The Art & Science of Listening

Kirk McNally in the School of Music’s Create Lab, with music student Ayari Kasukawa (UVIC Photo Services)

Whether it’s Queen recording their iconic title track in Bohemian Rhapsody or Will Ferrell’s hilarious “More Cowbell” sketch on Saturday Night Live, what happens in the recording studio has long been mythologized in popular culture. It’s also at the core of Kirk McNally’s research.

The School of Music music technology professor is fusing his professional background as a recording engineer with a new archive of unexplored recordings to build a better understanding of the relationship between musicians, engineers and music producers.

A set of multi-track audio recordings donated to UVic in 2014 formed the basis for McNally’s initial research into the intricate relationship between technical skills and musical output in the studio. By analyzing these recordings, McNally identified exactly what decisions were made in the studio, and how they affected the creative process of producing the final album—findings he now shares with students.

A temple and a laboratory

“More cowbell!”

Revered as both a temple and laboratory by scholars, the recording studio is historically the place where the best musicians, producers and engineers create the soundtrack to our lives. But this activity has seen little critical evaluation.

“What I’m looking to better understand is the way those relationships—verbal, musical or technological—are communicated, and how the decisions made in the studio are played out to the listener,” says McNally. It could be as simple as asking for another take, or as surprising as a recording error that creates a great sound.

“There’s a long history around the exhibition of sketches that come before the creation of a recognized masterpiece, but that’s never been done for music. By listening to the final album, we don’t know what came before or what was thrown out, or if certain changes were made because of a marketing plan. That’s where my interest lies.”

But hearing what happens is only half of the equation. The rest involves activating that knowledge in the School of Music’s new Create Lab: a dedicated, state-of-the-art recording studio where McNally and his students explore the role of sound recording engineers and music producers.

Enter the new Create Lab

Completed in early 2019, the half-million-dollar Create Lab is booked 15 hours a day by student composers, musicians, engineers and sound artists in the undergraduate Music and Computer Science program—unique in Canada—and with Master of Music Technology students.

“Mindy, Body & Spirit” by Carey Newman

“It all comes down to listening,” says McNally. “Our job as engineers is to communicate something—either through technical or verbal means—in a way that’s understood by the person on the other side of the glass. That’s the importance of having a space where you can understand exactly what the sound is.”

Victoria residents may also be familiar with one of McNally’s projects outside of the studio: he consulted on the audio component of the spectacular cedar sculpture “Mind, Body and Spirit” by local artist and UVic Audain Professor Carey Newman, which fills the ceiling of Pacific Opera Victoria’s Baumann Centre and serves to acoustically enhance the space for music-making.

Fusing professional experience with academic research

Working with a team of International collaborators, McNally will explore how “aha” moments during studio recordings are identified, critically evaluated and correlated to what we hear in the final mix. Prior to joining UVic’s School of Music in 2004, McNally was a recording engineer at Vancouver’s iconic Warehouse Studio. Over the years, he has worked with R.E.M., Bryan Adams, Foo Fighters, Sloan and many others.

“By listening to the final album, we don’t know what came before or what was thrown out, or if certain changes were made because of a marketing plan. That’s where my interest lies,” says McNally, who recently received a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to continue his research.

The research will also take him to the newly established EMI Music Canada Archive at the University of Calgary, where he will explore the multi-track recordings and support material for two albums by ‘80s Vancouver band The Grapes of Wrath: Now and Again and These Days.

McNally is interested in why those Grapes of Wrath albums have become Canadian classics. “From a Canadian perspective, what is a Canadian sound? Is that actually a thing or is just a sales pitch?” he wonders. “These Days was mixed at Abbey Road Studios in London, and it does have a referential Beatles sound—but why? Was that only because they were in that space, or was it always part of the plan?”

The EMI Music Canada Archive spans 63 years of the EMI label, including 40,000 recordings and two million documents by The Beatles, Elton John, Kate Bush, Anne Murray, Buffy Sainte Marie and thousands of others. “This archive includes important information never previously available to researchers,” he says.

Back to the studio

Ken Scott (left) in-studio with Paul McCartney

Fusing research and application, his current project will culminate in two high-quality recording sessions at Leeds Beckett University in May—including one with legendary engineer/producer Ken Scott, who worked with the likes of The Beatles, David Bowie and Pink Floyd.

By revealing what happens in the recording studio, McNally believes future generations will be equipped to better understand the creative process and consumers’ response to how music is promoted and marketed.

This story originally ran  in a slightly different form as one of UVic’s KnowlEDGE research features in the Times Colonist on April 28.

Trumpet great joins Wind Symphony season finale

The UVic Wind Symphony is joined by special guests for their season finale concert on March 29. Featuring solos by trumpet legend Jens Lindemann and School of Music trumpet professor Merrie Klazek, the evening finale—a concerto for wind symphony and jazz quartet—will star Music instructor Wendell Clanton on alto saxophone.

“Something Borrowed, Something Blue” offers  an eclectic program featuring contemporary pieces that have borrowed from other composers or take their inspiration from jazz and Latin music.

UVic’s Wind Symphony (photo: Fiona Ngai)

With works by Shostakovich, Hindemith, Gershwin, Mackey and world premieres by UVic student Deborah Baynes and Esquimalt High School student Julian Glover—both commissioned by the UVic Wind Symphony—this concert presents some of the most innovative and exciting pieces written for the genre.

The UVic Wind Symphony, conducted by Steven Capaldo, is recognized as one of the leading wind ensembles in the Pacific Northwest. Recently, as the featured ensemble at the Okanagan Music Festival, the Wind Symphony performed concerts to over 800 students, parents and teachers. If you can’t make the concert, you can listen to it live here.

Trumpeter Jens Lindemann is hailed as one of the most celebrated soloists in his instrument’s history and is the first classical brass player ever to receive the Order of Canada. As an internationally recognized virtuoso and multiple Juno and Grammy nominee, he has performed in every major concert hall in the world and has an extensive discography in a multitude of styles ranging from solo and chamber to jazz and contemporary.

Trumpet legend Jens Lindemann

Lindemann is also the recipient of numerous international awards including the Prague Spring Festival, the Ellsworth Smith, ARD in Munich, was recently named “International Brass Personality of the Year” (Brass Herald), and is the only trumpeter to win the Grand Prize in the 60-year history of the Canadian Music Competition.

Presented as part of the Orion Series in Fine Arts, Lindeman will also offer a short performance featuring classical and jazz repertoire followed by a Q&A session at 11:30am Thursday, March 28, and lead a masterclass with School of Music brass students at 1:30pm on Friday, March 29.

This Wind Symphony concert will present some of the most innovative and exciting wind ensemble pieces written for the genre. Don’t miss it!

The UVic Wind Symphony’s finale concert, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” starts at 8pm Friday, March 29 in The Farquhar at the University Centre. Tickets range from $5 to $20 and are available from the UVic Ticket Centre (250-721-8480) and at the door. Tickets are also complimentary for all UVic students!

Explore the world of Ideafest 2019

It’s neither a surprise nor an exaggeration when UVic describes Ideafest as being about “ideas that can change everything.” This eighth-annual, week-long festival of research, art and innovation runs March 4-9, both on- and off-campus, and offers more than 40 public events designed to inform and engage with thought-provoking and culturally engaging events. And Fine Arts is participating in eight different events this year.

“Ideafest connects research to community. It allows UVic researchers and artists to share knowledge in different ways to appeal to a wide range of audiences,” says David Castle, UVic’s vice-president research. “We invite the public’s engagement so they can better understand how research impacts their own lives and that of society.”

As always, Fine Arts is once again an active Ideafest participant, hosting four separate events of our own and participating in four others across campus. All are free, unless otherwise noted: you can view the full Ideafest schedule here, which is searchable by day or category, but here’s our list of events.

Eva-meta art exhibit

The Visual Arts department’s Drawing 300 class continues its tradition of staging an outdoor drawing exhibition near the Fine Arts building for the duration of Ideafest. Led by Drawing 300 instructor David Gifford, students this year are interpreting meta-drawing and encounters with “aboutness, the recursive and the beyond.” Drawing 300 makes an outdoor exhibit of pictures about pictures. Prepare to have your assumptions challenged!

The Eva-meta exhibit runs Monday-Friday, March 4-9, outdoors in the Visual Arts building courtyard.

Research Reels Video Showcase

Get a taste of the amazing research and creative activity taking place at UVic, as told by our talented students, faculty and staff. A juried collection of short videos highlighting UVic research and how it’s having an impact on our lives and our world will be showcased for one night only. Prepare to be amazed and inspired! Hosted by Lara Lauzon (School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education) and juried by Jay Cullen (School of Earth and Ocean Sciences), Cody Graham (Filmmaker and multimedia producer) and Katrina Pyne (Hakai Magazine).

Among the entries this year are short films created by current students Peter Ojum, Leah Tidey and Chen Wang, plus recent alumnus and current Artist in Residence at Oceans Network Canada, Colton Hash (also last year’s Research Reels winner). Their films cover topics ranging from applied theatre practice and choral research to the research and creative practice of Visual Arts professor Kelly Richardson, and her current IMAX video installation commission from the XL Outer Worlds project, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the IMAX camera — a Canadian invention! Be sure to attend and vote for our faculty’s films in the viewer’s choice category!

Research Reels: Video showcase runs 5-6:30pm Tuesday, March 5, at Cinecenta in UVic’s SUB. And there will be free popcorn!

Write On: A Night Out with New Writers

Meet the next generation of Canadian Literature as MFA students from UVic’s legendary Department of Writing read (and perform) from ground-breaking graduating manuscripts in fiction, poetry, playwriting and creative nonfiction at this lively (and licensed) literary cabaret. Hosted by Writing professor Maureen Bradley, graduate student readers include Vaughn Gaston (fiction), Taylor Houghton (fiction), Janet Munsil (playwriting), Tom Prime (poetry) and Miles Steyn (creative nonfiction). Watch for guest appearances by faculty mentors.
Doors open at 6:30 pm

Write on: A night out with new writers runs 7-8pm Tuesday, March 5 at the Copper Owl Bar & Lounge, 1900 Douglas Street (above Paul’s Motor Inn).

Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards Fair

Meet the next generation of leading Canadian researchers at UVic’s Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards (JCURA). Awards go to exceptional undergrad students to carry out research in their field of study. The JCURA research fair will feature over 100 of these inspiring projects, ranging from the effects of meditation on memory retention, to improving emergency water treatment in refugee camps. Fine Arts participants include Hannah Bell (Theatre), Kai Conradi (Writing), Jamie Crystal (Music), Kim Dias (Writing), Pascale Higham-Leisen (AHVS), Sarah Kapp (AHVS), Trevor Naumann (Music) and Lee Whitehorne (Music). Just click on their individual names to read a brief of their research projects.

The JCURA symposium runs 11:30am – 3pm Wednesday, March 6, in the Michele Pujol Room (A121) of UVic’s SUB.

UVic Author Celebration

Each year, UVic faculty, staff, students and alumni publish an incredible amount of intellectual content, reflecting a wide range of research, teaching, personal and professional interests. Join UVic Libraries for this annual celebration of books written by UVic — including Writing professor Bill Gaston, who will be reading from his recent memoir, Just Let Me Look at You: On Fatherhood, and recently retired Writing instructor Patrick Friesen, reading from his latest poetry collection, Songen. Hosted by Jim Forbes, Director of Campus Services, other readers include History professors Jason M. Colby, reading from his Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the Ocean’s Greatest Predator, and Lynne Marks, reading from her Infidels and the Damn Churches: Irreligion and Religion in Settler British Columbia.

The UVic author celebration runs 2-4pm Thursday, March 7 at the UVic Bookstore.

Hear, Hear: Best Seats in the House

Experience the beauty of an orchestra from the inside out at this unique rehearsal of the UVic Orchestra, where seats for visitors will be interspersed among musicians to provide an unforgettable opportunity. Immerse yourself as never before in the works of Tchaikovsky and Debussy. Feel the magic of being in the midst of it all. Hosted by School of Music conductor and professor Ajtony Csaba and featuring the student musicians of the UVic Orchestra.

Hear, hear runs 3:15-4:15pm Thursday, March 7 at The Farquhar in UVic’s University Centre building.

Voice in Motion

Can the impact of dementia be reduced through singing and socializing? An interdisciplinary research team at UVic — including School of Music professor emeritus Mary Kennedy— is studying the impact an intergenerational choir may have on health outcomes for people living with dementia and their caregivers, as well as the impact on perceptions of dementia for participating high school students. Hear about the researchers’ findings and observations, then listen to this joy-filled choir share their music. Hosted by UVic School of Nursing professor Deb Sheets, presenters include not only Mary Kennedy but also Erica Phare-Bergh (Choir Director), Stuart MacDonald (Department of Psychology) and Andre Smith (Department of Sociology). With thanks to project partners Island Health, St. Andrew’s Regional High School, St Aidan’s United Church, the University of Victoria’s School of Nursing, School of Psychology and School of Sociology.

Voices in Motion runs 4-6pm Thursday, March 7 at St. Aidan’s Church Sanctuary, 3703 St. Aidan’s St. Note: registration is required for this free event: register here.

Other Faces of Nihonga

An expansion of the current Legacy Gallery exhibit,Translations: The Art and Life Of Elizabeth Yeend Duer-Gyokushō玉蕉, Ideafest welcomes Vancouver-based contemporary artist Cindy Mochizuki for a collective embroidery and listening experience focusing on the racialized effects on women of Japanese descent in British Columbia. Visitors will work together with Mochizuki to embroider an image informed by historical references to Japanese Canadian women during and after World War II, while listening to audio recordings of interviews of Japanese Canadian women exploring issues of race, class, citizenship, nationhood and diaspora.

Other Faces of Nijhonga runs 4-8pm Friday, March 8, and 11am-3pm Saturday, March 9, at the Legacy Art Gallery, 630 Yates St. 

Translations continues to April 6, also at the Legacy Gallery, and showcases the movement of ideas, aesthetics, politics and people between England, Japan and Victoria by looking at the life and work of Anglo-Japanese artist Elizabeth Yeend Duer (1889–1951). Born a British citizen in Nagasaki to an Englishman and a Japanese woman, Duer studied Nihonga, a traditional Japanese-style painting, with the renowned painter and teacher Atomi Gyokushi. 跡見 玉枝. Duer took on the artistic identity of Gyokushō 玉蕉. She immigrated to Victoria in 1940 and is among the remarkably few people of Japanese heritage who were not interned during World War II. Instead, she Japanized her new environment by producing Nihonga-style paintings of local indigenous wildflowers while her own identity was being anglicized.

This exhibit is co-curated by Art History & Visual Studies professor Carolyn Butler Palmer, Mikiko Hirayama (University of Cincinnati) and Janice Okada (BA, MM St). This is a project of the Williams Legacy Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art of the Pacific Northwest.

Other Ideafest events that will have appeal for Fine Arts followers include the Re-imagining Justice: Art, Law & Social Change exhibit (March 4-8), Latin American Muralism and Identity (March 5), the Express Your Thesis performance (March 6), and the Three-Minute Thesis competition (March 7). But again, be sure to view the full Ideafest schedule.

Latest Music concerts both big and intimate

It’s another busy weekend for the School of Music, with two headlining concerts filling their stages with talent.

First, the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy joins the UVic Wind Symphony on Friday, February 8 for their sixth annual collaboration — a partnership unique in Canada!

The concert, Something Old, Something New, offers a modern twist on the traditional approach to concert programming of an overture, a symphony, a march and a concerto. Featuring new and classic works for wind ensemble, the program includes music by Copland, Persichetti, Jager and Bryant. In addition, UVic student Jason Gordon will be the lead soloist in Gillingham’s Concerto for Euphonium, Winds & Percussion. 

The UVic Wind Symphony, conducted by Music professor Steven Capaldo, is recognized as one of the premier wind ensembles in the Pacific Northwest. This March they will go on tour as the featured ensemble at the Okanagan Music Festival, performing concerts to over 800 students, parents and teachers.

The Naden Band, in operation since 1940, is comprised of 35 professional full-time musicians whose primary role within the Royal Canadian Navy is to support Naval Operations, ceremonial events, and public outreach initiatives. Many UVic alumni are members of Canadian Military ensembles, including the Naden Band.

To find out more about the concert program, join for a pre-concert talk in Senate Chambers (University Centre) at 7pm with conductors Steven Capaldo and the Naden Band’s Brayden Wise and Ben Van Slyke.

Something Old, Something New featuring the UVic Wind Symphony & the Naden Band starts at 8pm Friday, February 8 in The Farquhar at UVic’s University Centre. Tickets are $10-$20 — but free for all UVic students! 

 

Second, the latest in the continuing Faculty Chamber Music Series takes to the stage this weekend, with a remarkable lineup of current Music faculty.

Experience the magic when UVic performance faculty join on stage Saturday night to make music together. This remarkable lineup of performers includes the Lafayette String Quartet, pianists Arthur Rowe and Bruce Vogt, tenor Benjamin Butterfield and Merrie Klazek (trumpet), Alex Olsen (bass), Jenny Gunter (bassoon), Alana Despins (horn), Shawn Earle (clarinet) and Russell Bajer (oboe).

This concert will feature works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Camille SaintSaëns, W. A. Mozart and Johannes Brahms. Learn more about the program with a special pre-concert talk at 7pm Saturday in the School of Music’s room B037, in UVic’s MacLaurin B-Wing.

The Faculty Chamber Music series runs from 810pm Saturday, February 9, in the School of Music’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, in UVic’s MacLaurin Building, B-Wing. Tickets are $10 – $25.

 

 

UVic Orchestra explores New World

The UVic Orchestra concert on February 1 takes its inspiration from Dvorák’s From the New World Symphony “by turning towards the future in presenting new and recently discovered musical ‘worlds’ and landscapes,” says conductor and School of Music professor Ajtony Csaba.

Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D Major (Haffner) is the musical point of reference for the first half of the concert. This symphony began as a serenade, commissioned as background music by the — a prominent Salzburg family — for the ennoblement of Sigmund Haffner in 1782. Mozart converted the serenade into the symphony as we know it today, and it was premiered with great acclaim in 1783 in Vienna.

Georg Friedrich Haas composed …è finisci già?, paraphrasing another Mozart composition in D-major: the unfinished Horn Concerto K. 412. The title — translated as “Is that all [you’ve got]?” — quotes one of Mozart’s many provocative annotations in the score that reveals a humorous communication protocol between the composer and soloist.

Also on the program is Music alumnus Max Murray’s new composition, Cântece. Written specifically for the UVic Orchestra, Cântece reflects on the “essential wisdoms imparted by [Mozart]: the evocation and sustain of dramatic precariousness amidst textural transparency.”

Alumnus composer Max Murray

Dvorák wrote his famous Ninth Symphony in 1893 while he was the director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. While living in America, Dvorák became interested in African-American spirituals, plantation songs of the American South as well as Native American traditions. From the New World — a synthesis of many musical traditions — became a fusion of both the Old World and the New.

Hear more about this program at a special pre-concert talk with Professor Gregor Kokorz (Wirth Institute, University of Alberta), composer Max Murray and conductor Ajtony Csaba. This free pre-concert talk begins at at 6:45pm in room C110 of UVic’s Clearihue building.

From the New World with the UVic Orchestra begins at 8pm Friday, February 1 at The Farquhar in UVic’s University Centre. Tickets are $10-$20 — but are free for any UVic student. You can buy tickets here.

Fine Arts is full-on during Alumni Week 2019

UVic celebrates graduates old and new with our annual Alumni Week, running Feb 1- 8 across campus. From film screenings and fascinating talks to concerts, a curling bonspiel, Vikes basketball and the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards night, there will be over a dozen special events to check out. Better still, most are free, although you may have to register in advance.

And Fine Arts is a big part of Alumni Week this year, as we participate in five different events showcasing the talents of a number of our alumni. Here’s what’s coming up:

Film screening with Connor Gaston

Connor Gaston

Did you know that 1 in 3 UVic staff and faculty are UVic alumni? It’s true, and you can meet many of them as we celebrate our campus alumni  and kick off Alumni Week at an exclusive event at Cinecenta. Join us at noon on Feb 1 for a screening of the short film, ‘Til Death, by director and campus alumnus Connor Gaston.

About the film: After losing his soul mate in a fatal bicycle accident, 10-year-old Zachary sets out on a journey to bring Samantha back to life in this magical, modern fairy tale.

Gaston, who holds both a BFA and MFA from the Writing department, is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has screened at film festivals around the world, including the Toronto International Film Festival. Gaston’s first feature film, 2015’s The Devout, earned him five Leo Awards (including Best Picture), the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival, and a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best First Feature. He is also a current sessional instructor in UVic’s Writing department.

Pizza, popcorn and soda will be provided at the screening for just $5, plus everyone will receive a free gift! (Tickets at the door.) Following the film screening, there will be a Q&A with the director.

This event runs noon to 1pm Friday, Feb 1, at Cinecenta in UVic’s SUB. Film starts at 12:15pm, so come early to get your pizza!

Fifth Street

Emerging Alumni concert with Fifth Street

Victoria-based vocal quintet Fifth Street combines the worlds of pop, jazz and R&B in perfect five-part harmony. The sublime voices of Natasha Penfield, Jilaine Orton, Ryan Narciso, Kenji Lee and Taylor Caswell found a groove together while students and as members of UVic’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble. You’ll enjoy their original a cappella arrangements of pop hits by the likes of Imogen Heap and Justin Timberlake as well as fresh takes on timeless classics.

UVic Music alumni are invited to an exclusive pre-concert reception with tasty hors d’oeuvres, door prizes, plus a special pre-concert appearance by Fifth Street. Hear them in action at 8pm Saturday, Feb 2, in the School of Music’s Phillip T Young Recital Hall, in UVic’s MacLaurin building B-wing. Entrance is by donation.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Come join UVic’s annual celebration recognizing and honouring Distinguished Alumni Award winners that have been chosen from the faculties, UVic Libraries and Continuing Studies. This year, Fine Arts is honouring Theatre alumnus Nathan Medd —a cultural non-profit leader whose work is devoted to developing the performing arts in Canada.

Now the managing director of performing arts for the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity — the nation’s largest arts training institution and incubator of new works — Medd was also the managing director of English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre, where his team successfully championed Canadian creators and initiated a new national stage for Indigenous performance.

Join us at 7:30pm Tuesday, Feb 5, in the Songhees Wellness Centre, 1100 Admirals Rd. Free, but registration is required.

Nathan Medd on Creative Placemaking

Nathan Medd (photo: Andrew Alexander)

Join 2019 Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Nathan Medd for this lively discussion about the ins and outs (and ups and downs) of creative placemaking. From development and gentrification to funding and accessibility for artists and audiences, get ready to “nerd out” about the business of the arts. Joining Medd on the panel will be long-time colleagues Kevin Kerr, Writing professor and co-founder of Vancouver’s Electric Company, Janet Munsil, former Intrepid Theatre artistic director and Metro Studio co-founder (also a Phoenix alumna and current MFA candidate in Writing), and Ian Case, Theatre alumnus, director of The Farquhar at UVic and former general manager of Intrepid Theatre.

In addition to his current position at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Medd was previously the managing director of English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre. As managing producer of Electric Company, he produced original works for the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad and co-founded East Vancouver’s Progress Lab performing arts creation studio in 2009. In Victoria, he worked for Intrepid Theatre, where he co-founded Metro Studio — a flagship venue for Vancouver Island — and held positions with both the Belfry Theatre and the BC Arts Council.

This free talk runs from 12:45-1:45pm Wed, Feb 6, in the Bishop Theatre at UVic’s Phoenix Building.

Esi Edugyan with Shelagh Rogers

Join UVic Chancellor and CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter host Shelagh Rogers as she has a frank and fascinating live conversation with two-time Giller-prize winning novelist and Writing alumnus Esi Edugyan. The internationally acclaimed author of Washington Black, her latest novel, Edugyan is also the author of the Giller Prize-winning Half-Blood Blues and The Second Life of Samuel Tyne.

Join us at 7pm Thursday, Feb 7, in the Michelle Pujol Room at UVic’s SUB. Copies of Washington Black will also be for sale, courtesy of UVic’s Bookstore. Update: this event is now sold out, although a waiting list is being taken.

UVic is accessible by sustainable travel options including transit and cycling. For those arriving by car, pay parking is in effect. Evening parking is $3.

But wait, there’s more!

While Alumni Week only runs Feb 1-8, our Fine Arts alumni are busy throughout the year with their own creative endeavours. Here’s a quick rundown of some other alumni who are active around town in the next couple of weeks:

Victoria Film Festival

The 25th annual Victoria Film Festival features work by both Writing and Visual Arts alumni and students, running throughout the festival. Writing alum Connor Gaston is showing the short film Encore as part of the shorts program “Beautiful Obsessions” on Feb 4.  The Safe Space Panorama exhibition runs Feb 2-10 at the Atrium and features work & talks by Visual Arts MFA candidate Levi Glass (talk: 3pm Feb 3), undergrads Laura Gildner (3pm Feb 4),Jordan Hill (3pm Feb 6) and Jake Hrubizna (3pm Feb 8), plus MFA alumni Leah McInnis (3pm Feb 7) & sessional instructor Emily Geen (5pm Feb 5), as well as the 25th anniversary multimedia installation States of Play, curated by recent Visual Arts alumna Gina Luke.

Cry-Baby

Phoenix alumna & musical theatre teacher Kim Sholinder and the student cast & crew of Victoria High School will perform the Broadway musical Cry-Baby — based on the hit 1990 John Waters film of the same name, which starred a young Johnny Depp! This upbeat, campy musical provides a fun twist on 1950s star-crossed young lovers. Cry-Baby runs Feb 5-9 at Victoria High School, 1260 Grant. Tickets are $10-$12.

For Ground; Background  

The Victoria Arts Council is pleased to be working with Visual Arts MFA alumnus Hjalmer Wenstob on a new solo exhibition. For Ground; Background is a culmination of selected sculptures from over the last four years, as well as new works and installations. For Ground; Background hosts works of question, concern and education, in regards to environment, urban relationships to the land, and treaties. Wenstob is an interdisciplinary artist who specializes in sculpture, installation, and carving; he speaks of three dialects of his work — contemporary, traditional, and community-based.

Through his contemporary dialect, he completed both an undergraduate and master’s degree at UVic, exploring the relationships between cultures and art, and the balance between traditional and contemporary. His work is at times highly political and uses humour and irony to pose difficult questions of respect, reconciliation, and environmental issues. Nuu-Chah-Nulth from the Tla-O-Qui-Aht First Nations on his father’s side, and Norwegian and English on his mother’s side, Wenstob and his family recently opened Cedar House Gallery in Ucluelet, B.C. where he is exploring ways of weaving his contemporary/political work with more traditional materials and styles.

For Ground; Background runs until Feb 16 at the new Victoria Arts Council space at 1800 Store St. Open 11am-5pm Tues-Sat.

Todd Lambeth: Night Moves

Visual Arts instructor & MFA alumnus Todd Lambeth presents Night Moves, a series of paintings that investigates the abstract relationship between space and colour. Influenced by Cubism, hard-edged Modernist painting, comic books and candy wrappers, the colours in these paintings reference the world of advertising and design. These visually stimulating works express the artist’s interest in perceptions of pictorial space and are a direct response to the proliferation of digital imagery and imaging technology.

These paintings explore optical perceptions of space; emphasizing the formal properties of structure and design, Lambeth’s images present the viewer with a sense of visual pleasure. With their bright, welcoming colours and forms the paintings in Night Moves foreground ideas of beauty and express Lambeth’s desire to create optimistic works that distract the viewer from the difficult times in which we live.

Night Moves runs through to March 2 at Deluge Contemporary Art, 636 Yates. There will be an artist talk at 3pm Sat, Feb 16.

 John Barton: New Poet Laureate

Writing alumnus and former longtime Malahat Review editor John Barton has been named the new Poet Laureate of Victoria. Barton has written 26 books and is currently working on his first book of prose; his appointment was reported in this Times Colonist article and this piece from Monday Magazine.

Fowler (in yellow)

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The Victoria Theatre Guild offers a lively version of this 2005 Tony-winning show — a clever, charming and sweet-natured musical comedy about six quirky tweens competing in the spelling bee of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, they spell their way through a series of words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing ding of the bell that signals a mistake. In the end, the youth learn that winning isn’t everything, and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.

Featuring a fantastic performance by Phoenix alumni Hailey Fowler and an outstanding set by Barbara Clerihue.

Spelling Bee runs until Feb 2 at Langham Court Theatre. Tickets are $25-$35 . . . if you can find one!