Bequest welcomes Cuarteto Chroma to a uniquely Canadian degree program

As the final notes vibrated through the concert hall, the first violinist stood to address the audience again. “Any other ideas for where we should sit?” he asked.

Cuarteto Chroma

Hands of audience members shot up, and a young student offered, “How about cello and viola at the front, violins at the back?”

The four musicians nodded, then bustled into a new formation, before playing the same piece for a third time. The audience listened carefully for the change in sound, appreciating, perhaps for the first time, the influence of such decisions.

Cuarteto Chroma’s interactive public performance at UVic’s Ideafest led the audience through several exercises that illustrated the complexities of this quartet’s journey of growth and learning. All four members of this quartet moved here from Mexico to earn their Master’s in Music Performance (with an emphasis on string quartet), under the mentorship of UVic’s artists-in-residence, the Lafayette String Quartet (LSQ).

Made up of Ilya Gotchev, Carlos Quijano, Felix Alanis and Manuel Cruz, Cuarteto Chroma are the first quartet to take part in this one-of-a-kind program in Canada, which is modelled on prestigious programs at universities in the United States. It provides a unique and hands-on learning opportunity for a quartet to earn a collaborative performance degree with guidance from members of a well-established and successful quartet — the LSQ.

LSQ violinist Ann Elliot-Goldschmid explains that this type of training is vital to the success of a quartet. “You hone your skills to be the best you can possibly be on your instrument, then bring those skills into the ensemble, matching the timing, harmony, vibrato, bow speeds and articulation of the others. It’s a magical process but it takes an enormous amount of work.”

The Watsons’ passion for music

Chroma’s interactive session at 2018’s IdeaFest

Cuarteto Chroma’s fellowships are funded by a bequest from the late Claire Watson Fisher, through the Victoria Foundation. Claire grew up in a music-loving family in Montreal. Her mother, Cecile, belonged to several musical organizations and her father, William Watson, was one of the founders of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

During World War I, Claire worked for the Canadian Red Cross in England and France, where she received several awards for her service. Her career in Fine Arts began after the war, when she worked for her father’s art gallery, then the Art Gallery of Ontario, and finally, the National Museums Department in Ottawa. After retiring, she and her husband moved to Victoria.

“Her love of music was a passion, and it inspired her to give back to the art form that had given her so much pleasure and joy”, says Louise (Watson) Slemin, Claire’s sister. “I only wish Claire had known the extent of her bequest.”

That extent of the gift is still being discovered by the university as it unlocks the potential of this new program.

“This funding brings a very high-level, prize-winning quartet to UVic, which elevates the learning and research in the whole music department” says Ann. “It’s inspiring for other students to be around this level of professionalism, in practice rooms, or alongside them in the orchestra.”

Cuarteto Chroma in action

Cuarteto Chroma brings benefits to the greater community, through playing at local schools, at benefit concerts, or at public events such as Ideafest. When they travel for concerts, festivals and competitions, they raise awareness of the calibre of UVic Music around the world. After witnessing the quartet’s significant improvement, Ann thinks they could have an even greater impact—at UVic and beyond—during their second year.

Unlocking potential

The opportunity to coach the four musicians has been a highlight in LSQ’s long residency here at UVic. “It’s a real joy. Like all teachers, our wish is to have our students eventually surpass us. We longed for UVic to develop something like this for many years and Claire Watson’s bequest gave us the opportunity. We’re hopeful we can continue to fund graduate quartets after the gift from this donor has been spent,” says Elliot-Goldschmid.

—Written by Sarah Tarnopolsky

Summer is the time to register for electives

Ever taken a course where you study — and play — video games? Or watch Pixar movies? What about the acting experience, public speaking, humour writing, art forgery, or the cultural impact of film music or the history of fashion & body modification?

From the cultural impact of Star Wars to the inside track on making it as a young adult writer, it’s tough to beat Fine Arts when it comes to cool electives. With over 100 electives open to all students on campus, we’ve got something that will boost your creative and critical thinking skills regardless of your faculty or major.

Each of our five departments offers an exciting range of electives designed to broaden your creative experience. From Music and Writing to Theatre, Visual Arts and Art History & Visual Studies, most of our courses are designed as hands-on experiential learning opportunities — like Vikes Band, where you play live game-day music, Magazine Production, where you conceive of and create your own magazine, or Photography & Video Art, where you put your skills to use behind the camera.

Other courses take a broad approach to cultural studies — like the Asian Identity in Popular Culture or Indigenous Peoples & Music — and look at shifts in society and artistic practice and production over hundreds of years.

Whatever your interest or program, Fine Arts has an elective that will enhance your degree — and your life.

 

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.

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.

Call for Artist-in-Residence Ocean Program

The Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, are sponsoring an Artist in Residence program. The concept strengthens connections between Art and Science to broaden and cross-fertilize perspectives and critical discourse on today’s major issues such as the environment, technology, oceans, cultural and biodiversity and healthy communities. This program is open to local, national and international applicants.

The Artist in Residence will interact with Fine Arts faculty members and scientists at Ocean Networks Canada as well as with other individuals using the world-leading ocean facilities to ignite cross-disciplinary exchanges. Open to artists working in any visual, written, musical or performance discipline, this residency is suitable for an early- or mid-career artist.

The Artist will learn from and engage with the current research, connecting it to the Artist’s own practice, and to wider societal and cultural aspects, creating a body of work to be presented at the end of the residency. The selected Artist will actively engage with researchers on a variety of ocean science themes, that may include:

The ONC Artist in Residence program is established to:

  • explore arts or alternative cultural practices’ potential in the area of the visions, challenges, philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical aspects of the ocean and the impacts humans have on it;
  • add a complementary artistic and creative perspective to ocean science, the societal ramifications of its exploitation, and its cultural aspects; and
  • help envision the potential long-term impact of ocean changes on humanity.

The residency period can start any time between May and December 2018 and last for up to eight months. A cost-of-living stipend of up to CAD $2000/month will be paid to the selected Artist. Following the residency, a public exhibit of the resulting art will be displayed, performed and promoted by ONC and the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Please note: the application period closes on 27 April 2018.

If interested, please send your application to corinnea@uvic.ca at Ocean Networks Canada with the subject line “Artist in Residence Ocean Program.” The application should include your CV, a concise portfolio of previous relevant artistic work, and a letter of motivation outlining your project proposal for the residency. Applications will be reviewed by representatives of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada, and artists may be contacted for an interview or to supply further information.

About Ocean Networks Canada: Established in 2007 as a major initiative of the University of Victoria, Ocean Networks Canada operates world-leading ocean observatories for the advancement of science and the benefit of Canada. The observatories collect data on physical, chemical, biological, and geological aspects of the ocean over long time periods, supporting research on complex Earth processes in ways not previously possible. The observatories provide unique scientific and technical capabilities that permit researchers to operate instruments remotely and receive data at their home laboratories anywhere on the globe in real time. These facilities extend and complement other research platforms and programs, whether currently operating or planned for future deployment.

About the Faculty of Fine Arts: With experiential learning at its core, Fine Arts provides the finest training and learning environment for artists, professionals, and students. Through our departments of Art History and Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing and School of Music, we aspire to lead in arts-based research and creative activity and education in local, national, and global contexts. We integrate and advance creation and scholarship in the arts in a dynamic learning environment. As British Columbia’s only Faculty exclusively dedicated to the arts, Fine Arts is an extraordinary setting that supports new discoveries, interdisciplinary and diverse contributions to creativity, and the cultural experiences of the students and communities we serve.

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!”