Harald Krebs is our newest Royal Society Fellow

Award-winning scholar, pianist, author and School of Music professor Harald Krebs can now add Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) to his many accomplishments. One of Canada’s best known music theorists, Krebs was announced as UVic’s newest RSC Fellow on September 7.

New Royal Society Fellow Harald Krebs (UVic Photo Services)

New Royal Society Fellow Harald Krebs (UVic Photo Services)

Election to the academies of the RSC is Canada’s highest academic honour and signals that the artist, scholar or scientist has made remarkable lifelong contributions to their field and to public life. And as an internationally recognized expert on musical meter and rhythm—especially in 19th-century German art song known as Lieder—Krebs certainly qualifies.

His work in music theory highlights under-researched and little-understood music of the 19th and early 20th centuries. “It’s a great pleasure for me to open people’s ears to unfamiliar music, and to aspects of familiar music that they had not previously considered,” he says.

Krebs’s publications on the life and music of the neglected 19th century German composer Josephine Lang, for example, have made her music more internationally known, and have inspired analytical work on the music of other female composers. His SSHRC-funded research on the metrically complex music of Robert Schumann culminated in the prize-winning monograph Fantasy Pieces, which has become one of the most influential books in the field.

His theory of meter has been applied to classical music of the 18th through 20th centuries, as well as to jazz, techno, and rock. “It has always been my concern to share my research internationally—via my writings, lectures, recordings, and editions—but also to share it with a local public,” he says. For 15 years, Krebs and his wife Sharon have offered “Lieder at Lunch” recitals at UVic, as well as connecting with the off-campus community through the UVic Speakers Bureau and VIHA’s entertainment programs.

At the core of Krebs’s work is his talent as a pianist. He was named a UVic Distinguished Professor in 2010, and received the Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Artistic Expression in 2014. Now the Head of Theory, Krebs joined the School of Music in 1986. In addition to his teaching practice, his academic career has seen the creation of two groundbreaking books, a steady stream of peer-reviewed articles and a remarkable series of collaborative performances fusing scholarship and musical practice.

A total of 71 UVic scholars, scientists and artists—including current, former and adjunct faculty members—are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada. Harald Krebs is the sixth Fine Arts faculty member to be inducted into the RSC, including Fellows Mary Kerr (Theatre), Joan MacLeod (Writing) and Tim Lilburn (Writing), as well as RSC College member Dániel Péter Biró (Music) and RSC Medal winner Jack Hodgins (Writing, retired).

Celebrating 50 years of great theatre

This fall, UVic’s Department of Theatre will celebrate 50 years of creating great theatre—and great artists. Along they way, the Phoenix has also created some incredible moments on their stages. Generations of students (literally, they have several second-generation students from alumni families!) have become successes in the world of theatre, or wherever life has taken them.

Season-Brochure-coverThis year, UVic Theatre is celebrating not only their history but also their alumni, knowing full well these students—past and present—are what truly make the Phoenix such a special place . . . a place where young people become artists, and friendships are formed that last a lifetime. Whether alumni or treasured audience members, we  look forward to celebrating with everyone who has been touched by the Phoenix over the past five decades.

To mark its 50th anniversary, the Phoenix Theatre has expanded its usual fall “Spotlight on Alumni” into a three-week 50th Anniversary Alumni Festival. Internationally acclaimed artists and alumni have been invited to present five different shows during the festival, running from October 11-29.

Self-proclaimed “professional geek” Charles Ross — best known for his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy — will present all of his one-man nerd trilogies: One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, One-Man Lord of the Rings, and his newest, Dark Knight: A Batman Parody. These pop-culture hits have taken this alumnus around the world, from New York to London and Dubai to Glastonbury, including stops in Singapore, New Zealand, and even Lucasfilm’s Star Wars conventions!

50thProlific writer, performer, director, dramaturg and international Fringe icon, TJ Dawe will remount his play The Slipknot, which was performed as the very first “Spotlight” presentation in 2003. Dawe regularly performs his 14 autobiographical solo shows around the world. His play Toothpaste & Cigars (written with theatre alumnus Mike Rinaldi) inspired the Daniel Radcliffe movie The F Word. In The Slipknot, Dawe performs a spellbinding comic monologue about three equally lousy jobs—from stock boy, to driver, to post office customer service. In turns hysterical and heartbreaking, frantic and thoughtful, The Slipknot offers wise observations on relationships, Santa Claus, recreational Gravol, and why you should never put meat in the mail.

Cirque du Soleil clown and co-comedic director of Zumanity in Las Vegas, Shannan Calcutt returns for the festival with her hilarious solo show, Burnt Tongue. Calcutt, who is also a writer, actor and instructor, is best known as Izzy, the charming and radiant clown with a keen sense of timing and a razor sharp wit. In Burnt Tongue, Izzy has met a man on the internet and decides this is the guy for her! She arrives for their blind date wearing a wedding dress insisting she’s just “totally prepared to be spontaneous.”

This is all in addition to the Phoenix’s 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season, featuring Department of Theatre students, which begins in November with Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the Christopher Hampton play that was adapted into the Oscar-winning film, here directed by professor Fran Gebhard. In February, MFA candidate Alix Reynolds will direct Gut Girls by Sarah Daniels. With sharp dialogue and dazzling humour, Gut Girls is set in the Victorian era against the backdrop of women’s struggle for emancipation. The season closes with Nikolay Gogol’s The Inspector. Directed and adapted by professor Linda Hardy, this 19th-century Russian satire about greed, hypocrisy and corruption is no less relevant in today’s political landscape.

50thSite-screen-wwwThe Department of Theatre is also inviting all of its graduates to come back to campus for the 50th Anniversary Alumni Reunion, happening over the November 11-13 long weekend. The Phoenix will host three days of events for alumni to reminisce with old friends, and department faculty and staff.  “It will be an exciting weekend,” says Department Chair Allana Lindgren. “There are already hundreds of alumni interesting in coming—and bringing their families with them. The Department is looking forward to reconnecting and hearing what everyone has been up to in their lives and their careers.”

Phoenix alumni can learn more about these events on a special 50th Anniversary website the department has created. As well as the reunion weekend and Alumni Festival, the anniversary website also features a complete history of the Phoenix Theatre presented through a fun interactive timeline of the department’s growth, the plays they have produced, their faculty and when they worked, as well as many successful alumni and when they graduated. Alumni can send in their own biographies to be posted or share stories and photos from the past.

Vic-Fair-69Generations of Phoenix alumni have become successful artists, working across the world and playing important roles in Canada’s cultural institutions, including Michael Whitfield, Resident Lighting Designer for 35 years at the Stratford Festival; Denis Garnhum, most recently the Artist Director of Calgary Theatre and soon to be at The Grand Theatre in London ON; and Nathan Medd, the Managing Director of English Theatre at National Arts Centre. Many other alumni have created their own theatre companies that have become part of Canada’s cultural landscape, including Britt Small and Jacob Richmond of Atomic Vaudeville and the Broadway-bound hit Ride the Cyclone; Peter Balkwill of Calgary’s Old Trout Puppet Workshop; Ingrid Hansen and Kathleen Greenfield of the now Toronto-based SNAFU Dance Theatre; national three-time Canadian Comedy Award winners and CBC comedy writers Chris Wilson and Peter Carlone of Peter N’ Chris; and Kate Braidwood of Portland’s Wonderheads, to name but a few.

Here in Victoria, our faculty and alumni have been a driving part of the theatre community for the past 50 years, beginning in the early days with the Campus Players, Company One, and the adventurous city-wide fine arts festival, Victoria Fair (1969-71). Our alumni have founded enduring Victoria theatre companies like Theatre Inconnu (1978), Story Theatre (1981), the Victoria Fringe Festival and Intrepid Theatre (1986), the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival (1991), Theatre SKAM (1995), and, more recently, workingclasstheatre (2009) and Impulse Theatre (2011). The Department of Theatre is proud of the legacy these alumni have created for our community.

The Department of Theatre is also in the process of planning many other activities during the year, including an exhibition of Phoenix play posters at the UVic Archives, a human library event and historical displays. Stay tuned for more details!

Cedric Bomford wins $15,000 Canada Council award

Congratulations go out to Visual Arts professor Cedric Bomford, who was announced on July 12 as the visual arts winner of the $15,000 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award.

Cedric Bomford (photo by Maneul Wagner)

Cedric Bomford (photo by Maneul Wagner)

Presented annually by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Awards are awarded for outstanding artistic achievement by Canadian mid-career artists in the disciplines of dance, inter-arts, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts, and writing and publishing.

“I’m extremely pleased on behalf of the Visual Arts department to congratulate our colleague Cedric Bomford on having his research recognized with this national award,” says Visual Arts chair Paul Walde. “Over the past year, Cedric has proven to be a tremendous asset to both the department and the UVic community and we are delighted to have him with us. He has a number of high profile research creation projects underway which will no doubt bring further accolades and recognition in the months and years to come.”

Bomford, who joined the Visual Arts department in September 2015, has seen his installation and photographic work exhibited internationally and has participated in residencies in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. His work often focuses on the power dynamics established by constructed spaces and takes the form of large-scale rambling ad hoc architectural installations.

The projects follow a methodology he calls “thinking through building” in which construction takes on an emergent quality rather than an illustrative one. Concurrent to this installation work is a rigorous photographic practice that operates at times in parallel with and at others tangentially to the installation works.

Deadhead-homepage-revisedWhile the majority of his projects are solo efforts, Bomford often works collaboratively with a number of different partners including his brother Nathan, and father Jim. He has also worked with other artists, including Verena Kaminiarz, Mark Dudiak and Carl Boutard. Recent projects include Deadhead, a production of Other Sights for Artists’ Projects in Vancouver and Substation Pavilion a public art commission in Vancouver, BC. Upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at the Esker Foundation in Calgary, Alberta and a public art commission in Seattle, Washington.

TC_BomfordThis fall, the work of the Bomfords will be featured in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria group exhibit It’s in the making, running from October 2016 to January 2017. The same exhibit will also present a site-specific work by Nicholas Galanin, the 2012 Audain Professor in Contemporary Arts of the Pacific Northwest with the Department of Visual Arts, along with three other artists.

Earlier this month, the the Bomford’s intricate, interactive truck-mounted sculptural installation “Deadhead Redux” was featured as a one-day-only installation on the lawn of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Dr Susan Lewis becomes the new Dean of Fine Arts

We are proud to announce that Dr. Susan Lewis has been selected as the new Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts for a five-year term beginning July 1, 2016. She will be the ninth Dean since Fine Arts became a faculty in 1969, and has already been serving as Acting Dean for the 2015/16 academic year.

New Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Susan Lewis

New Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Susan Lewis

“I know the Faculty will continue to benefit from her leadership and I am sure will join me in congratulating Dr. Lewis,” says Dr. Valerie S. Kuehne, UVic’s Vice-President Academic and Provost.

Prior to stepping into the role of Acting Dean, Dr. Lewis was the Director of the School of Music, and the School’s Acting Director in 2010 and 2012; she originally joined the School as an Assistant Professor in 2001. She holds a PhD in Musicology from Princeton University, a Master of Fine Arts (Princeton), Master of Music (University of Arizona), and Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from Queen’s University. Her international experience includes a year of study at the University of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh, and active research networks that span North America and Europe.

“I was honoured to be appointed to the role of Acting Dean and to work together on key priorities of enhancing student success, highlighting research and creative activity, and building community this past year,” says Lewis.

“I had the privilege of learning more about the excellence that’s happening in every department and school, and the topics and methods of the Faculty’s research and creative practice — whether informally at monthly Fine Arts cafes, at research networking events, in individual and group meetings, and by attending productions, concerts, readings, and exhibits. What an amazing group of talented artists, practitioners, and scholars we have.”

One of the highlights of her term as Acting Dean was connecting with students, faculty, and staff, as well as advocating for Fine Arts across campus and in the greater community. With a distinguished record of achievement as a researcher, teacher and administrator, Lewis has a successful track record of arts advocacy, leadership, and support with a strong emphasis on student success, teaching excellence, creative activity, experiential learning, and research-inspired teaching.

Dr Lewis presiding at Fine Arts convocation in June 2016, with double-medal winner Kelsey Wheatley

Dr Lewis presiding at Fine Arts convocation in June 2016, with double-medal winner Kelsey Wheatley

Her extensive experience serving on a number of regional, national, and international organizations — including the American Musicological Society, Canadian University Music Society, Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, the Canadian Association of Fine Arts Deans, and Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences — will benefit the Faculty in the years to come.

Looking ahead to her five-year term as Dean, Lewis finds strength in our history. “With Fine Arts being one of only a few freestanding faculties in the country whose focus is entirely devoted to performance, arts scholarship, and creative expression, this gives us an edge as we look to enhance synergies across the faculty, campus and into the community.”

Already a very familiar face in classrooms, meetings and at events across campus, Lewis expects a smooth transition to her new role.

“Since I joined the Faculty in 2001, I’ve found deep satisfaction in my work with students, instructors, and staff, in my own creative engagement as a scholar of music and performance practice, and in my service as Director of the School of Music and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. I am deeply invested in the UVic community and delighted to begin my term as Dean of Fine Arts.”

The entire Faculty of Fine Arts formally welcomes Dr. Lewis to her new role, and looks forward to working together in the coming years.

Double-medal winning grad Kelsey Wheatley offers an inspiring example

Kelsey with Dr Susan Lewis, Dean of Fine Arts (UVic Photo Services)

Kelsey with Dr Susan Lewis, Dean of Fine Arts
(UVic Photo Services)

Each year, the Victoria Medal is awarded to the student with the highest GPA in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Similarly, the Governor General’s Silver Medal is awarded annually to UVic’s top undergraduate student—but it’s a rare day indeed when both awards are given out to the same student.

But such was the case this year when School of Music undergraduate Kelsey Wheatley was presented with both medals as part of the Fine Arts convocation on June 18. An exceptional student by any measure, Wheatley is a vocal performance major who didn’t let her dedication to her studies get in the way of being actively involved in the arts in the community—notably with Pacific Opera Victoria, where her appearance as the Ravenswood Ghost in their 2015 production of Lucia di Lammermoor earned ovations from audiences, classmates and professors alike.

“Kelsey has been the kind of student teachers wish for—not just in her talent and work ethic, but also in her perseverance and her hunger to improve,” notes music performance instructor Anne Grimm. “She has not only been a very keen and motivated student in voice but has shown achievement overall in all her courses. I’m thrilled for her that she receives these awards and am sure that she will use them to her advantage and be inspired by it.”

Described by Grimm as a “hardworking, eager student who doesn’t shy away from the typical challenges that studying voice and music present,” Wheatley also stood out for both her vocal and musical instinct and stage presence. An engaging performer, her instructors also noted that she has “perseverance, strength, determination, a consistent work ethic and a real love for singing”— all of which are crucial to make it in the competitive music world.

Originally from Prince George, Wheatley was a transfer student who came to the School of Music via the two-year integrated music program at Camosun College and Victoria Conservatory of Music, as she specifically wanted to study with UVic vocal instructors Anne Grimm and Benjamin Butterfield. “The vocal performance program had many performing opportunities like the concerto competition, so it was an easy decision having everything I wanted in a program,” she says. “I also felt inspired being on campus, with the natural surroundings and the positive energy of the students.”

Kelsey Wheatley as the Ravenswood Ghost in POV's Lucia di Lammermoor (photo by David Cooper)

Kelsey Wheatley as the Ravenswood Ghost in POV’s Lucia di Lammermoor
(photo by David Cooper)

On top of music theory professor Harald Krebs (“he was an example of how a teacher’s passion for a subject can impact his students and inspire them to achieve more than they thought they could”), Wheatley singles out Anne Grimm as being particularly influential. “She taught me to have patience in my developing craft, yet to never stop putting in the hard, detail-oriented work that needs to be done in order to be the best I could be. She never stopped believing in me even when I had my own doubts.”

Wheatley also valued the “priceless” hands-on experience and career boost that came with getting out of the classroom and into Victoria’s arts community. “Working for Pacific Opera Victoria as a part of the chorus helped me to fully grasp what kind of career I was getting into,” she says. “I absolutely adored being involved in POV’s productions, which proved to fuel the fire of my studies because I wanted to be as successful as the professionals I was working so close to.”

Other highlights of her academic work include the opportunity to direct a small children’s choir at First Metropolitan United Church (“I learned as much from the children as they did from me . . . watching them practice, and present vocal pieces was truly rewarding”) and winning the annual School of Music Concerto Competition.

As for achieving an outstanding 9.0 GPA, Wheatley says it was due to “doing my best not to procrastinate, planning my days and setting deadlines for goals. I also achieved it by completely loving the process and being passionate about what I do.”

Double medal winner Kelsey Wheatley

Double medal winner Kelsey Wheatley

When asked what makes the difference between a good student and a great student, Wheatley says it’s all about vision. “A great student finds a way to connect what they are studying in the present to where they are heading in the future,” she says. “They get involved in their classes and keep an open line of communication with their classmates and with their professors.” On a practical level, she suggests studying with others and creating games out of study materials.

And is there a secret to becoming UVic’s top undergraduate student? “I really don’t think so . . . I had the pleasure of working with so many wonderfully talented and hardworking students during my time at Uvic. It truly could have been any one of us.  I just happened to completely adore the courses I took, along with the amazing professors who taught them, so much so that the hard work didn’t seem like hard work. I just do what I do and never stop trying to be better. It sounds cliché, but it’s the truth.”

Future plans include taking a year off to hone her craft, find “a balance in life without the pressures of school,” and apply for emerging artist programs and graduate programs for 2017. “The best part of graduation is having the freedom to go anywhere and do anything,” she says.

Finally, if she could offer one piece of advice to future students, what would it be? “That thing that you love in your life, that you can’t live without? No matter what it is, as long as you live, love and breathe it, you can’t go wrong.”

Visual Arts alumna Jody DeSchutter creates a fresh perspective

Jody DeSchutter

Jody DeSchutter working on her Centennial Square panels in fall 2015

DeSchutter comparing fabric swatches before painting the patterns onto her mural panel (photo: Leya Anderson)

DeSchutter shows off her in-process panel, with the fabric patterns and stylized tree design visible

DeSchutter’s installed panel in the parkade stairwell, visible on the third floor

DeSchutter (second from right) at the mural blessing ceremony, seen with mentor artists (from left) Beth Threlfall, Joanne Thomson, Jennifer Johnson and Victoria mayor Lisa Helps

A panoramic shot of DeSchutter’s panel, visible with the Garry oak tree that helped inspired the design

A close-up of DeSchutter’s Fernwood mural, painted to address problem graffiti in the neighbourhood

A “before” shot of the Fernwood wall

An “after” shot of the same wall, now with mural

An example of DeSchutter’s work in the 2015 BFA show

All too often, art is perceived as only being seen in galleries, when in fact just the opposite is true: art is all around us, all the time. That’s one of the points of two new Victoria mural projects involving Visual Arts alumna Jody DeSchutter.

The first project—a four-panel project titled “Infusing Spirits” now installed at downtown’s Centennial Square parkade—saw DeSchutter and two other young artists working with three professional artists as mentors. But in the second—a long line of fencing that was a graffiti hot-spot on Fernwood’s Gladstone Avenue—the roles were switched, with DeSchutter becoming mentor to a group of teenage artists. Involvement with this kind of  community engagement is typical of UVic students, faculty and alumni, and shows the impact our creative efforts can have on the city.

The impact of public art “can be huge,” says DeSchutter, who was also involved with a public art installation in her BC hometown of Lake Country last year. “Public art is a way of engaging people with where they are physically—especially when everyone is so involved with the cyberspace world. When you see something beautiful on the wall, it makes you stop and think about your surroundings more. It takes you out of your head.”

DeSchutter, who graduated with a BFA in 2015, seeks to marry a sense of tradition and modernity in her painted works, mixing abstraction with academic realism. “I was really partial to painting and sculpture in university,” she says, noting that the murals aren’t “necessarily representative of a large body of my work, but it’s becoming a part of my overall practice.”

Her panel in the downtown parkade mural—one of four acrylic-on-birch wood panels encompassing four views of Victoria (parks, city, harbour and skyline)—uses a patchwork fabric motif intermingled with stylized branches of a Garry Oak to represent the weaving of history and multiculturalism, as well depict the project’s theme of “infusing spirits.” DeSchutter is pleased that it’s one of three permanent pieces aimed at enhancing the downtown parkades. (One of the other projects at the Yates Street parkade is designed by fellow Fine Arts alumnus Scott Amos, while the other will feature work by acclaimed Susan Point, whose work is on view as part of the Coast Salish collection in UVic’s Cornett Building.)

“It makes for an interesting marker in all of our careers as individual artists, but also as a point in time for us—where we were at that particular moment—and to see how perception changes around it in the years to come,” says DeSchutter. “It was a good opportunity for artistic dialogue too, mixing the First Nations voice with our more contemporary styles. It’s looking forward in the hope that the dialogue continues.”

City of Victoria arts and culture co-ordinator Nicola Reddington spoke to the local Times Colonist newspaper about the $10,000 mural project. “I think when we put value into the parkades, it makes them feel safer. By beautifying, it just makes them more welcoming and inviting for people.”

When asked about switching roles and becoming mentor on the Gladstone Avenue location of Victoria’s Create Community Colour Mural Program, DeSchutter says she was glad of the experience gained while working on the downtown mural. “I took a lot of what I learned on the downtown project and applied it to this one. It was amazing to see how much work you actually have to put in as a mentor.”

DeSchutter, now moving to England, credits her Visual Arts degree with giving her the practical and conceptual ability to create public projects like these. “The sharing of ideas—both good and bad—was one of the most helpful parts of my education,” she says. “It can be scary to put your ideas out there, but it gets you out of the habit of being the typically reclusive artist. Being part of a community of artists in the faculty, learning that collaborative practice, was fantastic.”