For their final concert of the semester, the University Symphony Orchestra performed several fantastic pieces. However, one piece that really stood out was Morphotropolis, composed specifically for the USO by Greg Mulyk.
Currently completing a Master’s degree in composition at the University of Alberta, Greg has already established himself as an innovative and talented new composer. Just last year Greg received the SOCAN Foundation’s Best Animated Film Score award for his work scoring the short film, Sophia.
Greg loves working on projects that help him grow as a composer. When USO conductor, Petar Dundjerski, began looking for a student composer to showcase, Greg immediately accepted the challenge.
Prior to this opportunity, Greg mainly composed for small chamber music ensembles and solo piano. Therefore, working with a group as large as the USO was challenging, but definitely rewarding. Because Greg is actively pursuing a career in film and videogame scoring, learning how to compose for an orchestra was an extremely valuable and applicable experience.
Create something from nothing can be an incredibly daunting task, especially you are creating an intense orchestral score. However, Greg approached this major project in the same way he would tackle any new composition: with the piano. Regardless of the project, Greg always begins by allowing himself time to improvise with the piano to help kick-start his creativity.
Greg titled his piece Morphotropolis because it’s a combination of metamorphosis and metropolis, which were words he found inspirational throughout the creation process. While composing this piece, Greg was inspired by a fictional scene of an airplane flying above a bustling and evolving city scape. He often approached the project as though he was creating a film score for this imagined urban space.
Greg feels having the time for improvisation is necessary for creating a unique sound. According to Greg, it’s exciting to draw inspiration from composers you admire, but nothing compares to what you can create from experimenting and pushing the limits of your creativity.
Greg would like to express a huge thank you Petar Dundjerski and the USO for all the time and energy they dedicated to bringing Morphotropolis to life. He couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with.
Here’s a sample of the film score composed by Greg for the short film, Sophia. This particular sound clip is from the film’s opening sequence.
Once a year, the U of A’s Department of Music invites a world renowned musician or ensemble to perform at the Kilburn Memorial Concert.
This concert series, which exists thanks to the generous donations made by the Kilburn family, aims to provide students and the community with access to inspirational performances given by extremely accomplished musicians.
The featured guest for this year’s concert, travelling all the way from London, England, is the Choir of Royal Holloway!
Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff, a music professor at the U of A and active member of the Edmonton choral community, has described this vocal ensemble as “one of the finest university mixed choirs in the world!”
To learn more about this impressive choral group, we interviewed two members from the Choir of Royal Holloway; Emily Chapman (soprano) and Chloe Wedlake (alto).
Emily is in her second year of a music degree at the University of London, while Chloe started her first year at the University of London in September. Both have been members of The Choir of Royal Holloway since beginning their studies.
How do you balance being a student and being part of such a prominent choral group?
Emily Chapman: “As I major in Music, taking part in the choir really compliments my academic studies and has enriched my musical and academic life at university. It is a busy schedule, but the choir and my degree are both so rewarding that it never feels like too much work!”
Chloe Wedlake: “It is a big commitment, but it does compliment my degree in areas, especially performance. It’s important to stay up to date with work throughout the academic year because, whilst the choir enables us to prioritize our academia, there are still choir engagements throughout exam periods.”
What has it been like preparing for an international tour?
Emily: “Preparing for this tour has been a year-long project, as it is the absolute highlight of our calendar this year. The weekly lunchtime concerts at our university have been an excellent platform to practice some of our tour repertoire in a professional concert setting.”
Chloe: “It has been very exciting! It’s fun to think that when we eventually perform the pieces we’ve been working on, we will be abroad.”
Are there any tour stops you’re especially excited about?
Emily: “We are in Canada for one week, performing in Edmonton, Victoria and Vancouver, before flying to Texas for further concerts in San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. I have personally never been to Canada or Texas, so I am very excited to explore all of the locations in between concerts!”
Chloe: “I’m particularly excited to visit Edmonton and Houston. We will be going from temperatures of around -9 to +30, so that variation is definitely something to look forward to!”
What has been the most challenging aspect of preparing for this tour?
Emily: “The theme for the tour concert programme is ‘Around the world in 80 minutes.’ This means the choir will be singing in several different languages including German, Estonian, Russian and Finnish. These are languages some of us have never sung in before, so we’ve been working really hard to make sure that all the pronunciations are authentic.”
Chloe: “The most challenging part about the tour has actually been the wait! I’ve never been to Texas or Canada, and when you you’ve got something so exciting to look forward to, time feels like it goes by very slowly!”
What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?
Emily: “Along with my music degree I am also training as an opera singer and outside of music I am an avid skier!”
Chloe: “I am actually a principle study flautist, and as part of my degree I am preparing for a solo flute recital. I also enjoy swimming, walking and spending time with friends and family.”
We are only a few days away from this year’s Kilburn Concert, which will take place on April 8th at the Winspear Centre.
You can purchase your tickets either online or at the door the day of the concert (cash only).
Thanks to the generous donations made by the Nicholas Arthur Kilburn Concert Series, the U of A Department of Music has had the opportunity to host numerous, world-renowned artists for the past 37 years. The reason behind the original donation in 1981 was to provide students and the community with inspirational performances every year.
Our featured guest for the 2017/2018 Kilburn Concert, coming up on April 8th, is the Choir of Royal Holloway! This fantastic choir, visiting all the way from London, England, will be performing music selections from around the world. They will also be joined by one of our own vocal groups, the Madrigal Singers, for a few pieces.
With the Kilburn Memorial Concert just around the corner we thought it would be fun to revisit some faculty members’ favourite Kilburn memories!
Dr. William Street
Dr. Street is currently the Department of Music Chair and has enjoyed many Kilburn Concerts since he began teaching at the U of A.
However, one concert Dr. Street has a personal connection to, was Maureen Forrester’s performance during his first year as a professor.
While still in university, Dr. Street had the opportunity to see Maureen Forrester perform, which was an experience he believes positively influenced him as a musician. Dr. Street feels there was something so significant about a musician who impacted him so greatly being the Kilburn artist the same year he became a professor at the U of A.
Dr. Street also shared the unique connection between the U of A and past Kilburn artist, Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy. Not only did Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy give a spectacular performance at the 2014/2015 Kilburn Concert, he also helped Dr. Street and Dr. Després pick out the Department’s new Steinway piano!
Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy will be returning in May to perform Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at the inaugural concert for our new piano; along with performances from Dr. Després and Dr. Tao.
Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff
Dr. Ratzlaff is currently the director of the Richard Eaton Singers, as well as the director and conductor of the U of A Madrigal Singers.
As an active member of the choral community, it was Dr. Ratzlaff who suggested the Choir of Royal Holloway as this year’s guest. In Dr. Ratzlaff’s opinion, the Choir of Royal Holloway is possibly one of the best university choral groups you will ever see perform. They currently have several outstanding recordings featuring unique, contemporary repertoire.
One Kilburn memory that really sticks out for Dr. Ratzlaff was Phillip Addis’ performance of Schubert’s challenging work – The Winter’s Journey. This performance was supposed to be given by Canadian baritone, Russel Braun. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, Russel Braun was forced to cancel and Phillip Addis graciously stepped in with only a few days to prepare.
Although Dr. Ratzlaff was disappointed Russel Braun would be unable to perform, he is still impressed with how Phillip Addis was able to prepare this challenging repertoire in such a short period of time!
Dr. Jacques Després
Dr. Després has enjoyed many Kilburn concerts since starting at the University of Alberta in 2000.
One Kilburn Concert guest whose visit Dr. Després found especially exciting was pianist, Charles Richard-Hamelin. Not only was Charles Richard-Hamelin one of the youngest artists to perform in the Kilburn Concert Series, he’s also the only Canadian pianist to place second in the International Chopin Piano Competition.
Dr. Després first heard Charles’ performance at the Chopin Competition thanks to the magic of YouTube and immediately knew he would be an exceptional artist to feature in our Kilburn Memorial Concert Series. It was Dr. Després who suggested Charles Richard-Hamelin as last year’s guest artist.
We hope you are able to join us on April 8th at the Winspear Centre for the 2017/2018 Kilburn Concert! You can learn more about this concert, as well as purchase tickets over on our showpage:
The following is a brief history of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, directed by Mitchell Cushman (2018 Mary Mooney Distinguished Artist), running March 29 – April 7, 2018, in the Timms Centre for the Arts. These notes were prepared by dramaturg and MA Drama candidate, Max Rubin.
Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford. ~Samuel Johnson, 1777
From a certain point of view, Johnson had a point.
At this time, London was a powerhouse of technological innovation, cultural achievement and outrageous prosperity: the central point and symbol of an empire upon which the sun never set.
However, a large proportion of this wealth was held by a small percentage of the population. Alongside London’s great theatres and public buildings, the effects of poverty were all too visible. Overcrowding, rising rents and a scarcity of work in the capital led to a great rise in homelessness, alcoholism, prostitution and the spread of slums rife with crime and suffering.
London labour and the London poor; a cyclopædia of the condition and earnings of those that will work, those that cannot work, and those that will not work (by Henry Mayhew and William Tuckniss)
Sheridan wrote The School for Scandal about a society in which there was a sharp and intractable divide between rich and poor.
The previous century saw rapid social change. The daring and explicit Comedies of Manners of the permissive early Restoration period were supplanted by overwhelmingly sentimental productions which shied away from social commentary.
By the time George III was crowned in 1761, royal patronage for the theatre had ended and the London stage was thick with saccharine, entirely commercial productions such as Edward Moore’s The Foundling or Richard Steele’s The Conscious Lovers. Commonly, these plays involved virtuous characters overcoming various moral trials – commendable perhaps, but highly forgettable.
Theatre playbill (1799).
The School For Scandal represents an attempt by Sheridan to reinvigorate the genre and reclaim the satiric bite of earlier writers such as William Wycherley, whose anti-puritanical The Country Wife had so scandalized audiences in 1675.
The features of these Comedies of Manners are scrupulously recreated in The School for Scandal. Characters are archetypal – often defined by their name (Snake, Sneerwell, etc.). Plot is secondary to dialogue which is complex, witty and elegantly brutal.
Sheridan aims his sights squarely at the privileged classes. He describes a group of people who feast on gossip and rumour, but live in terror of exposure. Scandal-mongering is an addictive drug – providing diversion from the world’s harsher realities, but so pervasive and destructive that society is rotted from the top down. Particular targets are elderly husbands, the foolishly naïve and, of course, the falsely sentimental.
Although it received an enthusiastic reception and remains a staple of the repertoire, modern audiences have struggled to reconcile the play’s joyous, gleeful irreverence with a distinct aftertaste of anti-semitism. While Sheridan is careful to describe Moses, the money-lender, as an honest Jew, it is equally clear that this is intended as an exception to the usual rule. Some directors have responded by removing all references to his Jewishness from their productions, others have embraced the play’s difficulties to draw parallels with their own communities.
One thing is certain: the play has provided an eloquent vehicle for generations of theatre artists to satirize and celebrate their times. Pshaw!
Odd’s life, nephew, allow others to know something too! – Mr. Crabtree
The world that Richard Brinsley Sheridan offers us in The School for Scandal is one of competitive misinformation—a society made up of intrigue-hungry narcissists, frantic to tear one another down in order to momentarily numb the monotony of their existence.
Sheridan’s real achievement, however, was to craft a comedy that would so indelibly stand the test of time. Once one is able to weed-whack through the overgrowth of exposition in the play’s first scene, the script’s taught social situations and cutting one-liners emerge as genuinely juicy.
BFA Acting student and School for Scandal cast member Billy Boyd examines the flow chart mapping out the intricate relationships and social standings between the characters.
It’s rare, I think, to find a comedy in the classical theatre canon in which the comedy genuinely lands, not as an intellectual exercise, but as searing topical satire. And that’s because—unlike ladies’ fans and folding screens—narcissism, gossip and small acts of social cruelty have never gone out of fashion.
The BFA Actors rehearse a scene from The School for Scandal. Pictured seated are designers Lee Livingstone (lighting) and Robert Shannon (sets, costumes, props).
Sneerwell, Candour, Backbite and Crabtree sling the mud that they do because they are desperate to attract followers. Just imagine if they were able to employ hashtags, memes and Google analytics in their quest to trend. Thanks to the expediency and anonymity provided by social media, it is chilling just how easy it has become for us to malign and dehumanize one another, without ever having to look one’s victim in the face.
And so with that in mind, we offer you a School for Scandal as envisioned by Generation Z; a production set in 18th century period, but as performed by the graduating class of a fictitious private high school in 2018—The Ariel Winslow Academy for the Arts.
On the subject of school, getting to work with this exceptional group of theatre students has been a true privilege, and something of a homecoming for me. I had the benefit of receiving my MFA in Directing from the U of A back in 2011. It is an honour to have been invited back, and to continue to engage with one of the leading and most vital drama departments in the country.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
A graduate of the University of Alberta MFA Directing program (Class of 2011), Mitchell Cushman is the 2018 Mary Mooney Distinguished Visiting Artist. He is the Founding Artistic Director of Outside the March, and is the recipient of the Siminovitch Protégé Award, Two Dora Awards for Best Production, and the Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best Director.
This Friday and Saturday (March 23rd and 24th), Opera Workshop will be presenting their production of Chabrier’s opera, L’étoile. This opera follows princess Lauola on her journey of marriage to the King of a neighboring country. However, complications arise when the princess meets Lazuli, a young peddler.
Heeyun, who plays Princess Lauola in Saturday’s performance, is in her third year of a Bachelor’s Degree in vocal performance at the University of Alberta.
This is Heeyun’s second year participating in Opera Workshop and feels the experience has been incredibly rewarding. She’s extremely grateful for the opportunity to receive direction and advice from such a talented group of women.
Heeyun’s portrayal of Lauola is largely inspired by Hope, a lead role from the musical Urinetown. Because Hope is young, naïve and privileged, Heeyun saw a lot of similarities between Hope and how she wanted to portray Lauola.
Not only does Heeyun love being involved in opera productions, she also enjoys operatic performances. Currently, her favourite opera is Don Giovanni, although she found it difficult to choose only one.
Heeyun spends most of her time studying, but she does enjoy the occasional brain break to watch some of her favourite TV shows, including Bob’s Burgers and The Office.
Dacia is in her third year of Bachelor’s Degree in vocal performance and has participated in Opera Workshop since her first year in university. In Friday’s production of L’étoile, Dacia will be playing Lazuli, the peddler.
For Dacia, one of the more challenging aspects of being involved in a production like L’étoile, was the amount of memorization. To overcome this challenge, she invented prompts to help her remember her lines while performing.
Dacia’s favourite aspect of Opera Workshop is the artistic freedom she’s allowed to exhibit while understanding and developing a character.
Along with being a hardworking student, Dacia is also a member of the U of A Track and Field Team. This commitment usually takes up most of Dacia’s free time. However, they are currently in their off season so she’s excited to have more time to focus on music.
Jezebele is the director for this weekend’s Opera Workshop production.
This is her first time working with Opera Workshop and at the U of A, as she only moved to Edmonton last year. She is originally from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and completed her post-secondary education at the American Academy of Dramatics in New York City.
However, Jezebele’s focus has not always been on opera or directing. From a young age she was heavily involved in the musical theatre community as an actor. She also worked as a professional dancer before becoming interested in opera about 4 years ago. Jezebele made her first directing debut in Pittsburg at the age of 17.
As a director, Jezebele often draws inspiration from the late William Ball, who focused on unique, hands-off, exploratory theatre. However, for this production of L’étoile she felt particularly inspired by the dramatic flair of 1950’s entertainment, such as Soap Operas.
Jezebele loved the opportunity to work with the Opera Workshop students and show them how much fun a production can be.
Quirky and imaginative, this Opera Workshop production will definitely be an entertaining and enjoyable evening of vocal performance.
On March 9th the Department of Music is offering a unique opportunity to hear original pieces composed by University of Alberta faculty members. Dr. Howard Bashaw, Dr. Mark Hannesson, Dr. Scott Smallwood and Dr. Andriy Talpash have all contributed works to this concert. All four professors are both active teachers and composers in the Department of Music.
This concert will feature a little bit of everything, from pieces created for a small ensemble, to electroacoustic pieces and field recordings.
Here’s an inside look at the inspiration behind some of these original compositions.
Dr. Howard Bashaw
For this concert, Guillaume Tardif (violin) and Roger Admiral (piano) will be performing Dr. Bashaw’s piece, The World Premiere of 12 for Violin and Piano.
This piece is comprised of 12 contrasting movements with varying sources of inspiration. Dr. Bashaw collects bits of inspiration wherever he goes and saves them until the right opportunity arises. However, the main sources of inspiration for all 12 movements were the performing musicians.
Having worked with Dr. Tardif and Dr. Admiral on several occasions, Dr. Bashaw was inspired by their outstanding musical talent. Therefore, he set out to compose a piece that would both challenge and inspire these accomplished performers.
Here’s a sample of Dr. Bashaw’s composition, Checkered Present from his album 15 for Piano, which is also performed by Dr. Roger Admiral.
Dr. Mark Hannesson
Dr. Hannesson’s composition in this concert is titled “Undeclared” which he will perform himself, using a combination of electronics and whistling. This composition was premiered in 2016 by Dutch musician and composer, Antoine Beuger, at the Kunstmuseum Villa Zanders in Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany.
Following a drone attacked in Pakistan during 2006, which stuck a masadra and killed 80-82 civilians, including 68-70 children. Dr. Hannesson plays one note for every child killed in this attack.
Dr. Hannesson was kind enough to provide us with a sample from one of his self-composed CD’s titled Angels.
Dr. Scott Smallwood
Dr. Smallwood’s piece for Friday’s concert, titled Where the Bull Dozes, is electroacoustic and mainly comprised of his own field recordings. Where the Bull Dozes is dedicated to the late composer, Pauline Oliveros, who Dr. Smallwood considered to be an excellent mentor and constant source of inspiration. This piece was originally composed for World Listening Day: an annual event encouraging people to listen to the sounds around them.
The inspiration for this piece comes from Wood Buffalo National Park, where Dr. Smallwood recorded most of the field recordings present in this composition.
His interest in Wood Buffalo National Park stems from a concern for the boreal forest, which he views as the lungs of the planet – an endangered natural soundscape. He also loves the isolation of this park and aims to surround his audience with the healing sounds of nature uninterrupted by industrial sounds.
To get a sense of how Dr. Smallwood uses field recordings to create his compositions, here’s an example of his piece, Botanical Garden.
If you’re interested in hearing more from these fantastic composers, then please join us on March 9th and 7:30 PM in the Timm’s Centre.
You can purchase your tickets online at our showpage.
Després has dazzled audiences for nearly four decades on four continents through his recordings, performances as a soloist with orchestras, solo recitals and collaborative work. An intelligent, refined, highly sensitive and disciplined artist, Després’ performances and recordings are praised by critics who cite his “crystal-clear pianism,” and his abilities “to bring humanity, integrity and an enormous expressive range to the pieces.” His “pianistic control is flawless, the sonority magnificent, and the playing is utterly and consistently clear.”
A leading lecture-performance artist on both period and modern instruments, Després has been invited to numerous schools in North America and Asia, including the Juilliard School, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University and the Central Conservatory of China (Beijing).
Després completed his doctorate in performance at the University of Stony Brook. He holds a Masters degree from the Juilliard School of Music, a Unanimous First Prize from the Quebec Conservatory, and the Artist Diploma with High Distinction from Indiana University.
Don’t miss Masterworks for Piano, an evening of exquisite piano repertoire! Experience the elegance of piano classics by Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and Schubert as performed by Jacques Després.
MASTERWORKS FOR PIANO
March 4, 2018
*Pre-concert talk by David Gramit at 2 PM
Convocation Hall Purchase Tickets Online
If you’re looking for a thought-provoking art exhibit to visit this semester, look no further than Angela Marino’s show, currently up in the Femlab gallery. Angela is an MFA student at the University of Alberta, focusing on acrylic painting and sharing her personal experiences through art.
Although Angela mainly works with acrylic paint, she also loves using other mediums such as gel transfer, polyacrylic and even fabric to create different effects and layers within her paintings.
We got the chance to ask Angela a few questions about her exhibit and here were her answers!
Can you describe your thought process while creating the work for this show?
“Being influenced by my mother, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2009, my work speaks to my relationship with her and my understanding of who she is now because of the disease. Each piece of work works off of the next, allowing me to learn more and explore ways of narrating my experiences of MS. If the audience knows nothing about what my work is about, I want them to get a sense of empathy for this person I am portraying, and also empathy for me. I depict my paintings so that the viewer can understand how I see and engage with my mother, from my point of view.”
Why do you think you’re so drawn to using gel transfer and other mediums such as spray paint and polyacrylic in your work?
“Materiality is key within my overall practice. The variety of techniques and different finishes of these mediums excites me as a visual artist and also acts as a way to engage in the viewers gaze and body through textures. With the use of different mediums, I am attempting to externalize the internal disease, showcasing the disease in many forms through different spaces. The main and consistent use of gel transfer as a process within my work acts as a way for me to reveal this new skin of my mother, this new identity of her and engage with it. The process becomes an uncanny experience of me recognizing my mother, but revealing her as the other as something unknown or incapable of knowing. In regards with my new exploration of polyacrylic, I am able to engage in a chance process, experience something uncontrollable that allows me to connect to my mother and the way she is unable to control what happens to her.”
We Cannot Rid Ourselves of You I, II & III (left to right)
Do you find it therapeutic to create artwork with such a personal connection to you and your life or is it difficult to present something so personal to the public?
“The most impactful artists for me are those that connect their works to personal experiences. Being true to yourself is key in the art world. My work, personally, is difficult to talk about, but I choose to embrace the history I have with this disease to show others how it not only affects the person with the disease but those around them. The process of my MFA has presented me with the opportunity to speak up about MS and has allowed me to heal my relationship with my mother and work in collaboration with her. I am truly grateful that I can speak from a personal connection and express my experiences from my point of view.”
Angela’s show is up in the Femlab gallery until March 23rd and is something you definitely won’t want to miss out on this semester!
You can find more information about Angela and her creations over on her Facebook page!
This week we had the opportunity to interview Canadian conductor and U of A graduate, Adam Johnson, about how he became interested in conducting and what he enjoys most about this particular career.
In 2001 Adam graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor’s Degree in piano performance and later received a doctorate from the University of Montreal, also in piano performance.
Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
By focusing on performance throughout his studies, Adam feels he gained valuable experience being on stage, which has undoubtedly aided his career in conducting.
His interest in orchestras and classical music began when the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra held an outreach concert in his hometown of Hinton, Alberta. This was the first time he experienced a live orchestral performance and he absolutely loved it.
Photo Credit: Jesse Luimes
A few weeks ago, Adam visited Edmonton to guest conduct two ESO concerts. Sometimes, guest conducting for an orchestra can be challenging because each ensemble develops a unique way of performing repertoire and adjusting to the style of a new conductor can take time. However, this was the third time he’s had the opportunity to guest conduct for the ESO and feels he’s been able to establish an excellent relationship with the ensemble. Adam believes having a strong connection with your fellow musicians is crucial for the quality of a performance. Therefore, he’s always ecstatic to return to Edmonton and work with the orchestra that initially encouraged his love for classical music.
Photo Credit: Jesse Luimes
When asked if he experiences stage fright while conducting, Adam revealed he believes nerves can be a good thing. Being nervous before a concert shows you’re both engaged and dedicated to providing the audience with a fantastic performance.
For Adam, being a conductor and committing yourself to helping an orchestra give their best performance possible is an incredibly inspirational and rewarding experience. He’s constantly in awe of the music he helps create and appreciates the sense of community he gets to experience every day at work.
Photo Credit: Antoine Saito
Adam is currently enjoying his second season as the assistant conductor to Maestro Kent Nagano with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
More information about Adam and his current conducting roles can be found on his website.