CKUA reimagines University Concert Hall – curious arts

New 12-week series featuring University of Alberta, University of Lethbridge and University of Calgary music performances premieres this weekend

Feature image: Russell Baker, UAlberta Music’s production manager and technician in Convocation Hall. Photo by Patrick Strain.

David Ward. Photo from CKUA.

David Ward. Photo from CKUA.

Back in the 1970s, CKUA radio regularly broadcast classical music concerts performed at the University of Alberta on a program called University Concert Hall. Listening to those old tapes, current CKUA content director David Ward was inspired to relaunch the series. He began pitching the idea to Alberta’s university music departments to find enthusiastic partners for the project.

“We had talked about the possibility of digging up those old tapes and juxtaposing those recordings against the more modern things that are happening,” says Russell Baker, UAlberta Music’s production co-ordinator and technician at Convocation Hall. “But David didn’t want to resurrect the old program as much as he wanted to reimagine it for today.”

Ward’s vision for the new University Concert Hall was to showcase what is happening with music at the three larger universities in Alberta—the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge and the Department of Music at the U of A.

“The concept is to capture the broad spectrum of music in Alberta’s universities, and that certainly makes sense for us at the University of Alberta, because we do a lot of different things here, from ethnomusicology to large ensembles covering Western classical music, to chamber music, choral music, orchestral music, opera and solo performance,” says Baker.

Sarah Hoyles. Photo from CKUA.

Sarah Hoyles. Photo from CKUA.

Each university partner was asked to curate and contribute content to Sarah Hoyles, CKUA producer assigned to put the series together. Baker was tapped to consult with music faculty to select “the cream of the crop” from the U of A recordings of 2014-15 mainstage concerts, as well as faculty and guest performances from throughout the academic year.

“For our students studying performance, being featured on University Concert Hall is an incredible opportunity. CKUA is listened to widely across Alberta, Canada, North America and around the world. It is a very special station with incredibly diverse music programming. It attracts avid and loyal listeners because of that diversity. What greater place to present the University of Alberta Department of Music—where we, ourselves, are so musically diverse?” asks Baker.

CKUA’s University Concert Hall launches with performances from the University of Lethbridge on Sunday, June 21 at 3–4 p.m. MT (with a rebroadcast on Tuesday, June 23 at 6–7 p.m. MT). You can listen to it across Alberta on one of CKUA’s 16 frequencies, or stream it online at anywhere in the world.

Contemporary saxophonist Allison Balcetis gives advice on how to perform new music. Photo by Karjaka Studios.

Contemporary saxophonist Allison Balcetis. Photo by Karjaka Studios.

The first episode featuring the U of A will be on Sunday, July 5 at 3–4 p.m. MT (with a rebroadcast on Tuesday, July 7 at 6–7 p.m. MT). It will feature Jacob Struzik, Karim Gillani and Allison Balcetis.

The other shows containing U of A music performances will air over the course of the next 12 weeks. Stay tuned!

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