tops in their field
16, 1999, Gazette)
harmonies cleave to crystal melodies as the composer tries to
capture the musical notes dancing through his mind. Students
toting black gangster cases of all sizes fill the corridors as
brightly-coloured tapestries of sound weave their way through
the tiny cracks at the edges of practice room doors. This is
a typical scene at the Memorial University School of Music.
1975, the school has garnered a stellar reputation of excellence
in performance and teaching in this province and across the country.
Locally, the school is often referred to as a jewel in
the crown of the university.
Volk is the outgoing director of the music school. She said part
of the schools success is due to the quality of its faculty.
weve lucked out in being able to hire some really outstanding
faculty. Because of our age it is also a young faculty so we
have a lot of people who are really dynamic and keen about what
theyre doing, getting themselves established, and getting
out there and doing stuff.
Many music faculty members are involved in professional projects.
Paul Bendzsa and pianist Kristina Szutor both have a strong interest
in new or contemporary music and have recorded CDs.
premiere a lot of new pieces and play some unusual 20th century
works, said Dr. Volk. Kristina has played music where
you play inside the piano, or prepared piano where you put things
on the strings and it changes the sound of the instrument.
recently recorded a solo CD for CBC, and earlier performed a
selection on a CD of music from composer Michael Parker. Dr.
Parker is a composer and Classics professor at Sir Wilfred Grenfell
plays classical and jazz clarinet and saxophone and has recorded
at least one CD featuring a saxophone quintet where he plays
with saxophonists from across the country. According to Dr. Volk,
he was one of the first faculty members to record a CD.
concentrate on classical music. Violinist Dr. Nancy Dahn and
pianist Tim Steeves display a more classical repertoire on their
CD titled Duo Concertante.
Cheramy came first in the 1999 Canadian Concerto Competition
sponsored by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestras rESOund Festival
of Contemporary Music. Ms. Cheramy claimed the first prize for
her performance of Jacques Hétus Concerto for Flute
and Orchestra. The prize was a $5,000 cash award and an invitation
for a return engagement with the ESO.
A new voice
professor in the music school is an accomplished professional
performer in both opera and musical theatre. Caroline Schiller
performed the principal role of Christine in Torontos stage
hit Phantom of the Opera for almost two years.
Kati Szego has received rave reviews for her cutting edge research
in Hawaiian music. Musicologist Dr. Paul Rice transcribes old
music scores for performance by orchestras internationally. Other
music professors compose music.
classical composer Dr. Clark Ross has recently won a Memorial
University Presidents Award for Outstanding Research. He
has also received many commissions for his work, including several
from the Newfoundland Arts Council and CBC. Kristina Szutor performs
his Last Dance on her soon-to-be-released CD of solo piano music.
CBC has recently commissioned him to compose a viola concerto
for Rivka Golani and orchestra.
music professors who choose music at the beginning of their university
studies, Dr. Ross graduated with a humanities degree before he
realized music was his passion.
20 and I thought you only live once and my burning ambition in
life is to be a musician. All along I had been pleasing other
people ... when what I really wanted was to be a musician.
for music in all its aspects is a strong component of the music
school and is apparent when speaking with almost anyone connected
with it. This is part of what makes the school and its instructors
the music path is not always easy. Dr. Ross did not begin formal
music training at the University of Toronto until he had completed
five years of rigorous study with composition instructor Dr.
Sam Dolin at the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Many of the
music faculty members conduct groups of talented students at
a myriad of performances throughout St. Johns and across
you have enough students, if you have enough flutists you can
have a flute choir. Weve had a trombone choir in the past
and where there is repertoire for that combination and you have
enough majors in that area, you can put together a good choir,
said Dr. Volk.
Buell directs the trumpet choir, Dr. Nancy Dahn conducts the
chamber orchestra, and Paul Bendzsa directs the jazz ensemble.
Dunsmore conducts the award-winning chamber choir. The choir
has been chosen to perform at the biennial conference of the
International Society of Music Education in Edmonton in July
2000. Prior to that they will be singing at the national conference
of the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors.
says during her time as director of the school she has seen a
lot of support for the school from the community and from people
within the university. Dr. Volk says she is looking forward to
celebrating the music schools 25th anniversary in 2000.
will include concerts featuring alumni soloists. The gala event
will take place on April 3 where Wagnerian tenor Ben Heppner
will perform a concert. Dr. Volk says the music school is sponsoring
the concert by the tenor superstar who is now performing Wagnerian
opera roles throughout the world, including a recent critically-acclaimed
performance of Tristan in Tristan and Isolde at the Metropolitan
Opera in New York.
says one of the challenges facing the school in the future is
developing a graduate program. There are 16 full-time and 10
part-time faculty members. She says it may be difficult to establish
the program with the small school of 150 students but she is
optimistic that, with such a talented assemblage, it will happen.
It is only a matter of time.