Curtain rises on School of Drama & Music

For years, drama and music scholarship have been regarded as separate fields of study. Slowly, though, that’s changing, and Queen’s School of Music and the Department of Drama have come together to take advantage of that trend.

The School of Drama and Music officially came into existence on July 1 after years of planning. Queen’s Senate approved the merger in April.

[Craig Walker and Ireneus Zuk]Craig Walker (left) will serve as the interim director of the Queen's School of Drama and Music while Ireneus Zuk will become the interim associate director.

“Collaborations between music and drama are natural, and dialogue between these scholarly fields is now increasing,” says Craig Walker, who will serve as interim director of the new school during the transition period. “While the merger arose in part by the need to use resources more efficiently and boost the units’ profile within the Faculty of Arts and Science, it’s really an aspirational move rather than one of desperation. We want to become an innovative unit that provides enhanced teaching, research and creative work at the intersection of music and theatre.”

The two departments have collaborated in the past. Before the merger, the units worked together to offer a musical theatre course. Furthermore, faculty members collaborated on a number of independent study courses and on some research projects.

The merger will allow for an expansion of that work and support excellence in the study of musical theatre.

“Musical theatre is rife for innovation as it enjoys a rapid international expansion and embraces new forms of cultural exchange,” Dr. Walker says. “We want to look at musical theatre in an integrated way that gives student opportunities to explore different areas of the endeavour.”

One major initiative made possible by the merger is a new Bachelor of Musical Theatre program Queen’s is developing with St. Lawrence College. The school is also looking at creating a graduate diploma in arts leadership in collaboration with staff at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. In fact, the opening of the Isabel further spurred on the merger, which had been discussed for several years.

“The world-class teaching and performance spaces in the Isabel have enhanced the learning experience for both drama and music students,” Dr. Walker says. “We believe that by working together, we can elevate our programs to match the professionalism and prestige that comes with sharing quarters in that beautiful building.”

All degree plans in Drama and Music will continue to be offered in the new school. Dr. Walker notes that he expects they will be enhanced by the merger as students will now have more opportunities to branch out and take different courses. Ireneus Zuk will serve as interim associate director of the new school during the transition period. Dr. Zuk is a professor and renowned pianist.