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A musical tribute to Canada

[Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, painted by Maxwell Newhouse]
Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, painted by Maxwell Newhouse.

Over the years, John Burge, composer and professor of composition and theory at the Dan School of Drama and Music, has created several pieces that bring various aspects of the Canadian experience to life.

His latest work pays tribute to Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation and is a joint commission by the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYOC), the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and The Kingston Symphony Orchestra. It is called Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, and it’s based upon four paintings of the same name created by Maxwell Newhouse in 1975 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Canadian flag.

The original artwork focuses attention on the iconic maple leaf in the centre of the Canadian flag as it progresses through the four seasons: beginning in full summer splendor with the normal rending of the flag; the leaf falling in the autumn canvas; absent in winter; and returning anew in spring as a small sprig.

Not a complex painting perhaps, but the impact is clear.

IN HIS OWN WORDS
For more on the creative process and inspiration behind John Burge’s composition Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, read his first-hand reflection published in The Conversation.

“It’s such a simple concept,” Dr. Burge says, “but one that resonates deeply with many people who view it for the first time.”

Dr. Burge was tasked with writing two versions of the piece – one for a large Romantic orchestra and another for a smaller orchestra. Written together, Dr. Burge has spent much time over the past two and a half years creating the piece to reflect the artwork and meet the requirements of the commissioners.

Mr. Newhouse has shown complete support for Burge’s musical interpretation of his artwork and even painted two new smaller versions of Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag for Dr. Burge, including one that currently adorns the wall of his office in Harrison-LeCaine Hall. Throughout the music-writing process, actually having the artwork at hand provided many points of inspiration as well as a reminder of the task ahead.

“I don’t think Max intended this, but the subconscious effect of having his artwork in my home and university office meant that every time I looked at the painting, I was reminded that I had to get composing the music even if I really didn’t have time on that particular day to work it,” he says. 

The smaller orchestra piece premiered on May 13 in Saskatoon, while the Kingston performance is set for October 22 at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. The NYOC will perform the larger scoring of the piece three times during its summer tour: July 20 in Stratford; July 23 in Montreal (which will be recorded by CBC for broadcast on a later date); and August 13 in Nanaimo. 

After taking in the premiere performance in Saskatchewan, Dr. Burge feels confident that the message that he found in the painting comes through in the music as well.

“Canada is a big country with lots of nationalities, ethnicities, and Indigenous peoples, and yet in composing this work I was struck with the thought that there are perhaps two things underlying the music that most Canadians can agree upon," he says. "First, there is a strong sense of pride in the maple leaf as a beautiful emblem for our country. Secondly, we seem preoccupied with the weather and, by extension, the changing seasons. Dealing with the environment and making the most of what can be both a harsh and nurturing climate seems a particularly Canadian trait. To have a piece of music that combines the flag with the seasons is, I think, a perfect pairing.”

Dr. John Burge

And while it was a labor of love there were challenges along the way.

Foremost, Dr. Burge explains, is that the piece could not be longer than 20 minutes in order to fit the NYOC’s programming demands. With four movements in the range of five minutes each, he struggled to meet the target and with the deadline just months away he still had too much music. 

Then he had a breakthrough.

“It was around Christmas time, and I still had all the sketches spread out on my piano. I had been playing through the piece for six months, basically finished, and I still had a minute and a half to two minutes extra,” he says. “I just knew that I had to go back and make cuts – an often painstaking process for any artist. The 'eureka' moment occurred when I realized that since summer is the most precious and shortest time that we experience, I had to make it the shortest movement as well. Instead of making little cuts to all four movements I took a big pair of scissors to summer which now clocks in at three minutes and 30 seconds, or even shorter if the conductor and players are really inspired to play quickly. As a result, I could keep the slightly longer movements that remained intact and the entire piece takes just under 20 minutes. If I’m proud of anything it’s that I was able to make the piece stay within the 20-minute goal.”

For more information about the musical creation of Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, visit John Burge’s website. 

The July 23 Montreal performance at Maison Symphonique will be streamed live and later archived on CBC.

Chipped Off returns to the stage

Local theatre group brings unique production to the Isabel.

For the fourth year in a row, Chipped Off Performance Collective is welcoming the community to another unique production at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

Opening this week, the local theatre group, headed by Kim Renders, a professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music, presents Rhinoceros or What’s Different About Me? The play revolves around the 1959 avant-garde play penned by Eugene Ionesco, in which each of a town’s residents is replaced, one by one, by a rhinoceros.

Joining the production of Rhinoceros are (l to r): Amie Bello, Kim Renders and Hannah Smith.

The collective first took shape five years ago, when Queen’s student Dan Vena approached Renders about directing a play he wrote.

“He said he was tired of not seeing himself or his community represented on Kingston’s stages,” Renders explains about staging How to Bake a Pie in Ten Steps or less: A Transgender Fairytale in 2013.

This year, Renders decided to mount an adaptation of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, shortly after the election in the United States.

“The play provides the skeleton for the production but it’s the community pieces that actually fill it out,” she says . “It’s going to be a very eclectic show with many different components including multi-media, monologues and poems among other performance pieces.”

While the production brings together community members from 14 to 80-years-old, Renders says this isn’t just a local talent show.

“There are about 50 community members involved in the show, including a significant numbers of professionals providing the artistic support,” she says. “The show is also all about creating a voice for individuals from all corners of the community and bringing them together through artistic expression, to be a part of something bigger.”

The show runs Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 14-16, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, June 18, at 2 p.m. Admission is $15.

Chipped Off Performance Collective believes in the power of art and performance to surprise, enlighten, provoke, astonish, challenge and change. We are committed to presenting work that speaks to the needs and concerns of underrepresented or marginalized communities in Kingston. Embracing a feminist and queer perspective at all times, Chipped Off Performance Collective works to grow and diversify the range of local artistic, cultural, and theatrical production available to Kingston audiences.

Film student lands Cannes internship

Queen's in the World

Among the gossip and celebrities and champagne on the French Riviera, Diana Zhao might catch herself to smile into the flash of a paparazzo’s camera when she’s not busy at work this month.

“It’s a great networking opportunity, especially compared to other festivals because it’s more exclusive – Cannes is by invitation only,” says Ms. Zhao (Artsci’17), a political science and film and media student who is participating in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival as a marketing intern for the two weeks of its run in May.

The annual festival is held in the city of Cannes, in the south of France, and is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It’s an important showcase for international, but especially European, films, and draws hundreds of celebrities associated with cinema, including famous actors and directors.

Diana Zhao (Artsci'17), a political science and film and media student, is working at the Cannes Film Festival as a marketing intern. (Supplied photo)

Asked whether she’s excited to meet such Academy Award-winning luminaries as Sofia Coppola and Leonardo DiCaprio, who are expected at the event this year, Ms. Zhao humbly concedes, “It’s a great opportunity to meet people in the industry.”

Ms. Zhao has been interested in film since high school, when she attended an arts intensive school, but she also thought about going into journalism. Fortunately, her time at Queen’s allowed her the opportunity to explore different avenues of education and career development.

“Queen’s lets you try out different courses in first year, so I felt like I had an extra year to decide what to do,” she says. Ms. Zhao says she was more inclined to journalism and writing than acting, but was unsure whether the film industry offered such opportunities for people like her. “Before being exposed to the industry, I thought if you want to be in film you have to be either an actor or director. I didn’t know there were actually so many career options.”

In particular, FILM450, a special topics course designed this year by instructor Alex Jansen around “The Business of Media,” was a formative experience for Ms. Zhao and opened her eyes to the many ways she could get involved in the film industry, as well as to how she could apply her skills.

Among the course’s many lessons, Ms. Zhao says “it taught me how to network, how to break into the industry, how to contact someone from the industry, and how to write a profile.” One beneficial assignment required tapping into the Queen’s alumni network and contacting two recent graduates of the film program, both of whom had a similar educational background to hers and are now successfully working in advertising and PR companies.

Leaping into festival work

The jump from FILM450 to the Cannes Film Festival is shorter than might be expected. Ms. Zhao’s résumé already includes an internship as a marketing assistant with the Kingston Canadian Film Festival in 2016, in which position she designed promotional material, managed social media platforms, and handled communications with sponsors and film producers.

While still enrolled in the course, she heard about opportunities to get involved with major film festivals from a few other former Queen’s film students, and filed an early application to the Creative Mind Group, a U.S.-based foundation that is dedicated to developing the next generation of film and television professionals and building their networks. They connect students and young professionals like Ms. Zhao to entertainment festivals and markets all over the world. At Cannes, she has been assigned a variety of administrative duties, which will include greeting clients as they arrive and running such errands as delivering premier tickets to clients before shows begin.

Ms. Zhao, who spent a semester studying at Tsinghua University in China during her degree, is also gearing up for her involvement with an entrepreneurial start-up this summer through the Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI) program and is also preparing for her master’s of management degree at UBC, which she will begin in September.

“I’m interested in working in PR, marketing, and working with distribution companies. After talking to industry professionals for FILM450, it’s definitely an industry I’m interested in. Once I get my MA in management, I’ll be ready to enter.”

 

 

A celebration of art and family

Isabel Bader]
Isabel Bader speaks with the finalists of the inaugural Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition, Lucy Wang, Katya Poplyansky, and Yolanda Bruno, at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

One of Queen’s most beloved benefactors, Isabel Overton Bader (LLD’07), visited the university in late April to take part in a series of special celebrations.

The visit was particularly significant in that a large number of the Overton family took part in the celebrations. Dr. Bader and her family members attended three significant events: the launch of Alfred Bader Collects: Celebrating Fifty Years of The Bader Collection; a celebration of Alfred Bader’s (BSc’45, BA’46, MSc’47, LLD’86) 93rd birthday; and the inaugural Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition.

On April 28, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre held its Spring Season Launch with Alfred Bader Collects: Celebrating Fifty Years of The Bader Collection, marking the anniversary of Alfred Bader’s first gift to the Agnes in 1967 and painting a portrait of his enduring relationship with art, the Old Masters, and Queen’s.

Isabel Bader, along with several members of the Overton and Bader clans, enjoyed a special preview of the exhibition on Friday afternoon, ahead of the official opening, led by Jacquelyn N. Coutré, the Bader Curator/Researcher of European Art and curator of the show.

“The Bader Collection is the greatest collection of early modern European art at any Canadian university, which is precisely what the Baders had envisioned for Queen’s,” Dr. Coutré says. “Its strength in Rembrandt and his circle reflects Alfred’s tastes in painting: Biblical subject matter, expressive faces and gestures, and stories that help man achieve a better understanding of himself.”

The works on view include early gifts as well as paintings more recently donated by Alfred and Isabel exhibited for the first time. This selection articulates Alfred’s activities as a collector and amateur art historian in a very personal way, highlighting his scholarly discoveries and the parameters of his taste.

As they moved through the collection, Dr. Coutre explained the paintings and the rationale for their inclusion in this special exhibition. Often, Isabel added to these explanations with additional anecdotes and personal stories about how a piece was acquired.

“Isabel shared wonderful stories of acquiring these paintings with Alfred and living with them over the years. It was very powerful to listen to those meaningful memories while looking at the paintings on the walls,” Dr. Coutré says.

The group then got a private tour of the Queen’s University Collection of Canadian Dress, which is stored in a climate-controlled basement vault at the Agnes. Earlier in the day, the family was treated to a presentation from Sophia Zweifel, the Isabel Bader Fellow in Textile Conservation and Research, and Gennifer Majors, the Isabel Bader Graduate Intern in Textile Conservation and Research. They presented select fashion items from the collection, which they have been investigating and treating as part of Ms. Zweifel’s research into the history and residues of cleaning practices in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Queen's Collection of Canadian Dress started in the 1930s as an assortment of costumes for the Queen’s drama department. When historical dresses began arriving, however, it was transformed into a museum collection. The collection now contains more than 2,000 items dating from the early 1800s to the 1970s.

In 2003, recognizing its historical and artistic significance, Isabel Bader provided a generous donation that funded rehousing of the collection, conservation treatment of key works, an exhibition, and a publication entitled, Beyond the Silhouette: Fashion and the Women of Historic Kingston, by M. Elaine MacKay.

Later, Dr. Bader and family were joined by Principal Daniel Woolf and his wife, Julie Gordon-Woolf, and a few close friends to celebrate Alfred’s 93rd birthday. Isabel received a personalized embroidered Queen’s blanket for him.

The highlight of the visit was the final round of competition of the inaugural Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition. More than 20 members of the Bader and Overton families attended the Saturday evening performances of the three finalists.

“The Baders created the Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition to inspire excellence and to provide exceptional young Canadian violinists with a great professional development opportunity,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

Bader philanthropy has often targeted young aspiring artists and academics with the support they need to launch successful careers.

“By establishing our own competition here at Queen’s, we are able to foster Canada’s top talent and to provide substantial and much needed support to extraordinarily gifted young Canadian violinists who aspire to a concert career,” Ms. Baldwin adds.

The competition marked the final phase of a year-long calendar of activities that began with the month-long Bader and Overton International Violin Festival. The festival featured a variety of violin genres and attracted some of the very best violinists from the around the world including Pinchas Zukerman, Ashley MacIsaac, and Midori.

Isabel Bader’s extended family gathered primarily to pay tribute to Marion Overton, Isabel’s older sister and namesake of the Marion Overton Dick Memorial Violin Prize.  The prize is awarded to the winner of the competition. Marion was a lifelong violinist and music lover, and the Baders and Overtons established the competition in her memory.

“The Baders have championed excellence throughout their lives, and to see the reaction of the Bader and Overton families to the calibre of performances by the competition’s artists was wonderful.  We all knew it was one of those special moments in life that these young people would treasure forever,” Ms. Baldwin says. “Isabel Bader was so kind-hearted and encouraging of these young violinists – they were just beaming when she talked with them.”

Members of the Overton and Bader families made the final award presentations once the jury had made their decision. Isabel Bader presented the Marion Overton Dick Memorial Violin Prize for $20,000 to Yolanda Bruno. Isabel’s brother, Clifford Overton (Arts’53) awarded the second prize, the Clifford Overton Prize for $4,000 to Katya Poplyansky. Marion’s daughters, Marg Foster (NSc’76) and Heather Dick (Artsci’77) presented the third prize, the Marg Foster and Heather Dick Prize for $2,000 to Lucy Wang. Grand Prize winner Yolanda Bruno also won the Bader Family Audience Prize for $1,000, presented by Daniel Bader.

Dr. Bader closed the day’s events by sharing the story of her sister’s love of the violin and dedicating the competition to her, saying, “My sister Marion played the violin, not as a professional but it was a great love of her life.”

Saturday’s events also included some smaller but no less significant delights. Through the day’s performances, Isabel sat with Susan Solomon (Artsci’17) – the first recipient of the Principal Wallace Freedom of Opportunity Award. The award, established by Alfred and Isabel Bader, aims to support refugee applicants to Queen's. Ms. Solomon and the Baders have stayed in close contact during her time at Queen’s.

 

Five new exhibitions for spring season

  • Attendees of the members preview look at some of the artwork on display in the 'Alfred Bader Collects' exhibition during the spring launch at the Agnes. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
    Attendees of the members preview look at some of the artwork on display in the 'Alfred Bader Collects' exhibition during the spring launch at the Agnes. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • Ian Collier talks about the work of his father, which is featured in 'Road Trip: Across Canada with Alan C. Collier' during the spring launch at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
    Ian Collier talks about the work of his father, which is featured in 'Road Trip: Across Canada with Alan C. Collier' during the spring launch at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Tim Forbes).
  • Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes, left, and Jacquelyn N. Coutré, Bader Curator/Researcher of European Art, right, lead a tour on Friday, April 28. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
    Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes, left, and Jacquelyn N. Coutré, Bader Curator/Researcher of European Art, right, lead a tour on Friday, April 28. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • Attendees view one of the exhibitions during the spring season launch at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Friday, April 28. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
    Attendees view one of the exhibitions during the spring season launch at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Friday, April 28. (Photo by Tim Forbes)

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre launched its spring season, featuring five new exhibitions.

More than 350 people attended the special launch event at the Agnes on Friday, April 28, and were able to view the works featured in: Les Levine: Transmedia; Road Trip: Across Canada with Alan C. Collier; Alfred Bader Collects: Celebrating Fifty Years of The Bader Collection; Northern Latitudes: Landscape as Identity in European and Canadian Painting; and Absence/Presence: Contemporary Works in Dialogue.

The shows run through to Aug. 6, with the exception of Alfred Bader Collects, which is on view to Dec. 3.

“Three times each year, we bring artists and art lovers together to share their enjoyment and appreciation of the rich worlds available in the great visual and media art of our time,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. This spring’s season Launch was an especially powerful one encompassing diverse historical moments and realities.”

FEATURE EXHIBITIONS

Les Levine: Transmedia brings together a selection of Levine’s key works from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, a time when he was closely connected to the Toronto art scene. Working across, beyond and through media, Levine would become known for developing new approaches to artmaking, establishing new categories such as “camera art,” “disposable art,” “media sculpture,” “software art,” “body control systems,” and what he would term “Mott art.” Constantly expanding the parameters of what could be understood as art, Levine’s artworks addressed the conditions and experiences of a rapidly changing media landscape in ways that proved uniquely prescient of contemporary concerns and sensibilities. Les Levine: Transmedia is organized and circulated by Oakville Galleries and curated by Sarah Robayo Sheridan. The project is funded in part by the Government of Canada.

Road Trip: Across Canada with Alan C. Collier takes you coast-to-coast-to-coast to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial. Beginning in 1956, as the Trans-Canada Highway was under construction, Collier (1911–1990) committed himself to painting and photographing Canada’s diverse geography on summer trips taken by car and camping trailer. By the end of his career, he had depicted every province and territory numerous times, capturing the unique nuances of Canada’s natural beauty in spare form and layered colour. Describing himself as “a long-time believer in the Canadian landscape” – something worthy of painting, experiencing and protecting – he approached it from a unique perspective. Not only did Collier study at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and New York’s Art Students League, in the first decades of his adult life he worked as a labourer in a BC relief camp constructing national roads and in northern Ontario gold mines extracting resources.

Alfred Bader Collects marks the 50th anniversary of the first gift of art made to the Agnes by collector and philanthropist Alfred Bader, with a focus on Dr. Bader’s enduring relationship with the Old Masters of the Baroque era of European art. The works on view – by such artists as Bernardo Bellotto, Rembrandt van Rijn, Girolamo da Santacroce, Michael Sweerts and Jan Victors – include early gifts as well as paintings recently donated by Drs Alfred and Isabel Bader, exhibited here for the first time. This selection articulates his activities as a collector and amateur art historian, highlighting his scholarly discoveries and the parameters of his taste. This exhibition honours the discerning eye and focused vision of one Queen’s alumnus, and his desire to make the Agnes “the finest art museum of any university in Canada.”

Northern Latitudes investigates how collective identity has been expressed through the motif of landscape. The “northern latitudes” of the Low Countries in the 17th century, England in the 19th century, and Canada in the 20th century all reveled in landscape, suggesting a link between nationhood and the physical site of that social construction. This exhibition – drawn from the holdings of the Agnes – brings together landscape paintings, from different traditions, which have compositional or iconographic parallels. The exhibition asks how humans have defined themselves through the natural topography, dramatic weather and climate situations, and cultural interventions into the land, and how each of those informs our complex relationship with the environment today.

Absence/Presence explores the spaces between viewers and works of art, spaces that appear empty, but are filled with ideas, sensations, and emotions. These spaces are points of contact between viewers’ bodies and objects that we cannot touch but may be touched by; things we cannot feel that produce feelings. The idea for this exhibition arose from the curators’ shared interest in experiences of art that cannot be adequately translated into words, and the effect of the asymmetrical and unstable relationship between images, language, and embodied experience on our relationships to ourselves and with others. The exhibition features works by Mike Bayne, Rebecca Belmore, Betty Goodwin, April Hickox, Jenny Holzer, Sophie Jodoin, Rachelle Viader Knowles, Barbara Kruger, Micah Lexier, Edward Pien and Michael Snow. The show is curated by the students of Contemporary Art and Curatorial Practice in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation with Professor Jen Kennedy.

Inaugural winner crowned

[Violin Winners]
The inaugural Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition was won by Yolanda Bruno, left, while Katya Poplyansky and Lucy Wang placed second and third respectively. 

Ottawa’s Yolanda Bruno is the inaugural winner of the Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition.

Ms. Bruno was awarded the $20,000 first prize and the audience choice prize, worth another $1,000, on Saturday at the competition organized by the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen’s University. 

Katya Poplyansky of Toronto was awarded the Second Prize, and Lucy Wang of Vancouver was awarded the Third Prize. 

This national competition was open to Canadian violinists from the age of 18 to 29. 

By winning the competition Ms. Bruno also earned a future engagement to perform with the Kingston Symphony, and a future engagement to perform a recital at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts that will be recorded by CBC Radio 2 for national broadcast.

Ms. Poplyansky and Ms. Wang received prizes of $4,000 and $2,000 respectively.

“Yolanda is a brilliantly talented young violinist, with a vast range of expression and maturity far beyond her years. Her performance was magnificent,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “All the finalists demonstrated mastery of their instrument and intense musicality. It was a very emotional evening, as it is clear that the future of classical music in Canada and beyond is bright with this outstanding level of talent and musical commitment. We are all so inspired by the performances of these gifted musicians,”

The Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition was made possible through the generosity of Alfred and Isabel Bader, whose vision, imagination and generosity will enable gifted emerging musicians to learn, inspire, perform, and develop their careers.

Further information about the Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition, is available online.

The award-winning Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts brings together exceptional arts spaces and programs with a captivating sense of place to create a dynamic venue for Queen’s students and the community. In addition to the Performance Hall, the other spaces in the 90,000 square foot venue include a studio theatre, a film screening room and a music rehearsal hall. Embracing the principles of interactivity and integration, the School of Drama and Music and the Department of Film and Media share teaching and performance spaces within the Isabel. The Isabel was designed by Oslo/New York-based firm Snøhetta and Ottawa’s N45, with acoustics and theatre design by ARUP and Theatre Projects Consultants. Anchored by a transformational gift to the Initiative Campaign from Drs. Alfred and Isabel Bader, the Isabel was inspired by the Bader’s love – of the arts, of Queen’s, and of each other – and is named in Isabel’s honour. To learn more about the Isabel and to see a full schedule, visit theisabel.ca.

Moving //Forward

  • Jessica Janes discusses her artwork during a feedback session as part of //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday
    Jessica Janes discusses her artwork during a feedback session as part of //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday
  • Viewers are invited to have a seat and enjoy the immersive experience of Jess Wheelock's installation at Ontario Hall.
    Viewers are invited to have a seat and enjoy the immersive experience of Jess Wheelock's installation at Ontario Hall.
  • Viewers take in the paintings by Anna Bullock at //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday.
    Viewers take in the paintings by Anna Bullock at //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday.
  • 'Runner' by Jess Peterson is a massive oil-on-panel painting that takes up half of one room at Ontario Hall.
    'Runner' by Jess Peterson is a massive oil-on-panel painting that takes up half of one room at Ontario Hall.
  • Nicole Emond's prints are displayed on the fourth floor of Ontario Hall.
    Nicole Emond's prints are displayed on the fourth floor of Ontario Hall.

Ontario Hall has been transformed into an art gallery this week as the graduating class for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) hosts its final exhibition.

//Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition is the culmination of the four-year program and students have been creating work all year for the event.

The exhibition is open for public viewing through to Saturday from 9 am to 5pm, with the exception of Friday when the exhibition opens at noon. The closing reception will be held Saturday from 7-10 pm.

There is a wide variety of works throughout the building including sculpture, painting and printmaking and multimedia installations.

More images of the artwork is available at the exhibition website.

Inspiring excellence

[Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition]
Seven semifinalists will compete at the Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition starting Wednesday. Clockwise from top left: Yolanda Bruno, Ji Soo Choi, Ewald Cheung, Esther Hwang, Dasol Jeong, Catherine Poplyansky, and Lucy Wang. (Supplied Photos)  

The top young virtuosi from across Canada will be taking to the stage at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts starting Wednesday with the chance to win the inaugural Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition.

Seven semifinalists have been chosen to perform at the Isabel on Wednesday and Thursday. Three finalists will be chosen for the concerto round (with piano) on Saturday.

The semifinalists – Yolanda Bruno, Ji Soo Choi, Ewald Cheung, Esther Hwang, Dasol Jeong, Catherine Poplyansky, and Lucy Wang – were chosen through an adjudication process with jury members comprising leading violinists across Canada.

“This competition was created to inspire excellence and to provide world-class Canadian violinists with a great professional development opportunity,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “We are passionate about championing the next generation of artists, and have established an ongoing relationship with the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Honens International Piano Competition. Our next leap forward has been to establish our own competition here at Queen’s University to foster Canada’s top talent and to provide substantial and much needed support to extraordinarily gifted young Canadian violinists who aspire to a concert career.”

The winner will receive the Marion Overton Dick Memorial Violin Prize worth $20,000 CAD, a future engagement to perform with the Kingston Symphony, and a future engagement to perform a recital at the Isabel that will be recorded by CBC Radio 2 for national broadcast. Second place will be awarded the Clifford Overton Prize worth $4,000 while third will be awarded the Marg Foster and Heather Dick Prize worth $2,000.

After the three finalists perform on Saturday the audience will vote for their favourite player of the evening, who will receive the Bader Family Audience Prize for $1,000.

All semifinalists will perform a new work by Canadian composer and Queen’s professor John Burge Twitter Etudes No. 1 - a short virtuosic work consisting of six short etudes each of which limits the number of notes in each movement to just 140 distinctive attacks.

The Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition is made possible through the generosity of Alfred and Isabel Bader, whose vision, imagination and generosity will enable gifted emerging musicians to learn, inspire, perform, and develop their careers.

Day passes are $6/$10/$12. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 613-533-2424 (M-F, 12:30-4:30 pm).

For a full schedule visit theisabel.ca.

The award-winning Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts brings together exceptional arts spaces and programs with a captivating sense of place to create a dynamic venue for Queen’s students and the community. In addition to the Performance Hall, the other spaces in the 90,000 square foot venue include a studio theatre, a film screening room and a music rehearsal hall. Embracing the principles of interactivity and integration, the School of Drama and Music and the Department of Film and Media share teaching and performance spaces within the Isabel. The Isabel was designed by Oslo/New York-based firm Snøhetta and Ottawa’s N45, with acoustics and theatre design by ARUP and Theatre Projects Consultants. Anchored by a transformational gift to the Initiative Campaign from Drs. Alfred and Isabel Bader, the Isabel was inspired by the Bader’s love – of the arts, of Queen’s, and of each other – and is named in Isabel’s honour.

A dialogue on Indigenous law, song and opera

Queen’s professor leads conversation on the mis-use of Indigenous songs in contemporary classical music.

If the production of contemporary Canadian opera is a rare occurrence, it is even rarer that such work leads to dialogue about the relationship between Indigenous law and song.

Dylan Robinson (Languages, Literatures and Cultures, cross appointed in six departments/programs including Music & Drama and Cultural Studies) played a leading role in a dialogue on the misuse of Indigenous songs in contemporary performances. The dialogue was spurred by the remounting of the opera Louis Riel, which features a Nisga'a mouring song performed in a manner that conflicts with its significance to Nisga'a culture and law.

For Queen’s professor Dylan Robinson (Languages, Literatures and Cultures), the Canadian Opera Company’s remounting of the opera Louis Riel, based on the life of the Métis political leader, was an opportunity not only to address issues of song appropriation, but also the ways in which music organizations across the country might play a role in redressing the history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

“This dialogue is part of a longer conversation that has been going on for quite a number of years between myself and a number of Indigenous colleagues regarding the many uses of our songs within musical compositions,” says Dr. Robinson, a scholar of Stó:lō descent who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts. “I felt it was important that Indigenous musicians, performers, and knowledge-keepers come together to share our views with music organizations on the functions that Indigenous song serves as law, history and medicine. Our songs are much more than simply songs.”

The day before the Louis Riel’s opening, Dr. Robinson led a dialogue to discuss First Nations song protocol and the mis-use of Indigenous songs in Canadian compositions. Represented in the dialogue were Nisga’a and Métis performers and artists, representatives of the Canadian Opera Company, National Arts Centre, Canadian Music Centre, and the executors and advisors to the estates of the composer and librettist, and members of Louis Riel’s cast and stage director.

Spurring the dialogue was the opera’s use of a Nisga’a mourning song, the “Song of Skateen,” in an aria sung in Cree by the character Marguerite Riel. Under Nisga’a tradition and law, the song is only to be sung when a community member or chief passes away, or with the appropriate permission of the family who holds the hereditary rights to sing it. Dr. Robinson explains that, in the context of the performance, the song is being utilized in a way that conflicts with its significance for Nisga’a peoples.

“I believe our ancestors shared these songs for safe keeping for our future generations,” explains Dr. Robinson. “Instead, once the songs were recorded, they were then simply ‘filed away’ in museum collections, in the words of the ethnographer Marius Barbeau who recorded “Song of Skateen”. This is where thousands of Indigenous songs remain, often disconnected from Indigenous communities to whom they belong. In some cases, particular songs were also transcribed into western music notation. This made it very easy for contemporary Canadian composers to use them without the knowledge of the families and individuals who still hold the hereditary rights to their use.”

The community consultation, led by Dr. Robinson on April 19, was one of a number of initiatives the Canadian Opera Company committed to in order to address the issue. Another was to host two presentations by the Kwhlii Gibaygum Nisga’a Traditional Dancers led by Wal'aks Keane Tait and the Git Hayetsk Dancers led by G̱oothl Ts'imilx Mike Dangeli and Sm Łoodm ’Nüüsm- Mique'l Dangeli  who explained the true history of the song to the opera’s audience.

Dr. Robinson says a second dialogue is planned in conjunction with the opera’s Ottawa performance, scheduled for June 15 and 17. He says that, while this is the first step in a much larger conversation on how music organizations might address the various issues, the response by the Canadian Opera Company’s director Alexander Neef and Heather Moore of the National Arts Centre’s upcoming Canada Scene gives him reason to be optimistic.

“I feel hopeful, and that’s kind of a new thing for me to say,” he explains. “I have had similar conversations over the years with non-Indigenous composers and music organizations that have fallen on deaf ears. This time, however, the Canadian Opera Company and National Arts Centre moved with agility to address the issue as the serious infraction of Nisga’a law that it is. That has not happened before, and so even though we’re at the beginning, I think that there is some institutional will to bring about meaningful action.”

Strike up the bands

More than 200 high school musicians from across Eastern Ontario will descend on the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on April 18 for the inaugural Dan School Band Festival.

[Isabel Bader Centre for the performing Arts]
The inaugural Dan School Band Festival is being held at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, April 18. (University Communications)

This one-day festival will include concerts, clinics and workshops.

“There is so much talent in the region and we are looking forward to hearing these young people at the festival,” says Julia Brook, Assistant Professor of Music Education. “Throughout the day, participants will have the opportunity to work with the outstanding faculty members and students at the Dan School of Drama and Music.”

Queen’s alumni lead each of the participating bands, including: Canterbury High School (Ottawa), Napanee District Secondary School (Napanee); O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute (Oshawa), Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School (Kingston); and St. Michael Catholic High School (Kemptville).

The festival culminates with a public concert which will feature each of the school bands as well as Queen’s own Tri-Colour Mass Bands. The concert will take place at the Isabel at 7:30 pm.

For more information visit the Dan School of Drama and Music website or follow the festival on Twitter @DanBandFest or SnapChat @DanBandFest. 

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