In the right place at the right time

In the right place at the right time

October 21, 2016


[Colleen Renihan]
Colleen Renihan arrived at the Dan School of Drama and Music in July as the Queen’s National Scholar in Music Theatre & Opera. She also maintains an active performance schedule as a mezzo-soprano in opera, oratorio, and new music. (Supplied Photo)

As a Queen’s National Scholar in Music Theatre & Opera, Colleen Renihan can barely contain her excitement – she truly feels that at Queen’s she is in the right place at the right time.

With the recent merger and naming of the Dan School of Drama and Music, as well as the opening of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in 2014, Dr. Renihan says that when she first read the posting about the QNS position she knew that she had found her academic calling.

“There were so many things in the QNS posting that spoke to me and to the priorities of my work,” she says, adding that her interdisciplinary research considers contemporary opera in the U.S. and Canada through the lenses of temporality, the philosophy of history, and performance studies. “I read about the position and about the newly formed Dan School, and I thought ‘Wow, that’s where I want to be, that’s the kind of culture I want to be a part of developing.’”

Having arrived at Queen’s in July, Dr. Renihan has already noticed an excitement around the Dan School, emanating not only from the students but from the school’s leadership and her faculty colleagues as well. It has helped her transition to a new setting as both an academic and a performer.

Before her arrival she says she did a lot of research on the Dan School of Drama and Music, and the university. She repeatedly found references to an “energy” at the university, and what she has discovered is that at the Dan School the energy, the vibrancy, is a reality.

“There’s an open-mindedness, there’s a remarkable amount of creative, out-of-the-box thinking and it’s not just something that the school pays lip service to. Students and faculty are constantly innovating: the future of the performing arts is very bright at Queen’s,” she says.

Dr. Renihan has previously taught at the University of Toronto, Western University, Mount Allison University and the University of Guelph. In 2012 and 2014 she was recognized by the Mount Allison University Music Student’s Association Council as “Professor of the Year,” and was a recipient of a Teaching Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching from Western University in 2012.

Dr. Renihan earned a bachelor degree in vocal performance from the University of Manitoba, an artist diploma in opera performance from the Vancouver Academy of Music, and an MA and PhD in Musicology from the University of Toronto in 2011 with funding support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Her dissertation was a finalist for the Society for American Music’s Housewright Dissertation Award.

As a Queen’s National Scholar she is hoping to set down roots, and, once again, is excited by the opportunities that are presented here at Queen’s and in the broader Kingston community. She points to what she calls “a real buzz about music theatre” at Queen’s and in the community, and looks forward to contributing to its continued vibrancy and growth.

She also maintains an active performance schedule as a mezzo-soprano in opera, oratorio, and new music. To learn more about Dr. Renihan’s research and career, visit her page on the Dan School of Drama and Music website (

The QNS program was first established in 1985, with the objective to “enrich teaching and research in newly developing fields of knowledge as well as traditional disciplines.” Since then, over 100 QNS appointments have been made in a wide variety of disciplines, and the appellation of Queen’s National Scholar has become synonymous with academic excellence.

The program provides $100,000 annually for five years for each appointment, and funding for the program allows for a maximum of two QNS appointments in each annual competition.

For more information on the QNS program, visit the QNS page on the Provost’s website.

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