Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Arts and Culture

Canada’s next big author is a Queen’s grad

Iain Reid
Iain Reid's novel 'I'm Thinking of Ending Things' has been adapted into a movie that is now available on Netflix. (Supplied Photo)

Iain Reid (Artsci’04) doesn’t spend much time contemplating if he is Canada’s next big author, but evidence points to that direction.

The writer of four books won the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award in 2015. His first work of fiction, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, received critical acclaim in 2016 and made several Top-10 books of the year lists. That novel, a dark tale about a woman who takes a road trip with her new boyfriend to meet his parents, has now been adapted into a movie by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter and debuted on Netflix on Sept. 4.

The film rights for his other novel, Foe, have also been sold to a film company. (No word yet if it will be turned into a movie.)

If that is not enough proof of his rising-star status, Vice magazine recently called him “Canada’s next big author.”

It’s hard to get the very humble Reid to brag about himself. He’s heard the hype, but he tends not to get caught up on what others say about him. He is a bit of an introvert, so he is focused on spending time in his Kingston home writing his next novel. Before COVID-19, he enjoyed taking breaks to play pickup basketball at the ARC on the Queen’s campus.

He used to be able to work on projects without anyone paying much attention to him. Now his phone has been ringing a lot since the I’m Thinking of Ending Things movie trailer was released on Aug. 6. 

“I’m used to flying under the radar,” Reid says. “I really appreciate the interest and people reading and talking about my books. At the same time, it feels weird that people are aware of things I am doing in a way they weren’t before.”

He says he never dreamed about being a novelist. His dad is an English professor, so he was thinking about an academic career. He studied history and philosophy at Queen’s, but after taking a writing course with Queen’s English Professor Carolyn Smart, he decided to postpone grad school and move to Toronto for a year to give writing a shot.

He started submitting his work to literary magazines and was soon being published in major media outlets such as the National Post and The New Yorker.

“I kept putting off grad school and was having enough success where one year turned into two, and then three,” Reid says. “I never really thought writing could be a full-time job.”

His first two books, One Bird's Choice and The Truth About Luck, were lighthearted personal memoirs. Reid’s third book, I’m thinking of Ending Things, caught the attention of Charlie Kaufman, the writer of critically-acclaimed films such as Being John MalkovichAdaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which won the 2005 Academy Award for best original screenplay.)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things
A scene from the recently-released movie 'I'm Thinking of Ending Things.'

Kaufman has a reputation as one of the movie industry’s most creative screenwriters who makes thought-provoking movies. Kaufman, who both wrote and directed I’m Thinking of Ending Things, consulted with the author while writing the screenplay. Reid had total trust in the filmmaker and was happy to stand back and see what creative spins the Oscar-winner would put on his book.

“I know he is going to do something that is truthful and honest for the right reasons,” Reid says, who visited the set but wasn’t involved in the day-to-day filming. “He is not going to tweak it to make it more marketable or mainstream. I am a fan of his, so knowing his work, I told him to take (my novel) and do whatever he wants and I will be excited by it.”

Reid is happy with the movie. He recognizes the story structure of his novel, but says a lot of the dialogue was re-written. He says it feels surreal to see his book on screen on a hugely popular platform like Netflix.

“I am excited for people to see it now because I really like the film. I think it is ambitious and bold and will generate a lot of discussion. For me, that’s an exciting thought,” he says. “I never had any career ambition to pursue anything in the film world. I love movies, but I was always more familiar with the literary world. I feel kind of strange and lucky.”

New Agnes Etherington Art Centre director announced

Emelie Chhangur
Emelie Chhangur will begin her appointment as the director and curator of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Oct. 1, 2020.

Queen’s University welcomes Emelie Chhangur as the director and curator of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

An accomplished curator, writer, and artist, Chhangur will begin her appointment on Oct. 1, 2020.

“Emelie will bring an invaluable perspective to the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre and to the Queen’s community,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “She impressed the search committee with her holistic vision of how the Agnes can play a critical role in engaging our community, inspiring dialogue, and strengthening the university’s academic and research mission.”

Chhangur arrives from the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) in Toronto, where she led the reorientation of AGYU to become a civic, community-facing, ethical space driven by social process and intersectional collaboration, as well as founded its residency program. She most recently served as AGYU’s Interim Director and Senior Curator.

Members of the advisory selection committee:
• Teri Shearer (Co-Chair), Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion)
• Glen Bloom (Co-Chair), Chair, Agnes Etherington Art Centre Advisory Board
• Nadia Jagar (Secretary), Manager, Special Projects and Business Officer, Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
• Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean, Faculty of Education • Dylan Robinson, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts
• Kristin Moriah, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Language and Literature
• Alicia Boutilier, Chief Curator and Curator of Canadian Historical Art
• Norman Vorano, Art History and Art Conservation Department Head
• Tom Hewitt, Chief Development Officer, Advancement
• Jean Pfleiderer, Associate Director, Human Rights Advisory Services
• Jennifer Nicoll, Collections Manager and Exhibition Coordinator
• Susan Lord, Professor, Department of Film and Media

Over the past 20 years, Chhangur has emerged as a leading voice for experimental curatorial practice in Canada and is celebrated nationally and internationally for her process-based, participatory approach to curating. She is also highly regarded for her commissioning of complex works across all media and the creation of long-term collaborative projects that are performatively staged within and outside the gallery context.

Chhangur joins the Agnes at a pivotal point in its history. Queen’s recently announced a US $40-million gift from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., to revitalize and expand the Agnes and create a new home for the Bader Collection. The philanthropic investment has the potential to create one of the largest university art museums in Canada and will help Queen’s researchers and students play a fundamental role in enabling societies to understand, protect, and experience the world’s artistic and cultural treasures.

“I am committed to furthering the Agnes’ mandate of inclusion and its move toward decolonial art practices, and community engagement,” says Chhangur. “I believe the Agnes is poised to take on an exemplary leadership role in transforming museological practices in Canada. The remarkable and visionary gift of Bader Philanthropies will stimulate an intense period of research, experimentation, community building, and growth as we prepare to open a landmark regional art centre of influence, both nationally and internationally.”

Since 2004, Chhangur has won 25 awards for writing, publishing, exhibition making, public programs, and education from the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. In 2019, she won the Ontario Association of Art Galleries’ inaugural BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) Changemaker Award and was a finalist for the prestigious Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award. She has also published numerous award-winning books on contemporary art and regularly presents her research at conferences internationally. She holds a Master of Visual Studies from the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto.

Queen's launches Indigenous Initiatives website

New site brings together campus-wide information and resources on Queen's University Indigenous research, initiatives, cultural services, and more.

Indigenous graduates

Campus community members can now learn about and engage with Queen’s University’s Indigenous research, initiatives, cultural services, and more on the newly-launched Office of Indigenous Initiatives website.

“It is important for reconciliation that Indigenous voices be incorporated into the work—the projects, research, and initiatives – that take place here at Queen’s,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation). “My hope is that we continue to approach this work with Ka’nikonhrí:yo (a good mind) and I believe that our new website serves as a great starting point to help individuals to better understand Indigenous values, and how our values relate to relationship building, research, methodologies, pedagogies, and knowledge.”

The site’s design is uniquely arranged to guide users through key themes and initiatives, including Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, and Decolonizing and Indigenizing. It also showcases Indigenous ‘faces, spaces, and places’ at Queen’s, making it easier for Queen’s community members to connect with campus Elders, as well as Indigenous services for students and employees. Key pages on the site are also set to be translated into both the Kanyen’ke:ha (Mohawk) and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway) languages, as Queen’s University is situated on the land of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe.

The launch of the website also meets recommendation #11 of the university’s Yakwanastahentéha Aankenjigemi Extending the Rafters: Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Final Report. The report – a set of 25 recommendations created to advance sustained institutional change – guides the university as it continues work to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities; cultivate deeper understanding of Indigenous histories, knowledge systems, and experiences; and nurture a campus that values and reflects Indigenous perspectives.

“I encourage anyone considering Queen’s University as a place of employment or a place of higher education, and those who are part of the community already, to visit our new website,” says Hill. “It provides a wealth of information for anyone looking to engage with our Indigenous research, initiatives, and cultural services, and I know it will lead us all to a better understanding of our shared path ahead.”

Visit the new Office of Indigenous Initiatives website.

Recommended reads from Indigenous Initiatives staff

Office of Indigenous Initiatives staff highlight their favourite books by Indigenous authors.

Stack of books (Photo by Kimberly Farmer, via Unsplash)

As National Indigenous History Month came to a close last week, staff in Queen’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives collected a list of important book suggestions for the campus community to continue its learning into the summer.

“It’s important for Canadians to read books by Indigenous authors as this provides an opportunity for learning and can help to foster a stronger understanding of the different perspectives that Indigenous Peoples may hold,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation). “My hope is that these books will inspire the Queen’s community to approach relationship building, reconciliation, and conciliation with Indigenous Peoples in a good way.”

The range of literature spans topics of history and politics, philosophy, gender, poetry, language and education, and a book for children.

Recommended reading list:


From Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill):

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
A very moving, thoughtful and thought-provoking story about family, identity, and connections with self, others, and Creation.

In Divided Unity: Haudenosaunee Reclamation at Grand River by Theresa McCarthy
Important in understanding the deep-rooted ideas that informed the Grand River Community and their decision to reclaim contested lands in 2006. Speaks to Haudenosaunee traditional cultural representations and the importance of the women.

Thinking in Indian: A John Mohawk Reader by Jose Barreir
John Mohawk was a highly respected Haudenosaunee philosopher, thinker, activist, and scholar, as well as an elder of the Seneca Nation. He was a deeply-rooted Haudenosaunee traditionalist whose oratory and thinking continues to inform Haudenosaunee activism.

From Wendy Phillips, Elder in Residence:

Think Indian by Basil Johnston
A collection of essays from an Indigenous linguist and first language speaker that covers a range of topics, from language and storytelling, to culture and education.

From Haley Cochrane, Project and Communications Coordinator:

21 Things you May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph
An eye-opening read for those interested in learning more about the Indian Act and the discrimination Indigenous Peoples have faced and continue to face as a result of unjust systemic policies and practices in Canada.

From Amy Brant, Training Facilitator:

Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel
Chelsea touches on many issues about Indigenous people in Canada today, from terminology and law, to culture and identity. A good read for anyone wanting to delve into issues from an Indigenous perspective and Chelsea really keeps you engaged throughout the book, writing as if she is sitting and talking with you.

From Marshall Hill, Research Assistant:

Indian Land by Lesley Belleau
A collection of poems written from the perspective of an Anishinaabe woman with a fierce love for her people, her family, and the land.

You Are Enough: Love Poems for the End of the World by Smokii Sumac
Winner of the 2019 Indigenous Voices Award for Published Poetry in English, this collection is a complex yet forceful meditation on grief and love, consent and gender, through the life of a Ktunaxa Two-Spirit person.

From Sara Mouland, Office Assistant:

The Mishomis Book by Edward Benton-Banai
A good read with stories, myths, and traditions for children.

$40-million gift for the Agnes and a new home for the Bader Collection

Donation from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., will revitalize the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, create a new home for the Bader Collection, and help researchers and students.

Photo of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Expanded galleries and more technical spaces will enhance Queen’s ability to care for and showcase the Agnes’s art collections.

Queen’s University is announcing a $40-million (USD) gift from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., to revitalize and expand the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and create a new home for the Bader Collection. 

The philanthropic investment has the potential to create one of the largest university art museums in Canada and will help Queen’s researchers and students play a fundamental role in enabling societies to better understand, protect, and experience the world’s artistic and cultural treasures. 

“Queen’s University is the place where my father’s future as a renowned chemist, entrepreneur, art collector and philanthropist started and is one of the reasons why the Foundation is inspired to make a significant commitment,” says Daniel J. Bader, President/CEO of Bader Philanthropies, Inc. “Queen’s University’s ground-breaking vision for the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, a world class visual arts institution, has the potential to transform the lives of students, practitioners and art enthusiasts for decades to come.  And we are grateful to be a partner as we begin this chapter.” 

The revitalized Agnes will create a vibrant hub for the presentation, research, and study of visual arts on campus. The facility will include the art museum, which is a learning space for diverse disciplines at Queen’s and is the public gallery for Kingston and region, as well as homes for the graduate program in Art Conservation, and graduate and undergraduate programs in Art History. 

“The arts ignite our creative pursuits and speak to the very core of our humanity,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. Even during these trying and challenging times, we have seen how the arts have provided solace and optimism bringing us together to understand our shared history and culture. The power of art cannot be underestimated, and today’s announcement is an exciting step towards making Queen’s one of the world’s foremost leaders in arts education.”   

Queen’s will be better able to attract top students and strengthen the university’s position as a premier destination for education in the visual arts. The revitalized Agnes will create new opportunities for research and enhance experiential learning opportunities for students across disciplines. For students in the arts, this will help them graduate as leaders in their fields who go on to make valuable contributions at the world’s top museums and institutes.  

“As a student of the arts, the value of the rich collections, incredible opportunities, and commitment to student learning at the Agnes cannot be understated,” says Maddi Andrews, Artsci19, MA21 and Research Assistant, Digital Projects (European Art) at the Agnes. “Not only have my academic studies been strengthened by proximity to these diverse collections, but my involvement as a volunteer and employee has uniquely prepared me for my future career path. The revitalization of Agnes means more students will have the opportunity to grow and explore.” 

Expanded galleries and more technical spaces will enhance Queen’s ability to care for and showcase the Agnes’s magnificent art collections, including cutting-edge contemporary art, Indigenous art, Canadian historical art and African historical art, as well as the Collection of Canadian Dress.The Bader Collection of European Art comprises more than 500 works with a focus on 17th century Dutch and Flemish painting, including one portrait and three exquisite character studies by Rembrandt. 

An expanded Agnes will enable the university to create central ceremonial and event spaces available to the entire Queen’s community, as well as dedicated space for use by Indigenous communities. 

The revitalization project is expected to be completed in 2024. The Agnes was last expanded in 2000 with considerable assistance from the Bader Family. 

The late Dr. Alfred Bader, BSc’45, BA’46, MSc’47, LLD’86, and his wife, Dr. Isabel Overton Bader, LLD’07, have been among the university’s most generous benefactors, supporting the arts at Queen’s for decades.  

Daniel (Alfred’s son) continues his family’s legacy of philanthropy at Queen’s. Last year, he and his wife, Linda, donated a Rembrandt painting, Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair,to the Agnes in honour of Alfred. 

The funding announcement was made during a virtual event held on Zoom. To watch the virtual event and hear remarks from members of the Bader family as well as leaders from Queen's, see the recording of the announcement.

Queen’s Announces Investments in the Arts  

This gift is among a number of philanthropic investments Queen’s is announcing in support of the arts this month. Other gifts include a donation by Marjorie Ernestine Bernstein in support of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, and gifts to the Department of Art History and Art Conservation from The Jarislowsky Foundation and Dr. Isabel Overton BaderFollow Queen’s Alumni on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for the latest news.

Gift to help the Isabel foster a more inclusive community

$3.5-million gift in honour of the late Jennifer Velva Bernstein, Artsci’89will help the Isabel host more artists from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Photo of a performance
The Isabel will use the gift to support artistic programming and educational training at the centre, including covering the costs to bring more top performers and emerging artists to Kingston.

Tricia Baldwin, the director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, takes pride in offering audiences a diverse mix of world-class artists and socially engaged performances. Performing arts events such as those about the Indigenous residential school experience and musical acts from around the globe expose audiences to different cultures and perspectives, which Ms. Baldwin says helps contribute to a more inclusive society. 

“With socially engaged art, you are actually bringing in a point of view of an under-represented group to the majority,” Baldwin says. “The Isabel is a very beautiful place to share music and ideas. It can help create a more knowledgeable and better society.” 

A recent $3.5-million donation will allow the Isabel to offer more programming that fosters that inclusive environment. Marjorie Ernestine Bernstein made the gift to Queen’s in honour of her late daughter, Jennifer Velva Bernstein, Artsci’89. 

Jennifer Velva Bernstein loved the arts and was passionate about social causes. She earned film degrees from both Queen’s and Webster University in St. Louis, as well as a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. She died in a bus crash in 1995 while on a humanitarian mission to Haiti organized by the People to People Project, a private charitable group. 

“We are so grateful for the Bernstein’s family’s belief in the Isabel and belief in the role of arts in society,” says Baldwin. “Our philosophy of programming and inclusion matches Jennifer’s efforts to try to make this a better world.” 

In recognition of the gift, the Isabel’s main 566-seat performance hall has been renamedthe Jennifer Velva Bernstein Performance Hall. 

The Isabel will use the gift to support artistic programming and educational training at the centre, including covering the costs to bring more top performers and emerging artists to Kingston. It will also help subsidize tickets and events, allowing people to enjoy more festivals such as Ka'tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts and the Isabel Human Rights Festival and student initiatives through the MyIsabel Alma Mater Society  program such as TEDxQueensU and the Project Afro-Odyssey.   

Baldwin feels it is important for students to carry that value of diverse programming into their future careers. 

“I believe that a university has the ability to communicate to its students that the performing arts have worth beyond entertainment,” says Ms. Baldwin. “By producing, presenting, or attending socially engaged arts on social justice topics, students learn that artists can be creative initiators and champions for social change. This enables them to see the possibilities for their own participation and roles in creating a fairer world when they graduate.” 

Queen’s Announces Investments in the Arts  

The gift to the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts is among a number of philanthropic investments Queen’s is announcing in support of the arts this month, including gifts to the Department of Art History and Art Conservation from The Jarislowsky Foundation and Dr. Isabel Bader, LLD'07Follow Queen’s Alumni on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for the latest news.

New Bader Chair to help Queen's become a world leader in art conservation

Queen's to recruit a top scholar to the university to work in imaging science, an emerging field that is revolutionizing art conservation.

A new research and teaching chair at Queen’s University is going to help the next generation of art conservationists better preserve our history and heritage. 

“Art is a window into the struggles, ambitions, hopes, and ideals of people living eons ago, just as it is for people today,” says Dr. Norman Vorano, head of the department of Art History and Art ConservationIt allows us to understand each other, and who we are as a nation.  

“If Canada is serious about protecting our cultural heritage and who we are in the world, it has to train the best art conservators in the worldSo the new chair is not only exciting for Queen’s, but for the country.”  

Queen’s is announcing a $3-million (USD) gift from Dr. Isabel Bader, LLD’07, to establish the Bader Chair in Art Conservation that will help students and researchers become world leaders in imaging science, an emerging field that is revolutionizing art conservation. 

“Art conservation is seeing a technological shift and imaging science allows us to look below the surface of paintings and other works of art in ways that were never previously possible,” says Dr. Vorano. “The new Bader Chair will put our students on the forefront of training in this field. Very few places around the world will be able to offer the kinds of training and experiences that a student can get at Queen’s.” 

The university recently received a $1-million gift from The Jarislowsky Foundation, giving it several pieces of cutting-edge technology that can examine art at the atomic and molecular levels. It allows researchers to better understand how art is deteriorating and come up with better conservation techniques. In North America, the technology is found in only a select few institutions, such as Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  

The gift from Dr. Bader will allow Queen’s to recruit a top art conservation scholar to the university and create unparalleled opportunities for research and teachingThe new chair will help the Master of Art Conservation program open up a fifth stream of study, imaging science, which will complement painting conservation, paper conservation, object conservation, and conservation science. The new chair will also give the program the ability to accept more students, allow Queen’s to work toward expanding graduate and undergraduate offerings in art conservation, and help the university access new opportunities for grant funding.  

Dr. Vorano sees the new chair as an innovator, growing not only the department but helping the university become an international leader in conservation imaging and helping to preserve Canadian history. 

Queen’s Announces Investments in the Arts 

The gifts to the Department of Art History and Art Conservation from ThJarislowsky Foundation and Dr. Bader are among a number of philanthropic investments Queen’s is announcing in support of the arts this month. Follow Queen’s Alumni on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the latest news. 

Revolutionizing art conservation at Queen's

A $1 million donation from the Jarislowsky Foundation allows Queen’s to acquire leading-edge technology that will be the only of its kind in Canada.

A $1-million gift from The Jarislowsky Foundation will bring leading-edge technology to Canada and help to preserve some of the country’s most important works of art.  

“The donation will create opportunities for Queen’s students and researchers to better understand the materials and techniques used to create artworks and other cultural objects,” says Patricia Smithen, assistant professor (Paintings Conservation) at Queen’sThe equipment will allow us to start new research programs, establish partnerships with leading art museums and collectors, and attract top students to study at Queen’s.”    

Queen’s is purchasing five pieces of equipment, some of which is highly sought-after technology used by the world’s top art institutes such as the Getty Conservation Institute, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  

These powerful new tools will impact art historians and students in many ways, such as being able to more accurately analyze the type of materials used in works of art. This will lead to better preservation strategies. 

Queen’s will be the only museum or institute in Canada to have Bruker M6 Jetstream, a highly advanced form of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology that allows researchers to scan paintings and create an elemental map of the surface. This instrument was recently used to scan Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Night Watch, at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, allowing conservators and scientists to identify pigments and reveal the artist’s working process, including changes he made to the composition.  

In addition to the Bruker M6 Jetstream, the other equipment includes: 

  • X-radiography Suite with New Mid-range Source 225 KV, Gantry and Tracer-Fluorescence Spectroscopy Unit 

  • Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR, Portable) 

  • Foster and Freeman VSC 8000 Multispectral Document System 

  • Instron Tensile Tester 

The Jarislowsky Foundation was created by Stephen Jarislowsky, LLD’88, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, and avid art collector. 

 

Fostering the next generation of artists

Queen's, Bader Philanthropies, and the CBC are teaming up to put a spotlight on future classical music stars in Canada.

Photograph of a person playing the cello.
The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts is connecting people with live music through high-fidelity online concerts.

Young artists often need encouragement and an opportunity to build their reputation. Eight Canadian classical musicians will soon be getting both through the Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition, which takes place June 24-27 and will stream live across the country on CBC Music.

This event is funded by Bader Philanthropies, Inc., the charitable foundation of the Bader family. And it is presented by the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. The competition is bringing together some of the most talented Canadian cellists between the ages of 18 and 29.

“I am delighted to welcome such outstanding talent to the Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition at Queen’s University, inspired by Isabel Overton Bader and made possible through the generous support of Bader Philanthropies, led by Daniel Bader,” says Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “These extraordinary young artists undoubtably have a promising future and together, we show how powerful music can be at a time when the world longs for creativity, inspiration and above all, optimism.”

Connecting people to live art online

While the competition was originally slated to take place in the incomparable acoustics of the Isabel’s concert hall, the COVID-19 pandemic has moved the event to a virtual venue. But this doesn’t mean that listeners will have to accept second-rate sound quality. The Isabel team has collaborated with the CBC to ensure that the stream will feature nearly concert-level sound.

To help make this possible, the Isabel is sending high-quality WARM stereo microphone kits to each of the eight contestants. This state-of-the-art equipment will enable the Isabel and the CBC to capture a full range of sound as the musicians play. After the competition, the artists will be able to keep the microphone kits for future performances and recordings.

“The silver lining for the Isabel in the current situation is that we’ve accelerated our plans to improve the digital delivery of our live performances. I think people are really missing live art as they practice physical distancing, so it’s been important for our whole team to innovate by having these talented musicians reach national and international audiences on new digital platforms with high-fidelity sound technology,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “In collaboration with CBC, Queen’s is hoping to make Canadians feel connected both to the arts and to each other.”

Prizes for the winners

Thanks to donations from the Overton family, many of whom are Queen’s alumni, the musicians will be vying for prizes that mix further artistic opportunities with financial rewards. The first-place winner will be awarded The Marion Overton Dick Memorial Cello Prize, which comes with $20,000, a future engagement to perform with the Kingston Symphony Orchestra, and a future engagement to perform at the Isabel that will be recorded by CBC Music for national broadcast. The second prizewinner will receive the Clifford Overton Prize for $6,000, and the third prizewinner will receive the Margaret Foster and Heather Dick Prize for $4,000. After the three finalists perform, the online audience will also get to vote for the winner of the Bader Family Audience Prize, which comes with $1,000.

This cello competition is the second in the Bader and Overton series. The inaugural competition was funded by Isabel Overton Bader in 2017 in memory of her late sister Marion, who played the violin. The winner of that competition, Yolanda Bruno, will be hosting this year’s contest.

Tuning in to the competition

To learn more about the Bader and Overton Cello Competition, visit the Isabel’s website and Facebook page. To listen to the competition, tune into CBC Music on June 24, June 25, and June 27 at noon.

For more live online musical events over the summer, see the Isabel Digital Concert Hall

Re-imagining the world of theatre

Queen’s professor says when the pandemic has passed, the theatre world will be born anew.

West Side Story actors dance.
The world of theatre has ground to a halt but Queen's University professor Michael Wheeler is confident it will return. (Photo by Tim Fort; Winner in the 2019 Art of Research photo contest)

The theatre world has ground to a halt. Stages are dark and seats are empty. Queen’s University researcher Michael Wheeler is exploring how, in 2020, thinking has shifted from how digital was impacting live performance to how digital can keep the practice of the arts meaningful during a pandemic. 

“Theatres are facing an incredible amount of uncertainty about if and when they can resume regular activities,” says Wheeler (Dan School of Drama and Music). “Major institutions like the Stratford Festival have been forced to lay off much of their staff and it is unclear when they can resume operations. Part of this calculation is due to the uncertainty about the pandemic, and part is concern about when audiences will feel safe enough to return in significant numbers.” 

Wheeler also is questioning whether the artists themselves will recover as the already precarious nature of performer’s life means many will have few savings to rely on and, because of the pandemic, no restaurants or bars to work at in the downtime. 

Despite all the doom and gloom, the Queen’s professor has hope for the future – and that hope rests in the digital world for nowSpiderWebShow.ca is the first and only nationally-driven performing arts website of its kind in Canada. The site features CdnStudio, Canada’s first virtual rehearsal hall. In the wake of COVID-19, CdnStudio was relaunched as a space for artists to rehearse, experiment, and create with collaborators across distance. 

SpiderWebShow is also producing FOLDA (Festival of Live Digital Art) June 10-13 for the third timePreviously held live at The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, collaborators were able to change and re-focus the works to be delivered online through FOLDA. It is a national festival that includes partnerships with The Theatre Centre (Toronto), The National Arts Centre (Ottawa), Luminato Festival (Toronto) and PUSH Festival (Vancouver.) The work comes to audiences in many forms: audio walks, livestreams, radio broadcasts, Zoom calls, and social media tools.  

While experiencing the theatre and art digitally is the new reality for now, Wheeler, who also works as a director in the theatre, says nothing can replace live theatre. 

“Something a livestream can't provide is running into your friend at the bar, or the buzz of the lobby or even the chance to ride the subway to the theatre so there are social and experiential reasons people go to the theatre that may not be satisfied,” he says. “I also believe the risk of 'live' is part of why audiences engage with this evolving art form. When it is safe to return to the theatre, I do believe it will be more popular than pre-March 2019 as we appreciate what we had anew.” 

All FOLDA events June 10-13 are available to be experienced via folda.ca free of charge. 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Arts and Culture