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Arts and Culture

The art of teaching and learning

The Centre for Teaching and Learning wants the Queen’s community to delve into their creative process for a new exhibition that aims to highlight the artistic side of teaching and learning.

The creative expressions of teaching and learning exhibition, planned for October, will display and celebrate the creativity that is essential to the process of teaching and learning.

“Much of what we do at Queen’s to enhance teaching and learning takes a methodological approach, such as looking at course design or learning outcomes,” says Peter Wolf, Associate Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) and Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, who is spearheading the project along with a committee of dedicated volunteers. “This exhibition takes a different approach that hopes to engage students, staff and faculty in reflecting on the creative and sometimes artistic elements that contribute to learning.”

Submissions are invited from faculty, staff, students and alumni in two categories. The first is for existing artifacts, the products and processes of teaching and learning from current or past courses. This may include student projects, drawings, schematics, notes or other items. The second category is a call for proposals for new creative artworks, by individuals or groups, which need not be related to a specific course. These new works should be inspired by teaching and learning, and successful proposals will receive up to $750 to create the work.

A mind map created by a student as a tool for thinking through their project is an example of an existing artifact of teaching and learning.

“Transforming thought into art and artifact allows the knowledge culled from research and academic pursuits to incubate and emerge in a new form,” says Aynne Johnston, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Education, Co-coordinator of the Artist-in-Community Education program, and a member of the volunteer committee. “An artifact represents the end or the process of inquiry and has the ability to incite the curiosity of the public to learn, acquire and grasp connections between theory and possible application.”

Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts and another member of the exhibition’s volunteer committee, says the exhibition will highlight the importance of imagination in discovery and learning.

“Here at the Isabel we celebrate the creative journey of discovery through the arts, and this Creative Expressions of Teaching and Learning project will demonstrate the parallel process of discovery and learning through imagination,” says Ms. Baldwin. “This project will involve both creators and the Queen’s community in this creative fusion of imaginative pedagogy and art itself.”

The deadline for submissions of existing artifacts of teaching and learning is May 2 and the deadline for proposals for new works is March 18. Ownership and copyright for all works submitted will remain with the artists.

More information about the creative expressions of teaching and learning exhibit, including submission forms, is available on the website of the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Luck of the draw at Cezanne's Closet

[Cezanne's Closet]
Ticket holders get the chance to select from beautiful art pieces at Cezanne's Closet, the annual fundraiser for the Union Gallery.

Some wonderful works of art are up for grabs once again at Cezanne’s Closet, the Union Gallery’s annual fundraiser.

Art pieces, juried from donations by students, graduates, professors, and community artists, are exhibited at this formal event with each ticketholder ensured of going home with a work of art.

As ticketholders enjoy hors d'oeuvres, refreshments and entertainment, ticket numbers are drawn in random order. When a number is called, the person with the matching ticket has two minutes to claim their favourite piece from the wall. This makes for an exhilarating evening, as participants keep an eye on which of their favourite pieces have yet to be taken.

Proceeds from the event go towards supporting Union Gallery, a non-profit gallery that includes exhibits of contemporary work by students from the Bachelor of Fine Arts program as well as other student artists and professionals. Located in Stauffer Library, the gallery has professional staff, but students play a large role in its operation.

Cezanne’s Closet is on Saturday, Feb. 6 at Ban Righ Hall. The preview starts at 7 pm and the draw begins an hour later.

Tickets are $150 can be purchased from Union Gallery’s website

Queen's professor earns Juno nomination

John Burge (Music) has received a Juno nomination for his compostion Piano Quartet. (University Communications)

Queen’s University professor and composer John Burge (Music) has been nominated for a Juno Award, it was announced Tuesday.

Dr. Burge, received the Classical Composition of the Year nomination for Piano Quartet, which was commissioned and recorded by Ensemble Made In Canada.

[Piano Quartet]
Piano Quartet, by John Burge (Music), was commissioned and recorded by Ensemble Made In Canada. 

Dr. Burge won the Juno in the same category in 2009 for Flanders Fields Reflections.

Back then, Dr. Burge was vacationing in the Caribbean when the nominations were announced. This time, however, he was prepared and watched the proceedings live online in his campus office.

“All things considered, it really is very exciting to feel lightning strike twice as there are always so many deserving recordings made every year in this category,” he says. “The 2016 nomination for my Piano Quartet is especially meaningful because the group that commissioned and recorded the work, Ensemble Made In Canada, have kept the piece in their repertoire and performed it almost a dozen times in Canada and the United States since its premiere performance in 2012. It is great to have your music championed in this way and I expect that they will be playing the piece a few more times over the next few years given the Juno nomination.”

Dr. Burge describes Piano Quartet as “a very traditional work in three movements that lacks a descriptive title or narrative story and is really a true example of absolute music in the tradition of Brahms or Bartok.”

In 2010, Queen’s Music Continuing Adjunct Lecturer Marjan Mozetich won the Juno in the same category for Lament in the Trampled Garden.

The Juno Awards ceremony will be held Sunday, April 3, in Calgary.

Escape for 'A Night in Vienna'

[A Night in Vienna]
A Night in Vienna, the annual gala fundraiser for Queen's Music, takes to Grant hall on Saturday,Feb. 6. (University Communications

The talented students, faculty, and alumni from Queen's Music will be up front and centre as the Queen’s School of Drama and Music hosts its gala fundraiser.

A Night in Vienna, being held Saturday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 pm, in Grant Hall, is a musical journey to Vienna. For the event Grant Hall will be transformed into a grand ballroom where concertgoers will have the opportunity to waltz the night away, or just sit back and enjoy watching the professional ballroom dancers float across the dance floor while listening to the wonderful music of Vienna. 

Tickets are available at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, or online at theisabel.ca.

For further information contact Shirley Roth, Project Coordinator, Queen’s School of Drama and Music at (613) 533-6000 ext. 74211 or sr14@queensu.ca.



Tragedy and triumph

Students from the Department of Drama at Queen's learn how to fight with broadswords and quarterstaffs for the upoming production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. (Supplied Photo)

When the Department of Drama stages its winter production of Macbeth, the classic Shakespearean play will have a distinctly female feel to it.

Out of the 20 actors involved, 17 are women. The three men, in an interesting twist, will be taking up the roles of the witches.

However, this is not a retelling of the classic tragedy.

As director Kim Renders (Drama) points out, the makeup of the production is simply a reflection of the demographics within the Queen’s Department of Drama itself. The vast majority of drama students are women.

The characters themselves will remain true to their origin. Macbeth is he, Lady Macbeth is she.

“My concern is to help the actors tell the story as it was written by William Shakespeare. That’s what I am trying to do,” she says. “The story is the primary focus.”

Of course, that didn’t mean it would be easy.

Early on, as she sat went through the process of selecting the play, Renders quickly came to the realization that there aren’t many plays that have a predominantly female cast. Then she asked why she had to find a play that is mostly female. Instead she would pick a play and just cast more women in it.

The first play that came to mind was Macbeth and the more she considered it the more she thought ‘Why not?’ She placed herself in the position of a student once again and saw an opportunity.

“Wouldn’t it be so exciting as a young woman to be able play some of these really great Shakespearean characters and villains,” she says.

For the most part, however, Renders is holding closely to the script.

As with so many of Shakespeare’s plays, at the heart of Macbeth is the struggle with the human condition, good versus evil, ambition, deceit, murder. All are universal.

“They don’t have gender,” Renders adds.

Where the production does stray from the original is that there will be an opening battle scene. Robert Lindsay, a professional fight choreographer, has been brought in to teach the students how to use quarterstaffs and broadswords.

It’s another great opportunity for the young actors.

“I think everybody is loving it, especially the cast who have the opportunity to engage in the fight scene rehearsals,” Renders says. “I think the women in the cast are happy to be learning these skills. They look fabulous and are clearly having a good time.” 

Macbeth will be staged at the Studio Theatre of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Feb. 3-7 and Feb. 9-11 at 8 pm, along with a 2 pm matinee on Feb. 6. Tickets are $15 for students and seniors or $22 for general admission and can be purchased at theisabel.ca, the Isabel Bader Centre Box Office (12:30 pm-4:30 pm); or at the door prior to each performance.

For more visit the Department of Drama’s website.

Giller Prize recipient visits Queen’s

Andre Alexis discusses the inspiration for Fifteen Dogs with Queen’s English graduating class.

Andre Alexis, winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize, visited Queen’s University on Tuesday to deliver a guest lecture and take part in a book signing. Mr. Alexis kept a packed audience at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre riveted as he discussed the inspiration for writing Fifteen Dogs, which included a local tie.

“I got the inspiration for writing Fifteen Dogs while I was taking care of 11 huskies in Sharbot Lake,” Mr. Alexis says. “The feeling of being with those dogs in that environment was an essential part of how I felt about the writing of the novel. My first novel was written at Sharbot Lake, and I knew nothing. I still feel that I know nothing, but now I am paid for what I know.”

In his prize-winning novel, 15 dogs in a veterinary clinic in Toronto are granted the gifts of reason and language by the Greek gods Hermes and Apollo. The novel follows the pack as they explore these fundamentally human abilities and the differing paths it places them on. Mr. Alexis said that the book, like his previous works, allows him to explore the concepts of God, love and power in different settings in an attempt to better understand all three.

“I had a set of concerns about love, about God and about power that you can see across the books I’ve written,” he says. “My work is a constant confrontation with my religious beliefs, maybe because in some ways I haven’t gotten over the loss of the belief I had when I was younger. This constant confrontation, which each of the five novels include, is either a way of saying goodbye to the notion of the divine or keeping it close so I don’t have to.”

Mr. Alexis’ visit was facilitated by the Department of English Language and Literature, which has hosted the recipient of the Giller Prize annually for nine years.

A capstone experience

Queen’s Department of English Language and Literature to host Scotiabank Giller Prizewinner.

For the ninth straight year, Queen’s Department of English Language and Literature will host the winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for a lecture, reading and question-and-answer period at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

“The tradition of having the Giller Prize winner visit Queen’s started when Alistair MacLean was Dean of Arts and Sciences and challenged us to create a capstone experience for the English graduating class,” says Shelley King, Head of the Department of English Language and Literature.

She credits English Professor Chris Bongie for suggesting that the department invite a prize-winning author to campus to interact with the students, who would also receive a copy of the book as a sort of “cohort experience.” The event is currently supported through a gift from Queen’s English alum Diane King and the Department of English Alumni Fund.

This year’s winner, André Alexis, received the prize for his novel, Fifteen Dogs. In the novel, 15 dogs in a veterinary clinic in Toronto are granted the gifts of reason and language by the Greek gods Hermes and Apollo. The novel follows the pack as they explore these fundamentally human abilities and the differing paths it places them on.

Mr. Alexis’ visit will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 19, starting at 2:30 pm, at the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre. During the visit, Mr. Alexis will hold a public reading and discussion, as well as a book signing. All are welcome to attend.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize was established in 1994 by Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife Doris Giller, a former literary editor at the Toronto Star. The Giller Prize, the largest awarded for fiction in Canada, is given to one Canadian author of a novel or short story collection published in English during the previous year.

'Right tool, right time'

Thanks to a new app, music teachers and their students are able to collaborate effectively between lessons.

Notemaker allows users to make real-time comments on video and audio recordings.

Notemaker allows users to make real-time comments on video and audio recordings. It was created through the Music Education in a Digital Age (MEDA) Project, directed by Queen’s University’s Rena Upitis (Education), in partnership with Concordia University and the Royal Conservatory.

Annotation apps are not new, Dr. Upitis explains, but what makes Notemaker different is that it is the only one that allows a dialogue among multiple commenters directly on a recorded work, either video or audio.

“The technical piece that makes this app unique is that it can be used with multiple users, multiple times. So that makes it extraordinarily powerful,” Dr. Upitis says. “It’s dynamic, it’s multi-user, it’s the kind of teaching and learning that we are doing these days.”

Music lessons often take place once or twice a week and the communication often ends when the lesson does. However, with Notemaker, the communication continues.

“So when you are sitting at a piano lesson and your teacher tells you something, your teacher interrupts you partway through a piece and says try this differently. You get it and you pay attention but you can’t re-create that moment when you are practising,” Dr. Upitis says. “Whereas if you’ve done a video and the teacher writes a comment in ‘This is what I meant at the lesson, right here you need to raise your elbow,’ then you can play it again and again and see where your elbow isn’t raised and then say ‘Okay I get it’ and apply it to the practice. In a lesson the moment has passed but with Notemaker the moment can be brought back again and back again.”

The app is part of the larger MEDA Project, which has resulted in four digital tools – iSCORE, DREAM, Notemaker and Cadenza –that comprise The Music Tool Suite. The multi-year project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The other key for Notemaker is the recognition that learning has moved beyond the classroom setting.

“It is very exciting and it meets two very important needs,” says Dr. Upitis. “One is to recognize the contemporary pull of mobile devices for young musicians and the other is to provide scaffolding for teachers to be able to work with students mid-week between lessons. It’s really intuitive and because it meets a pedagogical need I think whatever learning they may have to do to figure out the app, it’s worth it and not terribly difficult, especially if they are using phones already, which many of them are.

“This is the right tool at the right time for this context and we’re loving the response we’re getting.”

Dr. Upitis adds that with its flexibility and multi-user sharing, Notemaker can be applied far beyond music education. If there’s a video and feedback being sought, whether it’s sports training, theatre, dance or creating a preparing a presentation for work, Notemaker is an ideal platform.

While it is an exciting, new tool, at the heart of the app is something that has always been the key to learning.

“The other thing Notemaker does is the most important of all, which is it motivates people. People are motivated to practice when they can see their progress and when they can feel they are getting feedback that is directed and helpful and they can link that feedback to their work,” Dr. Upitis says. “Ultimately it is motivation that matters in every kind of learning. If kids are intrinsically motivated to do whatever the task is at hand that’s what’s going to propel them forward. It’s not the app. It’s the learning. And when they fall in love with the learning and fall in love with the activity or discipline that’s what you want taking over. For us an app like this provides that motivational bridge, that pedagogical bridge, the collaborative bridge, but ultimately, in our case, it’s about learning to play and love music. Not about learning to love and play an app.”

Nobel celebrations in Stockholm

Follow Dr. Arthur B. McDonald as he accepts his Nobel Prize in Stockholm, Sweden, from December 7 through December 11. Find upcoming events and check back often for updates!

[Art McDonald]
Dr. Art McDonald addressed well-wishers at his Big Bang Send-off on December 3 in Grant Hall. (Photo by Bernard Clark) See more photos...

The eyes of the Queen’s community are on Stockholm as Professor Emeritus Arthur McDonald receives the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on neutrinos at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory.

While in Stockholm, Dr. McDonald, the inaugural chair of the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics, will participate in a number of official events during Nobel Week, including the award ceremony

Watch the Nobel Prize Ceremony archive
from Thursday, December 10 at 10:30 a.m. (EST)

Monday, December 7

Press Conference 3:30 a.m. (EST)

Dr. McDonald and his fellow Nobel laureates took part in the Press conference with the Nobel Laureates in Physics and Chemistry and the Laureate in Economic Sciences 2015 from 3:30-5 a.m. EST.
Watch video of the press conference...

The Canadian Embassy also hosted a luncheon, where Dr. McDonald was interviewed alongside Mats Sundin, former Toronto Maple Leafs captain, for Swedish radio. Listen to the radio interview...

See also, Queen's Gazette  Nobel update: Dec 7

[at the press conference [Art McDonald with hockey jersey]
Dr. Art McDonald at the press conference with the Nobel Laureates; Dr. McDonald with his new team jersey!

Tuesday, December 8

Lecture at 3:00 a.m. (EST)

Dr. McDonald delivered his Nobel lecture, “The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory: Observation of Flavour Change for Solar Neutrinos,” from 3:00 to 4:20 am EST.

Viewers can watch the lecture here, or on kva.se or nobelprize.org

[Dr McDonald at the podium]


Dr. McDonald also attended a special reception in his honour hosted by Kenneth Macartney, Canada's Ambassador to Sweden.

[collage of reception photos]

Pictured (right): Dr. Art McDonald, hockey great Börje Salming, Ambassador Kenneth Macartney, Principal Daniel Woolf

See also, Queen's Gazette  Nobel update: Dec. 8 – McDonald delivers Nobel lecture8

Wednesday, December 9

Luncheon and visit to Norra Real High School

Queen’s celebrated Dr. McDonald’s remarkable accomplishments at a luncheon.

Earlier in the day, he attended a meeting that included his co-recipient, Takaaki Kajita of Japan, to prepare for the taping of Nobel Minds on Friday.

Dr. McDonald also visited Norra Real High School, the oldest upper-secondary school in Stockholm.

See also, Queen's Gazette  Nobel update Dec 9

[at Norra real high school]

Thursday, December 10

Nobel Prize Ceremony

Watch the Nobel Prize Ceremony archive or find it on Queen's 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics Playlist

[Art and Janet McDonald]
Art and Janet McDonald, before the ceremony

Dr. McDonald and his fellow Nobel laureates formally received their Nobel Prizes from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall.

Following the ceremony, the Nobel banquet was held in the Blue Hall at the Stockholm City Hall. Among the approximately 1,300 guests who attended the banquet are members of the SNO Collaboration and the Swedish Royal Family.

The Queen's community gathered to watch the ceremony in Stirling Hall! The Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) hosted a special celebration and viewing party (of the ceremony livetream) with the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy in Stirling Hall.

[Art McDonald receives Nobel Prize]
Dr. McDonald formally received his Nobel Prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall


Friday, December 11

Nobel Minds

Nobel Minds is a a round-table discussion program with the current year's Nobel Laureates, co-produced by SVT and BBC WN, and broadcast on Swedish TV and BBC.

Find archived programs...

Nobel Prize in Physics videos: See also: Queen's 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics Playlist

  1. 2015 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony
  2. Dr. Art McDonald with Mats Sundin – an interview with Lena Nordlund fro Swedish radio. December 7, 2015, in Stockholm.
  3. Dr. Arthur B. McDonald's remarks at the Canadian Embassy in Sweden.
  4. A welcome to Dr. Art McDonald by Ambassador Ken Macartney. December 8, 2015, in Stockholm.
  5. 2015 Nobel Lectures in Physics. December 8, 2015, in Stockholm.
  6. Arthur McDonald: The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory: Observation of flavor change for solar neutrinos
  7. Arthur B. McDonald - Banquet Speech: ""Behind every success there is effort... passion... a courage to try."
  8. Congratulations Art McDonald (played at the Big Bang Send-off in Grant Hall)
  9. In conversation with Art McDonald -- The Nobel Prize and Canadian research excellence by Universities Canada/Universités Canada
  10. Professor Arthur B. McDonald Co-recipient, 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics

I remember the first time I met Art...

A collection of tweets, videos, photos and news stories about Art McDonald. www.artmcdonald.ca

Submit your own story about Art

'Amazing gift' for Queen's

Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, 1658, oil on canvas, 107.4 x 87.0 cm, Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2015 (58-008) (Photo courtesy of Otto Naumann, Ltd.)

Thanks to Alfred and Isabel Bader, Queen’s art centre has added another Rembrandt painting to its collection – this time a remarkable, late-career masterpiece that had been privately owned and unavailable to scholars for much of its existence.

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, signed and dated 1658, will become part of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s permanent collection. The painting is a significant example of a dated portrait by Rembrandt from the 1650s, and one of the last works from the artist’s late career to enter a public collection.

“I am grateful the Baders have entrusted us with this remarkable work of art,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “This gift distinguishes the art centre at Queen’s as the destination in Canada for the research, study and enjoyment of Rembrandt and his followers, and places the Agnes among the premier university art galleries in North America for the study of European art.”

Over a period spanning nearly 50 years, the Baders – two of Queen’s most generous alumni and benefactors – have donated to the Agnes more than 200 paintings, including two other works by Rembrandt, Head of an Old Man in a Cap (c. 1630) and Head of a Man in a Turban (c. 1661).

Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo will be a centrepiece for the many portraits by the artists in Rembrandt’s circle currently in The Bader Collection at the Agnes. I’m truly grateful to Alfred and Isabel Bader for their vision in shaping this collection, and for this amazing gift,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. “Across the university, researchers from many disciplines, from art and art history to psychology, business, theatre and medicine will take advantage of access to this painting. Most of all, we’ll treasure this piece for its extraordinary quality, and as an example of the highest aspiration of painting, which is to capture the human spirit.”

The Agnes is currently preparing Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo for installation. The painting will be unveiled to the public in May 2016.

“This painting is a dazzling demonstration of the artist’s signature ruwe, or rough, style, embodying the painterly brilliance so associated with Rembrandt’s late work. It also beautifully demonstrates the artist’s consummate skill in capturing the psychological presence of his subjects,” says Dr. Jacquelyn N. Coutré, Bader Curator and Researcher of European Art at the Agnes.

The Baders’ most recent gift is a significant contribution to Queen’s Initiative Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history. The campaign seeks to nurture a supportive campus community, enhance the student learning experience, and secure a global reputation in discovery and inquiry.

When asked about the motivation for his generous gift, Dr. Bader explains, “It is the best Rembrandt in Canada, and Queen’s is the best university in Canada. It is very fitting.”

Alfred Bader (Sc’45, Arts’46, MSc’47, LLD’86) and Isabel Bader (LLD’07) are among Queen’s most generous benefactors, supporting the university for seven decades. They have given back to Queen’s in countless ways: transforming the campus, enriching the student experience, supporting scholarship, and helping to enhance the university’s reputation as a top-tier educational institution. In an extraordinary philanthropic gesture, the couple funded Queen’s purchase of a 15th century English castle – Herstmonceux – that has been meticulously restored and is now home to the Bader International Study Centre. Last year, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts opened, thanks to another transformational gift from the Baders.


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