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Arts and Culture

Giller Prize winner visits campus

Equipped with his whirring theremin, the winner of the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Sean Michaels, visited campus on Friday.

Sean Michaels performs a short song on his theremin. (University Communications)

Mr. Michaels, whose debut novel Us Conductors received one of Canada’s top literary prizes, kept an audience at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre riveted with a lecture, reading and question and answer period. He even gave a brief performance on his theremin, an instrument that plays a central role in Us Conductors.

The novel tells the mostly true story of Lev Termen, the Russian scientist, inventor and spy who created the theremin, as he rises to prominence in the Soviet Union and moves to the United States to promote his new electronic instrument and perform espionage for the Russian government.

Though not a musician himself, music has been important to Mr. Michaels’ career. He created one of the internet’s first mp3 music blogs, Said the Gramophone, and the creation and performance of music runs throughout Us Conductors.

“I guess I took the easier path, in that I wasn’t particularly gifted in performing music and I didn’t take that much pleasure from it,” Mr. Michaels says. “Playing music never clicked that strongly, whereas writing does … To me [making music] is less fun than being alone with my adjectives.”

That preference for writing has served him well, making him only the second debut novelist ever to win the Giller Prize, something he’s still in disbelief about.

“The Giller feels like something that happened to me, rather than something I actually did,” he says. “I’ve always wanted three things from my writing career: to produce work which I feel is good, to connect through my writing to other people, and to be able to have enough of a readership that I can support myself to write. The Giller’s made the third one that much easier.”

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

Raising awareness

[Aboriginal Awareness Week]
Aboriginal Awareness Week includes a bannock sale, medicine shield-making workshop and the Indigenous Celebration of Arts, Culture and Dance at the Tett Centre.  From left, are QNSA members,: Alyssa Jeavons; Leah Combs; Brittany Town; Holly McCann; and Melanie Gray. (University Communications)

This year, the Queen’s Native Students’ Association (QNSA) wants to get people of all backgrounds involved in Aboriginal Awareness Week. The week, which runs from March 16-21, celebrates indigenous histories and cultures with a wide array of events.

“I’ve often found that when I tell people about QNSA and the work we do, they feel like they can’t take part because they aren’t of indigenous ancestry, or if they are, because they don’t feel connected to that part of themselves,” says Leah Combs (Artsci’16), President of QNSA. “We want our events to be spaces where anyone can learn about these issues and not feel like they’re stepping out of their place.”

Among the week’s events are a bannock sale at University Avenue and Union Street, a medicine shield-making workshop at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre and a panel discussion in Grant Hall about missing and murdered aboriginal women. The panel discussion, which concludes the Our Stolen Sisters radio series by CFRC, will feature Queen’s professors Robert Lovelace (Global Development Studies), Sam McKegney (English Language and Literature), as well as Dr. Dawn Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Capping off the week will be the Indigenous Celebration of Arts, Culture and Dance, held for the first time at the newly-opened Tett Centre. Along with crafts and traditional food vendors, the celebration will have a performance by a Haudenosaunee water drummer, Metis jigging, and performance by the Red Spirit Singers and Dancers.

Throughout Aboriginal Awareness Week, QNSA will have a history exhibit in the lower ceilidh of the John Deutsch University Centre. They’ve worked with the City of Kingston to create a visual presentation of Kingston’s indigenous peoples throughout history.

“We’re trying to tie in histories of indigenous groups in Kingston to groups that are here now — we want to bring the past to the present and look towards the future.”

Along with raising awareness about indigenous issues, many of the week’s events will raise funds to support a new initiative started by QNSA. With the Northern Food Security Initiative, the QNSA is sponsoring an impoverished Inuit family who live in Taloyoak, Nunavut. Each month, the group is sending the family traditionally hunted foods, such as musk ox and caribou, or supplies of their choosing. Donation boxes will be present at each of the week’s events for those looking to make a contribution.

“It’s important to understand that the issues indigenous peoples in Canada face are the responsibilities of all Canadians, not just those with indigenous ancestry,” says Ms. Combs.

View the full schedule of Aboriginal Awareness Week events.

Getting back to Gaelic

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, Danny Doyle (MAC’15) is reminding campus that we’re more Irish than we realize.

Danny Doyle stands in front of the official Gaelic translation of "O Canada". (University Communications)

On Thursday, March 12, he’ll be delivering a public lecture on the history of the Gaelic language in Canada, from its early spread and use, to the large influx of speakers during the Great Irish Famine and the causes for the language’s eventual decline.  

“It’s accepted in scholarship that people left Ireland speaking Gaelic, but what’s never been discussed is what happened to them when they arrived in Canada,” says Mr. Doyle. “It’s not as though they got off the boat and stopped speaking the language.”

On the contrary, Mr. Doyle says that Gaelic, in its various dialects, was once Canada’s third-most spoken language. One in 10 Canadians were fluent in Gaelic at the time of confederation and it was the mother tongue of many of the country’s political founders — Sir John A Macdonald himself spoke Scottish Gaelic. There was once even a bill in the House of Commons that proposed making Gaelic Canada’s third official language.

The beginning of the decline in Gaelic’s popularity came with the Great Famine, a period of mass starvation that afflicted Ireland from 1845-52 when a blight ravaged the country’s potato crop.

“The famine did horrible things to the language, because it primarily affected rural farmers who were mostly Gaelic speakers. People’s opinion of the language was devastated. It was an ancestral indigenous language which people believed had been spoken since the Tower of Babel,” says Mr. Doyle. “Suddenly, after the famine, it became the language of death and poverty. Speaking English symbolized moving on with your life.”

Mr. Doyle is part of a small but dedicated group who are trying to revive Gaelic in Canada. As the group’s unofficial heritage officer, he began assembling a record of the language’s use, a project that grew and grew until he had enough content for a manuscript, which will be published later this year. Thursday’s lecture is culled from the content of his book, which brings to light information about the country as a whole as well as some places close to home.

“In 1847, more than 49,000 Gaelic speakers came through Kingston as they travelled along the Rideau Canal. They stopped here before redistributing to other communities, but Kingston became a big centre for Gaelic speakers,” he says.

Along with having a Gaelic newspaper, Kingston began celebrating traditional Irish holidays, and Mr. Doyle says the first recorded celebration of Halloween (derived from the Irish festival of Samhain) in North America was in Kingston.

By bringing to light Gaelic’s history in Canada, Mr. Doyle hopes to reignite people’s interest in a language that was fundamental to the country.

“It’s said that Gaelic culture is a tapestry that’s been ravaged by time, so we have to gather together all those threads lest we lose it,” he says.

Mile Mile I gCein: 500 Years of Irish Gaelic in Canada is Thursday, March 12 at 7 pm in 517 Watson Hall.

Conference pays homage to Queen’s legend

There’s often an urge to exaggerate the accomplishments of our forebears, embellishing their successes and abilities to the point where they become more legend than reality.

For a person like George Whalley though, overstating the volume and breadth of his achievements is nearly impossible. He was a war hero who took part in the sinking of the Bismarck during the Second World War, an inventor of a naval navigation beacon, helped found the Kingston Symphony, was head of the Queen’s English Department for two terms and wrote multiple books of poetry and literary criticism. It’s a long list, but still doesn’t record all his accomplishments.   

George Whalley
The life and career of George Whalley will be the focus of a three-day conference  being hosted at Queen’s by the Department of English Language and Literature from July 24-26. (Portrait by Elizabeth Tatchell Harrison)

To celebrate the centenary of Whalley’s birth, a three-day conference is being hosted at Queen’s by the Department of English Language and Literature from July 24-26. Rather than a strictly academic conference, the event will be just as multi-faceted as Whalley’s life. Its first day will focus on Romanticism and Aesthetics, Whalley’s primary academic focuses, the second will focus on the man himself and his legacy, and the third day will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Canadian Writer’s Conference, which was held in 1955 at Queen’s. 

“One conference on one subject wouldn’t be enough to cover everything that Whalley achieved and what he meant to Queen’s,” says Shelley King, head of the English Department. “The scope of his intellectual endeavors was something that resonated not just with other academics, but the broader public as well. A recognized man of letters, he was a public intellectual in the 1960s when higher education was starting to expand and there was extraordinary popular support for university work.”

Open to a wide audience of academics, writers and interested members of the Kingston community, the conference will have heavyweights of Canadian literature as well. Famed Canadian author and Queen’s grad Michael Ondaatje (MA’67) will be present as well as Giller Prize-winner Elizabeth Hay. Ondaatje studied at Queen’s while Whalley was a professor and Hay was inspired by Whalley’s work on John Hornby during the writing of Late Nights on Air. Both authors will be presenting on the conference’s second day.

Though the conference is being hosted at Queen’s, much of its organization has been handled by Michael DiSanto, associate professor and head of the Department of English and Film at Algoma University. Dr. DiSanto has for some years now been working with Whalley’s poetry and essays, is writing a biography of Whalley’s astonishing life and wishes the work of this prominent Canadian was better known.

“Seemingly everything he chose to do, he did very, very well,” Dr. DiSanto says. “He was an exceptionally thoughtful and accomplished Canadian, and I see him as part of a trio that includes Northrop Frye and George Grant.”

Along with the conference’s presentations will be a number of social events. A chamber music performance will be held at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on the evening of July 25 and a dinner will be held at the HMCS Cataraqui where Whalley was commanding officer in the early 1950s.

More information about the conference can be found at GeorgeWhalley.ca.

Book takes flight with awards

[Bob Montgomerie]
Bob Montgomerie (Biology) holds up a copy of Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology Since Darwin, the book he co-authored with Tim Birkhead of the University of Sheffield and Jo Wimpenny. The book has recently won a number of awards. (University Communications)

Much like the plumage of the Bird of Paradise on its cover, a recently-published book on ornithology, co-written by Queen’s University’s Bob Montgomerie (Biology), is garnering a lot of attention. Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology Since Darwin is earning rave reviews and a slew of awards for its depth, reach and readability.

The book recently was named the best book in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology category of the American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) and was listed by CHOICE, a magazine of the American Library Association, as one of the Outstanding Academic Titles of 2014.

This is no mere “bird book.” Ten Thousand Birds is an in-depth scholarly look at the major scientific advances in ornithology since the time of Charles Darwin.

The project was started by Tim Birkhead, a zoology professor at the University of Sheffield and a long-time colleague and friend of Dr. Montgomerie. Birkhead had earlier published a book called Wisdom of Birds, looking at the entire history of ornithology, but in the new book wanted to focus on the 20th century, something he had little space for in Wisdom. He knew it would be a tough task so he turned to his friend at Queen’s, who would also bring a North American perspective to the work.

The initial plan was for Dr. Montgomerie to research, edit and supplement what Dr. Birkhead’s initial drafts, as they had done in other collaborations. They also enlisted the help of Jo Wimpenny, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Sheffield at the time to do some of the background research and interviews. But it soon became apparent that the task of writing was too much for one person. A point of pride for the authors is that no one, not even close colleagues, has been able to tell who wrote what chapter. “The writing was very much a totally cooperative effort,” says Dr. Montgomerie.

Overall, the project took five years, including a sabbatical year for Montgomerie in 2009. The most difficult part was choosing what to include and what to omit, he says, adding that the team easily had enough material to write 10 volumes. But a multi-volume work wasn’t the goal, and even the most flexible publisher has limits.

So they whittled their initial 30 chapter plan down to 11, making some tough choices. One obvious chapter that was let go was on birdsong. But as Dr. Montgomerie points out some excellent books had just been published on that topic and they figured they couldn’t improve on those. It was better to stay focused on other areas.

In the end, research and fact checking took up the most time. Thankfully though, the internet proved to be a timesaver, especially the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a consortium of university and academic libraries that are scanning rare books and historic studies onto the web.

Without the internet, Dr. Montgomerie estimates Ten Thousand Birds would have been a 30-year project, at least.

For example, Dr. Montgomerie needed to check a book on avian anatomy written by a German scientist in 1878. He did an online search and quickly found what he needed in about 10 minutes. Until very recently, he figures, the search would have taken a month and at significant cost, including traveling to the library and getting the excerpt translated.

Other times, he says, he would be looking for rare publication and, after not being able to locate it online, would put the search aside for a while. A month or two later, another search would prove fruitful. There is just that much old material being scanned and made available online.

At the heart of the book, are the men and women involved in pushing ornithology forward since the time of Darwin. This, perhaps, is why the book is getting the most attention from readers.

Limited in what they could include in the book, Dr. Montgomerie says they chose to write mainly about people and their discoveries. Some people were obvious, because they are such big names, but they also chose people who were interesting that nobody knows about.

An example is Hilda Cinat-Thompson, who, living in Latvia in 1927, did a “fabulous study” on mate choice, half a century before it became an important area of study.

“We’re pretty sure few people had ever heard of her. We couldn’t find out anything about her either but we thought this is the kind of thing we wanted to put in this book that would make people go, ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know about that,’” says Dr. Montgomerie. “We wanted to include a bunch of people who made really great contributions that nobody had heard of. That’s what makes a book like this both interesting and academically useful.”

Ready to climb the ‘next mountain’

[Tricia Baldwin]
Tricia Baldwin arrives as the director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts after serving as the managing director of Tafelmusik, Canada’s leading baroque orchestra, for nearly 15 years. (University Communications)

Well before she formally stepped into her role as director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in December, Tricia Baldwin was already plotting its future.

Although she was then still wholly employed in Toronto as the managing director of Tafelmusik, Canada’s leading baroque orchestra – a role she held for nearly 15 years – Ms. Baldwin was spending her evenings, weekends and holidays readying herself for her new job at Queen’s.

While Ms. Baldwin admits that straddling both positions was a challenge, the arrangement seemed fitting for a woman so naturally drawn to hard work that when she first heard about the job at the Isabel, she had one thought: “that’s the next mountain to climb.” 

First drawn to the arts through music, Ms. Baldwin sensed that a career as a musician simply wasn’t in the cards. After earning a degree in music from the University of Toronto, she decided to pursue an MBA at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

“My world completely opened up,” she says of the experience. “I was thrown into all kinds of new areas with students from many different disciplines. It was fantastic.”

Ms. Baldwin immediately put her newly honed business skills to work, first wending her way to Kingston in the 1990s to serve as the General Manager of the Kingston Symphony. She landed at Tafelmusik in 2000 and promptly got to work in a role that saw her managing the company’s national and international tours, helping to significantly grow its revenue, expanding its training programs, overseeing a multimillion dollar renovation project and spearheading Tafelmusik Media, the company’s own recording label, among many other accomplishments.

But as much as she had enjoyed her tenure with the world-renowned company, Ms. Baldwin says she knew she was ready for her next challenge.

“My favourite part of this job is putting new things in place,” she says. “I particularly love the interdisciplinary projects, and the fact that you never know what you will be doing next. I’ve always been thrilled with coming in at the ground floor.  At the Isabel, we have music, drama, film and visual art all under one roof, and this makes the future of interdisciplinary work very exciting here at Queen’s.  I believe that some of the greatest creativity in the 21st century will be that between disciplines.”

While she won’t be able to formally announce the Isabel’s 2015-2016 season until April, Ms. Baldwin is palpably excited about what she has in store, from a “global salon” series, to performances from past winners of internationally renowned music competitions. She is also focused on ensuring her genre-straddling programming includes a diverse range of artists from right across the country, and an investment in the creation of new works and programmes. 

“We need to represent the arts beyond the Western traditions, and to encourage a broader international experience for the students and audiences at large.”

Passionate about supporting the next generation of artists, Ms. Baldwin has already secured agreements with the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Honens Piano Competition to welcome their winning artists to Kingston.

She is also focused on nurturing talent within the Queen’s community: “our next step is to foster the next generation of arts leaders, and we are all putting much thought into how to manifest this vision.”

Ms. Baldwin is not only thrilled with her new role, but also with the many exciting possibilities she knows lie ahead for the Isabel.

“I love the quality of life in Kingston, working with artists from around the world and the  camaraderie and intellectual rigor of being at Queen’s University,” she says with a smile. “I’m in my happy place.”

Making their mark on the big screen

Hopeless Romantic screens on opening night at the KCFF.

When she got an email letting her know that her film, Hopeless Romantic, would be screened as part of the 15th annual Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF), Mickayla Pike, Artsci’16, felt one thing: shock. Ms. Pike, a third-year student in the stage and screen program, and her team of six created their five-minute short in 72 hours as part of the university’s Focus Film Festival. Though the film won a slew of awards, Ms. Pike says she had no idea that the organizers had submitted to the KCFF for consideration.

“The whole thing has been a bit of a whirlwind,” says Ms. Pike of her directorial debut. Hopeless Romantic tells the story of a young woman who spends her time watching romantic comedies, and then reenacting famous scenes in a bid to attract men. In one example, she reenacts a scene from Titantic at the front of the Wolfe Island ferry. Ms. Pike says she is thrilled that the film will be making its debut at the KCFF just ahead of the festival’s opening night feature.

“We are grateful just to have been included in the festival,” says Ms. Pike on behalf of her team. “We are surprised and happy, and just plan to live in the moment!”


Jargon tells the story of a man with Asperger’s syndrome. 

Jonathan Vamos, Artsci’15, feels just as thrilled to be making his debut at the KCFF with Jargon, a short film about an painter who has autism and who lives with his sister. “It means a lot,” says the fourth-year film major, explaining that while he has traditionally worked in the role of cinematographer on film projects, he stepped into the role as director for Jargon, which was also created as part of the Focus Film Festival. Mr. Vamos wrote the script during a third-year scriptwriting class. It is loosely based on his own relationship with his brother, who has Asperger’s syndrome.

While he says he has always loved film, Mr. Vamos wasn’t convinced he would make it the focus of his Queen’s education until he took a course with Robert Hyland at the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle as a first-year student. “Dr. Hyland was so passionate,” Mr. Vamos recalls. “I decided that was what I wanted to study.”

Though Mr. Vamos says he is equally interested in writing and cinematography, he says he hasn’t entirely dismissed the possibility of doing more directing. “Making Jargon was a real learning experience,” he laughs. “When we finished, my first thought was ‘I am never doing that again’ because it was so stressful. But my friends said I was a great director. I’m on the fence about what I will do next.” 


The Plan screens on Feb. 27 as part of the KCFF’s Local Shorts program. 

Stephen Trivieri, Artsci’16, and Jordan Masterson, Artsci’16, had their sights clearly set on participating in the KCFF. Three weeks before the final submission deadline, Mr. Trivieri approached Mr. Masterson about the possibility of collaborating on a dedicated project for the festival.

“I had this idea for a fun, flashy, Ocean’s Eleven-style film, but something that was serious in the way that it was made,” says Mr. Trivieri, explaining that he also wanted to create something that the student community would be able to relate to. The third-year film students quickly agreed on creating a short comedy about a man trying to retrieve a pair of boxer shorts from a woman’s house after a one-night affair. “As we started to film, people were getting more and more into it,” he recalls. “After the first day of shooting, I knew we had something good.”

In a week and a half, Mr. Trivieri says they moved their film, The Plan, from rough idea to finished film. “It blew us away,” he says of the extracurricular experience that allowed him and his team to work with a great number of motivated students from a number of disciplines.

“I think it shows that there are lots of likeminded people at Queen’s and lots that have aspirations that go beyond the textbook,” says Mr. Trivieri, who has since founded Breathe Entertainment and has plans to keep the creative momentum rolling with new projects. “All you need is a little bit of fire to get everything started.”

The 15th annual Kingston Canadian Film Festival runs from Feb. 26 until March 1 at venues around Kingston. For more information, visit the festival’s website.

 

 

 

Visitorship honours trailblazing alumnus

Nominations are now open for five competitions administered by the Provost’s Advisory Committee for the Promotion of the Arts, including the Robert Sutherland Visitorship, which honours one of Queen’s most notable graduates.

Mr. Sutherland was the first known black lawyer in British North America and the first Queen’s graduate of African descent. He received his degree in classics and mathematics in 1852 and was licensed to practise law in 1855. Upon his death in 1878, he left his entire $12,000 estate to the university.

The visitorship, established in 1997, honours the trailblazing alumnus by providing funds to bring a notable speaker to campus to enable dialogue and inspire action around race-related, equity, and justice issues. Last year it received a generous endowment from the Joseph S. Stauffer Foundation.

“The Sutherland Visitorship and the other funds administered by the committee promote dialogue and enrich the Queen’s community on an annual basis,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (teaching and learning), who chairs the Provost’s Advisory Committee for the Promotion of the Arts. “I would like to thank the benefactors who have generously made these opportunities possible.”

Nominations are also invited for the following:

Nominations to the five funds may be made by any member of the Queen’s community, and must be received by March 31, 2015. For detailed nomination instructions, visit the webpage of the Provost’s Advisory Committee for the Promotion of the Arts.

Nominations are also open, until Feb. 27, for faculty and students interested in serving on the subcommittee for the Rosen Lecture Series. With the dissolution of the Committee on Creative Arts and Public Lectures last year, a change in reporting structure saw the committee fall under the Provost’s Advisory Committee for the Promotion of the Arts. Nomination forms and more information on the subcommittee are available online.

A glimpse of the world

  • QUIC Photo Contest Overall Winner
    Overeall Winner: Pause, Surabaya, Indonesia - Fenton Isaacs (Artsci’17)
  • QUIC Photo Contest - Home Away From Home
    Home Away From Home: Golden Rays from Home, Montreal - Werdah Iqbal (Artsci’15)
  • QUIC Photo Contest - People and Culture
    People and Culture: Early Rider, East Sussex, England - Mitchell Gleason (Artsic’17)
  • QUIC Photo Contest - Landscape and Nature
    Landscape and Nature: The Fog in the Fairytale, Venice, Italy - Erin Colwell (Artsci’15)
  • QUIC Photo Contest - Critical Global Issues
    Critical Global Issues: Street Dogs Puppy Love, Ghana - Kelsey Ross (Artsci’15)

There is beauty to be found all around the world — from grand buildings and cities to hidden treasures and everyday life.

A panel of judges has selected the winners of the seventh annual Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) Photo Contest in the categories of People and Culture, Landscape and Nature, Home Away From Home and Critical Global Issues, as well as a grand prize winner.

Sharing international experiences with others is an important step in the building of understanding, appreciation and enjoyment across cultures.

This year’s grand prize winner Pause was taken by Fenton Isaacs (Artsci’17).

Other category winners include:

  • Home Away From Home: Werdah Iqbal (Artsci'15)
  • People and Culture: Mitchel Gleason (Artsci'17)
  • Landscape and Nature: Erin Colwell (Artsci'15)
  • Critical Global Issues: Kelsey Ross (Artsci'15)

Photos from the contest will be exhibited March 3-4 from 4-6 pm at QUIC, located in the John Deutsch University Centre. There will be a  second exhibit of selected photos (RETROSPECT ’09 -’15) at the Pump House Steam Museum in downtown Kingston from April 1-25. Admission is free with Queen’s ID.

Voting for the People's Choice Award - including continues until Friday, Feb. 27 at 4 pm. You can cast your vote by following this link.

Preparing for the Proms

[A night at the Proms]
In a playful tribute to English music and culture, the Queen’s School of Music is taking on popular British tunes as part of a fundraising concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (University Communications)

Anglophiles, it’s time to warm up your vocal chords and unfurl your Union Jacks: the Queen’s School of Music is holding its first ‘proms’ concert at the Isabel and you’re invited.

A playful musical tribute to English music and culture, A Night at the Proms...Then Off to the Music Hall, will see students, faculty and alumni from the Queen’s School of Music taking on popular British tunes as part of a fundraising concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

The evening will also feature guest performer Mark Dubois, one of the country’s most renowned lyric tenors.

The ‘Proms’ are a series of concerts held every summer at Royal Albert Hall in London, England. The musical series traditionally concludes with a popular concert called “The Last Night at the Proms”, which is built around showcasing patriotic British music. Audience members are famous for using the concerts as an opportunity to display their national pride, carrying flags and wearing patriotic clothing, and for lending their voices to the evening. 

That’s the spirit the concert’s organizers hope to capture at the Isabel.

“We’ll be doing ‘Rule Britannia’, ‘Fantasia on British Sea-Songs’, and Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ which are all part of the traditional British Proms concerts,” says Musical Director Gordon Craig about the concert, which will feature the Queen’s Symphony Orchestra and the 66-voice Queen’s Choral Ensemble, as well as student and faculty soloists. “It’s all great music.”

Producer Bruce Kelly stresses that audience engagement will be an important component the evening.

“The more audience participation we can get in the songs, the better,” he laughs, explaining that this is the first time the School of Music has tried hosting a ‘Proms’ concert. “It will definitely be fun. Hopefully they’ll be as crazy as they are at Royal Albert Hall!”

Mr. Kelly, who will be emceeing the event along with Mr. Craig, says audience members will be able to buy Union Jack flags at the concert for a dollar apiece, and that their programs will include the necessary song lyrics.

The pair hope the concert will be an opportunity to showcase some of the School’s most promising students, along with faculty members – including Michel Szczesniak and Dina Namer, who will be performing a four-hand piano piece.

“And of course, it’s a gala, which means that the orchestra will be dressed in their finery,” Mr. Craig adds.

But they are quick to stress that the concert is not exclusive to Anglophiles.

“In England, everyone comes out to the Proms,” Mr. Kelly explains. “All ethnicities and backgrounds. It’s just a giggle – a fun thing to do.”

“It’s really not so much a concert as it is an event,” adds Mr. Craig. “A musical event.”

A Night at the Proms…Then Off to the Music Hall will be held at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday, Feb. 27, at 7:30pm. Tickets are $25.

For more information, visit the website of the Queen’s School of Music.

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