Music Faculties and Conservatories – The Canadian Scene Comes Alive


Canadian universities and centres of higher learning have a lot to offer this year. You can still purchase a Via Rail or West­Jet ticket to discover this country’s rich musical scene! Not least of which comes our province with its music schools bustling with activity.

Brian Cherney

During this academic year, McGill and Laval universities will honour two composers who have marked these institutions. Brian Cherney was present during the “Illuminations” symposium dedicated to his music on October 28 and 29. His 75 years were ­celebrated with ­conferences and concerts alike. A tireless ­promoter of Canadian music himself at the Schulich School of Music, it was a matter of course that his colleagues, ­musicologists, ­composers and performers should pay him due homage in and around the site of his rich ­output.

On November 9th, it will be Laval ­University that honours the memory of one of its staff members, Alain Gagnon (Prix d’Europe 1965), departed last spring, with a concert that includes his own compositions.

Yuli Turovsky

On October 20th, the University of Alberta organized a concert in the memory of Yuli Turovsky, founder of Montreal’s I Musici Chamber Orchestra. Last May, the University of British Columbia conferred an honorary doctorate on pianist Jon Kimura Parker in recognition of the outstanding achievements of this proud son of BC. Tanya Tagaq Gillis of Cambridge Bay also received an honorary ­degree from Laval University for her modern rendition of Inuit throat singing. Her work has gained attention worldwide.

Following a talk at UQÀM, Kent Nagano will be guest conductor of the Université de Montréal faculty of music orchestra on ­December 9th, to celebrate Montreal’s 375th birthday and the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Reformation.

McGill’s Centre for Interdisciplinary ­Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT), in partnership with the Conservatoire ­Festival (Germany), will have four composers (including Jimmie Leblanc for Canada) work at the multi-concert hall of the same ­Conservatoire. All works composed on that occasion for the Quasar ­Saxophone ­Quartet will be given their world ­premiere on April 2018. The “Canada Days” at McGill ­(November 16th to 19th) will showcase ­Canadian music to ­celebrate the confederation’s 150 years.

The Music Technology Integration Lab (LITEM) at Université de Montréal has a full calendar. From April 25th to 27th, Claude Champagne concert hall will house a digital music event: ULTRASONS. Two doctoral ­candidates, Julian Hoff and Pierre Lecours, will have their pieces performed at Musimorphoses and the Toronto International ­Electroacoustic Symposium (TIES) in June and August of next year. At the Conservatoire de Montréal, aside from the benefit concert “Chasseur d’Étoiles” (November 16th), ­Véroni­que Lacroix will conduct ensemble EMC+ in a concert at this year’s Vancouver’s World New Music Days, including a world premiere of a piece by composer Ana Sokolovic (November 14th). Take note as well that cellist Steven Isserlis and tenor Julian Prégardien will give master classes on ­November 29th and 30th respectively.

This year, Quebec City’s Conservatoire is celebrating its 75 years of existence with ­concerts and other events.

Emmanuel Pedler photo Georg Simmel

Montrealer Nicole Lizée will give a composition workshop at the University of Toronto in January. Denys Bouliane will be at Queen’s University in Kingston in March. Banff’s­ Centre for Arts and Creativity is open all year long. This year, saxophonist Jean Derome together with prize-winning musicians Don Henry (Grammy) and Caroline Shaw (Pulitzer) will share their thoughts with the public. Michael Beckerman, specialist in Czech music, will be at UofT in December.

UBC’s faculty of music will pursue its in-depth research on rhythm with a cycle of conferences that will span the current academic year.

Nicole Lizée_photo Marc Bourgeois

The “Prestige” conference series organized by the Interdisciplinary Observatory for ­Research and Creation (OICRM) at the ­Université de Montréal has invited sociologist Emmanuel Pedler (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) to give four lectures (October 30th to November 2nd) on the ­subject of the sociology of music. On November 16th, the same research centre will launch the book, Dawn of Music Semiology: Essays in Honor of Jean-Jacques Nattiez (University of Rochester Press), a collective work directed by Jonathan Dunsby (Eastman School of Music) and Jonathan Goldman (Université de Montréal). Worthy of attention are other ­recent publications: Le Quartier des spectacles et le chantier de l’imaginaire montréalais (The making of a collective imagination: ­Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles), by Simon Harel, Laurent Lussier, and Joël Thibert (Presses de l’Université Laval, collection ­“Intercultures”); and The Roots of Culture, the Power of Art. The first sixty years of the Canada Council for the Arts by Monica ­Gattinger, to be released in November by McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Vancouver’s new Emily Carr University of Arts and Design has opened its doors, making its 290,000-square-meter facility and its 400-seat Reliance theatre available to students. The Robert and Ellen Silverman Piano ­Competition at UBC is an opportunity for promising young pianists to play as soloists with the university’s orchestra, all at the Chan Center for the ­Performing Arts (November 23, 2018).

Baroque music is alive and well from east to west in our country. The McGill Baroque ­Orchestra will perform Ariodante by Handel (November 9 and 11). UdeM will follow with Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Akteon ­conducted by Luc Beauséjour (23 November). Both ­universities will stage Monteverdi’s Orfeu, ­Handel’s Agrippina as well as Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Saint John Passion. The Pacific Coast and Alberta prairies will also resound with an echo of Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

There is a lot to choose from for opera lovers, including Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Toronto), Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and ­Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers (UdeM), Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (McGill) and Bizet’s Carmen (Ottawa).

It goes without saying that the musical ­season in schools and faculties includes many chamber music and jazz concerts, not to ­mention several vocal ensembles in residence: Greystone Singers (Saskatchewan), Pro Coro (Banff), MacMillan Singers (Toronto). The ­formidable Tallis Scholars’ visit to Toronto’s ­faculty of music in March is expected to be a milestone event not to be missed.

The National Arts Orchestra will stop at UBC with a choice of concerts and activities. Last ­October, it was up to UQÀM to host the annual FAMEQ congress (Fédération des Associations des Musiciens Éducateurs du Québec).

If you want a change of scenery, make sure to enrol in Beverly Diamond’s ethnology ­seminar at Memorial University in ­Newfoundland this semester. She is the world’s foremost authority on Inuit music.

Original text translated by the author

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