Faculty of Music

Dean's Greetings - Spring 2016

Strengthening Tradition - Igniting Innovation

Dean Betty Anne Younker at Spring 2015 ConvocationOn behalf of all the faculty and staff at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, I bring warm greetings to our alumni. You continue to inspire all of us as we hear your stories about your time at Western and what you have achieved since graduating from the Faculty. The stories are diverse and rich. It reminds us of the opportunities that have been afforded to you as a result of your studies.

This is my fifth year as Dean of the Faculty. Part of being in one’s fifth year is a reflective process that includes a report on the 'state of the Faculty' and a visit by external reviewers. As one would expect, the process was educational and the external report most helpful. Their recommendations are already having an impact as we plan for the future with our second faculty retreat to be held in fall 2016. These are exciting times for the Faculty, ones that can motivate us to strengthen tradition and spark innovation–in terms of programs, community development, and creative scholarly work.

As in the past, our commitment to educational experiences, in addition to what is offered through the curriculum, is reflected in our Artists in Residence (Ensemble Made in Canada, Reverb Brass, and Tafelmusik) and guests artists for concerts and masterclasses including James Anagnoson, The Bent Note Duo, Jimmy Brière, James Campbell, Kathleen Kelly, Baldvin Oddsson, Elaine Overholt, Fernando Pereira, Trio Arkel, Edith Wiens, and Victor Yampolsky, to name a few. I would be remiss if I did not mention the Faculty Concert Series, which involved multiple faculty members playing a variety of concerts. Additions to the Faculty this year as visiting artists included: Scott St. John coaching chamber music groups; Simone Luti working as the vocal coach and with the opera rehearsal pianists; Michael Cavanagh directing Falstaff; and Shalom Bard conducting the Symphony Orchestra.

In other exciting news, we have moved into the renovated and expanded Music Building, a move that marks the completion of the first phase of construction. The feedback has been positive. From the very first performance in von Kuster Hall, the Hall has received rave reviews from faculty, students, artists and patrons. If you have the chance to attend a performance in our new home, please do. We would be happy to welcome you back and/or give you a tour of our facility.

Thanks to alumni and community support, thirteen spaces in the Music Building have already been named. We are so grateful for the charitable gifts and continue to welcome donations at all levels. Do think about how you can be part of this project, whether it is a one-time gift or a monthly contribution over a period of time.

This spring and summer, we will host multiple educational opportunities. The Canadian Operatic Arts Academy will be held in May. In July, Musical Theatre on the Thames will be offered as well as workshops in percussion (PercShop), Kodály Certification, Musical Futures Certification, and Jazz and Wind Ensemble conducting.

Finally, we will soon celebrate the work of faculty members who begin the next chapter of their life. John-Paul Bracey, Ian Franklin, Gerry Neufeld, and Rick Semmens will be retiring this spring. As so many of you know, the lifelong contributions of each are extraordinary and we are forever thankful. Watch for more news covering their extensive careers at Western in the next print edition of Ensemble this fall. Do join me in wishing each of them the best as they continue to contribute to the musical lives of those with whom they interact and engage.

Betty Anne (Younker)
Dean, Don Wright Faculty of Music
Professor of Music Education

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