Faculty of Music

Research in Action

Patrick Schmidt, Chair of music education at the Don Wright Faculty of Music has a new book just released by Oxford University Press. Policy and the Political Life of Music Education, edited by Patrick Schmidt and Richard Colwell, is the first book of its kind in the field of Music Education. It offers a far-reaching and innovative outlook, bringing together expert voices who provide a multifaceted and global set of insights into a critical arena for action today: policy. On one hand, the book helps the novice to make sense of what policy is, how it functions, and how it is discussed in various parts of the world; while on the other, it offers the experienced educator a set of critically written analyses that outline the state of the play of music education policy thinking. Schmidt is also one of the contributors to the book, along with Stephanie Horsley, assistant professor at the Don Wright Faculty of Music.

(Posted Feb 8 17)

Soundstreams has deemed Don Wright Faculty of Music composer Omar Daniel the TD Composer of the Month for January. Daniel is a previous recipient of both the Jules Léger Award for New Chamber Music and the K.M. Hunter Arts Award, and will be premiering a new work, Sõduri Ema, on February 2, performed by the Estonia Philharmonic Chamber Choir at St. Paul's Basilica, in Toronto. Daniel, who is of Estonian heritage himself, drew his inspiration for this new composition from famous Estonian poet Marie Under’s poem of the same name. Read Soundsteams’ interview with Daniel about this new work here.

(Posted Jan 27 17)

From January 5 to 15, 2017, Music History Dr. Emily Abrams Ansari and Music Education PhD student Gabriela Ocádiz traveled to El Salvador to participate in an exciting new interdisciplinary, international research project. Led by Dr. Amanda Grzyb, a professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, the SSHRC and FRDF-funded project seeks to accompany former refugees in the creation of a collective history of the Salvadoran refugee camps in Honduras, created as a result of El Salvador's Civil War during the 1980s.

With a group of graduate student researchers from across Western and students and faculty from Montana State University, Ansari, Grzyb and Ocádiz first joined eight hundred former Salvadoran refugees on a commemorative return trip to one of the Honduran camps where they lived during the war, called Mesa Grande. They then worked with local collaborators in the repopulated Salvadoran village of Milingo to mount an exhibition of photographs of Mesa Grande taken by aid workers and others who visited the camps from the United States and Canada. Those who had lived in these camps had never seen these photos before—photos of their loved ones, of their activities, and even photos of childrens' drawings made in the camp. The research team and their local collaborators used these photos, as well as a set of recordings of songs that was made in the Mesa Grande camp, as a starting point for conversations in a series of workshops on different topics, including music, asking people about their memories of the war and their time in the camp.

Ansari and Ocádiz heard powerful stories and powerful songs both in these workshops and in the spontaneous performances that followed them. Music served for Salvadoran peasant farmers as a means to speak out against the military dictatorship that was massacring them in their villages, to document the atrocities they had endured and the suffering they experienced in the camps, and to promote solidarity amongst Salvadorans opposed to the government and their international allies. If future funding applications are successful, the team hopes to return to El Salvador to run the same workshops in other repopulated communities, ultimately producing collective histories of the camps in Spanish, a permanent exhibit of some of the collected photographs, testimonies, and songs, and scholarly studies of this under-examined aspect of the Salvadoran Civil War.

(Posted Jan 25 17)

Patrick Schmidt, chair of Music Education and Dance was a guest panelist at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Media and Culture in Education on Oct 4, 2016 for Social Justice Arts Education: Opportunities, Challenges and Contradictions. Fellow panelists were Kathleen Gallagher, Distinguished Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Andrea Fatona, Associate Professor, OCAD University, Toronto, and Carmen Mörsch, Institute for Arts Education, Zurich University of the Arts. The panel was moderated by Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, Associate Professor and Director of CMCE, OISE. Videos of the panel discussions can be found here.

(Posted Jan 20 17)

New Directions for Performance and Music Teacher Education: A Symposium on University Music Education in China

From November 2-5, 2016 The Arts College of Xiamen University (Xiamen City, Fujian Province, China) brought together a diverse array of music education researchers, performance educators, and music teacher practitioners from ten countries to offer their visions for the future of school and university music education and to speak to interdisciplinary, trans-global, and cross-cultural scholarship.

The purpose of this conference was to generate new thinking about the places, purposes, and methods of educating musicians in contemporary China. Questions such as the following framed the conference presentations:

- What does it mean to be a musician in the 21st-century?
- How do we educate the next generation of music performers and music teachers?
- What should a university education in music look like?

Over 400 Chinese students, professors, and musicians attended the three-day workshop. Scholars from Iceland, UK, Norway, Mainland China, USA, Taiwan, Ireland, Germany, Greece, were invited to deliver papers that had been translated into Mandarin. Canada had three representatives all of which are from Western University. Xiamen University Press will publish these papers in both Mandarin and English in a forthcoming edited book.

Betty Anne Younker, Dean
“Systematic changes to degree programs: Relationship-based”

Patrick Schmidt, Department Chair, Music Education
“Creating policy framing capacity: Strategic change in music teacher education”

Cathy Benedict, Director of Research
“Works at what? – The purpose of music education”

As part of this conference trip both Benedict and Schmidt were invited to present workshops at the National Taiwan Normal University with both undergraduate and graduate students. They also spoke at Music China 2016, which is the Shanghai version of the NAMM show in the US which is a trade-only event for the music products industry.

(Posted Nov 29 16)

John Cuciurean, Associate Dean (Undergraduate Admissions & Programs) and Catherine Nolan, Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) both recently presented at the joint meeting of the American Musicological Society and the Society for Music Theory, Nov. 3-6, 2016 in Vancouver, BC. These two national societies hold bi-annual joint meetings where attendance is often over 2000 attendees from around the globe.

Cuciurean presented at the Ligeti (SMT) session on Thursday, Nov. 3, an expanded version of his paper, “The Mysterious Case of György Ligeti’s ‘L’arrache Coeur’”, which he had previously presented at the Music Theory Midwest Annual Meeting this past May at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. (Read more here.)

In addition to his presentation, Cuciurean also served on the SMT Publications Awards Committee at this meeting.

Nolan presented her paper, “Synergies of Musical and Poetic Transformations in Anton Webern’s Second Cantata, Op. 31”, during a session entitled Timbre, Transformation, and Harmonic Dualism (SMT), on Sunday, Nov. 6. This presentation was part of Nolan's ongoing research into the creative partnership of Anton Webern and Hildegard Jone.

At this meeting, Nolan also concluded a three-year term on the Society for Music Theory Executive Board.

Congratulations to both Cuciurean and Nolan for being selected to present at this highly competitive meeting where acceptance for presentation this year was 17% of all submissions. A link to the 2016 conference program can be found here.

(Posted Nov 22 16)

Kate Helsen has been invited to present at the University of Tübingen, in Germany at the International Winterschool Digital Musicology Congress, Nov 18-19, 2016. Dr. Helsen will be presenting the recent developments of The Optical Neume Recognition Project - Digital Methods for Medieval Music-Manuscripts Analysis, which you can read more about here.

(Posted Oct 20 16)

James Grier, Professor of Musicology in the Department of Music Research and Composition, has been elected as Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada.

Professor Grier has redefined the treatment of textual criticism and editing music in his book The Critical Editing of Music (Cambridge University Press, 1996), he has done groundbreaking research in the liturgy and music of medieval Aquitaine, particularly in regards to the bizarre career of Adémar de Chabannes (The Musical World of a Medieval Monk:  Adémar de Chabannes in Eleventh-Century Aquitaine [Cambridge University Press, 2006] and the critical edition of music written in his hand [Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, 2012]), and has made significant contributions to research in the music of Joseph Haydn, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan and Roger McGuinn.

Read more here.

(Posted Oct 12 16)

The Don Wright Faculty of Music’s chair of Music Education & Dance, Patrick Schmidt, has recently been elected to the board of directors of the International Society for Music Education (ISME). Schmidt was elected at the ISME 2016 General Assembly, and will serve on the board for the 2016-18 biennium. The new board was announced, July 28, 2016. See more here.

(Posted Sept 13 16)

From June 3-5, 2016, the College Music Society hosted Summit 2016. The theme of the Summit was 21st Century Music School Design, a current and important issue on the minds of faculty, administrators and students across North America. Under the leadership of CMS president—and Dean of the Don Wright Faculty of Music—Betty Anne Younker and in partnership with the University of South Carolina’s School of Music, the Summit brought together over 200 deans, directors, and faculty from universities in the US, Canada (9), Europe and Australia. In attendance representing Western University were Patrick Schmidt and John Cuciurean who were integral participants in the discussions. The event was propelled by an innovative format, collaborative sessions, and the collective development of re-designed undergraduate degrees for Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education. This dialogue reflects one aspect of the Society's mission, which is to provide spaces for concentrated dialogue and reflection on a topic, this one being an extension of the CMS Undergraduate Task Force report, which was completed under the previous president's direction. The Summit’s success was a clear demonstration of CMS's vision, the vision of the Program Chair, David Cutler, and Dean Younker’s leadership and highlighted how closely and seriously music schools across North America and elsewhere are looking at curricular and programmatic change.

(Posted Jul 13 16)

Betty Anne Younker, Dean of the Don Wright Faculty of Music, recently addressed the graduating class of the Appalachian State University’s Hayes School of Music at the 2016 Commencement Ceremony, held May 13, 2016, in the Rosen Concert Hall. Younker, who is also president of the College Music Society, offered points of wisdom to graduates of the Hayes School of Music, including, “Networking is critical and it is real," "Hold close the value of music and the value of community,” “Realize and celebrate what you’ve acquired,” and “Celebrate your success and failures – it’s in failing that we grow.” Read more here.

(Posted Jul 7 16)

Kate Helsen and her research, the Optical Neume Recognition Project, has been receiving media attention on and off the continent! See story below. On May 24, 2016, Helsen was interviewed by Bob Steele on CBC Radio One’s Afternoon Drive (listen here), on May 26, 2016, by Marc Montgomery on Radio Canada International (listen here), and on June 2, 2016, by Rhod Sharp on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Up All Night (listen here).

Helsens research was also featured in stories on motherboard.vice.com and Smithsonian Magazine.

(Posted Jun 14 16)

On May 26, 2016, Norma Coates gave a guest lecture here in London on Music and Identity at the Thames Valley District School Board’s SPARK! Conference for gifted and talented high school students. Several times each year, SPARK! brings together approximately 100 gifted and talented students from all of the 27 TVDSB’s high schools to experience university-level lectures. Coates was one of five guest lecturers invited from various disciplines and presented two workshops to approximately 45 students.

Basing the lecture on her research into gender and popular music, Coates led the session addressing gender representation in popular music by comparing media representations and discussions of female and male artists, specifically Taylor Swift and Drake. Coates used the history of EDM (electronic dance music); from its origins in gay loft parties in Manhattan in the early 1970s through to disco, house, and techno to the resolutely straight masculine form it has currently assumed. She did so in order to demonstrate that genres obtain genders and that gender address is not immanent in genres or popular music in general.

(Posted Jun 14 16)

Omar Daniel has recently been awarded a commission from NUMUS, funded by the Canada Council Music Commissioning Program, to compose a new work for Theremin, string quartet and Hammond organ. The work will receive its premiere at the Open Ears festival in Kitchener-Waterloo on June 2, 2016. The work was written specifically for the Penderecki String Quartet, and German Theremin virtuoso Carolina Eyck. The new composition, titled Regarding U.S. Patent 1,661,058; Method and Apparatus for the Generation of Sounds, explores the relationship between iconic electronic instruments (Theremin and Hammond organ) and classical chamber music archetypes (string quartet).

(Posted May 18 16)

Kate Helsen will be presenting two papers at the upcoming Music Encoding Conference in Montreal, May 17-20, 2016. Helsen will be presenting "Andrew Hughes and his Legacy of Music Encoding", and along with Jennifer Bain, Andrew Hankinson, Inga Behrendt and Ichiro Fujinaga, "Hartker’s XML: The Optical Neume Recognition Project and MEI".

The Music Encoding Initiative (MEI) is a working group of scholars who created the open-source xml mark-up language for depicting information encoded in modern musical notation. Read more here.

Later in the summer, Helsen will also be presenting at the next meeting of Cantus Planus in Dublin, August 2-7, 2016. Cantus Planus is a study group of the International Musicological Society (IMS)  focused on medieval chant, which has been meeting bi-annually since the 1980's. Helsen will be speaking about the work of Andrew Hughes and will be involved in a live demo of the Optical Neume Recognition Project  (read more below)  which will by then be fully online.

Helsen is one of the conference organizers for the 2016 meeting of the Gregorian Institute of Canada, in Toronto, August 11-14, 2016.  Helsen will be participating in one of the Panel Discussions and also be editing a volume of conference proceedings.

(Posted May 18 16)

This past Sunday, May 1, 2016 spotlighted many of our Don Wright Faculty of Music faculty in a concert at Heliconian Hall in Toronto as part of the Syrinx Concert Series.

Serious Strings included DWFoM members: Scott St. John, violin; Sharon Wei, viola; and Tom Wiebe, cello, with Douglas McNabney, viola (McGill University) and Solomiya Ivahkiv, violin (University of Connecticut, Longy School of Music). The program included works by Brahms, Dvorak and the premiere of a new viola quintet titled: Printemps, composed by DWFoM’s David Myska.

Myska says about this new work: “My Viola Quintet, Printemps, is classically balanced in its broader harmonic layout and motivic treatment. Knowing that Printemps would be on the program with Brahms and Dvorak, I included a handful of devices used by both Brahms and Dvorak to ensure the three compositions would get along. There also are modern crosscurrents running through Printemps in both structure and detail, not intended to displace classical elements, but rather to merge with them. It was an honor and a pleasure to work again with the brilliantly accomplished musicians of Serious Strings.”

(Posted May 18 16)

John Cuciurean will be presenting his research paper, "The Mysterious Case of György Ligeti’s L’arrache-coeur" at the annual meeting of Music Theory Midwest, May 6-7, 2016, at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. An expanded version will also be presented at the joint annual meeting of the American Musicological Society and the Society for Music Theory, Nov 3-6, 2016, in Vancouver, BC.


Cuciurean's paper examines the unusual case of Ligeti’s original Piano Étude No. 11, L’arrache-coeur, which was withdrawn by the composer immediately after its premiere performance in 1994. Cuciurean's study is based on an extensive examination of the composer’s sketches at the Paul Sacher Stiftung which reveals that Ligeti devoted a striking amount of energy to this work, only to discard it after a single performance. What makes this case more remarkable is that this is the only extant piece included in Ligeti’s post-1964 sketches that was completed and then withdrawn. This begs the question, why did Ligeti withdraw a work to which he devoted so much energy?

Cuciurean's paper traces the evolutionary path of L’arrache-coeur, examines the intertextual connection between the étude and Boris Vian’s eponymous absurdist novel that served as the work’s literary inspiration, and considers how compositional concerns that had preoccupied Ligeti in the early 1990s, as evidenced in his contemporaneous sketches, are also evident in L’arrache-coeur.  The paper then provides in-depth analysis of the pitch and rhythmic structure of L’arrache-coeur, alongside comparisons with similar analyses of excerpts from his contemporaneous works, as well as the eventual published version of Étude 11, En Suspens. The comparative analyses reveal crucial differences, both structural and aesthetic, between L’arrache-coeur and the other works examined. Based on the analytic evidence, Cuciurean concludes by providing a possible rationale for Ligeti’s dissatisfaction with, and ultimate withdrawal of, L’arrache-coeur.

(Posted Apr 27 16)

Recent years have seen growing interest in music cognition, both in academic circles and in bestselling books for general audiences. Research on this topic, however, is often conducted by psychologists without a solid background in music theory and history—or by musicologists without a solid background in psychological research methods. In June 2016, an innovative conference on music and the mind at Rice University will address this knowledge mobilization gap by gathering scientists and musicians from ten countries, including Western University’s Jonathan De Souza.
 
De Souza has been selected as a conference fellow on the basis of his research in cognitive music theory (as represented by a forthcoming book from Oxford University Press) and his experience with interdisciplinary collaborations (for example, as coordinator of Western’s Musical Learning Across the Lifespan initiative). During the five-day conference, he will participate in cross-disciplinary seminars led by distinguished scholars and will give a public presentation about his work on cognitive aspects of instrumental performance. This is, then, both an opportunity for De Souza to develop new research skills and to share his work with an interdisciplinary, international research community.

(Posted Apr 26 16)

This summer, ten Don Wright Faculty of Music music education professors have been accepted to present at the prestigious biennial International Society for Music Education (ISME) Conference held this year in Glasgow. Prior to the main conference many of these professors will also be presenting at two different commissions: Policy (Birmingham, England) and Community Music (Edinburgh, Scotland).

ISME was founded in Brussels in 1953 during the UNESCO sponsored conference on "The Role and Place of Music in the Education of Youth and Adults." ISME's mission is to build a worldwide network of music educators, to advocate music education globally and across the lifespan, and to foster intercultural understanding and cooperation.

In its promotion of music education worldwide, the ISME maintains that:

Patrick Schmidt, as Chair of the Commission on Policy: Culture, Education and Media will be attending meetings throughout the conference as well as chairing and presenting at several events.

Patrick Schmidt and Ruth Wright:
"The labour market for music workers in the new millennium:  Policies, Realities, Practices"

Betty-Anne Younker, Patrick Schmidt, Stephanie Horsley:
"Music Teacher Education and Policy Reform:  Quality, Employability or Labor Crunch?"

Kevin Watson and Peter Miksa:
"The Effects of Physical Practice, Mental Practice, and Mental Imagery on Performance of an Improvised Jazz Solo"

Ruth Wright and Jennifer Lang:
"Transforming habitus through informal music learning: A case study in a Canadian First Nations School"

Cathy Benedict and Alison Butler (doctoral student):
"The Rhetoric of Inequality: Leaving No Child Behind because Everyone Child Matters"

Paul Woodford, Patrick Schmidt and Cathy Benedict:
"Understanding Social Justice in Music Education: International Voices"

Kari Veblen
"Panel Presentation: Policies and Practices in Community Music: International Perspectives"

Kari Veblen and Nathan Kruse
"Children’s Clapping Games on the Virtual Playground"

Kari Veblen and Janice Waldron
"Will Ye Nae Come Back Again?": Scots Pipe Bands as community music in Ontario, Canada"

Stephanie Horsley and Kari Veblen
"'Stranger in the Crowd': Performer Learning, Mentoring, and Fellowship at Tribute Artist Festivals"

Leslie Linton
"Engaged and interactive listening: Where do our ears go during a performance?"

"Learners as Teachers in the Grade One Classroom"

Leslie Linton and Danielle Sirek
"Music for a purpose, or a purpose for music? Exploring empathy, social justice, and critical pedagogy from research to practice in the elementary music classroom."

Lorna Wanzel, Leslie Linton, Patricia Frehlich, Vanessa Cornett and Amy Rose Immerman
"Portraits of Innovative Independent Music Teachers in North America"

(Posted Apr 26 16)

Dr. Ruth Wright joined researchers from the music department of Hedmark University of Applied Sciences, Norway, the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo and Malmö Academy of Music, Sweden for an international research seminar in Lisbon Portugal, March 20-23, 2016. The seminar was to discuss with international advisors the findings of the research project Musical Gentrification and Socio-Cultural Diversities and its several sub-projects, led from the music department at Hedmark University of Applied Sciences. Work also began on production of an anthology of writings co-edited by Dr. Wright and Dr. Petter Dyndahl around the issues investigated by the project and related fields. Dr. Wright has been a visiting professor and international advisor on the Norwegian Research Council funded project which runs from 2013-2017.

(Posted Apr 13 16)

Congratulations to the Musical Chairs Research Group on being awarded $50,000 from the Western Innovation Fund for further development of the Musical Chairs App. The Western Innovation Fund is administered through the Department of Computer Science, in partnership with WORLDiscoveries. For more information about the Musical Chairs Research Group, click here. For more information about other Research Groups, click here.

(Posted Apr 12 16)

This past February, Western Music Library Director: Brian McMillan was invited to give his second of three pre-concert talks for the Canadian Opera Company's recent production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. This presentation examined the changes made by Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte in adapting Beaumarchais' original play La folle journée, ou, le mariage de Figaro for the operatic stage. Particular attention was paid to the character of the Countess and how alterations to her character epitomize, in the words of Michael Levey, the "turn from a comedy with farcical elements to an [operatic] tragi-comedy of real people." McMillan also considered the final reconciliation of the Count and Countess, the scholarly debate as to its sincerity, and the interpretive decisions of the director of this production, Claus Guth

McMillan gave his presentation before four different performances of the opera. These talks are part of the COC's BMO Financial Group Pre-Performance Opera Chats.

(Posted Mar 22 16)

On Saturday, April 9, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., Gerald Neufeld will be conducting a concert of Baroque music for choir, soloists and a period orchestra, with the Guelph Chamber Choir. In addition to the familiar composers (Vivaldi, Gloria, and Handel, with the rather virtuosic Dixit Dominus), they will explore French performance practice in the Baroque with a grand motet by Jean-Joseph Mondonville titled Dominus regnavit. Based on intensive research into Dominus regnavit and music of that same period, Neufeld has created his own edition of an orchestral score and parts for this latter work.

As many as half of the membership of the Guelph Chamber Choir are educators, many being music educators
– with at least five church organist/choir conductors within the choir as well. This is a benefit that extends Gerald's research in historical performance practice to impact a much broader audience.

More info here.
(Posted Mar 22 16)

The Ontario Arts Council has recently awarded Don Wright Faculty of Music composer Omar Daniel a Commissioning Grant to compose a piece for Ensemble Made in Canada, of which fellow faculty member Sharon Wei is a member.

Ensemble Made in Canada has been awarded a Canada Council Touring Grant to tour the Atlantic Provinces in September, where they will be bringing Daniel's new piece with them on the road and will be performing it at least 6 times!!

Ensemble Made in Canada will be in residence here at the Don Wright Faculty of Music Sept. 11-15, 2016 with their season opener on September 15 at 12:30 p.m. in Von Kuster Hall, then they will be off to the east coast where they will be performing and teaching in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI.

Daniel's new piece is called Piano Quartet no. 1 - killud (fragments) Oli nene nel'l'ä neittä… (once upon a time there were four maidens…)

For more on Daniel’s background and influences on his compositional style and information as to his upcoming projects, read his Canadian Music Centre interview in Notations magazine.

(Posted Mar 9 16)

Faculty member and composer Paul Frehner premiered a new work with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on March 9, 2016.  The specially commissioned piece, From the Vortex Perspective, will be receiving its world premiere as part of the orchestra’s annual three-concert New Creations Festival.

Read more here.

(Posted Mar 9 16)

Kate Helsen is the brainchild of a new project which is helping to create the musical equivalent of Google Books. Helsen’s Optical Neume Recognition Project, is one of several active research projects working under the Single Interface for Music Score Searching and Analysis. The SIMSSA is the latest step in a progression of smaller projects over several decades, mostly funded by SSHRCC. The SIMSSA is a large and international project, created by Ichiro Fujinaga at McGill University, that includes the likes of the Library of Congress and Bibliothèque nationale, Paris. The current goal of the SIMSSA  is to address the challenges surrounding handwritten musical scores, and musical notation that is hand-written, and not in the form of modern notes on a five-lined staff. This is where Helsen's Optical Neume Recognition Project, which is currently a testing ground for techniques involving manuscript and medieval notations, comes in. 

Begun in 2009, the Optical Neume Recognition Project applies modified optical character recognition (OCR) technology to medieval musical notation called neumes. By creating a 'dictionary' of neume signs, the computer can now identify each neume on a digital image of a page in a book of medieval chant, cataloguing them and ranking them in order of graphic similarity and storing information about how often a particular neume appears in combinations. This means that now, instead of pouring over hundreds of pages of literally millions of neumes, the researcher can electronically search for information that has been automatically gathered about each scanned image, using optical music recognition (OMR) software. It is possible to search for a single neume, neumes in combinations, and musical gestures, as well as words in chant texts. 

Two years ago, the Optical Neume Recognition Project, along with CANTUS (a project that was housed for many years at Western University) and several other existing OMR projects, joined with SIMSSA to pursue the vision of creating a single clearinghouse for digital images of musical scores, both printed and handwritten, around the world. The development of Optical Neume Recognition is now called 'Cantus Ultimus' under SIMSSA, and is being funded by SSHRCC at least until 2019. Please check out their exciting progress on one of the most famous medieval musical books in the world (St. Gallen, CH-SGs 390), at: http://cantus.simssa.ca/ under 'OMR manuscript search'. One day this resource - along with many others - will be as easily accessed, searched, and compared to other musical sources, as Google Books makes searching prose, today. The rich, vast world of medieval music will finally, literally, be at our fingertips. 

Read more here.

(Posted Feb 14 16)

Dr. Emily Abrams Ansari, who focuses on music in its social and political contexts, is collaborating with a musicologist-run website Trax on the Trail.

Trax on the Trail is a website where scholars, educators, journalists, students, and the general public can learn about American presidential campaign music and gain insight into how sound participates in forming candidate identity. www.traxonthetrail.com

Students in Dr. Ansari’s Music and Politics class were asked to research one politician in a past political campaign (any time, any country) and to create podcasts or blog posts on the use of music by the politician and campaign. Dr. Ansari then submitted the best of these for consideration for publication on the Trax on the Trail website.
 
The very first podcast, by Western undergraduate Nikki Pasqualini, one of Western’s finest Music History students, has been published. You can listen to it here.
 
Several more podcasts are also slated for release on the website over the coming weeks and months as well as one written post, and others are currently under review. As innovative pedagogical and assessment strategies the processes of this kind of research and knowledge mobilization is clear; further evidence of the impact this particular kind of research is having in the world. 

More information on the research website can be found here.

Read the Western News cover story.

(Posted Feb 12 16)

Western faculty and alumni will compete against the brightest stars in the Canadian music universe after garnering a number of nominations for the 2016 JUNO Awards. Included are current Don Wright Faculty of Music’s Sharon Wei and Jay Hodgson. Read the full story in the Western News.

(Posted Feb 11 16)

On Friday, February 19, 2016 at 7 p.m., Sharon Wei, Western violist and member of Ensemble Made in Canada and Western violinist Scott St. John will be joining Trio Arkel for a performance of the Beethoven Storm Quintet at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre in Toronto.  
 
She has collaborated with conductors such as James Levine, Kent Nagano, Paavo Järvi, Zubin Mehta, Jean Christophe Spinosi and Yuri Termirkanov. Wei speaks of the performance based research process as one in which

“interpretation [with others] becomes a combination of different experiences and not just the one teacher and not just one instrument. Thus, though you may have played something often you hear new ideas in musical conversation as you listen with the experience of others.”

Trio Arkel, acclaimed interpreters of classical chamber music from the 17th century up to present-day composers, is comprised of Marie Bérard, concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Teng Li, Principal Violist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Winona Zelenka, Assistant Principal Cellist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Read more at the Whole Note.
 
For more information on the concert please see: http://marieberard.ca/trio-arkel/

Londoners will also have an opportunity to hear this wonderful concert! A repeat performance will be given here at Western on Monday, February 29, 2016, at 8 p.m.

(Posted Feb 4 16)

Jay Hodgson continues to mix and master and produce at a mad pace! Along with his continued research into the constantly changing innovations in recording technology (ensuring that he remains current with creating this innovative academic field’s core curriculum) he is currently writing a book for Routledge, and two for Focal Press on mastering, mixing and Advanced Ear Training for Mixing and Mastering Engineers. Hodgson has also been working with Kara-Lis Coverdale, a graduate of the MA in Popular Music & Culture program at Western University, mastering two of many records she has released in the last few years. Below you can find links to those recordings as well as a promo video made for her Touch Me & Die.

Aftertouches, on Sacred Phases: soundcloud link
And A480, on Constellation Tatsu: bandcamp link
Touch Me & Die, from Aftertouches: YouTube link

(Posted Jan 29 16)

Omar Daniel’s Piano Trio no. 2 will be premiered by Land’s End Ensemble on January 30, 2016 in the Rosza Centre, at the University of Calgary.  The program will also feature a performance of his Strategies Against Architecture II and a 7:15p.m. pre-concert chat in which Daniel will address his research supporting the compositional process as well as reflect on the experience of hearing two of his compositions, written almost 20 years apart, performed on the same program.

Land’s End Ensemble is dedicated to excellence in performance and recording of Canadian and International new music, and to enriching collaborations with eminent composers and artists.  The Land's End Ensemble will also perform Piano Trio no. 2 at the University of Toronto New Music Festival on Feb. 2, 2016 and on Feb. 5, 2016, at the Don Wright Faculty of Music’s Fridays at 12:30 Concert Series. The piano trio was a commission from Land's End Ensemble with assistance from the Canada Council Commissioning Program.

(Posted Jan 28 16)

Paul Frehner's bassoon concerto Apollo X will have its world premiere on February 5, 2016, performed by bassoonist Nadina Mackie Jackson and group of twenty-seven (g27) in Toronto at the Centre for Social Innovation.


One of the world's leading bassoon soloists, Nadina's seven solo recordings feature repertoire ranging from the baroque and classical sonatas and concerti to contemporary love songs and show pieces. More recent releases include Bacchanale and Romanza on the MSR label with Guy Few and the Toronto Chamber Orchestra.

group of twenty-seven (g27) is a full classical chamber orchestra (strings, winds, brass, and percussion – the only of its kind in Toronto), comprised of Toronto's finest musicians who are dedicated to providing concerts of the highest caliber in diverse programs that connect directly with audiences. By using innovative programming, the incorporation of social media, and exceptional musical abilities, g27 is also strongly committed to Toronto's at-risk youth through their mentorship outreach program. Click here to read more about this Juno nominated orchestra.

(Posted Jan 28 16)

John Mac Master, Don Wright Faculty of Music Lecturer and internationally celebrated operatic tenor, has been invited to lead a Master Class for undergraduate voice students at Mount Allison University in Sackville NB, February 12, 2016, 12:30p.m. - 2:30p.m., in Brunton Auditorium. Mac Master will coach these young artists in art songs and arias, making suggestions in vocal production, interpretation, language, acting choices and sharing over 30 years of experience in performing. Invited to give the class by Dr. Stephen Runge, Head of the Music Department at "Mt A", this is only one example of the research and presentations that support important recruitment work for the Don Wright Faculty of Music Graduate programs.

Mac Master's many operatic roles include Otello, Peter Grimes, Tristan, Canio (Pagliacci), Cavaradossi (Tosca), Pollione (Norma), Florestan (Fidelio), Bacchus (Ariadne auf Naxos) with every opera company in Canada, as well as the opera companies of Paris, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Dresden; The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera Australia, Welsh National Opera, Wiener Volksoper...

Mac Master joined the DWFOM in 2013, and now teaches individual voice lessons to 21 students and leads a master class each week.

For more please see www.johnmacmaster.com.

(Posted Jan 28 16)

The Esprit Orchestra premiered Omar Daniel's Sinfonia Concertante on October 4th, 2015 at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Koerner Hall.  The work was commissioned by the Esprit Orchestra (which has commissioned over 100 new works from a range of established and emerging composers) with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council. Sinfonia Concertante, subtitled The Husband Killer’s Dream, portrays a mysterious intrigue and is inspired by Nordic mythology and adapting Estonian folk idioms.

Click here to watch Esprit Orchestra’s Youtube video with Omar Daniel about this world premiere.

The Esprit Orchestra is dedicated to the performance of new orchestral works. It was established in 1983 by Music Director and Conductor Alex Pauk and is Canada’s only full-sized orchestra devoted exclusively to new music.

(Posted Jan 28 16)

On Jan. 29, 2016, Jonathan De Souza will give a talk on music cognition at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. The presentation, titled "Pianos, Hands, Ears, and Minds", will explore material related to De Souza's forthcoming book. He will also participate in a panel discussion with Jessica Grahn of Western's Brain & Mind Institute, and clarinetist/performance psychology researcher Christine Carter, who is both a professor at Memorial and an alumna of the Don Wright Faculty of Music. De Souza is the new coordinator of the Music Learning Across the Lifespan (MLAL) research initiative at Western.

(Posted Jan 22 16)

The Don Wright Faculty of Music’s chair of Music Education & Dance, Patrick Schmidt was interviewed in an article in the Western News: "Researchers view music ed through new lens", regarding the launch of The Oxford Handbook of Social Justice in Music EducationSchmidt co-edited the book with Western Music colleagues Cathy Benedict and Paul Woodford; and Gary Spruce of The Open University in the United Kingdom. Read the Western News article here.

(Posted Jan 22 16)

Kevin Watson presented "A Comparative Analysis of Selected Jazz Class Method Books" at the 7th Annual Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference held Jan 6-9, 2016 in Louisville, KY, USA. The annual conference serves teachers, researchers, students, artists, performing arts presenters, music industry partners, enthusiasts and more. Founded in 2008 in Chicago the organization now has over 1,500 members in 23 countries, including ever state in the US and seven Canadian provinces. JEN is expecting over 3,500 attendees at the 2016 conference.

(Posted Jan 22 16)

Paul Woodford was invited by the Institute of Musical Research in the United Kingdom to make an opening address for a book launch of The Oxford Handbook of Social Justice in Music Education that took place January 20th at Royal Holloway, University of London. The Handbook, co-edited by him, along with UWO colleagues Cathy Benedict and Patrick Schmidt, and British researcher Gary Spruce, is the culmination of more than two years of research and writing by 57 contributing authors from around the world. As stated on its website, the Institute of Musical Research “is one of the ten Institutes which make up the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. . . . The IMR has a national role. . . to promote research from all UK institutions of Higher Education, facilitate research networks and provide training for postgraduate students. The IMR welcomes visiting scholars, provides links to the wider musical community, encourages cross-disciplinary projects, and enhances research impact through public events” (http://music.sas.ac.uk/about-us). As Paul explains, “my expectation is that this venue and sponsorship of the book launch will help to disseminate the research content of the Handbook to an international professional readership of scholars from both within and outside the discipline of music.” Following Paul’s introduction to the book launch, several prominent British contributors to the Handbook will speak about their own chapters, after which the public will be invited to participate in a general discussion period.

(Posted Jan 19 16)

Internationally celebrated operatic tenor John Mac Master performed the role of Aegisth in four performances of Richard Strauss’ opera Elektra for Opéra de Montréal, Nov. 21-28, 2015.

Founded in 1980, and now in its 36th season, Opéra de Montréal performs in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier (a 2990 seat theatre) at Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal. Mac Master now has a long history with Opéra de Montréal. Since singing the title role in Peter Grimes in 2001, he has also performed as Canio (Pagliacci, Leoncavallo  2002 ), The Opera Gala in 2008, in 2011 as Herodes (Salome, Richard Strauss), Fr. Granville (Dead Man Walking, Jake Heggie) in 2013, and Aegisth (Elektra) in 2015. Mac Master has also performed Aegisth in productions for San Francisco Opera, Vancouver Opera and the Canadian Opera Company.

The opera was conducted by the in-demand conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Music Director: Rotterdam Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra; Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, etc). Previously he has either worked with, or engaged Mac Master for: Das Lied von der Erde (Montreal), Verdi Requiem (Montreal and Philadelphia Orchestra at Vail), Salome (Montreal and Philadelphia), Mahler Symphony #8 (Montreal, Ottawa).

Review of the Opera:
22 novembre 2015 (No 2015-38)
Elektra de Richard Strauss l'Opéra de Montréal,
by Daniel Turp

«La saison 2015-2016 de l’Opéra de Montréal se poursuit avec la présentation d’une nouvelle production d’Elektra de Richard Strauss dont la première a eu lieu hier soir à la salle Wilfrid-Pelletier de la Place des Arts. Qu’il me suffise de dire qu’avec son Elektra, la compagnie lyrique montréalaise s’est dépassée. Il s’agit d’une production magistrale, digne des grandes scènes lyriques du monde, et, de l’avis de plusieurs, l’une des meilleures production de l’histoire de l’Opéra de Montréal.»

http://danielturpqc.org/bloguelyrique/?p=4880

“The Opéra de Montréal 2015-2016 season continues with the presentation of a new production of Elektra by Richard Strauss, the premiere of which took place last evening at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts. Suffice for me to say that with this Elektra, Montreal`s opera company has surpassed itself. This is a majestic production worthy of the great opera houses of the world, and according to many, one of the best productions in the history of the company."

(Posted Dec 17 15)

At the recent Symposium on Music Teacher Education (SMTE): September 17-19, 2015, Greensboro, North Carolina, The Don Wright Faculty of Music and two recent alumnae were well represented on the panel presentation: “Preservice Teacher Mentoring in an Authentic Context: The Western University Young Winds Program.”  Young Winds is a music program housed at Western University that began in response to band conductors in London asking for 'enrichment' experiences for their students.
 
The panel represented both college professors and teachers in the London School district addressing the impact the Young Winds Program has had in London on both conductors and middle school aged students. The panelists included:
 
Drs. Kevin Watson, Colleen Richardson, Betty Anne Younker, Western University
Rosemary Bannerman – BEd ’84, BMus ‘82, Thames Valley District School Board
Marisa VanRuitenburg – BMus ‘15, Queen’s University
 
SMTE was conceived to focus on research that informed university music teacher educators about all aspects of education, all of which has an impact on learning and teaching. This past year there were over 250 music teacher educators at the conference. SMTE received over 300 proposals (a record number) for the 2015 conference, only 20% of all proposals were accepted for presentation at primary sessions, with an additional 50% of total proposals accepted as posters or Graduate Research Forum posters.

(Posted Dec 11 15)

The Oxford Handbook of Social Justice in Music Education, New York, NY: Oxford University Press (2015) has just been released and three of the four editors are Professors of the Don Wright Faculty of Music: Cathy Benedict, Patrick Schmidt, and Paul Woodford.

The Oxford Handbook of Social Justice in Music Education provides a comprehensive overview and scholarly analyses of the major themes and issues relating to social justice in musical and educational practice worldwide. The first section of the handbook conceptualizes social justice while framing its pursuit within broader contexts and concerns. Authors in the succeeding sections of the handbook fill out what social justice entails for music teaching and learning in the home, school, university, and wider community as they grapple with cycles of injustice that might be perpetuated by music pedagogy. The concluding section of the handbook offers specific practical examples of social justice in action through a variety of educational and social projects and pedagogical practices that will inspire and guide those wishing to confront and attempt to ameliorate musical or other inequity and injustice. Consisting of 42 chapters by authors from across the globe including Don Wright Faculty of Music’s Ruth Wright and Stephanie Horsley, the handbook will be of interest to anyone who wishes to better understand what social justice is and why its pursuit in and through music education matters.

(Posted Dec 3 15)

Western Music Researchers, Past and Present:  
The 81st annual meeting of the American Musicological Society, AMS Louisville 2015, Nov. 12-15, 2015
featured presentations by several of our Western Music researchers, both past and present.

Current Don Wright Faculty of Music researchers:

Emily Abrams Ansari – “Americanist Nationalism in the Cold: The Case of Roy Harris”
James Grier – “De rebus incertis: Stephen of Liège and the Divine Office”

Don Wright Faculty of Music Alumni:

Aaron James – “Absalom in Augsburg: The Reformation Context of the ‘Absalon’ Motets”
B.Mus. ’09 and recipient of the Faculty of Music Gold Medal
Jessica Holmes – “How to Truly Listen”? Resisting an Idealized Sense of the Deaf Body”
MA Musicology, ’10, B.Mus. ‘08
(Posted Dec 3 15)

Emily Abrams Ansari, Assistant Professor in Music History at Western University is the recipient of two prestigious awards for her article: “'Vindication, Cleansing, Catharsis, Hope': Interracial Reconciliation and the Dilemmas of Multiculturalism in Kay and Dorr’s Jubilee (1976),” published in American Music 31/4 (Winter 2013): 379-419, University of Illinois Press.

Dr. Ansari’s article has garnered both the ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award and the Kurt Weill Prize for outstanding article on Music Theater. The [Kurt Weill] prize panelists noted that Ansari’s work “forces some profound—if at times uncomfortable—questions about art and politics in a difficult decade, and also about just what it might mean to write an ‘American’ opera. Ansari grounds her work deep in the archives, and also supports it with careful critical thinking. This is a truly impressive article that has already made a significant impact on the field.”

(Posted Nov 4 15)

Kevin Watson, Assistant Professor of Music Education, and Artistic Director of the Western University Jazz Ensemble presented a workshop entitled, "Teach Styles Not Charts: A Conceptual Approach to Jazz Ensemble Rehearsals” at the Annual Conference of the Ontario Music Educators’ Association and the Canadian Music Industry Education Committee, iInspire#15, on Nov 7, 2015, Toronto, ON.

(Posted Nov 17 15)

Norma Coates, Associate Professor of Music and Media Studies at Western University, was a guest panelist at the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival’s Symposium: Transfixed: TV & Addiction, Saturday, Nov 7, 2015 at the Workman Theatre, 651 Dufferin St., Toronto ON.  

Dr. Coates was a panelist for Affliction Fiction (12:30 – 2:00 PM) which was the second of three panel discussions from 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM that day.

(Posted Nov 5 15)

Brian McMillan, Director of the Western Music Library, was invited to give a pre-concert talk for the Canadian Opera Company on: Friday, Oct 23; Sunday, Oct 25; and twice on Saturday, Nov 7, 2015. His presentation "Orchestrating Memory: Barbara Monk Feldman's Pyramus and Thisbe" explored Canadian composer Barbara Monk Feldman's interest in the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe and introduced her musical aesthetic, using examples from her one-act opera recently premiered by the Canadian Opera Company. The talk is part of the COC's BMO Financial Group Pre-Performance Opera Chats.

(Posted Nov 4 15)

Patricia Green - Mezzo-soprano and Associate Professor at Western University
Livewire 6: Poetry of Song, Music of Words
Thursday – Saturday, Oct. 22 – 24, 2015
Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall
University of Maryland Baltimore County

In its sixth season, this year’s Livewire contemporary music festival at UMBC explored the connection between words and music with Resident Guest Artist Patricia Green. How have poetry and literature influenced the development and trajectory of contemporary music movement? What writings have inspired individual composers? How does poetry exist in music that doesn’t have words?

Hailed for her “singing with molten resonance,” mezzo-soprano Patricia Green was the featured soloist with Ruckus, UMBC’s faculty new music ensemble on October 22nd, and in a chamber music concert with faculty members on October 24th. Both performances linked historic texts to modern text and music.

Works performed included:

(Posted Nov 20 15)

Lisa Philpott, Research and Instructional Services Librarian, Western Music LIbrary and Joanne Paterson of Library Information Resource Management, Western Libraries, presented at the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centers (CAML): "The Louis Achille Delaquerrière Album: Using Flickr as an Aid to Collaborative Research," Ottawa, ON, Jun 4 2015.

Lisa also presented a revised version of the same paper at the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentations Centres (IAML) and the International Musicological Society (IMS) joint IAML/IMS Congress in New York, The Julliard School, Jun 21-26, 2015.

(Posted Nov 11 15)

Robert Toft has been awarded a Distinguished International Visitors Fellowship, funded by the Australian Research Council, for a two-month visit to the Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions in Sydney (April and May 2016). During the fellowship, Robert will work with singers in several cities on the old bel canto style of delivery and co-write a paper on singing in Handel’s operas with one of the Centre’s Australian associate investigators.

(Posted Sept 22 15)

Katie Overy has returned as a Visiting Professor in Brain, Mind and Music Learning in 2015. Overy is Director of the Institute for Music in Human and Social Development at Edinburgh University an interdisciplinary research and teaching centre investigating and applying music as a therapeutic, educational, artistic and social tool.

Overy holds degrees in music and psychology from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sheffield, UK and has also studied at the Zoltan Kodaly Pedagogical Institute of Music, Hungary. She conducted postdoctoral work in fMRI techniques and neuroimaging of musical processing with Gottfried Schlaug at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre and Harvard Medical School.

Overy’s groundbreaking research in the field of the Neurosciences and Music has established her as a leading international scholar in the field. During her visiting professorship at Western she is expected to be working to establish research relationships between the Don Wright Faculty of Music, Western’s Brain and Mind Institute and the Auditory Development Lab at McMaster University.  Plans are also underway for a pilot research project to consolidate these research relationships. This will provide exciting opportunities for students.

(Posted Sept 22 15)

Western Music professor James Grier was awarded the 2013 Margaret Wage Labarge Prize for books published in 2012. His book, Ademari Cabannensis, Opera Liturgica et Poetica: Musica cum Textibus, was selected by a committee of peers as the best book published by a Canadian scholar in that year. Here is what the committee had to say about the work:

The committee unanimously agreed that Grier’s monumental two-volume critical edition of the works of the eleventh century monk Adémar of Chabannes was a scholarly achievement of the highest order. Many of the musical texts transcribed here have not previously appeared in modern editions. Committee members praised the meticulous scholarship evident in the introduction and the transcriptions, and they noted the similarly high quality of the philological work. They also drew attention to the elegance and clarity of the written presentation. The committee believes that this work not only makes a significant contribution as to medieval musicology, but that those contributions will be of lasting scholarly value. 

The prize consists of an honorary membership in the society for three years, $300, and a calligraphic</x> certificate commemorating the achievement. Dr. Grier has also been invited to share his work at a future congress in Ottawa in 2015 and Calgary in 2016.

(Posted Jun 20 14)

Norma Coates was featured in an article in the Western News
'It was 50 years ago today': Sullivan, Beatles strike early chords of rock mythology (January 2014)

(Posted Jan 30 14)

Hear our researchers talk about their research. View the video interviews below:

Dr. Robert Toft

Dr. Emily Ansari