Music at Carleton University

Carleton University's music department was founded in 1967 with John Churchill (b London, 29 May 1920, d Sidbury, England, 1 Dec 1996) as its first chair.

School of Architecture, Carleton University
The School of Architecture at Carleton University was one of many small institutional and residential projects designed by Carmen and Elin Corneil in the 1960s (photo by Helmut Schade, courtesy Library and Archives Canada/Multimedia and Special Collections).

Music at Carleton University

 Carleton University, Ottawa. Non-denominational university founded in 1942 as Carleton College (evening classes). Carleton University granted its first degrees in 1946, in journalism and public administration, was incorporated in 1957, and moved to the Rideau River campus in 1959. A wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees has been developed by faculties of arts, science, engineering, and graduate studies. The School of Canadian Studies (named The Institute of Canadian Studies until 1992) brings a interdisciplinary, cross-departmental approach to the investigation of Canadian topics, including music.

Music Instruction

Carleton University's music department was founded in 1967 with John Churchill (b London, 29 May 1920, d Sidbury, England, 1 Dec 1996) as its first chair. Besides establishing the B MUS program, Churchill, who retired in 1981, introduced Canadian music as a subject in the Canadian graduate studies program in 1975. He was succeeded as chair by Alan Gillmor in 1976, Gillmor by David Piper (see Deirdre Piper) in 1980, and Piper by Bryan Gillingham in 1984. In 1991 the department joined Carleton's School for Studies in Art and Culture (SSAC). John Shepherd was the School's first director 1991-7, followed by Bryan Gillingham as director and chair of music 1997-2009.

The music program at Carleton University has concentrated on academic and sociological topics. Although performance programs were introduced in 1975, the department has continued to follow a humanist and interdisciplinary approach. In addition to emphasizing Canadian music - Carleton held the first courses on Canadian and Aboriginal music in Canada - the department offers classes ranging from composition to popular music studies. Students may also enrol in the department's practicum program, which has provided practical training at such cultural institutions as the CBC, Library and Archives Canada, and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

In 1990-1 Carleton offered the following music degrees: BA (music major, general); B MUS (honours, musicology, composition); and MA (Canadian studies). In 2011 degrees included the BA, B MUS, and an MA in music and culture (begun in 2008). In 1979 a diploma was introduced, designed for private music teachers wishing to upgrade their qualifications; the program was discontinued in 1984. The department also offered a diploma in sonic design from 2000 to 2008.

In 1988-9 there were 55 teachers (6 full-time and 49 part-time), 101 undergraduates registered in degree programs and 872 students enrolled in music courses. In 2008-9 the music department comprised 41 undergraduate and graduate students, with a faculty of 17 teachers (11 full-time, 6 sessional). Carleton University has conferred honorary LLDs on Oscar Peterson (1973), Maureen Forrester (1979), R. Murray Schafer (1980), Barbara Clark (2006), and Buffy Sainte-Marie (2008); and honorary D MUS degrees on Mario Bernardi (2001) and Marc-André Hamelin (2005).

Carleton's faculty has included Willy Amtmann, Michael Bussière, Lisette Canton, Patrick Cardy, James Deaville, William Echard, Robert Fleming, Jennifer Giles, Anna Hoefnagels, Elaine Keillor, Alexis Luko, John Shepherd, Jesse Stewart, Paul Théberge, and James Wright. Joan Maxwell and Iain Phillips were among the part-time staff, which has included instructors in traditional instruments and voice, as well as in harpsichord, harp, early music instruments, jazz piano, guitar, and saxophone.

Music Facilities, Resources, and Ensembles

In addition to the Audio-Visual Resource Centre, which has housed approximately 8,000 recordings, the music department at Carleton University has had access to a computer music studio and an electronic music studio, established in 1971 and originally equipped for recording, signal processing and voltage-controlled analog synthesis. Facilities and equipment were updated from the mid-1970s to 1999, and in 2000 a new computer studio was added. Carleton also owns the largest collection of early music instruments in eastern Ontario.

In addition to the Carleton University Choir and the National Capital Concert Band, performing groups have represented a variety of styles, including early music, jazz, chamber and contemporary music, Indian classical music and African drumming. Weekly student recitals have also been presented. In 2010 the department initiated a five-day, auditioned summer jazz camp, offering master classes, courses in improvization, and performance opportunities for teens and adults.

Music Events, Conferences, and Research Projects

In 1979 the music department, in co-operation with TVOntario, produced a 20-program TV series entitled Music in Western Civilization directed by John Churchill. The series engaged staff and students of the music department and was well received when it was broadcast 1981-2.

In 1987 an exchange agreement was signed with Humboldt University, Berlin, which provided for joint efforts in the study of popular music. Staff, student, and research exchanges between the two universities were held from 1986 to the late 1980s.

Major conferences hosted by the department have included "Popular Music in the University" (1985); the international symposium "I Feel the Air of Another Planet: Schoenberg's Chamber Music, Schoenberg's World" (2007); "Transcendence, Reality, and Universality in the Music of Joseph Haydn" (2009); and the annual conference of the Society for American Music (2010). The Carleton University music department has maintained research affiliations with the Canadian Musical Heritage Society, the Centre for First Peoples' Music and Research, and the Centre for Indigenous Research, Culture, Language and Education (CIRCLE).


Further Reading

  • Churchill, John. "Rumours now Carleton reality," The Music Scene, 251, Jan-Feb 1970

    "Early music at Carleton," Continuo, Dec 1979

    Keillor, Elaine. "Canadian music at Carleton University," Institute for Canadian Music Newsletter, vol 1, no 3, Sep 2003