Music at Concordia University

Concordia University. Created in August 1974 by a merger of Sir George Williams University and Loyola College, located respectively on de Maisonneuve and Sherbrooke streets in Montreal's west end. Both of those institutions offered music courses within regular programs.

Music at Concordia University

Concordia University. Created in August 1974 by a merger of Sir George Williams University and Loyola College, located respectively on de Maisonneuve and Sherbrooke streets in Montreal's west end. Both of those institutions offered music courses within regular programs. Concordia University in 1990 had faculties of arts and science, commerce and administration, engineering computer science, and fine arts, as well as the faculty of graduate studies and the Simone de Beauvoir Institute devoted to women's studies. In the 1990-1 academic year some 26,000 students took classes from 1484 teachers.

Growing out of the YMCA's educational work in Montreal, Sir George Williams U began evening classes at the university level in 1929. Day courses in arts, science, and commerce were inaugurated in 1932. Non-specialized courses in the history of music and theory were given at that time to arts students. The university was granted a special charter by the Quebec government in 1948. Following a thorough investigation in 1969 by Philip Cohen, music officially became a division of the Dept of Fine Arts in 1970. The preparatory music school opened that year and led to the creation of courses in continuing education in 1972. In conjunction with these courses various workshops were held, such as music for children (recorder, the Orff method), instrument repair and manufacture, piano tuning, and chamber ensembles.

Loyola College was incorporated by provincial statute in 1899. Administered by the Jesuits, this classical college was dependent at first on Laval University and later on the University of Montreal for the granting of its diplomas. After 1968 it offered practical music courses (instruments) as part of its student services, and music-theory courses within the Dept of Fine Arts. Father William Brown, music director in 1966, encouraged the formation of instrumental and choral groups, including the Loyola Symphonette (renamed the Loyola Orchestra, a community orchestra in 1970), the Loyola Concert Band (conducted 1967-9 by Henry Rzepus and 1969-72 by Thomas Legrady), and the Loyola Choral Society.

Concordia University began in 1974-5 with about 125 predominantly anglophone music students. By 1979, however, 70 per cent of the students were francophone. The music section became a department in 1981 when the faculty of fine arts departmentalized. A BA with a major in music was offered in 1974-5. After that, Concordia University granted the BFA with a major (Integrative Music Studies) and four specializations; theory and composition, performance, jazz studies, and special studies, a program designed by the student in accordance with set criteria. The Diploma in Advanced Music Performance Studies (DAMPS) is a program open to enrolment by professional musicians or highly advanced students who have completed a baccalauréat degree. Under the division of graduate studies, a Masters (MFA) and PH D are given through a Special Independent Program, in which the student designs, with a group of three Faculty members, a program for submission, which, if approved, becomes the course of study. In 1990-1 some 235 full and part-time students were enrolled in the Dept of Music, which had 13 regular and 12 part-time teaching staff and 25 private study instructors. Concordia has granted honorary degrees (LL D) to Jean Coulthard, Franz-Paul Decker, Mario Duschenes, Yvonne Hubert, Oscar Peterson, and Ethel Stark.

Philip Cohen, who joined the staff in 1970 and served 1975-7 as the first director of the department, developed a flexible, innovative program. Cohen was succeeded by Sherman Friedland 1977-81, Allan Crossman 1981-2, Andrew Homzy 1982-3, Wolfgang Bottenberg 1983-4, Christopher Jackson 1984-8, and Friedland again 1988-91, succeeded by Kevin Austin in 1991. Friedland, a clarinetist, absorbed the community orchestra of about 65 players to form the Concordia Orchestra in 1976 and the next year began a chamber group (Concordia Chamber Players) of 3 to 10 professional musicians, most of them teachers at Concordia. Jazz ensembles, begun in 1976, have been conducted by Douglas Walter, Larry Dwyer, Andrew Homzy, Charles Ellison, Don Habib, Jan Jarczyk, and Dave Turner. Christopher Jackson conducted a choir of 50 students after 1978. Other members of the department include Liselyn Adams, Jeri Brown, Hélène Gagné, Bernard Lagacé, Isabelle Panneton, and Yaron Ross. Kevin Austin and Mark Corwin have coordinated the electroacoustics area (see Concordia University Electroacoustics).

Until 1989 performances by the ensembles of the department were held in the Loyola chapel, established as a concert hall by the college before the merger. In 1990, the Dept of Music opened a new 600-seat concert hall. The music library is part of the Vanier Library. The tape library is housed in the department. Four major collections are held in the Concordia Jazz Archives; those of the historian John Gilmore, the conductor and arranger Johnny Holmes, the trombonist Joe Bell, and the collector Alex Robertson. The latter bequeathed many valuable documents on Montreal musical activities between 1913 and 1970.

The department's research projects include the Leonardo Project, an interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature of the advanced performing artist directed by Philip Cohen and the Concordia Psychology Dept.

The Dept of Music had produced two recordings titled Music from Concordia by 1991. The first comprised works by Leclair, Bavicchi, Crossman, McGah, and Bottenberg performed by Sherman Friedland with Dale Bartlett at the piano (1988, SNE 538-CD), and the second, works by Bruch, McGah, Bavicchi, Jarczyk, and Milhaud performed by Denise Lupien (violin), Robert Verebes (viola), with Friedland and Bartlett (1991, SNE 577-CD).


Further Reading

  • Randall, Greene. 'Rooted in sound tradition,' Jam Session, vol 11, May-June 1990

    Segalowitz, Norman. 'The Leonardo project,' PsychoLog, vol 4, Nov 1990