Music at the University of Alberta

Founded in Edmonton in 1906, the University of Alberta is a non-denominational university with undergraduate and graduate programs.

Music at the University of Alberta

Founded in Edmonton in 1906, the University of Alberta is a non-denominational university with undergraduate and graduate programs. It began to offer instruction in 1908 and awarded its first degrees in 1912. The University of Alberta first offered programs of study at Calgary in 1945 and continued until 1966 when the University of Calgary was established as an autonomous institution. In 1933, the University of Alberta's extension department helped to found The Banff School of Fine Arts (Banff Centre for Continuing Education).

History and Administration

The University of Alberta joined the University of Manitoba and University of Saskatchewan in 1934 to form the Western Board of Music, and the board's Alberta examinations were conducted on the university campus. In the years prior to Second World War, organ recitals were given frequently on the University Memorial Organ in Convocation Hall. After the war, John Reymes King (head of music 1945–47) and Richard Eaton (head 1947–67), laid the foundations of the first music program in the Prairie provinces to offer professional degrees. The University of Alberta National Award in Music was established in 1951.

In 1958 a Department of Fine Arts was established with three constituent divisions, one of which was music. The umbrella department ceased to exist in 1965, when individual departments of art, drama, and music were constituted. Eaton continued as head of the music department. Thomas Rolston was acting chair 1967–69, followed by Robert Stangeland as chair 1969–78, and Brian Harris as acting chair 1978–79. Stangeland was appointed chair again in 1979 and was succeeded by Alfred Fisher in 1986. Fisher was succeeded by Wesley Berg 1989–95 (with Leonard Ratzlaff as acting chair in 1993); Fordyce C. Pier 1995–2003; Ratzlaff 2003–08; David Gramit beginning in 2008; and Debra Cairns as interim chair, beginning in 2011.

Music Instruction

Degrees

Music degrees offered at the University of Alberta in 1990–91 were the D MUS (performance — on keyboard instruments only — initiated in 1977), M MUS (applied music, musicology, theory, and composition, all initiated in 1968; ethnomusicology; and choral conducting, the first such in Canada), M ED (music), B MUS (applied music, performance, history and literature, theory, and composition), BA (honours), and B ED (elementary and secondary major).

In 2011, degrees included the D MUS (piano, organ, choral conducting, composition), PhD (theory; musicology; and ethnomusicology, begun in 1997), M MUS (applied music, choral conducting, composition), MA (theory, musicology, ethnomusicology), B MUS (composition and theory, general, music history, performance, world music), BA (honours, major, minor), B ED (elementary and secondary concentrations), and a combined five-year B MUS/B ED.

Degrees in music education have been offered partly under the auspices of the University's Faculty of Education. Beginning in 2007 the music department offered exchange programs with the University of Ghana and the Franz Schubert Institute, Vienna.

Faculty and Alumni

The first B MUS graduates from the University of Alberta were Wolfgang Bottenberg (1961), Lynn Newcombe and Eileen McEcheran Turner. Honorary degrees have been awarded to Gladys Egbert (1965), Jenny Lerouge LeSaunier (1966), Hugh Bancroft (1980), Ann Burrows (1987), Violet Archer (1993), Susan Aglukark (2005), k.d. lang (2008) and Angela Cheng (2010). In 1990–91, the department was composed of 185 students (95 undergraduate, 25 graduate, and 65 secondary music education) and 48 teachers (25 full-time and 23 part-time). In 2008–09 there were 218 students (160 undergraduate and 58 graduate) and 59 teachers (21 full-time and 38 part-time).

Members of the teaching staff have included Violet Archer, Helmut Brauss, Regula Quereshi, Debra Cairns, Arthur Crighton, Jacques Després, Malcolm Forsyth, Michael Frishkopf, Claude Kenneson, Stéphane Lemelin, Edward Lincoln, Alexandra Munn, Tanya Prochazka, Manus Sasonkin, William Street and Patricia Tao, among others. Composer and organist Gerhard Krapf taught at the university 1977–87, during which time he supervised the installation of the school's Casavant organ and developed the doctoral program in organ performance, the first at an English Canadian university. Visiting professors at the Department of Music have included Donna Brown, Beverley Diamond, William P. Malm, Jean-Jacques Nattiez, Bruno Nettl, and Ivars Taurins.

Facilities and Resources

The Fine Arts Building, shared by the art and design, drama, and music departments, opened in 1973, providing rehearsal halls, classrooms, teaching studios, practice rooms, an electroacoustic studio (added in 1999), and the Music Resources Centre, which held collected editions, study scores, music for performance, basic reference material, audio equipment and recordings. In 1996 the bulk of the music reference collection, microforms, major periodicals, printed music, recordings, and books on music were transferred to the Music Library at the University of Alberta's Rutherford Library.

The department offered its first ethnomusicology course in 1983 and founded the Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology in 1995. In addition to 4,000 recordings of traditional and world music, the Centre houses an instrument collection, a sound museum, and a research lab for field recording analysis.

The department is also home to the Moses and Frances Asch Collection of Folkways Recordings, acquired in 1985. The collection was digitized in 2004 and is administered by the folkwaysAlive! initiative. Founding director of folkwaysAlive! Regula Qureshi was succeeded by Gary Kachanoski in 2006, Jonathan Kertzer in 2011, and Mary Ingraham in 2015.

Performance facilities at the Department of Music include the 435-seat Convocation Hall and the 50-seat recital hall, Studio 27.

Performance

Music Ensembles

The department's Opera Workshop (directed by Bernard Turgeon 1967–71, Alfred Strombergs beginning in 1971, Alan Ord 1975–2005, Caroline Howarth in 2008, and Brian McIntosh beginning in 2009) has presented operatic productions (excerpts or fully staged), accompanied by a student orchestra. Early productions were Vaughan Williams's Riders to the Sea and Seymour Barab's A Game of Chance in 1972. These were followed by Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea (1973, the Canadian premiere), Violet Archer's Sganarelle (1974, premiere), Mozart's Così fan tutte (1975), Puccini's Gianni Schicchi (1976), Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti (1976), Mozart's The Magic Flute (1977), Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1978), Menotti's The Medium (1979), Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor (1982), Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (1982), Martinů's Comedy on a Bridge (1984), Menotti's The Consul (1985), and J. Strauss's Die Fledermaus (1987). Other productions have included Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischütz, Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief, Aaron Copland's The Tender Land, Massenet's Werther, and Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel (2009).

Students, staff, and visitors have presented annually some 200 public performances, some of them on the 40-rank, three-manual Casavant tracker organ which replaced the Memorial Organ in Convocation Hall in 1978. Performing ensembles have included the University of Alberta String Quartet (1969–85), the Academy Strings, the Academy Winds and Percussion, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, the Brass Quintet, Concert Band, Concert Choir, guitar ensemble, two jazz bands, the Happnin' Jazz Choir, Madrigal Singers, a Collegium Musicum (Edmonton) founded by Arthur Crighton, as well as Indian, Middle Eastern and African ensembles.

Among the department's orchestras was one conducted by Thomas Rolston and Claude Kenneson prior to 1969; the St. Cecilia Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1969 with 15-20 strings (student, amateur and professional), with winds added on occasion, and conducted by Michael Bowie; the St. Cecilia Orchestra, a symphonic group active 1971–75, conducted by Bowie; a string ensemble active 1975–77 conducted by Lawrence Fisher and Kenneson; a symphony orchestra active 1977–86, conducted by Malcolm Forsyth; the University of Alberta Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1986, conducted in 1991 by Norman Nelson; and the University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Tanya Prochazka beginning in 1998 and Petar Dundjerski thereafter.

Concert Series

Concert series at the University of Alberta have included The Nicholas Arthur Kilburn Memorial Concert Series (begun in 1981), which has presented Canadian and international artists such as Elly Ameling, Maureen Forrester, Marek Jablonski, Eugene Istomin, Ofra Harnoy, Louis Quilico, Paul Jacobs, and Russell Braun, among others; the Ovation series, begun in 2007; Music at Convocation Hall, a 12-concert subscription series featuring faculty performances (begun in 1994); and Music at Winspear, a six-concert series featuring student performances at the Winspear Centre. In 1991, Paul Badura-Skoda became the first artist for the Tri Bach artist-in-residence program; others have included Robert Aitken, Jane Coop, Andrew Dawes, Eric Ericson, and Edith Wiens.


Further Reading

  • Stangeland, R.A. "Performances mirror department courses," The Music Scene, 253, May-Jun 1970

    Levesque, Roger. "New U of A centre promises a world of music at the touch of a keystroke," Edmonton Journal, 18 May 2005

    In Tune: Words on Music (University of Alberta Department of Music), Sept-Oct 1990 - Winter 2007-2008

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