Music at Dalhousie University | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Music at Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS. Non-denominational university founded in 1818 by the ninth Earl of Dalhousie, lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia. Dalhousie University awarded its first BA in 1866.

Music at Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS. Non-denominational university founded in 1818 by the ninth Earl of Dalhousie, lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia. Dalhousie University awarded its first BA in 1866. The Halifax Conservatory became affiliated with Dalhousie in 1889 and offered the licentiate diploma and the B MUS degrees, as did the Maritime Academy of Music (1934-54). The two music schools amalgamated in 1954 as the Maritime Conservatory of Music, and the affiliation with Dalhousie continued until 1962. From 1949 until the beginning of the 1960s classes and performances at Dalhousie were organized by Harold Hamer. Elective music history classes began in 1961 and the work of David Wilson led to the founding of Dalhousie's Dept of Music in 1968. Emphasis was upon music education and performance, and the B MUS ED (Applied, General) was granted. Chairmen during this time were David Wilson 1968-71, Ray Byham 1971-2, Vernon Ellis, Jack Sorenson, and A.G. Scott-Savage (a three-man committee) 1972-3, and James Gayfer (interim chairman) 1973. Peter Fletcher (from England) served as chairman 1973-6, and was succeeded by William Valleau (acting chairman) 1977. Flether and Valleau's years were active, as faculty increased and in the preparation of new degree programs, implemented 1977-8. In the subsequent decade the chairmen were Walter Kemp 1977-82, Ray Byham 1982-4, and Carl (Carol) van Feggelen 1984-7, succeeded again by Kemp in 1987. Beginning in 1977-8 degrees offered have included the four-year B MUS (performance, theory and composition, history and literature), B MUS ED (a four-year classroom or instrumental program with integrated classroom field experience), B MUS ED/B ED (a five-year integrated program), BA (three-year music major), and a teacher's certification program (one-year). Further academic developments include a pre-baccalaureate foundational studies program, and a B MUS curriculum in organ and church music in collaboration with the Atlantic School of Theology and the community churches of the RCCO. Summer credit classes are offered in Orff-Schulwerk methodology and pedagogy. A Summer Musical Theatre Workshop, directed by Howard Cable and Alan Lund, was offered 1989-91 as a collaborative effort by the university's Continuing Education (Henson College), music, and theatre depts. There are no music degree programs offered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

All degree programs require an applied skills major, taught by specialists. Imported instructors, such as Jeanne Baxtresser, artists-in-residence Gary Karr (double bass) and Harmon Lewis (harpsichord) 1972-6, and pianist William Tritt 1974-83, were succeeded by full-time faculty Elvira Gonnella and Jefferson Morris (voice), Lynn Stodola and Tietje Zonneveld (piano), Philippe Djokic (violin), and Carol van Feggelen (guitar). Among the part-time instructors in 1990 were David MacDonald (organ and church music), Don Palmer (jazz), and orchestra musicians of Symphony Nova Scotia. Composers associated with the faculty were James Gayfer and Clifford Ford, and in 1990 the composition faculty included Dennis Farrell and Steve Tittle. Musicologists on staff in 1990 were David P. Schroeder and David Wilson, with Canadian studies taught by Walter Kemp. Music teacher training benefits from close collaboration with the well-developed school music programs of Halifax, Dartmouth, and Halifax County. Formerly taught by special lecturers from the school systems, such as Kaye Pottie, after 1981 the music education program has been under the direction of Pierre Perron. From 1977 the faculty has averaged 15 full-time and 20 part-time instructors, serving 100 students.

The department is housed in the Dalhousie Arts Centre, completed in 1971. Facilities include 2 rehearsal halls, 20 practice rooms, a piano lab with 12 electronic keyboards, an electronic-experimental studio, 8 grand pianos, 2 Hill Norman & Beard practice organs, 2 harpsichords, and full consorts of early string and wind instruments. Performances are given in the centre's two theatres: the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, and the 250-seat Sir James Dunn Theatre. In 1971 Dalhousie Cultural Activities and the Dept of Music, aided by a Canada Council grant, established NOVA MUSIC, whose work has been carried on by the student New Music Ensemble and by Upstream, founded in 1989 by a group of Halifax musicians including Tittle and Palmer. The Scotia Chamber Ensemble organized in 1972 by John McKay was replaced after 1977 by faculty recitals in the Sunday Evening Chamber Music Series. The university sponsored 1976-82 the Dalart Trio (Tritt piano, Djokic violin, Valleau cello), which premiered works by Ford and Tittle, recorded Ford's Metamorphose (1977) and Mendelssohn's Trio, Opus 66 in C minor (RCI 55l) in 1977, and in 1978 won the Chalmers Foundation Award. The department-sponsored community ensemble, the Dalhousie Chorale (directed by David Wilson 1968-73, Peter Fletcher 1973-6, and Paul Murray 1976-7, succeeded in 1977 by Walter Kemp) is the principal oratorio choir of Halifax and performs with Symphony Nova Scotia. The university has commissioned works for chamber choir from Tittle (1989) and Farrell (1990). The Dalhousie Opera Workshop, founded in 1966 by the English baritone Philip May, director of voice studies 1965-75, was the only opera school program in the Maritimes apart from that of Mariss Vetra at the Halifax Cons (Maritime Cons) in the 1940s and 1950s. In addition to a series of one-act operas the workshop presented Così fan tutte, The Beggar's Opera (Britten), The Consul, The Mikado, L'Histoire du Soldat, Gentlemen's Island (Joseph Horowitz), The Marriage of Figaro, The Barber of Seville, Gianni Schicchi, and Amahl and the Night Visitors. In 1976 May and Fletcher presented Tosca, intended to launch Opera East as a joint university/community project; however this did not develop due to, the departure of both men and financial constraints. The workshop has continued directed by Jefferson Morris, with full productions of The Magic Flute, La Bohème, and L'Elisir d'Amore and concert performances of Il Tabarro and Cavalleria Rusticana. The university has premiered two Canadian operas: The Summoning of Everyman, commissioned from Charles Wilson in 1973 by the Opera Workshop; and The Birthday of the Infanta by Farrell, 1979 by the Music Dept. Musica Antiqua, the department's early music ensemble directed by David Wilson, has included Baroque opera in its repertoire.

Dalhousie has awarded honorary LLDs to W. Roy MacKenzie (1950), Geoffrey Waddington (1956), Catherine Allison and Elmer Iseler (1971), Harry Adaskin (1977), Maureen Forrester (1983), Bernard Diamant (1988), Georg Tintner (1989), and Robert Marcellus (1990). University songbooks include The Dalhousie University Song Book ca 1905, and The Dalhousie Song 1912-13, both containing words and music (see College songs)

The University of King's College, Halifax, affiliated with Dalhousie through the granting of undergraduate degrees in the joint faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, and Science,.by agreement, may not offer a degree in music. Its Chapel Choir has an active liturgical schedule in the High Anglican tradition. Choral works have been composed for it by Alan Reesor and Kemp. The U of King's College has conferred honorary doctorates (DCL) upon Helen Creighton (1967), who served as Dean of Women (1939-41) and President of the Alexandra Society (1940-5), and Reesor (1981). In 1990 the Dr Helen Creighton Memorial Foundation for the advancement of her work and influence was established at the university.