Faculty of Music

Research in the News

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 also be found here.

(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. Jay 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 CouncilSinfonia 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 more 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.»


“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”
Jim Greer“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