U of G to host tribute to major Canadian composer
In celebration of his 70th birthday, the University of Guelph will honour Canada’s pre-eminent composer R. Murray Schafer March 30 at 8 p.m. with a gala concert of his musical and theatrical works in the George Luscombe Theatre.
The concert is a collaboration of the School of English and Theatre Studies and the School of Fine Art and Music, involving more than 30 students, four faculty members and four guest artists. The concert will feature Schafer’s carnivalesque environmental music theatre work The Greatest Show, the third work in his Patria series. Music professor Ellen Waterman will also perform Aubade, a solo flute piece written for her by Schafer in 1996. A reception sponsored by the College of Arts will follow the concert.
“Presenting a concert honouring Schafer was a natural for us,” said Waterman, concert co-organizer. She and theatre professor Jerrard Smith are two of Canada’s major Schafer scholars and have worked closely with the composer over the past two decades. “We’re featuring excerpts from The Greatest Show because we are working on plans to mount a full-scale production of it in 2005,” said Smith. “It’s a great opportunity for students from theatre and music to get involved.”
Schafer will meet with the student participants in the concert March 29 to coach their pieces. “It's a great opportunity for our students to meet one-on-one with such a major figure in Canadian music,” said Waterman.
The composer will also give a free public lecture on his 12-part Patria series March 29 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 103 of Rozanski Hall. “The series utilizes unorthodox venues – from a wilderness lake at dawn to Toronto’s Union Station – and explores a world of myth and ritual,” said Smith.
Schafer has won major awards for his work, including the first Glenn Gould Prize for Music and Communication and the Molson Award for distinctive service to the arts. He’s also the author of many books on music, sound and pedagogy, including The Tuning of the World, which has been translated into at least six languages and initiated the field of environmental soundscape studies. His musical output includes an award-winning series of string quartets, concertos, orchestral works, and choral music.
Smith has designed productions of Patria works in Canada, Brazil and Holland. The March 30 concert will feature some of the costumes and props designed by Smith and his partner, Diana Smith, for the 1987/88 productions of The Greatest Show in Peterborough, Ont.
Waterman began her work with Schafer as a student performer in those productions and went on to write her PhD dissertation on Schafer’s environmental music theatre. “Meeting Schafer and performing his unusual brand of musical theatre was a life-changing experience,” she said.
Students from the Contemporary Music Ensemble, the University of Guelph Chamber Singers (directed by Marta McCarthy) and the School of English and Theatre Studies (directed by Kim Renders) will take part in this birthday tribute. The concert will also feature performances by guest artists Joe Macerollo, an internationally regarded free-bass accordion virtuoso, soprano Janice Lewis, clarinetist Tilly Kooyman and actor Rae Crossman.
Tickets may be purchased at the door and are $8 for adults and $5 for students.
For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.