Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 28, 2006

Prof Sets Shakespeare to Music in New CD, Concert

Jazz singer/songwriter and physics professor Diane Nalini has put a uniquely modern spin on the words of William Shakespeare in her latest album. Songs of Sweet Fire is a collection of 15 sonnets and songs set to original jazz, funk and blues music. She will premiere the works at the University of Guelph May 25, with the concert serving as a kick-off event for Guelph’s Shakespeare — Made in Canada festival.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in War Memorial Hall and will feature Nalini and the Montreal band that accompanied her on Songs of Sweet Fire, named for a sonnet in Love’s Labour’s Lost. It’s her third album since she started recording in 2001.

Nalini, a longtime admirer of Shakespeare’s plays, wrote music for the album off and on for five years. “It was very important to me to let the phrasing of the words dictate the style of music I wrote for each song,” she said, adding that some of the music is traditional jazz, while other songs have a Motown and even a gospel sound.

“I decided to set only those songs that were in more modern-sounding English, to highlight the timelessness of Shakespeare’s words,” she said.

That philosophy is in tune with Guelph’s Shakespeare festival, set to run from January to May 2007. Its goal is to create a regional cultural synergy focusing specifically on Canadian interpretations, adaptations and exhibitions of the Bard’s work.

“Diane’s project is a perfect fit,” said Sue Bennett, the University’s special projects manager. “We think hosting the launch of her new CD is a wonderful opportunity to let the community know about the upcoming festival.”

Shakespeare — Made in Canada will include art exhibitions, theatrical and musical performances and educational programs. It will involve local and regional arts and cultural organizations, local businesses, and elementary, secondary and university students and teachers.

Tickets for the concert are $25, with all proceeds going to the festival. They are available at the University’s Bookstore and at The Bookshelf and Twelfth Night Music Shoppe in downtown Guelph. Phone orders will be accepted at the University Bookstore at (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53715.

Nalini, who joined the Guelph faculty in 2005, earned an honours physics degree at McGill and a doctorate from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. As a physics professor, she is building Canada’s first one-micron proton microprobe, which she’ll use to study semiconductors and to fabricate microscopic light-emitting devices.

As a jazz musician, she has performed for former U.S. president Bill Clinton, Sir Paul McCartney, the president of Malta and the Canadian High Commissioner to London. She has also sung at international music festivals in London, Malta, Montreal and Toronto. She was nominated for the Grand Prix de Jazz General Motors at the 2002 Montreal International Jazz Festival, and was one of two finalists for the United Kingdom’s 2001 Young Jazz Vocalist of the Year awards.

More information about Nalini’s work is available online at

Prof. Diane Nalini
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 53984/

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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