Media Releases

  • Local musician’s legacy lives on through new Brock University jazz ensemble

    A new community jazz ensemble and concert series is being established at Brock University in honour of the late musician Hugh Logan and his wife, Marie. Photo courtesy of the St. Catharines Standard.


    (From The Brock News, January 28, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    If you’re a jazz lover in Niagara, you’ve likely crossed paths with Hugh Logan.

    Affectionately known as ‘Hughie,’ the Toronto-born musician was a prominent part of the local music community for decades — known as much for his upbeat demeanour and quirky antics as he was for being a valued and dedicated member of a number of bands.

    Logan died in 2016, but his legacy will live on for years thanks to a generous gift to Brock University’s Department of Music.

    Brock students and members of the community are invited to audition for the Department of Music’s new jazz ensemble, which is funded by a generous gift from the Bassett family in honour of late musicians Hugh and Marie Logan. Pictured is Brock Music student Aaron Cardona.

    Logan’s sister, Norma Bassett, has created a fund that will support a new student and community jazz ensemble, an accompanying instrumental jazz techniques course and the Hugh and Marie Logan Jazz Series. The gift is Bassett’s way of honouring her late brother and sister-in-law, who were loved for their musical accomplishments and larger-than-life personalities.

    The ensemble and three-concert series will launch in the fall out of Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    Brock Department of Music Chair Matthew Royal said he is “extremely grateful” for the generous contribution.

    “This is a fitting way to memorialize Hugh and his wife Marie and we are delighted to be able to offer this programming for our students and musicians in the broader community,” he said.

    Logan’s love of music was evident to those in the Niagara community who knew him — as was his wife Marie’s never-wavering support of that passion.

    “Music was integral to Hugh’s being,” Bassett said simply. “It really was his life, and Marie was very supportive.”

    Encouraged by his father’s musical talents, Logan began playing the flute and clarinet in his early teens in the Toronto neighbourhood where we grew up.

    Among his early musical accomplishments was earning a place in the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, which he played in at the age of 15.

    A few years later, his father passed away from cancer, leaving Logan on his own to support his mother and sisters.

    The love of music instilled in him by his father stayed near to Logan’s heart, however.

    Bassett laughs when she recalls a time that Logan was reprimanded at work because he couldn’t stop dancing and singing along to a jazz number while working on a factory line.

    Logan later moved to Niagara, where he played with a number of bands across the region until his death at 90 years old. He played alto sax in the Niagara Falls Concert Band, flute in the Thorold Reed Band, flute and lead tenor sax with the Ambassadors Swing Band and baritone sax in the American-based Dick Griffo’s Jazz Workshop.

    He would occasionally sub in with the Jimmy Marando Swing Band, too, and Bassett said her brother was known to always carry his instruments with him, so he would be prepared if an opportunity to play presented itself. It wasn’t unusual for someone to need a fill-in and phone Logan up to come jam.

    “We wanted to do something to honour that passion for music,” added Bassett, “and giving back to students at Brock and other musicians in Niagara was the right choice.”

    Pamela Shanks, Executive Director, Development and Alumni Relations at Brock, said the gift serves to strengthen ties between the University and the community.

    “We thank Norma for her generous gift to the University,” said Shanks. “It will create new programming for our students and the Niagara music community, and for that we are grateful.”

    Royal added that although the Department has traditionally focused on classical music, the jazz ensemble provides an opportunity to bring students and the community together to learn a popular musical style.

    “Having students play alongside experienced musicians is a great way for them to learn jazz because they benefit from that cross-generational interaction,” he said. “The jazz series will also afford an opportunity for jazz lovers in the region to perform together and develop new creative collaborations.”

    The jazz ensemble will add to Brock’s existing roster of string and wind ensembles and will be open to Music and non-music majors, as well as members of the broader community. Anyone interested in auditioning should contact Royal at mroyal@brocku.ca for more details.

    Tags: , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Media Releases, News

  • Avanti Chamber Singers to commemorate the Christmas Truce at first concert of the season

    The Avanti Chamber Singers are led by conductor Rachel Rensink-Hoff during rehearsal for their upcoming performance Saturday, Nov. 24 at St. Thomas’ Anglican Church in St. Catharines.


    (From The Brock News, Wednesday November 14, 2018 | By: Jaquelyn Bezaire)

    On Christmas Day, 1914, French, British and German soldiers along the Western Front laid down their weapons, emerged from the trenches and joined in song to celebrate the season. Now referred to as the Christmas Truce, the unofficial ceasefire was a symbolic moment of peace and humanity amid the violence of the First World War.

    To mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice, conductor Rachel Rensink-Hoff will lead the Avanti Chamber Singers in a performance to remember the truce on Saturday, Nov. 24 at St. Thomas’ Anglican Church in St. Catharines. This marks the first performance of the season for Brock’s choir in residence.

    Titled And on Earth, Peace, the concert will include Remembrance Day tributes, popular songs from the time of the First World War and classic Christmas carols. Songs will be performed in English, German and French, and the audience will be invited to sing along to carols that soldiers would have sung.

    “The moving story of the Christmas Truce was fitting inspiration for our first performance of the season,” said Rensink-Hoff, Assistant Professor of Music in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. “As we look back to Remembrance Day and forward to the holiday season, we will join together in song — just as those soldiers did more than 100 years ago.”

    Many differing stories about the Christmas Truce have been shared. Even today, it is still unclear exactly what happened on Christmas Day all those years ago.

    The most commonly shared account is that soldiers all sang carols together in celebration on Christmas Eve before emerging to wish their enemies a Merry Christmas the next day. After the soldiers ceased fire, they met to exchange small gifts and souvenirs.

    The Avanti Chamber Singers is comprised of 30 musicians from around the Niagara region.

    Rensink-Hoff said she works with different individuals every year, and hopes to showcase the hard work and talent of this year’s choir at the opening concert.

    “The challenge with a new choir is gelling together as a group — not just musically, but interpersonally,” she said. “This is now my second season with Avanti and it makes a big difference when you know people more closely because it helps all of us feel that we are in this together.”

    Accompanying the Avanti Chamber Singers will be pianist and organist Lesley Kingham and guest trumpeter Timothy White.

    And on Earth, Peace takes place Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. Advanced tickets are available through the Avanti Singers website, at Thorold Music and Booksmart, or from choir members for $20 for adults and seniors. Tickets at the door are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors. A $5 ticket is available for students and eyeGo program members.

    The Avanti Chamber Singers will also be performing on Feb. 23 and April 27 at St. Thomas’ Anglican Church.

    Rensink-Hoff is also the conductor for the Brock University Choirs, which includes both the chamber choir and the new women’s choir. Their first performance will take place Dec. 1.

    For more information about upcoming choral performances, visit the Brock University Music website.

    Tags: , , , , , ,
    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Auditions for Brock’s new Women’s Choir open to the public

    Brock’s new Women’s Choir, to launch this fall, is open by audition to Brock students and Niagara community members.

    (from The Brock NewsWednesday, June 20, 2018 | by )

    Voices from the Brock and wider Niagara community will come together in harmony this fall as the Department of Music launches a new Women’s Choir.

    The all-female ensemble will be open by audition to Brock students as well as the general public.

    “I am hoping that this choir brings together women from the University and the Niagara region to offer something very special to our local arts community,” says Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Assistant Professor of Music who will direct the new group.

    The Women’s Choir will rehearse on Thursday evenings beginning this fall, readying for performances with Brock’s Chamber Choir on Dec. 1 and March 30 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    The department’s established mixed-voice Chamber Choir is also open by audition to all Brock students and staff.

    Also included among Brock’s choirs, an integral part of the Music program, is the Avanti Chamber Singers. The community-based adult ensemble, also directed by Rensink-Hoff, is the department’s Choir in Residence.

    “The choirs allow students the opportunity to rehearse and perform in the fantastic FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre,” says Rensink-Hoff. “My hope is that more students from across campus and members of the public will consider joining us.”

    To audition, previous singing experience and some ability to read music are required.

    Students who successfully audition can enrol in choir for academic credit.

    For more information or to schedule an audition, please visit the Music Department’s website.

    Tags: , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Future Students, Media Releases, News

  • NCDSB’s Young Artists Gallery on view until June 23

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts proudly hosted the opening evening of the Niagara Catholic District School Board’s Young Artists Gallery on June 6th. 80 student artists were chosen to display their work in an exhibit at the school and celebrate their accomplishments with their families, teachers and friends. Mayor Walter Sendzik and NCDSB Director Jon Crocco addressed the crowd before awards were distributed to recognized students.

    The exhibit will be on display at the MIWSFPA until June 23rd. The gallery will be open to the public Wednesdays-Saturdays from 1pm-5pm for viewing.

    Tags: , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Events, Future Students, Media Releases, News

  • Brock prof unveils civic art

    (Source: Brock NewsMonday, May 07, 2018 | by Alison Innes)

    Visual Arts Professor Amy Friend’s piece “Vestiges” was unveiled at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday, May 2. The work, a photograph on fabric, was commissioned by the City of St. Catharines for its civic art collection and hangs in the lobby of the PAC. Friend is flanked by Kathleen Powell, Acting Supervisor of Cultural Services, left, and Olivia Hope, Culture Co-ordinator, right.

    Below, Vestiges, 2018, by Amy Friend, in the Algoma Central Lobby of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    Tags: , , , , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, Media Releases, News

  • Brock co-led research to study police training in mental illness

    Dr. Natalie Alvarez, an associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts

    (Source: The Brock NewsWednesday, September 13, 2017 | by Cathy Majtenyi)

    It’s the heat of the moment. A person in mental health distress is waving a knife in the air, yelling or screaming or perhaps even silent. A police officer is on the scene.

    What happens next?

    It’s a question that undoubtedly will come up in Toronto police Constable James Forcillo’s appeal trial, which started Monday. Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder for the 2013 shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar.

    It’s also a question that Brock University researchers Natalie Alvarez and Yasmine Kandil are exploring in their research on how to use theatre to train police officers.

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

    Alvarez, an associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts, along with Yasmine Kandil, an assistant professor in Dramatic Arts, are co-leading a study that will create and evaluate the effectiveness of a type of scenario-based police training grounded in problem-based training methods the team refers to as ‘forum scenarios.’

    In forum scenarios, a scene is played out for an audience. The scene is then performed again, but an audience member can step in to intervene by making different choices, creating a different outcome and changing the way a particular issue is viewed or dealt with. It’s a form of teaching and learning that promotes the principles of procedural justice.

    Theatre educators Alvarez and Kandil of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, and Wilfred Laurier forensic psychologist Jennifer Lavoie, alongside their cross-Canada team with specializations in mental illness and de-escalation training, are partnering with the Durham Regional Police and collaborators from the Ontario Police College.

    The federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has awarded the team a $310,960 grant to carry out the four-year study.

    “Experiential learning through forum methods is much more effective in integrating knowledge, being able to apply that knowledge and retain it long term,” says Alvarez. The study builds on Alvarez’s upcoming book that examines the use of immersive simulations in a variety of training and educational contexts.

    Experts involved in the scenarios aim to teach police officers how to recognize behavioural characteristics of various mental illnesses that may present barriers to communication in high-stakes encounters, the impacts and consequences that certain actions will have on the person in crisis, and how to de-escalate volatile situations.

    “We want to recreate situations where the officer perceives a situation where there’s an imminent threat, they’re under extreme stress, and they have to make refined, ethical judgments in that moment of stress,” says Alvarez.

    The team will also address mental health stigmas and misconceptions.

    For Alvarez, the research is not just academic.

    “My oldest sister suffers from schizophrenia and she’s become an advocate for the rights of people living with mental illness,” says Alvarez, adding that her sister frequently gives talks to RCMP officers on the subject.

    Tags: , , , , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, Media Releases, News

  • Suzanne Rochon-Burnett’s contribution to indigenous arts honoured in new exhibit

    published WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2017 | by The Brock News

    Before Suzanne Rochon-Burnett passed away, she asked that her daughter Michele-Elise take over where she had left off.

    “She gave me instructions for her art,” said Michele-Elise Burnett. “She said, ‘you’ve been fortunate to see and know this art, but it will be your responsibility to continue to share the knowledge, the teachings and the messages that are being told through our people’s art.’”

    The desire to continue advocating and sharing indigenous art is the driving force behind a new art exhibition opening next week at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    Daphne Odjig (Odawa - Potawatomi) "In touch with her spirit"

    Daphne Odjig (Odawa – Potawatomi) “In touch with her spirit”

    Brock University, The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and Kakekalanicks Indigenous Arts Consultancy are joining together to present Awakening Her Spirit — Select Works from the collection of Suzanne Rochon-Burnett as part of the first Celebration of Nations event.

    The exhibit opens at the MIWSFPA Visual Arts Gallery Thursday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.

    The exhibition follows Suzanne Rochon-Burnett’s journey to empower and support indigenous arts in Canada and globally through a collection of paintings, mixed media, sculpture and personal objects. Curated by Samuel Thomas (Cayuga), the show will feature never-before exhibited original works by Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Carl Beam, Roy Thomas, Vince Bomberry, Simon Brascoupe, Bruce King and more.

    “My mom was an advocate and champion of indigenous art before it was being recognized as legitimate art,” Michele-Elise Burnett said. “She helped build recognition and respect to ensure that indigenous artists were compensated fairly like everybody else. She championed artists and their work and encouraged them to find value in it.” Samuel Thomas, a master bead worker and family friend, will lead an interactive Curator’s Talk on Sunday, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Visual Arts Gallery. “My mother took beading lessons from Sam’s mother,” Michele-Elise explained. “When I told Sam about the Celebration of Nations exhibit of my mother’s art, he was pleased and honoured to help pull it together.”

    Rochon-Burnett was a Métis broadcaster and businesswoman who started her career as a journalist in Quebec. Among her many accomplishments, she and daughter Michele-Elise became the first indigenous Canadians to own a CRTC broadcast license as owner and operator of Spirit 91.7 FM radio in Niagara.

    Rochon-Burnett would also become co-founder and first vice-chair of the Métis Nation of Ontario, and sat on boards at TV Ontario, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canadian Council of the Arts, among others. In 2002, Rochon-Burnett received an Honorary Doctorate from Brock in recognition of her contributions to Canadian cultural life.

    She has left many legacies, including the Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Scholarship at the University, which has to date helped 18 indigenous students embark on a university education they may have otherwise never had. Fiercely proud of her heritage, Rochon- Burnett has shown that an individual who is inspired can wake up every day and follow and achieve their dreams.

    Awakening Her Spirit is part of Celebration of Nations, a gathering of indigenous arts, culture and tradition set for Sept. 8-10. The gathering features ticketed performances by Buffy Sainte-Marie, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, DJ Shub as well as free workshops, performances and teachings all weekend long. The full schedule is available at www.celebrationofnations.ca

    The exhibit continues through Sept. 30 at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts located at 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines. Situated on the lower level of the MIWSFPA, regular hours of the Art Gallery are Tuesday through Friday from 1-5 p.m. Additional open hours for Celebration of Nations include:

    Thursday, Sept. 7 from 6-9 p.m.
    Friday, Sept. 8 from 1-8 p.m.
    Saturday, Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    Sunday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Saturday, Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

    Tags: , , , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, Events, Media Releases, News

  • Brock Professor Collaborates with Dramatic Arts Graduates on New Circus Theatre Show in Niagara Falls

    MEDIA RELEASE
    David Fancy, a faculty member of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, is no stranger to new ventures.

    A veteran creator of new theatre productions that explore current events and engage the Niagara Region, he joined forces with former Cirque du Soleil performers Kosta Zakharenko and Christine Cadeau in 2010 to form Zacada Entertainment.

    “We wanted to combine theatre and circus in new ways,” says Fancy, who’s equally comfortable in the classroom as in the rehearsal studio. “The fusion of genres really permits some unique opportunities for dynamic forms of contemporary expression,” he notes.

    This year, the Zacada Entertainment crew will present a new Cirque Cabaret show, entitled Shotgun Wedding, at Niagara Falls’ 650-seat Greg Frewin Theatre.

    Shotgun Wedding features the story of two star-crossed lovers forced to get married by their deeply religious parents. On their way to Niagara Falls for the ceremony they each secretly decide to have one last fling with the person of their dreams.

    “The production deals with perennial concerns of love and relationships,” says Fancy, “but also shines a humorous and probing light on issues pertaining to Niagara, including migrant labour, tourism, and gambling.”

    Zacada is particularly happy to be working with three recent graduates of Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) who will be taking up the acting and singing roles in Shotgun Wedding.

    Mitchell Allanson, Marley Kajan, and Sean Rintoul have all finished their Honours Dramatic Arts degrees over the past three years, and have gone on to further training and professional creative opportunities around the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

    Kajan, a native of Welland, is pleased to be joining the company. “All three of us DART grads are super-happy to have been brought aboard to help bring this show to life,” she says.

    “These kinds of opportunities for intensive professionalization are gold,” says Rintoul, a 2- year veteran of other Zacada productions.

    Marly Kajan, DART Graduate

    Recent Zacada show Fancy has written and directed that have toured Ontario include Circus Revolution, a story about Marxist clowns who escape a gulag by means of their circus prowess, and Circus Labyrinth, a piece that explores creative responses to contemporary forms of social control.

    For its part, Shotgun Wedding features original Niagara-themed musical theatre numbers with support from a seven-piece band, as well as high-octane performances from over 10 cirque artists from Zacada Entertainment’s extensive pool of talent.Silks artists, contortionists, acrobats, and a host of other highly skilled cirque performances each grace the stage for every performance of Shotgun Wedding.

    The production team for Shotgun Wedding is currently in high gear with rehearsals and development for the June 9th opening. The show will be performed sixty times over the course of the summer.

    “We’re deeply excited about this new show,” says Vittoria Wikston, General Manager of the Greg Frewin Theatre, “Especially with how it offers national level talent and serves as a unique reflection of the many strengths and talents of our region.”

    “We couldn’t be happier about having this exciting new addition to our roster of shows,” says master magician and theatre owner, Greg Frewin.

    He adds, “It’s going to be an awesome summer.”

    Website: shotgunwedding.ca
    Brock Promotional code for 20% discount is ShotgunBrock

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Department/Centre News, Media Releases, News

  • The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Announces their 2016/17 Season: Breaking the Surface

    MEDIA RELEASE
    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
    Brock University
    16 September 2016

    “Breaking the Surface” promotes creative and intellectual activity in the heart of Niagara

    Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) announces Season 2016/17 Breaking the Surface, that celebrates the bond between the community and our arts centre in downtown St. Catharines. This year we build upon the relationship between the arts and the public realm, seeking to broaden the community’s understanding of how the arts relate to urban issues and contribute to cultural development in the Niagara region.

    This season consists of more than 45 dynamic events from performances, exhibitions, concerts and artist talks – on stage, in studios and galleries, and at regional venues.

    Some highlights of the season include:

    • The Ash Mouth Man presented by Stolen Theatre Collective and Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts
, runs Sept. 15-18 & 23-25, 2016, held at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, MIWSFPA
    • Culture Days Open House, runs Sept. 30 – October 2, held at the MIWSFPA. For more information, visit: http://bit.ly/2cu8ksl
    • Guitar Extravaganza II, 
Oct. 22, 2016 at 7:30 pm, held in 
Cairns Recital Hall, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
    • In Light and Darkness Exhibit, 
Nov. 22 – Dec. 9, 2016, held in the Art Gallery, MIWSFPA

    Now in our second year at 15 Artists’ Common, we are thrilled by the investment of the community in this incubator of creative expression and critical reflection. We invite Niagara to join us in a celebration of our students, faculty and guest artists’ achievements in the fine and performing arts, said David Vivian, MIWSFPA Director.

    The full program of events can be found on our MIWSFPA website, or you can download the “Breaking the Surface” Calendar of Events in pdf format.

    Stay connected to the MIWSFPA on social media by following @miwsfpa on Twitter and Instagram.

    -30-

    For more information or to arrange interviews:

    Marie Balsom, Communications,
    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts,
    Brock University
    mbalsom@brocku.ca,
    905-688-5550 x4765

    Tags: , ,
    Categories: Events, Media Releases, News

  • RHIZOMES takes on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts

    In the Soil Arts Festival will be staging the third edition of its increasingly popular RHIZOMES program — a “choose your own art adventure” — throughout the hallways and spaces of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), at 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines.

    The three-day festival will showcase artists of all disciplines with a series of one-time audience experiences, including short plays, dance performances, and sound and light installations. Upon entry, audience members will be directed to “The Hive,” a licensed area where you can grab a drink and sign up to experience the 11 creations.

    Seven of the eleven installations involved in this program are connected to the MIWSFPA as students, alumni, faculty and staff from all four disciplines (Visual Arts, Dramatic Arts, Music, and Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture) are active participants. In the Soil Arts Festival is produced by Suitcase in Point Theatre Company, and run by two Brock Dramatic Arts alumni.

    RHIZOMES will be open to audiences in four two-hour blocks over the course of the weekend: Friday, April 29, from 7:30 – 9:30 pm; Saturday, April 30, from 2:30 – 4:30 pm & 10 pm – 12 midnight; Sunday, May 1, from 2 – 4 pm.

    Admission at the door is $20, however, a $40 festival pass will give you access to RHIZOMES and the other 150 acts and installations taking over downtown St. Catharines as part of the In the Soil Arts Festival. Tickets can be purchased through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Box Office 905.688.0722; email: boxoffice@firstontariopac.ca; or online: firstontariopac.ca.

    For more information on the In the Soil Festival visit: inthesoil.on.ca

    -30-

    Marie Balsom, Communications
    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
    T: 905.688.5550, ext. 4765 |E: mbalsom@brocku.ca |W: brocku.ca/miwsfpa

    Tags: , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Events, Media Releases, News