In the Media

  • Local arts awards give nods to Brock faculty

    Established Artist Nominee and Department of Visual Arts Associate Professor Donna Szoke engages with a class in her Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games exhibition space.


    Originally published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 03, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    The nominees for this year’s St. Catharines Arts Awards include some familiar faces from the Brock community.

    Associate Professors Rachel Rensink-Hoff, from Brock’s Department of Music, and Amy Friend and Donna Szoke, from the Department of Visual Arts, have each been recognized for their contributions to the arts.

    Rensink-Hoff, who conducts the Brock University Choir and Sora Singers, and is the Artistic Director of the Avanti Chamber Singers, was nominated for the Art in Education Award. The past Vice-President of Programming for Choral Canada and past President of Choirs Ontario, she maintains an active career as an adjudicator, workshop clinician and juror both locally and across Canada.

    A woman wearing all black leans against a wall covered in vines.

    Art in Education Award Nominee and Associate Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff.

    Friend and Szoke were each nominated in the Established Artist Award category.

    Friend, Chair of Brock’s Department of Visual Arts, has exhibited in a generous roster of national and international exhibitions, including the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize Exhibition (U.K.), Gexto Photofestival (Spain), DongGang Photography Museum (Korea) and many more. Her work has also been featured in numerous publications such as California Sunday Magazine (U.S.), Archeology of Photography – Lux (Poland), Musée Magazine (U.S.) and Wired (U.S.).

    Szoke is an interdisciplinary artist whose work has been shown in public art, interactive video installation, outdoor site-specific installation, publications, film festivals and galleries in Canada, the U.S., France, Germany, Turkey, Hungary, Croatia, Cuba, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea. She has received numerous research awards and grants for her work, including from the Canada Council for the Arts, B.C. Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. In 2017, she was awarded the Brock Faculty of Humanities Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity.

    A female holds flowers under a tropical shelter with glass and film on a table.

    Established Artist Nominee and Department of Visual Arts

    Chair Amy Friend works on cameraless images in the field.

    Friend and Szoke recently collaborated for a shared exhibition this past summer in conjunction with the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games. Small Movements showcased their two projects, both funded by Brock’s VPR Canada Games Grants.

    City of St. Catharines Cultural Co-ordinator Ashley Judd-Rifkin says the awards celebrate the best of the local artistic community. “The outstanding individuals and organizations that have been nominated for the arts awards are all very deserving. Their commitment, creativity and contributions have made St. Catharines a more beautiful, vibrant and exciting place to live.”

    The St. Catharines Arts Awards will be livestreamed from Partridge Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 29 starting at 6:30 p.m. Details for the livestream will be shared through the City’s social media channels closer to the event.

    A full list of nominees is available on the City of St. Catharines website.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News

  • Guest conductor to lead Brock choirs in Decolonizing our Music-Making performance

    Jace Kaholokula Saplan will be the guest conductor for a collective of choral groups Friday, Oct. 28 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Recital Hall.


    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    An upcoming choral performance will bring together the Brock University Choir, Avanti Chamber Singers and Sora Signers under the leadership of a guest conductor.

    As part of the 2022 Walker Cultural Leader Series, the Department of Music is welcoming Jace Kaholokula Saplan, who will conduct The Songs We Sing, The Land We Stand On: Decolonizing our Music-Making on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Recital Hall.

    During their time together, Saplan — a Kanaka Maoli advocate, artist, educator and culture bearer — aims to share their knowledge and research with the choral groups and create a space of understanding and artistic exploration.

    Saplan currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music Learning and Teaching and Choral Conducting at Arizona State University (ASU). They oversee the graduate program in choral conducting, conduct the ASU Concert Choir, and teach courses in choral literature and pedagogy that weave decolonial and critical theories with communal vocal practice.

    Their research focuses on the performance practice of Pasifika choral traditions and Queen Lili’uokalani’s choral compositions, while using decolonial approaches to diversity, equity and inclusion in the choral classroom. Saplan also works in the intersections of choral pedagogy, gender and sexuality in communities of colour, addressing trauma-informed practice and boundary building with Black, Brown, Indigenous and Asian music educators.

    “We are thrilled to be welcoming Jace Kaholokula Saplan to our Brock campus this week and to learn about how our art form might be expanded to welcome richer and more diverse approaches to choral singing,” says Associate Professor of Music Rachel Rensink-Hoff.

    During Saplan’s residency at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, both Brock and community choirs will explore the intricate connections and responsibilities associated with choral practices, specifically focusing on Indigenous ties to the choral arts.

    “I look forward to the building of a beloved community with the choral artists of Ontario. Together we will understand the diverse complexities that root forth when the choral arts are intersected with Native and Indigenous ways of being,” says Saplan. “I hope to weave our time together with an empathetic understanding of the power of our art form, and an instilled responsibility of how we consume and propagate the craft — all while joyfully singing.”

    In anticipation of the choirs’ performance with Saplan, Rensink-Hoff added, “We look forward to being challenged and inspired, and to sharing our learning with the community on Friday evening in a presentation of Indigenous Hawaiian story and song.”

    Attendance to the lecture-performance is free, but tickets must be reserved through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre website.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News

  • Music students’ talent shines on provincial stage

    Brock University Music students Lee Bakker, Isaiah Burry and Caroline Young join Associate Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff after their Ontario Youth Choir performance.


    Originally published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    After spending the summer fine-tuning their choral skills, three Brock Music students are ready to start the school year on a high note.

    Third-year student Caroline Young and fourth-year students Isaiah Burry and Lee Bakker found themselves surrounded by talented and inspired chorists from across the province after successfully auditioning for the Ontario Youth Choir (OYC) earlier this year.

    The OYC is an honour choir that showcases the skills and abilities of Ontario singers between the ages of 16 and 23. The 10-day summer training intensive gives students the chance to be part of a large group of motivated and enthusiastic singers, with their hard work culminating in a final performance.

    The OYC’s selection process began with an audition, which included a solo piece, vocal warm-ups to gauge the performer’s vocal range and a piece chosen by the OYC to be performed acapella.

    Having successfully completed the audition process Bakker, Burry and Young quickly came to realize that they were among a collective of gifted chorists.

    “I was surrounded by so many voice majors and talented instructors, it really challenged me,” Young said. “This opportunity definitely helped me grow as a musician.”

    Prior to living in Ontario, Burry was part of the B.C. Youth Choir. His time with OYC, however, left him impressed by the talent he found himself immersed in.

    “Everyone was studying voice in some manner on a university level and being surrounded by those like-minded individuals was really cool,” he said.

    As the program got underway, it became clear that it had a different dynamic than most choral programs, Burry said. Rather than creating a student and teacher environment, it offered more of an artistic collective.

    “They treat you as a colleague and because of that, there’s a lot more responsibility,” Burry said. “We rehearsed, on average, eight hours a day and by the end of the day, if there was something that still needed to be worked on for you personally, then that was your responsibility. You had to do your part because the next day everyone was going to be working on something else.”

    The program and its final performance was a rejuvenating experience for all three Brock students as they prepared to head into the new academic year.

    “I feel like I can take more risks now, especially with solo performances,” said Young. “If I can stand up and audition for the OYC then I can definitely stand up and perform for the Brock Choir.”

    Burry said the final performance left him with a “feeling of motivation reignited in me.”

    “In my mind, I chalked it up to the fact that what I was getting through OYC was a glimpse at the next step of being a professional chorister,” he said.

    In attendance at the final performance was Associate Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Conductor of the Brock University Choir and Sora Singers, and Artistic Director of the Avanti Chamber Singers.

    “The Ontario Youth Choir has played a significant role in the lives of young choral singers across the province for many decades and it was very special to have three of our own students representing Brock’s Music program in this prestigious choral ensemble,” Rensink-Hoff said. “To witness the energy and passion in their culminating performance, particularly given the obstacles faced by choral musicians over the past two and a half years, was heartwarming. I look forward to encouraging future students to audition for this tremendous musical experience.”

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Current Students, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, News

  • Popular Brock concert series back on stage for 2021-22 season

    Image caption: The Walker String Quartet rehearses on stage at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre for the 2021-22 performance season. Photo by Max Holten-Andersen.

    Originally published FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2021 in The Brock News | by 

    After a year of performing from their homes, musicians featured in Brock University’s RBC Foundation Music@Noon series will return to the stage at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) for the 2021-22 season.

    Although there will be no live audience this fall, performances will be livestreamed for the Brock and wider community to enjoy online.

    Presented by the Music Department at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and sponsored by the RBC Foundation, the free concert series takes places most Tuesdays at noon throughout the academic year and features the department’s performance faculty, special guests, Brock students and alumni.

    In partnership with the PAC , the Music@Noon season opens Tuesday, Sept. 28 with the musical stylings of the John Sherwood Trio. Featuring John Sherwood on piano, Kieran Overs on bass and Terry Clarke and drums, the trio will delight audiences with selections from the Great American Songbook.

    With concerts booked for most Tuesdays until the holiday season, the fall program will feature faculty performances as well as recitals from Music students later in the year. The livestream concerts can be viewed on the Facebook pages and YouTube channels of the MIWSFPA and PAC, as well as on the PAC website.

    A  return to in-person concerts may be possible in January, depending on Brock University and provincial protocols for COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

    For a full listing of upcoming concerts and to check for live audience updates, please visit the Music@Noon website.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, RBC Foundation Music @ Noon Series, Special Events, Uncategorised

  • Accessibility in music education at centre of upcoming talk

    IMAGE CAPTION: Music educator Erin Parkes will be the first speaker in a virtual series offered by Brock’s Department of Music as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series.

    Walker Cultural Leader and music educator Erin Parkes will address key questions about providing access to music education to people with exceptionalities in an upcoming online lecture presented by Brock’s Department of Music.

    Held online Friday, Sept. 24 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., Parkes will discuss teaching models for students who require a different approach and the benefits of opening up music studios to diverse learners.

    Parkes is Founder and Executive Director of the Lotus Centre for Special Music Education, a charitable organization committed to providing access to music education for people with exceptionalities. She holds a PhD in music education from McGill University, where she researched how to effectively train studio music teachers to work with students with autism.

    This is the first online presentation of a virtual speaker series offered by the Department of Music as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series. Welcoming musicians, music scholars, and music educators to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts online, these lectures and workshops are free community events and are open to the Brock and wider community.

    Registration is required by emailing music@brocku.ca

    For more information, please visit brocku.ca/music

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Events, Future Students, In the Media, News, Special Events, Uncategorised

  • Virtual auditions for Brock University choirs now open to community

    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2021 | by 

    Image caption: Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and Artistic Director of Brock University Choral Activities, is excited for Brock choir auditions to get underway in advance of the fall 2021 season.

    Brock choirs are back this fall and singing a hopeful tune for a busy season of choral activities for the University and wider Niagara community.

    Choir auditions are now open and will be running online throughout the summer for two ensembles: University Choir and Sora Singers.

    University Choir is a mixed voice ensemble for soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices and is open to all members of the Brock community, including students, faculty and staff.

    Sora Singers (formerly the Brock Women’s Choir) is an upper-voice ensemble for anyone with a soprano or alto voice. Auditions for Sora Singers are open to the Brock community as well as the wider Niagara community.

    Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and Artistic Director of Brock University Choral Activities, is hopeful that choir members will be able to sing together in person, pending public health and Brock University protocols.

    “It has been a really tough year and as singers, we are all feeling rusty,” she said. “Building our vocal technique will certainly be the top priority when we convene in the fall to rebuild our singing community.”

    While the past year posed challenges for Brock’s choirs, Rensink-Hoff feels there were key lessons learned through experimentation with digital platforms, which she hopes will be integrated into the program going forward.

    “Because we are all familiar with collaborative opportunities in online formats, this coming year we will be virtually welcoming several composers whose works we will be studying and performing,” she said.

    Diversity and inclusion are also top of mind for Rensink-Hoff as the she plans for the coming season.

    “I am committed to diversifying our performance repertoire and spending more intentional time together exploring the voices of under-represented composers and communities,” she said.

    All audition details and rehearsal times can be found on the Sing at Brock! website. The audition is a two-part process involving a singing recording followed by a meeting over Zoom. Students who are interested can enrol in a choir for credit as a Brock course elective.

    The last day to audition for both the University Choir and Sora Singers will be Monday, Sept. 13.

    Choir rehearsal and performance formats are subject to change and will be delivered in adherence with Brock and public health protocols.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Virtual workshops for Brock Choral Ensembles open to the public

    Caption: The Brock University Chamber Choir directed by Rachel Rensink-Hoff gathers virtually to rehearse and attend Shared Perspectives, a new virtual workshop series offered by Brock’s Department of Music.

    Originally published in The Brock News THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021 | by 

    Brock’s Choral Ensembles are getting front-row access to a diverse lineup of artists — and the public has been invited to tune in.

    Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Choral Ensembles at Brock University, launched a virtual workshop series called “Shared Perspectives: Live talks featuring guest conductors, composers and vocal choral specialists” in the fall. Funded by the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) and the Walker Cultural Leaders Series presented by the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), the series is continuing this semester, welcoming a guest speaker each week.

    The online presentations are hosted on Zoom, with some artists choosing to give a formal presentation and others engaging in an interview-style format. Time is always allotted for a question-and-answer period, enrichening the experience for all participants.

    “Any opportunity to hear more than one voice should be cherished,” says Rensink-Hoff. “Teaching online synchronously is challenging because there is always only one person talking. I knew in August that I needed to shake things up.”

    Rensink-Hoff has since brought in a diverse roster of guests, many of whom speak to issues relevant to today.

    “This semester, a number of our guest speakers will be engaging us in conversations around cultural appropriation and appreciation in the arts — and how we can navigate these pathways more respectfully and thoughtfully,” she says.

    Upcoming sessions include topics such as cultural appropriation and culture sharing in choral music; decolonizing the music curriculum; debunking myths around vocal health; and traditional South African music.

    Even in a fully online format, the Brock Choral Ensembles meet every week, rehearse online, and discuss musical elements. Rensink-Hoff believes that adding guest speakers in the mix has brought something unique to the “Zoom classroom.”

    “The opportunity to hear different perspectives on a wide variety of topics related to singing and choral music has been very rewarding. In normal circumstances, we would not have had such a rich display of voices in just one year,” she says. “The students are so fortunate to have been introduced to so many amazing artists.”

    The Shared Perspectives series is also open to the public, making this a valuable opportunity for Brock’s Music Department to connect with the local community. Past sessions have seen up to 20 community members in attendance, Rensink-Hoff says.

    The series continues Brock and the MIWSFPA’s strong history of community engagement in Niagara, enhancing vitality in the region and offering experiential opportunities for connection through the arts.

    While this initiative was always designed to be virtual, given its success and positive response, Rensink-Hoff plans to run the series again next year.

    “I hope to partner with other colleagues who want to bring in guests on a range of music related topics. Stay tuned for Shared Perspectives 2.0 next year.”

    To learn more about upcoming Shared Perspectives workshops, please visit ExperienceBU.

    To register for a free workshop, please email sing@brocku.ca

    More information available on the Sing! At Brock website. 

    Upcoming Shared Perspectives workshops

    • Wednesday, March 3, 2:30 p.m.: Rollo Dilworth — Cultural Appropriation and Culture Sharing in Choral Music
    • Monday, March 15, 12:30 p.m.: Cynthia Peyson Wahl — Decolonizing the Music Curriculum
    • Wednesday, March 17, 2:30 p.m.: Leanne Vida — A Spectrum of Sound: Vocal Resonance
    • Wednesday, March 24, 2:30 p.m.: Christianne Rushton — Fact or Fiction: Debunking the Myths Around Vocal Health
    • Monday, March 29, 12:30 p.m.: Ardelle Ries — The SingAble Society
    • Wednesday, March 31, 2:30 p.m.: Michael Barret — Traditional South African Music

    Tags: , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, News, RBC Foundation Music @ Noon Series, Special Events, Uncategorised

  • Music@Noon concert series goes virtual

    Former Music students Gavino Oresta (left) and Eric Godfree perform their recitals during a previous Music@Noon Series event. This year, the concert series will be held online in accordance with public health guidelines.

    The RBC Foundation Music@Noon Series returns Tuesday, Nov. 17, albeit with a new format.

    The anticipated concert series will be held virtually this season, with Brock Music students recording solos from their own homes.

    In the past, performances have taken place live on the stage of the Recital Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC), adjacent to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). This year, the PAC and Brock’s Department of Music changed the format in accordance with public health guidelines.

    Self-recorded performances from the solo recital students will be streamed Tuesday through the MIWSFPA and PAC YouTube channels and Facebook pages, marking the first online presentation of the 2020-21 concert series.

    Generously sponsored by the RBC Foundation, the free concert series takes place most Tuesdays at noon throughout the academic year. The recitals are open to the public and feature Brock’s performance faculty and special guests, as well as talented students and alumni.

    For full event details, please visit the Music concert listings page.

    Tags: , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Alumni, Announcements, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, RBC Foundation Music @ Noon Series, Special Events, Student Solo Recitals, Uncategorised

  • Upcoming: The Department of Music virtually attends Royal Conservatory of Music College & University Music Fair 2020

    The Department of Music at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University is excited to virtually host future musicians at their online booth! The Royal Conservatory College & University Fair is going virtual this year. Set for October 3, 2020, registration is FREE. It has never been easier for future students to learn about the programs offered, admission requirements and much, much more. See you there!

    Register for free: https://bit.ly/2ZS1cLR

    To learn more about the programs offered through the Department of Music at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, drop by our degree programs page.  

     

    Tags: , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Brock Choir sings new tune for virtual 2020-21 season

    (including content published THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 03, 2020 | in The Brock News by )

    Choir at Brock University will look a little different this fall by moving to a virtual rehearsal format.

    “Given the known risks of singing together in groups, we will not attempt to do what we normally do until health guidelines permit us,” says Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music and Choir Director.

    While not being able to safely gather and practice in person together is a challenge for those in choir, Rensink-Hoff sees it as an opportunity.

    “We have a unique opportunity to get to know and learn from one another in new ways through online discussion and active engagement.”

    Rensink-Hoff will focus the choir on pursuing some of the things they haven’t usually had time for, such as building individual skills in vocal technique and stage presence, analyzing music as a vehicle for storytelling, and reflecting on the historical and cultural contexts of songs. There will also be a “Shared Perspectives” series of guest interviews and workshops with conductors, composers and vocal-choral specialists from across Canada and the U.S.

    Choir members will need headphones, a video recording device such as a phone, computer or tablet, as well as internet connection.

    The Treble Choir (sopranos and altos) will rehearse together virtually on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m., and the Mixed Voices choir (sopranos, altos, tenors and basses) will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

    “Our work will emphasize the process, rehearsing, over the product, performing,” says Rensink-Hoff. “This is a tough transition for those of us in the arts, but it is also a chance to for us to strengthen our performance skills and to reflect on the significance of live performance to individuals and communities.”

    Choir auditions are open to Brock students, faculty, staff as well as members of the wider Niagara community. Both new and returning choir members may book their auditions online before the deadline on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 11:59 p.m.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
    * Michelle Pressé, Brock University Communications, mpresse@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x4420 or 905-246-1963


    SING@BROCK ONLINE EDITION: audition for choir 2020-21

    Open by audition to all students, faculty, staff and members of the Niagara community!

    For the 2020-2021 academic year, choir will be fully online until guidelines allow for other forms of gathering. As such, the course will be less about performance outcomes and more about the process of learning, connecting, exploring and innovating as key elements of ensemble participation.

    Singers will engage with a diverse body of choral repertoire in sessions on vocal technique and choral skill development, explorations of movement and stage presence, analysis of music and text, workshops with guest artists, and collaborations through innovative singing projects. Rehearsal and performance skills will be developed in the context of a supportive community that promotes cross-cultural understanding and self-expression.

    Previous singing experience and ability to read music is required.
    For more information contact:
    Rachel Rensink-Hoff, rrensinkhoff@brocku.ca
    SEE >>> brocku.ca/sing

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: Alumni, Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Special Events, Uncategorised