Articles tagged with: Department of Music

  • Redesigned course explores global music and identities

    (Published FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2020 | in The Brock News by )

    This fall, Brock University students will have the opportunity to explore how music shapes, and is shaped by, global cultures.

    Music in Global Cultures (MUSI 1P50) will explore how music expresses and shapes identity around themes of race, gender, spirituality, disability and sexuality.

    “Every unit will have case studies from all over the world,” says Nina Penner, Assistant Professor of Music. “We’ll be doing a lot of non-western music.”

    For those who may associate music appreciation classes with symphonies and string quartets by predominantly white men from previous centuries, this course will offer a fresh angle with a diverse repertoire.

    “We’ll be talking about music and its relation to the society and culture in which it is a part,” says Penner.

    Students will be exploring music from countries such as Gambia, India, Nepal, Japan and Cuba in genres including hip hop, jazz, sufi, disco and blues.

    Students will explore issues of race through the music of the Black Lives Matter movement and American blues and examine disability through the music of the Goze, a group of female Japanese musicians with visual disabilities, and the Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles. They will investigate how Buddhist chant, the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi Sufi order and traditional Jewish music express spirituality, and explore gender expression in opera and Balinese gamelan music.

    Penner hopes students from all disciplines across Brock will consider taking the course.

    “I really enjoy teaching music for non-majors,” she says. “I find it really exciting to take people who like music but think they aren’t skilled in music and show them how much they can learn and develop skills to listen to and describe things about music.”

    In North America, Penner says, students traditionally don’t get a lot of instruction in thinking about and discussing music critically.

    “It’s exciting to see students develop this vocabulary and to talk about music in a precise and informed way.”

    Course enrollment is open to any students who are interested. There are no theory requirements or prerequisites. The course is offered entirely online and the enrolment cap has been lifted to reflect the online learning environment.

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

  • Auditions at the Department of Music for studies commencing September 2020

    As part of Brock University’s ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all face-to-face entrance auditions for Brock’s Department of Music have been cancelled until the end of May, 2020.  The Department will be contacting all auditionees by e-mail in the next little while to arrange on-line auditions.

    We look forward to meeting you online and to welcoming you in our studios and on the stage of the Recital Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre this coming September!

    Dr Matthew Royal, Chair of Music

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    Categories: Announcements, Future Students, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • GUEST ARTIST RESIDENCY with CHARLES BRUFFY. A Special Walker Cultural Leader Event!

    Director of the Kansas City Chorale and Chorus Master of the Kansas City Symphony, Charles Bruffy is a distinguished choral conductor, pedagogue and clinician. It will be our privilege to have him conduct masterclasses with our choirs during the week of November 26-30, 2019. He will also be visiting a few local school and community ensembles throughout the week. His visit is generously supported by the Walker Cultural Leaders Fund, the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation and the Humanities Research Institute.

    One of the most admired choral conductors in the United States, Charles Bruffy began his career as a tenor soloist, performing with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in recordings and concerts in France and in concerts at Carnegie Hall. Shaw encouraged his development as a conductor. He received his undergraduate degree from Missouri Western University in St. Joseph, and completed his master’s degree in conducting from the Conservatory of Dance and Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

    He has been Artistic Director of the Kansas City Chorale since 1988 and Chorus Director for the Kansas City Symphony since 2008. He is also Director of Music for Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church.

    Respected and renowned for his fresh and passionate interpretations of standards of the choral music repertoire and for championing new music, he has commissioned and premiered works by composers such as Jean Belmont Ford, Ola Gjeilo, Matthew Harris, Anne Kilstofte, Libby Larsen, Zhou Long, Cecilia McDowall, Michael McGlynn, Stephen Paulus, Steven Sametz, Philip Stopford, Steven Stucky, Eric Whitacre, and Chen Yi.

    Under his supervision, MusicSpoke and the Roger Dean Company, a division of the Lorenz Corporation, publish choral series specializing in music for professional ensembles and sophisticated high school and college choirs. His eclectic discography includes five albums on the Nimbus label and eight recordings for Chandos Records, three of which have been recognized by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with Grammy® awards for Best Choral Performance. In 2017, Bruffy was recognized with the Signature Sinfonian award conferred by national fraternal society Phi Mu Alpha, recognizing “alumni members who have achieved a high standard of accomplishment in their field.”

    In his spare time, Bruffy breeds and raises Arabian and Saddlebred horses on his ranch just south of Kansas City in Cass County, Missouri.

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    Categories: Announcements, Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, Uncategorised, Viva Voce Choral Series

  • First students to complete entire four-year degree at downtown MIWSFPA graduate June 14

    Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.


    The first group of students to have completed their entire four-year degree at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts’ downtown St. Catharines facility crossed the stage at Spring Convocation on Friday, June 14.

    Sixty-three students from Brock’s Departments of Music, Visual Arts and Dramatic Arts graduated from the downtown arts school, which opened its doors in 2015. Nine students who minored in programs at the MIWSFPA will also graduate on Friday.

    The milestone is not lost on the 2019 graduating class.

    “It’s a cool honour to be part of Brock history and I’m grateful to have trained in such a professional environment,” said Emma McCormick, who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts, Performance Concentration. “I feel that I’ve gained a lot of skills that will serve me in my career, specific to the learning I received at the MIWSFPA.”

    The London, Ont. native is the recipient of the Jean Harding Prize, which is awarded to the student who achieves the highest standing in fourth-year Dramatic Arts. She plans to remain in St. Catharines after graduation, where she will continue her studies in Brock’s Adult Education program and working in the performing arts sector.

    Providing students like McCormick with a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility was the vision of the School’s namesake, the late Marilyn I. Walker.

    When the famed textile artist and philanthropist donated $15 million to Brock University in 2008, she envisioned the creation of an arts facility that would revitalize downtown St. Catharines and encourage students to study and practice the arts here in the Niagara region.

    Her generosity and foresight allowed for the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building to be converted into the new home for the Departments of Music, Dramatic Arts and Visual Arts, and the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, which had previously been housed at Brock’s main campus.

    The $45.5-million project also received a $26.2-million investment from the Ontario government, numerous private and corporate donors, and relied heavily on the insight and contributions of hundreds of partners such as then-Dean of Humanities, Rosemary Hale, and the City of St. Catharines.

    MIWSFPA Director Elizabeth Vlossak, who joined the School on an interim basis from the Department of History, said she has seen first-hand the impact the facility and its programming has on students.

    “Although the School is a cultural hub that acts as a living, breathing connection between the city’s past and future, it’s also so much more than that,” she said. “In my short time here, I have seen how these incredible facilities and engaged, passionate faculty benefit our students.”

    Graduand Alyssa Shanghavi, of St. Catharines, said she appreciated the availability of unique practice spaces on campus for music students like herself, which allowed her to focus on her studies and hone her skills on the trombone.

    The Bachelor of Music recipient said being around other artists all the time and in such close proximity to the downtown core was an invaluable complement to her education.

    Gianna Luisa Aceto, a graduand from Mississauga, said that as a painter, she “enjoyed and most definitely appreciated the space the MIWSFPA provided.”

    As well as making new friendships and plenty of memories, Aceto attributes the successful completion of her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Art to the artistic identify she forged while studying at the School.

    “One of the biggest takeaways for me is finding my passion, my niche,” she said.
    “I struggled a lot in finding out what I wanted to create and the reasons for creating it. My time spent within the walls of the MIWSFPA allowed me to uncover that knowledge.”

    She also said she has an undeniable gratitude for her professors, and that “the drive they instilled in me has not gone unnoticed.”

    Faculty of Humanities Dean Carol Merriam said this milestone serves as time to reflect on the importance of the arts and its ability to create healthy and flourishing communities.

    “This first class of students to have spent their entire Brock careers in this splendid facility serve this mission in downtown St. Catharines and in the broader community, but they have also been a defining force within the MIWSFPA itself,” she said. “They have been largely responsible for creating the culture of the School as a place to learn, create and serve as a community. Their impact will last a very long time, and we are proud to see their graduation day.”

    Longstanding former MIWSFPA Director Derek Knight echoed Merriam’s sentiments.

    The Associate Professor said the class of 2019 should receive their degrees with pride having been part of an extraordinary university experience and contributing to the legacy of the arts, both at Brock and in the community.

    With the MIWSFPA’s fifth anniversary on the horizon, the School will continue to offer students unique teaching and learning experiences while honouring the spirit of its benefactor, he said.

    “What was interesting about Marilyn is that she was always very curious and engaged with how we, the faculty, envisioned the future,” Knight said. “She thought it was our job to rise to the challenge and define the potential of what she had given to us in the form of this extraordinary gift. I think, in many ways, we’ve done that.

    “Now, we are charged to think about not only what we will offer today, but in the long-term, and how we will define pedagogy and the School’s identity long into the future.”

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    Categories: Alumni, Alumni, News

  • Brock Chamber Choir and Women’s Choir holding auditions for upcoming season

    Brock’s Women’s Choir (pictured above) is holding auditions for its second season this summer. Photo courtesy of Julie Hoff.


    Brock’s Chamber Choir and Women’s choir are looking for new voices for the upcoming 2019/2020 season!

    Both the Chamber Choir and Women’s Choir are open by audition to all Brock students, and the Women’s Choir is also open to community members.

    Singers can opt to take choir for credit, but are not required.

    HOW TO AUDITION

    Auditions will begin in August.

    Click here to access the audition sign-up sheet and schedule an audition time.
    *Please arrive at your audition early to complete an audition form.

    Previous singing experience and the ability to read music is required.

    All singers accepted into the choir are expected to attend all rehearsals and performances throughout the year. Dates for the entire year will be posted before the end of August, prior to your audition.

    Auditions will be 10 minutes in length and will include the following:

    1. Vocal range check
    2. Listen and sing-back
    3. Sight-singing
    4. Rhythm-reading and clap-back
    5. Singing of Shenandoah (click on the link for a pdf of the music)

    If you are accepted into one of the choirs, you are invited to register for the course (if you wish to receive credit). Permission to register will be granted after the auditions are completed.

    Rehearsals begin the week of September 10, 2019

    Rehearsal times:

    CHAMBER CHOIR: Rehearsals Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3 to 4:20 p.m.

    WOMEN’S CHOIR: Rehearsals Thursday evenings, 6 to 8:45 p.m.


    For more information about opportunities and the audition process please contact Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Conductor, at rrensinkhoff@brocku.ca  or the Department at music@brocku.ca.

    Learn more about the Brock choirs.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Brock students embrace partnership with French music festival

    First-year Brock Music student Cassandra Sullivan, right, learns the mechanics of performing opera in French with the guidance of Suzanne Leclerc, an arts teacher at École élémentaire LaMarsh in Niagara Falls. Leclerc led one of the numerous workshops in the Monde le Son Festival that took place at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts May 13 to 15.


    (From The Brock News, May 16, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Brock University students got to offer some musical insight and even take in a lesson or two during a recent French festival held at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    For the first time in its four-year history, the annual Monde le Son Festival, or World Sound Festival, was hosted at the MIWSFPA by French school board Conseil scolaire Viamonde.

    The event drew about 200 elementary and secondary school francophone students from across Ontario to participate in workshops from Monday, May 13 to Wednesday, May 15. Students learned how to play instruments, sing in different vocal styles, compose music and perform in front of live audiences in several performances held at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC).

    Brock Music students were invited to participate in the workshops and to observe the different strategies teachers had for leading the sessions.

    Brock Recruitment and Liaison Officer Madison Roca said she jumped on the opportunity to host the festival when the board initially suggested it last year.

    “It was a great chance to welcome new students to our campus and expose them to the possibility of pursuing the arts beyond high school, while also building a meaningful relationship with a new school board and supporting their initiative,” she said.

    Event organizers said the MIWSFPA seemed a fitting choice for the event after the decision was made to move the festival from its former home in the Greater Toronto Area. Students interested in music were attracted to the downtown arts school’s music facilities and close proximity to the PAC, and embraced the opportunity to enjoy a taste of the university experience while staying in Brock’s Earp Residence.

    “I liked the idea of joining a post-secondary institution to give the kids that experience and to also entice them to do further studies after they graduate from secondary school,” said Jeffrey Hughes, Viamonde’s Director of Educational Services. “It was a winning combination.”

    Mark Nouhra, the board’s Cultural Co-ordinator, said the opportunity to foster interaction between current Brock students and Viamonde’s younger learners was also a plus.

    “Knowing we could have some Brock students talk to and interact with our students, to see how things really happen here in a university music environment, was a priceless experience,” he said.

    First-year Brock Music student Cassandra Sullivan said participating in the festival’s workshops meant hands-on learning experience applicable to her future career path.

    With the goal of one day working as a vocal teacher and choir director, she said that “observing how teachers are teaching and what strategies they are using to engage with the young people was really useful for me.”

    Sullivan also felt the festival was an opportunity to embrace and celebrate her francophone roots.

    “I’ve had the opportunity to learn music and to learn French, but I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to learn music in French,” she said. “I really appreciated the opportunity to learn that new vocabulary and to combine my two favourite subjects.”

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    Categories: Events, Future Students, Special Events

  • Avanti Chamber Singers preparing to end Brock Music season on a high note

    The Avanti Chamber Singers will perform for the final time this season on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. in St. Thomas Anglican Church. (Photo courtesy of Julie Hoff)


    (From The Brock News, April 16, 2019 | By: Jaquelyn Bezaire)

    The Avanti Chamber Singers will close an eclectic Brock Music season with their final performance, The Road Home.

    Led by Assistant Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Brock’s Ensemble-in-Residence will perform at St. Thomas Anglican Church on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Viva Voce! Choral Series.

    Rensink-Hoff explained this concert is quite different from Avanti’s first two performances this season.

    “We’ve had a very diverse year,” she said. “We did the big classical piece at the beginning of the year and have explored probably every style chorally that we could throughout the season.”

    The concert repertoire was inspired by This House of Peace, a choral number by contemporary composer Ralph Johnson, commissioned for the opening of the Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield, Ore. The song reflects on conversations Johnson had with people staying in a medical centre guesthouse while their loved ones were in hospital.

    As well as Johnson’s number, the choir will also perform songs that reflect on the idea of “home” as a space where individuals feel at peace.

    The opening piece, titled Ambe by Indigenous composer Andrew Balfour, is rhythmic in style and based in an Ojibway dialect.

    The program also includes All of Us by Craig Hella Johnson, and Stephen Paulus’ The Road Home, for which the concert is named.

    The Avanti Chamber Singers will also be joined by oboist Marta Agnieszka for a few pieces during the performance, including Gabriel’s Oboe arranged by Jon Washburn.

    This is the third and final performance of the season for the choir, who have spent the last eight months rehearsing and growing together as singers.

    “Concert themes can be quite personal and so, as I work with Avanti and get to know them more, it’s easier to create programs that I believe will resonate with the members of the choir,” said Rensink-Hoff.

    The Avanti Chamber Singers will perform for the final time this season on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Thomas Anglican Church, 99 Ontario St. in St. Catharines.

    Tickets purchased in advance for the show are $20 for adults and seniors. Tickets at the door are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors. There is also a discounted price of $5 for students and eyeGo program members. Tickets are available through theAvanti Chamber Singers website, at Thorold Music, Booksmart Books or from choir members.

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    Categories: Events, News, Viva Voce Choral Series

  • Season-ending Brock Choirs concert to explore stages of life

    The Brock University Women’s and Chamber choirs, shown at a recent performance, will again take the stage in the Recital Hall of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines on Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m.


    (From The Brock News, March 26, 2019 | By: Jaquelyn Bezaire)

    The Brock University Women’s and Chamber choirs are back for the second and final performance of the school year, with a program exploring the different stages and seasons of life.

    Led by conductor and Brock Assistant Professor Rachel Rensink-Hoff, the two choirs will perform together on Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    The performance is part of the Viva Voce! Choral Series, which sees the University’s choral ensembles come together as the Brock Choirs in recitals that take place throughout the year.

    Since their most recent performance in November, the two groups have been working on new and diverse pieces for their upcoming concert.

    “Second semester always has more experimentation,” explained Rensink-Hoff, “so we do a lot of moving around in terms of our seating and how the voices work together.”

    The two choirs will perform a wide range of repertoire, from traditional pieces by Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms, to more contemporary songs by Canadian composers Nancy Telfer, Jane Siberry and Jon Washburn.

    Rensink-Hoff selected poems to include by authors Christina Rossetti, Robert Burns and Charles Dickens, which she believes will resonate with the audience.

    The choirs will also perform a few pieces in different languages. Rensink-Hoff said working with that material has been both challenging and rewarding for the groups.

    “When you work with languages a lot through singing, you really get an understanding of how a language works,” she said. “From an educational perspective, it’s really wonderful to see.”

    Along with pieces in Latin and German, both choirs will perform a composition in Xhosa arranged by South African composer Michael Barrett.

    Brock Choirs in Concert II will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 30 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) in downtown St. Catharines.

    Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. There is also a $5 option available for eyeGo program members. Tickets are available through the PAC box office at 905-688-0722 or on thePAC website.

    The final performance in the Viva Voce! Choral Series is also approaching on Saturday, April 27 featuring the Avanti Chamber Singers. For more details on upcoming concerts, visit the Department of Music website.

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, News, Viva Voce Choral Series

  • One-night-only performance set for Encore! trio

    Trio Amore, including Erika Reiman, Gordon Cleland and Christine Chesbrough, will perform on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Partridge Hall of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines.


    (From The Brock News, March 19, 2019 |By: Jaquelyn Bezaire)

    Guests attending the next Encore! Professional Concert, presented by Brock’s Department of Music, will be the first to hear Trio Amore perform on stage.

    The trio is coming together for a one-time performance titled Clara’s Love Triangle on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines.

    Comprised of cellist Gordon Cleland, pianist Erika Reiman and violinist Christine Chesebrough, the group has arranged a concert featuring works by Clara and Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms.

    With it being the bicentenary of Clara Schumann’s birth, the group thought this was the perfect time to play her trio. Brahms was a protégé and friend of the Schumanns, so the performers felt that adding Brahms’ Op. 8 to the repertoire was a fitting choice.

    “The fascinating relationship between Brahms and the Schumanns would also be an interesting angle for the audience,” Cleland said. “The musicians would all have known each of the pieces the other wrote and were probably mutually inspired by each other.”

    Although the musicians aren’t a full-time trio, they have played together in the past and enjoyed working together while preparing for their upcoming concert.

    “I think this concert is a great opportunity for us and we are grateful to be able to present these wonderful pieces in a fantastic hall,” said Reiman. “The repertoire promises to be full of drama, memorable melodies and originality.”

    Trio Amore will perform on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Partridge Hall of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    Tickets are on sale now through the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre’s box office.

    For more information on upcoming performances, visit the Department of Music’s website.

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    Categories: Encore! Professional Concert Series, Events, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Brock Music grad creating change one song at a time

    Music grad Danny Lamb (BA ’12) has been using his Music degree to create positive change locally and internationally.


    (From The Brock News, March 14, 2019 |

    When Danny Lamb began singing lessons as a child, he never could have predicted the role music would play in his life.

    Whether he’s travelling the world raising money for charity or contributing to initiatives in Niagara, the Brock alumnus and singer-songwriter now uses his Music degree to create positive social change and give back to aspiring artists in need.

    One year after graduating, Lamb (BA ’12) embarked on his first major international tour to raise funds and awareness for hydrocephalus and spina bifida.

    Diagnosed with the conditions himself at age three, Lamb created the A Song, A City tour in collaboration with the International Federation of Hydrocephalus.

    He travelled to five cities in Europe and, quite literally, wrote one song per city to promote the benefits of music therapy for those living with the conditions.

    The initial tour ended in Izmir, Turkey, in 2013, where Lamb co-facilitated a music workshop called P.U.S.H (People United For Spina Bifida) and co-wrote a song with a group of young people who live with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

    Since then A Song, A City has turned into a successful social enterprise and continues to support similar initiatives today.

    Lamb’s most recent venture took place this past summer, when his band, Danny Lamb and the Association, set out on a six-city fundraising tour to send a child to ME to WE Take Action Camp.

    The Bethany, Ont., leadership camp gives children from ages nine to 18 the opportunity to make a difference in their communities.

    Lamb, who spent many summers working there as an ambassador and workshop facilitator, wanted to provide a child in need with the chance to take part in the unique experience.

    “The whole idea snowballed from a single song really,” he said, explaining the tour began after facilitating a workshop for a group of particularly inspiring youth from Trinidad and Tobago.

    Lamb wrote a song about the experience, called Army of Love.

    With the support of ME to WE, he then translated the song’s message of hope and desire to make the world a better place into the Army of Love tour.

    The tour started in Windsor and made subsequent stops in St. Catharines, Ottawa, Montreal and North Bay, before concluding in Halifax.

    In each city, as the band played Army of Love, the audience was asked to toss donations into the body of an old, beaten-up guitar. Lamb also auctioned off a different guitar — this one donated by friend Adriana Cinapri on behalf of Hydrocephalus Canada — to raise the additional funds needed to send 13-year-old Indya Kennedy to Take Action Camp.

    As the initiative’s beneficiary, the young visual artist attended the camp last summer, where she discovered a passion for women’s rights.

    “I wanted the grant to go towards a young person who is passionate about using their music or art to create positive change in their community and who potentially would not have been able to go to camp without the support,” explained Lamb. “Indya, among so many incredible young folks who applied, jumped out at me.”

    Lamb said the initiative would not have been possible “without the support of the local champions, partners and businesses who see music and the arts as having an impact locally and globally.”

    “It worked out better than I could’ve imagined.”

    Now, after a whirlwind couple years, Lamb is back living in Niagara. He said he is honoured to be part of a supportive community that encourages musicians to achieve their goals.

    “I love the community that I’ve grown up in and it’s given me a really good sense of what community is,” he said. “There are so many people in the world who are searching for a sense of community and trying to find what community really means. That’s a privilege I’ve always had, wherever the world takes me.”

    Lamb also noted that Brock instructors Deborah Linton and Lesley Kingham, were “huge champions” in helping him earn his Music degree and achieving all that he has today.

    The young musician has no plans of resting on his past achievements and slowing down anytime soon.

    “I think too much; I have way too many ideas,” he said with a chuckle.

    With plans to release new music and another tour in the works, Lamb hopes to keep using his music to create change — both in Niagara and around the world.

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    Categories: Alumni, Alumni, News