Articles tagged with: Department of Music

  • 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.

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  • Fine and Performing Arts grads poised to shape the future with creative skills

    Image caption: Soo Myung Oh, at her piano, will graduate with a Bachelor of Music and plans to perform professionally in addition to pursuing teaching performance after completing her degree at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Image credit: Photo by Shannon Peebles, Ventures & Vows Photography.

    Students graduating from Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) are ready to make their mark in the world.

    From creating innovative art in support of social justice causes, to utilizing professional art practices in the mental health field and pursuing careers in live performance bringing joy to audiences, MIWSFPA grads are drawing on their academic experiences and diverse skill sets to propel them forward on their career paths.

    For Ian Ball, who will graduate Friday, June 18 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts and History of Art and Visual Culture, continuing his creative work in digital media is a top priority.

    Music graduand Nick Braun will continue to write and record his own music after graduation.

    Ball is currently working with Toronto-based [elephants collective]’s Telethon Telethon! This collaborative project is a monthly digital performance experiment that aims to provide aid to various social justice causes and is currently supporting the Anishnawbe Health Foundation.

    Ball is looking forward to the easing of public health restrictions within the arts when it is safe to do so.

    “I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to develop a follow-up to work I co-created in 2019’s Nuit Blanche in Toronto,” he said.

    Combining his interests in dramatic arts and visual culture, Ball will be pursuing a master’s degree in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University in the fall, with hopes of one day completing a PhD and working in the cultural field.

    As Music graduand Soo Myung Oh looks to the future, she reflects on her time at Brock. The busy mother of three pursued her degree during the day, reserving her evenings for family time.

    “My four years in the Music program were about the process of identifying myself as a musician,” said Oh, who graduates Friday with a Bachelor of Music, Concentration in Music Education and Minor in Applied Linguistics. “Although I played piano for years in my youth, I was completely new to public performance and I had to learn how to play music and deliver it to audiences.”

    Oh fondly remembers the experience of performing in the Recital Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, adjacent to the MIWSFPA in downtown St. Catharines. Performing on a professional stage was a defining moment for the musician.

    “I can still recall the way the piano sounded as I played, and the interaction between the sound and the air in the hall on that special day. It was simply an amazing experience,” she said.

    After she graduates, Oh will continue to perform professionally and would like to eventually teach performance, inspired by her concentration in Music Education. Her current interest for further study is therapeutic recreation and gerontology.

    “Since my musical experience at Brock started from my own experience of retrieving memories, and my process for preparing my solo piano recital relied heavily on the cognitive process of music and brainwork, I became interested in the connection between the two and implications of aging,” Oh said.

    “My degree has allowed me to write music and produce my own recordings,” Braun said.Nick Braun, who will also graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, is excited to continue writing music.

    His studies have given him a unique skill set “to make modern, unique and refreshing music,” he said, adding his style fits somewhere in the alternative rock realm.

    Braun will take some time after graduation to work locally, save money and continue to work on his personal music projects.

    “Between me and my network of friends in the music industry, I will be taking on opportunities to work with various people and explore our creative potential as young artists,” Braun said.

    Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture graduand Maya Meyerman is excited to continue her scholarly and creative work in the cultural field and will pursue a graduate certificate in the arts and culture sector at Humber College in September.

    Graduand Maya Meyerman, who will receive her Bachelor of Arts in Studies in Arts and Culture with a concentration in Cultural Management on Friday, discovered her career pathway through diverse experiences within the interdisciplinary program.

    Gaining a critical view of contemporary culture and connecting with the local arts scene led Meyerman to pursue a graduate certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management at Humber College.

    “I’m excited to pursue opportunities in Toronto and build upon my experience at Brock,” she said. “The MIWSFPA is such an inspiring place to learn and connect with the arts, and I have made deep connections with the arts community.”

    Meyerman recently produced an arts festival for youth ages 13 to 30 in Kingston and will be spending the summer preparing for next year’s edition.

    “As someone who didn’t want to study just one branch of the arts, the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture and the MIWSFPA provided me with a creative and safe venue to explore my personal interests, introducing me to the many versions of what ‘the arts’ can be,” she said. “I know that it has prepared me to take on the next step towards my career in the arts industry.”

    Visual Arts (VISA) graduand Kendra Bosse has developed her art practice and realized her passion for photography as therapy.

    Bosse, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Psychology and Minor in Indigenous Studies, is committed to engaging with her art to positively impact individuals experiencing mental health issues and addiction.

    “After graduation, I will be attending Canadore College to study mental health and addictions counselling to gain experience in the field before pursuing graduate school,” she said.

    Bosse and fellow VISA graduand Cree Tylee are capping off their final year at Brock with a double exhibition “treasured | (A)part,” currently on view virtually in the VISA Gallery on the first floor of the MIWSFPA until Monday, July 5.

    Relationship as Deep as The Ocean, 2021, Cyanotype on Cotton (24 in x 36in) by Kendra Bosse as featured in the double exhibition “treasured” and “(A)part.”

    The bodies of work were developed under the supervision of Visual Arts Chair and Associate Professor Amy Friend for the students’ independent studies courses in the Visual Arts.

    “The double exhibition of treasured and (A)part was a cathartic way to finish the end of an unconventional graduating year,” said Tylee, who will graduate with her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Minor in the History of Art and Visual Culture. “Working with Visual Arts Media Resource Co-ordinator Max Holten-Andersen to create a virtual exhibition for our show (including a 360 virtual tour) was an insightful experience that wouldn’t have happened under different circumstances.”

    Even though they were unable to have a traditional gallery opening, the ability to learn and become well-versed in the creation of virtual exhibits is a valuable skill the students will take with them, she said, calling it a “silver lining.”

    Title wall of Cree Tylee’s body of work entitled (A)part. Tylee describes this exhibition as a “very introspective and multi-faceted body of work with multiplicities of concepts I’ll be able to draw on for further graduate studies.”

    Both artists agree that bringing this final exhibition into fruition has been an enlightening process, acknowledging that completing a thesis under the supervision of Friend and having a final exhibition made their final year very fulfilling.After graduation, Tylee, recipient of the Distinguished Graduating Student Award in Visual Arts, will be taking an accelerated studio program in Ceramics at the Haliburton School of Art + Design while preparing for further graduate studies.

    The virtual exhibition and 360 gallery tour of treasured | (A)part can be viewed on the Visual Arts website.Fine and Performing Arts grads poised to shape the future with creative skills

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  • 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

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

  • Department of Music Virtual Ensembles – The Show Zooms On

    Brock Music ensembles have gone virtual for the 2020-21 performance season! The Department of Music Virtual Ensembles present a virtual concert series The Show Zooms On featuring:

    The University Wind Ensemble, Zoltan Kalman, Conductor
    The Choral Ensemble, Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Conductor
    The University String Orchestra, George Cleland, Conductor
    The University Jazz Ensemble, Zoltan Kalman, Conductor

    The first virtual performance premieres Friday, Jan. 15, 2021 with the Wind Ensemble:

    January 15, 2021 – 7 p.m.
    Wind Ensemble, Zoltan Kalman, Director
    View the YouTube Premiere

    View the Wind Ensemble January 15 program here.

    Under normal circumstances, Music Ensemble performances are held in the acoustically excellent Recital Hall, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    For the 2020-21 season, the performances will be broadcasted virtually on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts YouTube channel. Please visit our Concerts page for more information.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.  

     

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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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