Walker Cultural Leader Series

Welcoming musicians, composers, and scholars to the MIWSFPA online, these lectures and workshops are free community events and open to the Brock community and public. Please register via links below.

Presented by the Department of Music

Creating Accessibility in Music Education with Erin Parkes

Sept. 24, 2021 — 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.

Many musicians choose to teach music at some point in their careers, and research demonstrates that most instrumental music teachers model their teaching on their own learning experience. But what about the students who require a different approach? What can we do as music educators to ensure that we are creating a truly accessible music studio that allows to reach learners of all abilities? In this talk, we will explore the benefits of opening your studio to diverse learners, and some basic ideas in special music education.

View event details here.


Parkes received her Bachelor of Music, Master of Arts in Musicology, and Graduate Certificate in Piano Pedagogy Research from the University of Ottawa. Parkes holds a Ph.D. in music education from McGill University, where she researched how to effectively train studio music teachers to work with students
with autism.

E Hīmeni Kākou: The Place of Communal Singing in Actionable Equity with Jace Saplan

Nov. 5, 2021 — 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.
Registration required

In music, there are stories and sonic lineages.
In performing/composing/studying/teaching/ these sound worlds communicate ancestral joy, trials, tribulations, and trauma. What, then, is our reverent responsibility in our study and teaching of music? Join Dr. Saplan as we consider how our ways of knowing can leave room for music(s) outside of our identities, how our musical relationships can affirm BIPOC and LGTBQIA+ experiences, and how our musical lives can be rooted within spaces of radical community.

To register, please visit the event page.

Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan serves as the Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa where he oversees the graduate program in choral conducting and conducts the UH Chamber Singers. Dr. Saplan received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University-Portland, his Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon, and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with cognates in Music Education and Ethnomusicology from the University of Miami Frost School of Music.

Known for his work in celebrating the intersection between Hawaiian music and choral performance, he is the artistic director of Nā Wai Chamber Choir, a professional vocal ensemble based in Hawaiʻi dedicated to the preservation and propagation of Hawaiian choral music. Under his direction, Nā Wai has commissioned and mentored emerging Native Hawaiian composers and conductors, toured throughout rural Hawaiian communities, and led workshops on the performance of Hawaiian choral music at schools and universities throughout the country.

Dr. Saplan’s research focuses on the performance practice of Queen Lili’uokalani’s choral compositions; multicultural perspectives in the choral rehearsal; intersections of choral pedagogy, gender, and sexuality in communities of color; and Native Hawaiian agency in music. His scholarship on these topics have also led him to lead clinics at the state, regional, and national level for the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators, National Collegiate Choral Organization, and the LGBTQ Studies in Music Education Conference. He is a frequent clinician and adjudicator for state, regional, and national conferences and festivals.

Flipping the Switch – My Journey from Despina to Disney with Charlotte Knight

Jan. 28, 2022 — 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.
Registration required

“As a young opera singer, I thought my career could only follow one strict path. Ten years later, I’ve come to realize that the possibilities are endless when you throw away the rule book and follow the path that lights you up. From orchestra stages to film sets to a Disney cruise ship, my career has been anything but predictable.”

To register, please visit the event page.

Raised in downtown Toronto, Charlotte began studying voice at the age of 8 and went on to complete her Bachelor of Music at The University of Western Ontario. After working professionally in opera for several years – and never quite fitting in – she relocated to London, UK to pursue a post-graduate diploma in Musical Theater at The Associated Studios – and never looked back!

Charlotte recently played the iconic role of Elsa in Frozen, The Musical with Disney Cruise Line, followed by the role of Sarah in the Canadian premiere of C-O-N-T-A-C-T in Toronto. Her YouTube video “How I Survived COVID-19” went viral, garnering over one million views, and her first play “LEMONS” recently has it’s first workshopped reading with Thousand Faced Theatre Company at the Soho Playhouse in New York.

Pre-COVID, Charlotte split her time between St. Catharines and London, making her UK debut as Cinderella in Into The Woods at The Chelsea Theatre, followed by the title role in the UK premiere of Strauss’ The Queen’s Lace Handkerchief with Opera Della Luna at Wilton’s Music Hall. She won 1st Place in the Stephen Sondheim Competition at The Associated Studios, was a semi-finalist in the Lotte Lenya Competition in New York, and appeared with Singers Achoired as a featured soloist and vocal captain in the UK premiere and promo tour for “Good Omens” with Amazon Prime.

Follow her antics on Instagram: @charlottemarieknight

Re-envisioning Opera Studies: Musicology, Dramaturgy, and Activism with Rena Roussin and Margaret Cormier

Feb. 4, 2022 — 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.
Registration required

Recent years have seen opera in Canada grappling with the genre’s historical (and ongoing) oppression. But beyond inserting IBPOC and other historically excluded individuals into the existing structures of opera and the opera industry, how might we utilize this moment to create a broader, more equitable vision of what opera is and who it is for? This talk puts Margaret Cormier and Rena Roussin in conversation about their work in musicology, opera dramaturgy, and activism as they explore the state of opera in Canada today.

To register, please visit the event page.

Rena Roussin is a musicologist of Métis and settler heritage with additional Haida ancestry. She is currently a doctoral student in musicology at the University of Toronto, where she studies art music as a form of historic and contemporary activism. Specifically, her research focuses on constructions of disability and gender in eighteenth-century opera and oratorio, as well as on present-day forms of Indigenous activism and anticoloniality in art music in Canada. Her publications appear in Intersections: Canadian Journal of Music and the forthcoming Bloomsbury Handbook of Music and Art. Rena is committed to joining her academic work to activist and community-engaged projects, and currently serves as a member of the Canadian Opera Company’s Circle of Artists.

Dr. Margaret Cormier is a musicologist and opera dramaturg based in Toronto. Her upcoming monograph, currently under contract with the University of Michigan Press, interrogates representations of sexual violence on the twenty-first-century operatic stage through a feminist ethical framework. She holds a Bachelor of Music with Honours in Voice Performance and a Master of Arts in Musicology from Western University and recently completed her PhD at McGill. Margaret has presented research on operatic production and staging practices at conferences around the world and, in recent years, has been active as a public musicologist on Toronto’s opera scene.

Music, Creativity, and Flow with Kevin Lau

Feb. 11, 2022 — 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.
Registration required

One of Canada’s most versatile and sought-after young composers, Kevin Lau has been commissioned by nearly every major orchestra in Canada, and his work has been performed in the USA, France, Denmark, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Upon graduating from the University of Toronto with his doctorate in 2012, he was appointed Affiliate Composer of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Shortly after, he was commissioned to write a full-length ballet (Le Petit Prince) for the National Ballet of Canada, and a second ballet (Dark Angels) for the National Arts Centre Orchestra; both ballets were choreographed by Guillaume Côté. In 2021, he will serve as composer in residence for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. He is also an active film composer, and has written the scores to over a dozen films, including Charles Officer’s acclaimed documentary Invisible Essence: The Little Prince (2018).

To register, please visit the event page.

Kevin’s music is represented on many commercial recordings, including JUNO award winning albums “Detached” (Angela Schwarzkopf, harp) and “Mosaïque” (Ensemble Made in Canada.) Kevin’s creative output, which spans a wide array of genres and mediums, is unified by the search for deep connections amidst surface diversity—connections that serve as a metaphor for the reconciliation of seemingly fundamental differences.

Please contact the Department of Music with any questions at music@brocku.ca

To learn more about the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, please visit the website.