Walker Cultural Leaders Series

Beginning in 2011 the academic programs of the Marilyn I. Walker School have celebrated the legacy of Marilyn, her gift and her vision by programming the Walker Cultural Leaders (WCL) Series. The ongoing development and refinement of the WCL program facilitates invitations to recognized cultural leaders, top researchers, visiting artists, scholars, professionals, theatre companies, producing and presenting organizations, associations, and others to contribute to the intellectual and creative life of the School and the Niagara region.

Our guests will engage in professional activities such as public lectures, performances, exhibitions, workshops, laboratories, and demonstrations, and will participate in other pedagogical and creative activities including guest teaching, the professional mentoring of faculty and staff, critiques of student work, and community engagement activities.

In addition to generally intensifying the creative, scholarly and teaching cultures of the School, special emphasis is put on developing knowledge and familiarity of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts as an incubator in the arts and culture sector of Niagara, exploring potential intersections of the School and the surrounding community/region, and promoting inter‐ and trans‐disciplinarity within the School and beyond.

2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series EVENTS

The Department of Music presents

Walker Cultural Leaders Series 2021-22:

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.

Register for the Zoom webinar by emailing music@brocku.ca

A free, online community event.


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.

The Department of Dramatic Arts presents

Walker Cultural Leaders Series 2021-22: Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training

The Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) invites you to the first online presentation of Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training, a new series presented as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leaders Series:


Sept. 20, 2021 — 6:30 to 8 p.m. 

An online discussion between Philip Akin and Mike Payette, moderated by Luke Reece.

The speakers and moderator, all Black Canadian theatre leaders, will reflect on changes in Canadian theatre in recent years, with a focus on the mandates of theatre organizations.

How have they approached season planning and programming within existing and evolving organizational mandates? Who’s coming to see their work, and how can programming bring in the audiences they intend to cultivate?

Register for the Zoom webinar here.

Philip Akin (Panelist)
Former Artistic Director, Obsidian Theatre company

Philip Akin is an award-winning cultural leader and has been acting and directing for 46 years. He is a founding member of Obsidian Theatre, Canada’s leading Black theatre company, and has served as its Artistic Director from 2006 to 2020. He has been the recipient of the Silver Ticket Award, Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award, PGC’s Bra d’Or Award, William Kilbourn Award, The Herbert Whittaker/CTCA Award for Distinguished Contribution to Canadian Theatre, Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts as well as the Life Membership Award from Canadian Actor’s Equity Association. He is currently the Vice-President of the Board for the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (2009 to present) and a director on the Board of the Koffler Centre of the Arts, Against the Grain Theatre and the Shaw Festival. His legacy awards program can be found at www.bsla.ca

Artistic Director, Tarragon Theatre

Mike Payette is a Montreal-based actor and director who has worked with many great companies from coast to coast. Directing work includes Hosanna and Choir Boy (Centaur), Reaching for Starlight and Virginia Wolf (Geordie), Burning Vision and Indecent (National Theatre School), the Quebec premiere of Héritage – A Raisin in the Sun (Théâtre Duceppe) and the national tours of The Tashme Project (Tashme Prod/Centaur/Factory/Firehall) and Lorena Gale’s Angélique (BTW/Tableau D’Hôte/National Arts Centre/Factory/Obsidian). Mike is a two-time Montreal English Theatre Award (META) recipient, was the co-founding Artistic Director of Tableau D’Hôte Theatre, past Assistant AD for Black Theatre Workshop, and is currently the Artistic and Executive Director of Geordie Theatre. He will be taking the artistic helm of Tarragon Theatre in Toronto this fall.

luke reece (moderator)
Associate Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre

In a failed attempt to escape Presto Luke left his hometown of Mississauga under the guise of becoming a Toronto-based artist. He strives to share authentic and engaging stories with audiences through his work as an award-winning producer, playwright, poet and educator. Luke is the Associate Artistic Director at Soulpepper Theatre, one of Canada’s leading non-profit theatre companies. Through Luke’s work as an artistic leader within the national arts community, he advocates for engaging and nuanced storytelling that challenges Canadian audiences. He is one of Toronto’s most decorated slam poets, and has represented the country internationally. In 2020 Luke was featured performing for former Toronto Raptor and NBA Champion Serge Ibaka on his Instagram Talent Show. Luke has recently been named to York University’s inaugural Top 30 Changemakers Under 30 list.


The Department of Music presents

Walker Cultural Leaders Series 2021-22:

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.

A free, online community event. Webinar hosted on Zoom.

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.

The Department of Music presents

Walker Cultural Leaders Series 2021-22:

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.”

A free, online community event. Webinar hosted on Zoom.

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

The Department of Music presents

Walker Cultural Leaders Series 2021-22:

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.

A free, online community event. Webinar hosted on Zoom.

Rena Roussin

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.

Margaret Cormier

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.

The Department of Music presents

Walker Cultural Leaders Series 2021-22:

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).

A free, online community event. Webinar hosted on Zoom.

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.

View the Walker Cultural Leader Series on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel

Select broadcasts of our 2020-2021 Walker Cultural Leader Series are available to view on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel.

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