Calgary Boys’ Choir featured in Nuit Blanche Calgary

Berlin-based artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay included members of the Calgary Boys' Choir (of which he is a former member) in his Nuit Blanche Calgary sound installation.
Berlin-based artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay included members of the Calgary Boys’ Choir (of which he is a former member) in his Nuit Blanche Calgary sound installation.

Members of the Calgary Boys’ Choir are playing a starring role in Nuit Blanche Calgary this Saturday night.

And they have artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay to thank for it.

Nemerofsky is a former Calgary Boys’ Choir member (1984-87) and his sound installation, The Lovers, features the recorded voices of three local choir singers.

Nemerofsky says his experience singing with the Calgary Boys Choir stuck with him.

“The choir played a major role in my development as a creative and musical person,” said Nemerofsky.

“My artistic work often involves singing, so when I was invited to produce a new work for Nuit Blanche Calgary I immediately thought about including the Calgary Boys’ Choir in my project.”

Nuit Blanche is the sunset-to-late night contemporary arts festival featuring 10 free performance art events from 7-10 p.m. downtown’s Olympic Plaza and Civic Plaza Parkade Park Saturday, Sept. 20.

Nemerofsky’s The Lovers is a spatialized sound installation broadcast through a series of speakers throughout the park. It involves singers mimicking the sounds of bells, transmitting a message word by word that the audience can slowly decode.

It’s not the first time Nemerofsky has used voices to mimic sounds: he used a Vienna Boys’ Choir singer to stand in for an air raid siren in a past performance here.

Calgary Boys’ Choir director Paul Grindlay says working with Nemerofsky was a great experience.

“Benny had been seeing details about the Calgary Boys’ Choir’s 40th anniversary a couple of seasons ago, and it seems that we were in his mind when he found out about being able to do this project for Nuit Blanche in Calgary,” said Grindlay.

The project provided a unique learning experience for the choristers.

“It was an interesting assignment for the boys,” said Grindlay. “In some ways very simple, yet repetitive and exacting as they had to sing the same syllable many times with the ring and cadence of a bell chime. In a sense they were providing Benny with the audio-building-blocks that he will use to assemble the larger composition. It seems that the drawn out delivery of the text is designed to encourage listeners to slow down, linger and listen, to slip into a different realm of time.”

Sherri Zickefoose, Sept. 25, 2014

High River classical concert boasts Conservatory connections


Here’s an amazing concert you won’t want to miss:  two extraordinary Mount Royal Conservatory students — young pianist Kevin Chen, 9, and violinist Isabella Perron, 14, — are set to dazzle in High River Saturday, Sept. 20.

The Conservatory prodigies are opening the southern Alberta town’s annual High River Gift of Music concert series.

If you haven’t witnessed these gifted performers in concert, this is a great opportunity.

Conservatory alumnus Kevin will be performing the world premiere of his commissioned composition about the devastating 2013 southern Alberta flood, River Rhapsody. The full-scale, nine-minute piano piece reflects the flooding’s turmoil but also the resilience of the High River community.

Kevin, a former Conservatory student of Colleen Athparia, has passed Canada’s ARCT piano teacher diploma exam and is currently studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Despite being nine years old, Kevin has composed many pieces (the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra played his Symphony No. 1 last year). He has said he hears music in his head, and enters it directly into his computer.

“Kevin is the most talented all-round musician I’ve ever seen and I’ve taught many so-called prodigies before,” said Athparia. “He comprehends music at such a high level, that I really need only to guide him like a bird taking off in flight.”

Isabella is a gifted and award-winning violinist, singer, and pianist who competes nationally.johanne_concertPic-copy-195x300

Described as a complete musician, Isabella is highly regarded for her stage presence, spark and musical spirit. Isabella comes by these talents naturally: her mother, noted Montreal concert cellist Johanne Perron, teaches master classes and lessons at Mount Royal Conservatory. 

Sherri Zickefoose, Sept. 15, 2014


Tribute concert honours Calgary composer

Composer, teacher and music publisher Roberta Stephen is being honoured by Conservatory musicians and others at a tribute concert organized by the Canadian Music Centre Sept. 21 at Scarboro Church.

The name Roberta Stephen is music to ears of Calgary musicians.

The composer, teacher, publisher, and singer has been the mainstay of Alberta Keys Music Publishing Co. Ltd., publishing dozens of works by her fellow Canadian composers.

Conservatory faculty member Colleen Athparia performs at a concert honouring Roberta Stephen

“Roberta Stephen has done so much to encourage young composers and to promote Canadian music in Calgary,” says Conservatory Academy for Gifted Youth faculty piano instructor Colleen Athparia. “She has made a great contribution to Calgary composers by publishing their works.”

Athparia, who is hailed as one of the top four Canadian pianists of contemporary music today, is one of many performers honouring Stephen in an upcoming concert: A Tribute to Roberta Stephen — A Life in Music — Composer, Teacher, Music Publisher on Sunday, Sept. 21 at 3 p.m. at Calgary’s Scarboro United Church (134 Scarboro Ave. S.W.)

“I’m performing in this concert as a way of thanking her for her inspiration,” said Athparia, who has recorded Danse Sauvage by Calgary composer Allan Bell, which Stephen published.

The piano piece was the required Canadian composition in the inaugural Honens piano competition. 

The concert honouring Stephen and her music is showcasing a wonderful lineup of professional and student performers with ties to Mount Royal Conservatory. The free concert, organized by the Canadian Music Centre, pays tribute to her lifetime musical legacy through her compositions.

Performers honouring the octogenarian include Conservatory faculty, students and alumni, as well as other notable musicians:

  • Michelle Todd, voice
  • Stan Climie, clarinet
  • Colleen Athparia, piano
  • Kevin Chen, piano/composition
  • Lucie Jones and members of the Mount Royal Chamber Flutes
  • Lily String Quartet, featuring Diane Lane, Andrea Case, Elisa Milner and Patricia Higgins
  • Holly Kletke, voice
  • Cantare Children’s Choir

The work of award-winning Calgary composer Allan Bell, published by Stephen’s Alberta Keys Music Publishing Company, will be featured.

Stephen was born April 17, 1931, earned her Master’s degree from the University of North Texas and works as a teacher of singing, vocal pedagogy, composition, and advanced theoretical subjects. The award-winning teacher has been active in the community as a board member for New Works Calgary and the Canadian Music Centre.

For more information, click here.

Sherri Zickefoose, Sept. 8, 2014

Conservatory harpist sharing gift of music

Conservatory harp instructor Gianetta Baril will soon be in Brazil teaching music for children living in the urban slums of Rio.
Conservatory harp instructor Gianetta Baril will soon be in Brazil teaching chidlren living in the urban slums of Rio.
Gianetta Baril has been teaching harp at the Conservatory since 2003.

Mount Royal Conservatory’s Gianetta Baril is off on an amazing year-long adventure: the award-winning harpist — who has taught private harp lessons at Mount Royal since 2003 — is heading to Brazil teaching music to children in Rio’s urban slums.

But first, Gianetta is exploring Fiji and volunteering in Nepal. (See her interview on CTV)

The Juno Award-winning harpist has worked hard fundraising to purchase harps for children through Brazil’s Social Action through Music project. She begins teaching there in January. The SAM project teaches children to play instruments and join an orchestra. Since it began in the 1980s, graduates are now playing as professional musicians in orchestras in Brazil and abroad. The program loans out 220 violins and 24 cellos, but only had one harp. Baril aims to change that.

“I’ll have three months to establish two brand new programs – one in the slums in Rio and the other in six churches in the same city,” says Gianetta.”My intention is to have enough of a foundation in place in both projects that the students will be able to thrive once I leave.”

You can follow Gianetta’s sabbatical adventures on her blog.

Gianetta’s vision and hard work is another fine example of Conservatory faculty who help make us a special place.

foto para divulgacao 3 (1)

Sherri Zickefoose, Sept. 5, 2014


CCIS presents New Canadian Artist Award

The Calgary Catholic Immigrant Society (CCIS) has established a New Canadian Artist Award to be presented at the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions in 2013. The award was established to recognize that artists from all parts of the world enrich Calgary’s arts sector. This award recognizes and supports an individual artist who, due to their cultural background and relatively recent arrival to Canada, finds themself facing communication barriers, difficulties in transferring relevant credentials and isolation from the Calgary arts community. The intent of the award is to help these artists pursue their artistic work and connect with the institutions and support networks that are
available to Calgary artists.

Continue reading