Performances and scholarships and awards presented
By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor
On Friday, April 6, the Douglas College Music Department celebrated the accomplishments of its students at the Awards Benefit Concert.
The annual concert is both the ceremony where the Music Department’s scholarships and awards are announced, and also a chance for music students to perform and show off the skills that these awards foster. Proceeds from tickets for the show, as well as from other additional donations, go right back toward funding the Music Student Award of Distinction.
The concert began with performances by Douglas College’s Chorus and Chorale, conducted by Eric Hannan. The two choirs performed a skillful range of works, from lively traditional Welsh and American folk songs, to moving arrangements of hymns by Romantic composers, to more modern, upbeat jazz tunes, showing off deft harmonies and several dazzling vocal solos.
After an intermission which was punctuated only briefly by a fire alarm, Music Department Coordinator John van Deursen and Jane Evans of the Douglas College Foundation took to the stage to present the scholarships and awards. These awards are chosen every March by the Music Department faculty and given to students enrolled in the two-year Music Diploma or one-year Basic Musicianship Programs who demonstrate excellence in musicianship or academics.
The second half of the show belonged to the Concert Band led by van Deursen. They played a breadth of sweeping works including David Maslanka’s majestic “Mother Earth” and Stravinsky’s “Dance Rouse” from the ballet Petrushka. The concert ended exuberantly on a familiar note—an arrangement of John Williams’ classic Star Wars theme.
Walter Mason, who received the Rotary Women’s Association Music Award of Distinction, said he hadn’t expected to win anything this year, so receiving this award was a nice surprise.
Mason entered the Music Diploma program for University Transfer in fall of 2017 after earning his Basic Musicianship certificate the year before, and after years of playing guitar in metal and rock bands.
During the post-concert reception, he told the Other Press that the classical music he has been learning at Douglas is very unlike his usual genres .
“They’re different animals,” he said.
However, he thinks the training might be helping him as an electric guitarist through improving proper technique, and through learning how to write music.
“It’s definitely helped in some ways, for learning how to compose in a different mindset than I’m used to,” he said.
He hopes that, with further musical studying, he’ll be able to naturally incorporate the classical training into his own composition and playing.
Skye Pruden, a member of the Chorale and one of the concert’s soloists, told the Other Press that being in the Music Department and especially the Chorale has been very rewarding so far.
Pruden won the David Peterkin award, which is given to a student in the Basic Musicianship program who combines both performing and academic achievement. She said she’s been singing for nearly her whole life, including singing competitively in a barbershop quartet and barbershop chorus, and this is her first year studying music at Douglas.
“I had a more hands-on experience to singing before, and now I understand the theory behind it and how to read music better,” said Pruden. “Being in Chorale is a really rewarding experience. It’s just a nice challenge to have, and the blend we make, it’s just a very good group of singers.”
Mason said he’s always wanted to formally study music, and he’s glad to be doing it now in such a supportive community.
He said he’s grateful for “just the experience of the awesome teachers and all the fellow students, and so many talented musicians to be around and influenced by, and just to have the chance to learn.”
Although the semester is coming to a close, the Music Department still has two more concert offerings: Current Sound Waves VII on April 12, and the Student Composition Concert on April 13, both at 7:30 p.m.in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre.