Culture at WLU Part 2: Music faculty concerts

With so much happening at Laurier every day, concerts organized by the school’s faculty of music often go unnoticed.

But if one looks a little closer, it’s easy to see that the abundant musical performances offered at our school give students the opportunity to experience something rare.

Admitting approximately 300 students annually, Laurier’s music faculty is one of the most prestigious in the country.

Throughout the year, the faculty of music organizes a wide array of shows, and with the exception of a few special performances, admission for students is free.

“In a very pragmatic sense, once students graduate, if they want to get that sort of cultural event they would have to pay a lot of money for it. Here it’s free,” said Sunil Kuruvilla, the faculty of music’s marketing and promotions co–ordinator.

Among these free concerts is the “Music at Noon” series held every Tuesday at the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall.

Each week, the series features a different type of performance, ranging from solo piano to full woodwind quintet.

Students also have the opportunity to watch their peers play their own music on five Wednesdays throughout the year. The “Student Composers Concerts” feature Laurier students from composition classes within the faculty of music performing music they have written.

For director of the WLU Choir Lee Willingham, the fact that these students’ accomplishments within the faculty often go unrecognized by their peers is unfair.

“There’s a world off Laurier’s sports fields,” said Willingham. “There’s got to be some interest to watch a peer do something that is quite special. I hope students would find that amazing because it’s something worth noting and celebrating.”

Kuruvilla points to lack of awareness as the primary reason more students do not enjoy musical performances at the school.

“If you were walking to school and you saw a really beautiful visual sight, you’d stop and look at it. Nobody would tell you that you need to do it; it would just be something that you want to do. That’s the equivalent here in terms of sound,” said Kuruvilla.

“If students would know about it, just as they would stop to see something beautiful, they would stop to listen. It’s dynamic and arresting.”

Along with the obstacle of lack of awareness, the faculty of music also struggles with the goal of making its music accessible to individuals who do not like, or are intimidated by classical music.

“I make no apologies for the repertoire,” explained Willingham.

He added that a faculty of music at a university is not designed to appeal to popular culture; it is instead supposed to adhere to high standards of the musical literature that is studied.

But while the faculty cannot stray away from classical music completely, Willingham explains that he and his colleagues are trying to widen the boundaries with regards to the music they study.

“Eventually, I think there will be more world culture music and there always is some degree of popular culture in the music we perform,” said Willingham, adding that there has also been a strong attempt to make the presentation of music more appealing.

“We’re exploring the idea of using lighting, movement and staging to enhance the experience of music,” explained Willingham.

While all these elements offer additional intellectual stimulation, Willingham asserts that Laurier’s musical performances are engaging because of the outstanding accomplishments they represent.

“Honouring and celebrating the accomplishments of our university students is important because it’s the only means of publically sharing the accomplishments of some of the finest music students in the country.”


Music at Noon Series
Every Tuesday at 12 p.m.
Maureen Forrester Recital Hall

Student Composers Concerts
Five Wednesdays throughout the school year
Maureen Forrester Recital Hall

Opera Excerpts
Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.
Theatre Auditorium

The music faculty also features regular performances by the symphony orchestra, wind ensemble, flute ensemble, jazz ensemble and choirs at WLU.

The final installment of the “Culture at WLU” series will run in next week’s issue.