Music at Acadia University | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Music at Acadia University

Acadia University. Non-denominational, predominantly undergraduate institution in Wolfville, NS, with some graduate programs at the master's level (not in music).

Music at Acadia University

Acadia University. Non-denominational, predominantly undergraduate institution in Wolfville, NS, with some graduate programs at the master's level (not in music). Founded in 1841 as Acadia College by the Baptists of Nova Scotia and originating from Horton's Academy (founded 1828) and Queen's College (1838), it awarded its first degrees in 1843 and became Acadia University in 1891.

Music Programs, Faculty, and Alumni

The Grand Pré Seminary, a residential girls' academy founded in 1858, which became the Acadia Ladies' Seminary in 1860, had a music program. Carl Farnsworth was its last director 1923-6. When it closed, its music courses were transferred to the university, thus creating the School of Music. The three-year course leading to the L MUS (Applied, Education, offered 1919-72) was completed first in 1927 by Irene Card (piano) and Melba Roop (voice). The four-year course leading to the B MUS, which was offered beginning in 1911, was completed first in 1928 by Irene Card. Dorothy Wilson was the first recipient (1930) of the M MUS (Composition). The M MUS was discontinued in 1966.

Deans of the School of Music have included Edwin A. Collins 1927-63, Russell Green 1963-5, Janis Kalejs 1966-73, Felicita Kalejs (acting dean) 1973-4, Vernon Ellis 1974-80, and Owen Stephens 1980-4 (his first two years were as acting dean), succeeded by Peter Riddle in 1984. The title was changed from dean to director in 1985. Degree programs offered by the school are the BA (Music) and B MUS ED, both begun in 1970; a B MUS; a BMT (Bachelor of Music Therapy); and a Certificate in Music Therapy. Music courses have been offered in a range of subjects, including music history, composition and performance; as well as music technology, world and popular music. In 1991 the school had an enrolment of about 100 students and 26 teachers. Recipients of honorary doctorates have included Joseph Szigeti (1933), William L. Wright (1947), Ralph A. Harris (1948) - the latter two were music graduates of Acadia - E. Power Biggs (1963), Edwin A. Collins (1963), Elizabeth Murray (1977), Janina Fialkowska (2006), and Measha Brueggergosman (2009).

Music Resources and Facilities

In 1970 the music school moved into Harvey L. Denton Hall, which has 10 teaching studios, 19 practice rooms, and a 400-seat auditorium. The Vaughn Memorial Library has housed the school's collection of scores and recordings and since 2000 has been home to the school's digital recording studio and MIDI lab. Besides the Fine Arts Concert Series there are performances by the Acadia University Choir; the Symphonic Band; and the Guitar, Gamelan, Jazz, String, Vocal and Wind Ensembles, which have drawn audiences from within a 50-km radius. The school has presented a workshop series (which has featured the Orford and Brunswick string quartets), a performing arts series, faculty and student recitals, and a new music festival (begun in 2007).

The school has two Casavant organs as well as two practice organs and an organ for the professors' studio. All three are among the last built by the Hallman Co of Kitchener. The Acadia Light Opera Society, organized in the early 1950s by Roy Watson, gave annual presentations until 1962. In 1967 Acadia initiated a three-week instrumental summer music camp. The school's summer programs expanded to include a piano camp, Kodály studies, a concert band camp, jazz workshops, a string festival, and the Opera East vocal and accompaniment workshops.

Basil C. Silver's manuscript "Music at Acadia University" is deposited in the university's library.

See also College songs; Conferences and congresses.

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