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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

  • Grebel's choir is heading south
  • Convocation honours are announced
  • On the penultimate day of exams
Chris Redmond

'Long to reign over us'

[In front of stained-glass windows]

Leonard Enns conducts the choir in Grebel's chapel

Grebel's choir is heading south -- from Jennifer Konkle, Conrad Grebel University College

The Chapel Choir from Conrad Grebel University College leaves Friday for a four-day trip to Ohio. Stops on the tour include the Mennonite Church Eastern Canada Annual Conference in Leamington, as well as four American venues.

The choir is a group of 30 students "who love singing as a form of worship", a news release explains. The Chapel Choir participates in weekly worship services at Grebel and also sings at many Grebel functions and several churches and schools a year. The singers come mainly from the college, but also include students from other parts of UW who are interested in music and worship.

The Ohio tour features choral music including a number of pieces by Canadian composers. Grebel music professor Leonard Enns, who is the conductor, says he is "excited about introducing audiences to singers and composers from up north, and sharing our love of music and worship with others". Over the years, the Chapel Choir has released four recordings which will also be available on the tour.

Enns has been a member of Grebel's music department since 1977, teaching conducting, music theory, and composition, and will soon end a term as its chair. Nationally recognized for his work as a composer, he writes choral works performed regularly by school, church and community choirs, as well as by professional choirs such as the Elmer Iseler Singers and the Winnipeg Singers. His choral symphony "The Silver Cord" has just been published, and was most recently performed in February by the K-W Philharmonic Choir and K-W Symphony Orchestra at the Centre in the Square. A Record reviewer commented that "The Silver Cord represents what good modern music is all about."

[Orange shirts and brave smiles]

Orange you glad you got up on Sunday to walk through the storm? Despite the weather, most of the UW engineering team showed up on time for the Super Cities Walk for MS, and a passing student was recruited at the last minute to join the squad, says the organizer, Christine McCullough of chem eng. "They started the 5-km walk in light drizzle," she reports, "and finished as the sun was peeking through the clouds. Through team and individual fund-raising, the group was able to give over $3,800 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, a number that could surpass $4,000 as the team is still able to submit pledges up to four weeks after the event." It's the first time an engineering team has entered the MS walk.

As the founder and conductor of one of Canada's top-rated amateur choirs, the DaCapo Chamber Choir, Enns spends a significant amount of time working with its 20 singers -- mostly UW grads with experience in Chapel Choir. One of them is Stacey Vandermeer, who says she considers it "a privilege to be singing under Len in DaCapo. He encourages his singers to go beyond the notes on the page, to a higher level of musicianship. He also truly cares about the choir; about the end product we create, and each individual singer."

DaCapo is a national finalist in the 2004 CBC Radio Choral Competition for amateur choirs in the contemporary music category. The choir will be in Toronto April 28 to present an eight-minute a cappella program in a live-to-air performance for CBC Radio Two.

Preparing for the competition has been a lot of work, but Enns says it's been worth it. "The singers are very excited and so am I. It's a great experience just to be finalists, and it's a good point to have reached with the choir." For the competition, the choir will be performing pieces by Barrie Cabena, Stephen Chatman, and Enns himself. While he expresses concerns that it might seem self-serving to be singing one of his own pieces, he adds that "it's the piece in our repertoire that best represents the spirit of contemporary music."

To complete a busy season, DaCapo has just finished a recording project. The CD Still will include music by local composers such as Timothy Corlis (a UW grad), Jeff Enns and Barrie Cabena, as well as the conductor himself. It will be released at the end of May, and orders are being accepted online.

Besides composing and conducting, Enns recently began background reading for a big project he has in mind -- a concert-length oratorio dealing with the themes which arise out of the story of the Russian Mennonite Diaspora. While he may not focus on the details of that particular story, he says, it forms the inspiration as he is particularly interested in the themes of disruption, alienation, loss, resettlement, hope, faith, and assimilation and celebration in a new context. He's hoping to make the composition a project for his next sabbatical.

On his last sabbatical, Enns completed commissioned compositions for two Grebel music sessional instructors. One project was his first piano sonata, written for piano instructor Catherine Robertson, and the other is a song cycle for soprano Stephanie Kramer, entitled "In the End". It will be premiered at the Sound in the Land Festival at Grebel, May 28-30.

Convocation honours are announced

A former vice-president of UW will return to campus this spring to receive one of the honorary degrees that UW will bestow at June's five convocation ceremonies.

He is Roger Downer, who will speak at the June 18 ceremony for science graduates. A biologist who served as the vice-president (university relations) from 1989 to 1996, he is now president of Ireland's University of Limerick. Downer, a specialist in insect endocrinology, is editor or co-editor of four books, and author or co-author of more than 160 research publications. His research effort has been recognized internationally, with such honours as election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

June's honorary degrees and other awards were announced after Monday's meeting of the university senate, the body that previously approved them.

"Distinguished Professor Emeritus" titles will be awarded to two retired faculty members: Arnold Ages, French studies, and David Burns, mechanical engineering. The title of "Honorary Member of the University" will be given to Lloyd Auckland, a retired secondary school mathematics teacher who made many contributions to the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing.

Honorary degree recipients for the June ceremonies, in addition to Downer:

June 16, ceremony for AHS, ES and independent studies: David Phillips of Environment Canada's meteorological service, described as Canada's top weather expert; Margaret Somerville, director of the McGill University Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, who will give the convocation speech.

June 17, ceremony for arts: Joyce Zemans, art history expert and former director of the Canada Council for the Arts; Louise Fréchette, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, who will give the address.

June 18, ceremony for science: Irving Baker, retired as registrar of the College of Optometrists of Ontario.

June 19, morning, ceremony for mathematics: Pennsylvania State University mathematician George Andrews, who will give the address; John Chambers, statistician at Bell Laboratories.

June 19, afternoon, ceremony for engineering: Mo Jamshidi, of the Computer Aided Design Laboratory at the University of New Mexico, who will give the address; Prabha Kundur, president of Powertech Labs, a subsidiary of British Columbia Hydro.

On the penultimate day of exams

As usual on a Wednesday, there's a weekly Positions Available list out from the human resources department. Jobs included this week: And as always: "The university welcomes and encourages applications from the designated employment equity groups: visible minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and aboriginal people." There's more information about the jobs -- and how to apply -- on the HR web site.

The department of religious studies held its usual end-of-the-year awards presentation on March 30, with remarks by the department chair, Lorne Dawson. And (ta-da!) here are the names of the big winners: James Springall, award for highest fourth year average in RS this year; Dora-Marie Goulet, highest third year average; John Lorenc, highest second year average; Heather Wheating, highest average in RS courses in distance education (all years); Debi Chakrabarty, outstanding essay in RS this year. Its title: "The Aims of Life -- Is Plurality Possible? A Detailed Analysis of the Reconciliation of Dharma and Moksha According to the Bhagavad-Gita".

Climate Change Day as Earth Week continues: display in the Davis Centre.

Engineering staff appreciation luncheon, 11:45, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Rienzi Crusz, retired UW librarian, reads from his poetry, 7 p.m., Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Artworks by Pat Kalyn, meet-the-artist reception, Thursday 4 to 6 p.m., University Club.

Readers at Play: Canada Book Week reading organized by The New Quarterly, with a panel of "avid readers" sharing passages from their favourites. Thursday 7 p.m., Kitchener Public Library. Tickets $10 including door prizes and reception -- call 884-8111 ext. 290.

Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, annual meeting and awards Friday afternoon; seminar by Brian Henry, U of Guelph, "Some Vibrations Are Just Not Normal", open to the public, 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Menaka Thakkar Dance Company at Centre in the Square, Friday 8 p.m., presented by India-Canada Association and others, tickets from $25.

Wellness Fair sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, April 26-28. Talks begin with "One Man's Journey Through Depression", by Ron Ellis, former Maple Leaf, Monday noon, Davis Centre room 1350.

A memo went out to departments the other day from May Yan, director of retail services, and Jan Blackburn, the accounting manager in retail services. It announces a change to how departmental charges will be handled at the bookstore and other retail outlets: "Customers will provide the 31 digit account number." In other words, no more "short customer account number", a convenience that retail services had been offering but that is no longer working well. "For in-store purchases, customers using a 31 digit account number are required to present a WatCard or other photo ID and uwuserid to prove affiliation with the University of Waterloo. Email orders with a uwaterloo address will be accepted as valid identification."

Here's an item of interest from the athletics department's Black & Gold alumni newsletter: "Former campus recreation enthusiast Matthew Bells (Math '99) has made a donation to the Campus Recreation Department. Matthew Bells became involved in the leadership of the Archery Club in his second year of university and has continued to stay involved. He has dedicated countless hours to the organization, planning and instructing within the club. During his university career, his interests expanded to fencing and squash. Following his graduation . . . Matthew was employed by Research In Motion as a software developer. Matthew's generous nature and belief in the continued development and importance of fitness and recreation has led to the creation of the Matthew Bells Athletics and Recreation Endowment. Thanks to Matthew's generous donation, the recreational and leadership opportunities the department offers will improve even more for the students. Always ready for a new challenge in life, Matthew is currently pursuing a second bachelor's degree in Arts specializing in languages and psychology."

Renison College is putting together a commemorative quilt made of the college's T-shirts over the past 45 years, its alumni newsletter reports. . . . Family and Children's Services will hold an information session May 4 for families, couples and singles who are interested in becoming foster parents (call 576-0540). . . . A series in the popular Alpha course, an introduction to modern Christianity, will be offered at St. Jerome's University starting the first week of May, an advertisement announces. . . .


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