Music Alumni Newsletter - December 2023

Season’s Greetings from the Head of Music

The first days of December brought some snow to Sackville and with it, a palpable sense of anticipation and excitement as the Fall term came to an end. As campus transformed into its usual winter wonderland, students and faculty busily prepared for ensemble concerts, final projects, and exams, and of course our annual Christmas Collegium on December 8. While it seems only yesterday that we were starting our academic year with the annual Faculty Gala Concert, it has been another very busy Fall of concerts and events at the Conservatory of Music. Joining the harpsichord, which was donated last year, the Sackville Festival of Early Music in September saw the arrival of a new continuo organ. Both instruments were heard in stunning concerts by Montreal’s Lharmonie des saisons. In October, Echo Chamber from Toronto presented “A World Transformed,” a program based on the tragic story of Matthew Shepard and his mother Judy, told through contemporary dance, song, and spoken word. The performers included tenor Marcel d’Entremont and MtA alumnus Dakota Scott-Digout (’17) at the piano. Throughout the term, faculty took to the Brunton stage, including flutist Karin Aurell, clarinetist James Kalyn, and natural hornist Olivier Blakney, all performing with pianist James Coghlin. As always, the last weeks of term featured exciting concerts by our large ensembles, Mount Allison’s Symphonic Band and Chamber Orchestra directed by James Kalyn, the Choral Society and Elliott Chorale directed by Kiera Galway, and the New Music Ensemble directed by Nadia Francavilla. As we now look forward to the holidays and a well-deserved break, I wish you all the best for you and your family in 2024, on behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the Department of Music. Happy holidays!

 Dr. Stephen Runge

Opera Workshop on Tour

During the Fall term, the students in Dr. Christina Haldane’s Opera Workshop course went on the road for a tour of the Atlantic provinces, presenting “The Opera Show” in partnership with Under the Spire (PEI), Musique Royale (NS), and the Halifax Central Library’s Paul O’Regan Hall (NS). This special project was made possible by generous funding from the CEWIL Canada work-integrated learning scheme. “The Opera Show” was aimed at family audiences, and celebrated much-loved opera hits by Purcell, Mozart, Handel, Massenet, Rossini, Donizetti, Puccini, Verdi, and more! Students from the Opera Workshop course created an action-packed operatic experience that featured a selection of semi-staged solos and scenes in concert performance with piano reduction. As a part of the project, students also cultivated their “on and off stage” expertise by devising many aspects of the production from theatre tech support to tour logistics to audience communications. “The Opera Show” delighted family audiences and created strong connections with our community partners. Bravo to all!


“The Opera Show” performers on the bus and at Historic St. Mary’s Church, Under the Spire (PEI).





NB Choral Fest at MtA

Congratulations to the New Brunswick Choral Federation on a successful 2023 Choral Fest weekend at Mount Allison, October 20-22. Our thanks to clinician Dr. Kiera Galway, the Mount Allison Choral Society, the Mount Allison Chamber Orchestra with director Prof. James Kalyn, and the choristers who joined us from across the province. The Choral Fest Concert on Sunday, October 22 was a particular highlight, with performances of Johannes Brahms’ Schicksalslied and various Canadian choral works under the direction of Dr. Galway.

Music Creation News

Our New Music Creation Lab, under the direction of Dr. Kevin Morse, has been extremely busy again this semester. Students in Dr. MorseComposition & Music Technology and Arranging courses have been enjoying using our upgraded lab hardware and software, as have students in our popular Sound Recording Techniques course (taught this year by Nathan Cann).

Four of our upper-year composers have had their compositions for woodwind quintet workshopped by professional ensemble Ventus Machina this term. We look forward to sharing these and many other wonderful student compositions at our New Music @ Mount Allison composition concerts on January 21 and April 8, 2024.

We are also proud to have four Mount Allison Music alumni studying in some of the leading masters and doctoral programs across Canada this year: UBC, U of T, Ottawa, and Western!

MtA and Contemporary Music in Fredericton and Tantramar

Established in 2019 and curated each year by MtA string instructor Nadia Francavilla, the NB Contemporary Music Festival highlights music from emerging and established women composers. This year’s festival in November at Memorial Hall at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton featured a performance of Missy Mazzoli’s Vespers for a New Dark Age with an ensemble that included Francavilla (violin), Christina Haldane (soprano), James Kalyn (clarinet), Joël Cormier (percussion), and Stephen Runge (keyboard).

MtA’s New Music Ensemble, under Nadia Francavilla’s direction, will be taking part in the Conservation Council of New Brunswick’s “From Harm to Harmony” community project in 2024. Alongside the Mount Allison New Music Ensemble and the Tantramar Outdoor Club, participants will venture on guided walks in Odell Park in Fredericton and the Tantramar Marshes in Sackville to record nature sounds such as birds, small animals, branches, trees, winds, snow, and rain. These audio samples will form the basis of an improvised work composed by New Music Ensemble students. Community participants will also be present in the performance: making sounds using found objects at the sites, contributing photos and text (found or written, in English or French), or participating in video or audio editing. The results of the project will be heard on March 27 at the New Music Ensemble’s concert in Brunton Auditorium.

Mount Allison Honour Band and Audition Preparation Day

On October 14, we were very happy to welcome 75 enthusiastic middle school and high school students to campus to take part in the 9th annual Mount Allison Honour Band. These students, nominated for the program by their music teachers, came together for a one-day intensive of rehearsals and sectionals with MtA faculty, as part of two bands – Junior and Senior. The day culminated in a performance conducted by Prof. James Kalyn (Senior Band) and Andrea Lewis (Junior Band) in Convocation Hall, showcasing the many talented participants from throughout New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia.

We are already planning for our annual Audition Preparation Day to be held on campus on Saturday, January 27, 2024. Intended for Grade 11 and 12 students considering Music studies at university, the day includes workshops and classes, tips on the audition process, and mini-lessons with MtA Music faculty. Please share the registration link with any interested students:
Click here to navigate to the registration page.

Student News

MtA Music on the Road – Jazz Combo

The Mount Allison Jazz Combo had a gig at Harrison Trimble High School in early November. The performance featured MtA Music grad Dave Pos (’77, piano) and current students Ethan Nicholson (guitar), Kiran Steele (drum set), Aramis St.-Gelais (harmonica), and Jude Taylor Bourque (electric bass). Absent members: Kathleen Desmond (piano) and Amelia Hurst (clarinet).

Together Time On Campus

Singing vegetables? Play-doh drums? Musical paintbrushes? All part of Together Time On Campus! In October, MtA Music was pleased to participate in another Together Time On Campus session – a series of engaging, hands-on, interdisciplinary workshops with students from Dorchester Consolidated School. Thirty young musicians/scientists/artists explored sound, technology, and art media with Mount Allison students. Lots of learning and fun, with more sessions to come!




MtA Music in Italia!

There was a strong MtA Music contingent at Breno Italy International Music Academy (BIIMA), July 17-31, 2023: Amanda Godin (Class of ’24) attended the Voice Intensive Masterclass, Dr. Christina Haldane was a member of the voice faculty, alumna Aude Urbancic (’15) was the assistant pianist, and alumna Lucie Bauby (’19) took part in the Flute Intensive Masterclass.


BIIMA group photo


Dr. Christina Haldane with Amanda Godin

Faculty News

Welcome to Alexander Dobson

Baritone Alexander Dobson joined the faculty of the Department of Music this fall as instructor of Applied Voice. Holding degrees from the University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario, Alexander has been heard in recital, with orchestras, and on operatic stages throughout North America and Europe. He brings a wealth of professional and teaching experience to his work with our students, and continues to maintain a busy performance schedule.

At the beginning of November, Alexander sang the bass solos in Fauré’s Requiem with Capella Regalis in Halifax. Following this, he reprised the role of Aeneas in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with the Theatre of Early Music and Schola Cantorum in Toronto. December began with a Bach Magnificat in Ottawa with the Ottawa Bach Choir and continued into the Christmas season with A Rose in Winter in both Lunenburg and Halifax.

December also brought the news that The Night Falls, an interdisciplinary work combining song and dancecomposed by Ellis Ludwig Leone and performed in January 2023 as part of The Peak Performance series, was voted one of the best shows in 2023 by The New York Times!

Adam Cicchillitti joins Mount Allison Music

Adam Cicchillitti has joined Mount Allison as guitar instructor. Called “a virtuoso at the top of his game” by Classical Guitar magazine and included on CBC Music’s list of  “Top 30 musicians under 30 in Canada,” Adam recently completed his Doctorate of Music at McGill University earlier this year. His album Focus, dedicated to new Canadian music for two guitars, was awarded “Classical Recording of the Year” at the East Coast Music Awards in 2021. In 2023, his duo with Steve Cowan was awarded 2nd prize at the 50th anniversary of the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Ensemble Competition in New York City. You can watch their final round performance on YouTube (begins around 1:11:00). The two guitarists also recently commissioned and premiered six new concerti for two guitars with the Thirteen Strings chamber orchestra. The project was generously financed by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. The world premiere recording of the six works will appear with Leaf Music in 2024.

The last few months saw Adam performing in Barachois NB, Indian River PEI, Halifax, Ottawa, and Montreal. His newest recording, Wanderlust with flutist Lara Deutsch, is now available and you can listen to the first single on Spotify.


New faculty publication – The Early Trombone: A Catalogue of Music

MtA Music’s Dr. Linda Pearse and her fellow editors Howard Weiner and Charlotte Leonard have compiled a catalogue of nearly 9,000 works in 1,700 sources! This volume provides a single resource for scholars, trombonists, chamber musicians, and conductors to access instrumental solo, ensemble, and choral works with trombone, from the 16th through 18th centuries.

Orders for The Early Trombone: A Catalogue of Music are available on the Brepols publisher’s website.

Dr. Linda Pearse honoured as teacher and researcher

In September, Dr. Linda Pearse was honoured as the recipient of 2023 Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) Distinguished Teaching Award. This award recognizes excellence in university teaching over a number of years, primarily at the undergraduate level.

Read more about Dr. Pearse and other 2023 recipients of AAU Regional Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Educational Leadership.

Dr. Pearse has also received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Grant valued at $2,499,650 over seven years in collaboration with principal investigator Dr. Jennifer Bain (Dalhousie University), for the project The Digital Analysis of Chant Transmission, which brings together 13 partner institutions from around the world. One focal point of the project will be the transmission of Western liturgical music from the 16th through 18th centuries that were used as tools for conversion of Mohawk peoples by Jesuit missionaries during the 17th through 19th centuries.

Congratulations to Dr. Alan Dodson!

At the recent Annual Meeting of the Society for Music Theory (SMT) in Denver, Dr. Alan Dodson received the Award for Diversity in Course Design for “Meter and Timing Across Cultures,” which he taught at Mount Allison in Fall 2022. This annual award, established in 2021, honours an outstanding undergraduate syllabus that promotes diversity in music theory.

Water Music in Nova Scotia and Ontario

Pianist Stephen Runge performed his solo recital program “Across the Waves” on tour this fall in Nova Scotia and Ontario. Featuring music from the last 200 years inspired by waves and the ocean, Runge’s concert included barcarolles by Alkan, Bartók, Bonis, Casella, Chopin, Fauré, Hamelin, Smalley, as well as other pieces of “water music” by Berio, Grau, Liszt, and Mompou. Runge performed at the Acadia University School of Music, Wolfville’s Sunday Music in the Garden Room series, Ottawa’s Doors Open at Southminster series, and at Western University in London, Ontario, where he also gave a master class to students of the Don Wright Faculty of Music.

Runge performs at von Kuster Hall at Western University

Dr. Kiera Galway receives Choral Conductor Professional Development Scholarship

Dr. Kiera Galway is the recipient of a 2023 Lynn Duncan Choral Conductor Scholarship, awarded by the New Brunswick Choral Federation. This scholarship is designed to support professional development opportunities for New Brunswick choral conductors, and will enable Dr. Galway to attend the Podium Choral Conference in Montreal in May 2024.

New Brunswick Arts Board Grants

Dr. Christina Haldane was named as the recipient of an artsnb Career Development - Professionalization and Promotion grant, from the September 2023 competitions. In the same round, Mount Allison Music alumnus Branden Olsen (’17) was awarded a $10,000 Artist in Residence - Individual Artist grant.

Alumni News

Wayne Vogan: Unsung Hero

On November 6, MtA Music alumnus Wayne Vogan (’72) was honoured at the 2023 Rubies Awards Gala, the annual celebration of excellence in Canadian Opera.

A recently retired librarian from the Canadian Opera Company, Wayne has been a driving force behind the scenes since 1986. He safeguarded the COC’s vast collection of scores, audio materials, and production books, while also ensuring musicians had precise and well-presented music. From acquiring to refining and adapting, Wayne’s role was pivotal in providing legible music even in dim orchestra pits. Librarians like Wayne are the unsung heroes behind every performance!

Read the article from Opera Canada.

 Photos © Dahlia Katz - Opera Canada

Lydia Adams appointed to the Order of Canada

Congratulations to Lydia Adams (’75, ’76, DMus ’03) on her appointment to the Order of Canada, recognizing her enduring dedication and contributions to the growth of Canadian choral music, as a leading conductor, educator, accompanist, and composer.

Lydia holds a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Education from Mount Allison and was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 2003. She is also the recipient of the Charles Frederick Allison Distinguished Alumni Award, among several other well-deserved accolades.

Read more about Lydia’s many accomplishments.

Photo by Mark Rash

Aude Urbancic (’15) completed her Doctorate in Collaborative Piano from the Université de Montréal in May 2023. Aude is currently teaching, coaching, and performing in the Ottawa area, and has just become a mother with the arrival this month of her first baby!

Tabitha Payzant (’16) was a 2023 MusicNL Award nominee for Classical Artist of the Year. Well done, Tabitha!

BMus alumnus Daniel Gardner (’16) has been admitted as an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre. Daniel is currently a PhD student at Western University (London, ON), studying music composition with a collaborative specialization in music cognition.

Kimberley Denis (’03) has been recognized by two music organizations in her home province of Alberta. She is the recipient of the 2023 Award of Distinction for exceptional service to the Alberta Band Association, as well as the winner of a 2023 Con Spirito Award, presented by Choir Alberta.

MtA Music alumna Jennifer Publicover (’90) was named 2023 Teacher of the Year by the Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers’ Association (NSRMTA). Jennifer is the founder and director of the Halifax Institute of Traditional and Early Music and operates a private flute studio. She is a sessional lecturer in the Irish Studies Department of Saint Mary’s University and also provides workshops and clinics, sharing her decades of teaching experience.

Rachel OBrien (’17) was nominated for a Dora Award for Outstanding Musical Direction of a new adaptation of Alice in Wonderland at Torontos Soulpepper Theatre in 2022-2023. She is also currently the Associate Musical Director for the Canadian premiere production of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 (Crows Theatre, Toronto), and will be the Musical Director for Anne of Green Gables and Associate Musical Director for Jersey Boys, both at the Charlottetown Festival in the summer of 2024.

In Memoriam


Dr. James A. Stark (1938-2023)
Professor of Music, Emeritus

Dr. James Stark moved to Sackville in 1974 to become Head of the Department of Music at Mount Allison University, and served in that capacity until 1982. He continued to teach music history and voice until his retirement in 2003, and was the recipient of a Mount Allison Paul Paré Excellence Award in 2000. The principal focus of his academic research was on 19th-century vocal pedagogy and 20th-century voice science, summarized in his book Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy.

Dr. Stark was well known for his recitals – featuring lieder, oratorio, and works for voice and Irish harp – and for his devotion to his students. Mount Allison Music Bursaries have been established in his memory, to offer support to students who need assistance; details may be found in his obituary.

Dr. Ian Johnston (’55) passed away in February. You can read about his life in his obituary.


Keep in Touch!

The Department of Music appreciates the continued support of its Alumni.  Please stay in touch with us, keeping us posted on your news and accomplishments. We also have a presence on social media, and hope you will follow us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, and YouTube.