Glendon Campus
York University
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Toronto, Ontario
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Glendon Musical Ensemble Honours Canadian Veterans


November is remembrance month, so it was very fitting for the Glendon Musical Ensemble to mount In Memoriam, an evening of poetry, song and instrumental music honouring those Canadians who fought and gave their lives for freedom.

The 33-member troupe gave two performances to full houses in Theatre Glendon on November 24th and 25th, with a multimedia show of documentary film clips, sound effects and a wide range of music - from Pergolesi to Éric Satie, Massenet, Billy Joel and John Williams - juxtaposed with the poetry of different parts of the world on the theme of war and loss.

The members of the Ensemble represent what is so great at Glendon: a sense of community and belonging. Current students played and sang alongside alumni, staff and professors in a unified whole, creating art to express their gratitude for those who sacrificed, and confirming their commitment to peace.

This year’s co-directors, Cristina Raimondo and Paulo Bittencourt, both students in their final year at Glendon, formed a highly dedicated and energetic leadership team in the field of music, as well as in the logistics of the concert. Both Raimondo and Bittencourt are talented and versatile musicians: Raimondo an accomplished violinist and singer, Bittencourt an excellent pianist, drummer and choir member. Taking turns at the baton to lead the Ensemble, both directors were also responsible for the smooth running of the evening’s events. Glendon alumnus and currently Glendon manager of research and special projects Guy Larocque was responsible for developing the program, finding appropriate music and working on publicity with Raimondo. Larocque, another “Renaissance” member of the group, also sang in the choir and played the guitar for some of the special pieces. As the closing number, in a moving tribute to the hope for peace, Glendon sociology professor Stuart Schoenfeld sang John Lennon’s Imagine, while accompanying himself on the guitar.

“What was so wonderful in developing this show, was the collaboration of so many, at such different levels”, said Raimondo. Enthusiastic amateurs sang and played alongside trained musicians. “I am doing this for the love of music and because I want to give back to my school”, added Raimondo, “working on this type of event is a perfect fit with Glendon’s liberal arts experience.” Media technologist of Glendon’s ITS Duncan Appleton included students of his theatre technology class to work on lighting, sound and visuals as part of their “crew hours”, practicum time in order to complete their course requirements. Earl Haig Secondary School student Andrew Young compiled and edited the still photos and videos, creating the atmosphere and supporting the music of the evening.

“The Ensemble has provided me with the best opportunity to improve my musical skills and to explore new repertoire”, said Larocque. “This is thanks to the creative environment established by the directors and other members. We are also very grateful for the support we have received from [associate principal, student affairs] Louise Lewin and [coordinator of artistic and cultural affairs] Martine Rheault. Without their help, it wouldn’t be possible to present two full programs of such scope and quality per year”.

Bittencourt summed it all up. “The Ensemble made Glendon a truly liberal arts experience for me and it became the focus of my campus life. But it offered me even more – it helped me develop into an adult with responsibilities for my involvements and for those working with me.The experience I have gained through this project gives me the confidence to carry on with this type of work in the future.”

The Glendon Musical Ensemble was formed in 1999 as a student initiative, under the patronage of Glendon’s Artistic and Cultural Affairs, within the Office of Student Services. Its mandate is to foster the study of music and provide opportunities to the members of the entire community to experience and learn about music across all time frames, styles and ethnic origins. The Ensemble consists of vocal and instrumental sections, featuring a blend of modern and period instruments.

The creators of this concert took a risk in approaching a serious, sombre topic with In Memoriam, but they were validated and rewarded by the the audience’s response, who were visibly touched and moved by their performance. Future plans will take the Ensemble in a much lighter, completely different direction. The program of the next concert, planned for March 2005, is an evening of classical and popular Latin-American music.

Article submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on December 2, 2004