Alumni Wall of Fame 2008
As part of the 40th Anniversary celebrations, a Wall of Fame was established in 2008. Choosing the inaugural 10 inductees was a huge challenge. Over the course of a few months, a committee of alumni and professors emeriti tackled this daunting task.
The following alumni were honoured in a ceremony held Friday, October 31, 2008:
Dennis Beck, BMus/BEd'77
Dennis Beck (BMus, BEd) began his teaching career in Edmonton, Alberta, where he taught in both junior and senior high schools. He has performed as a professional clarinetist, most notably with the Edmonton Wind Sinfonia, and has also taught and conducted ensembles at the Alberta College Conservatory. During his twelve years in Alberta, he obtained a graduate diploma in conducting from the University of Calgary. Since returning to Ontario in 1990, he has taught at Unionville High School in York Region. He is also a sessional lecturer for the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Dennis is active in many professional organizations and has written study guides for resource texts as well as many articles for various professional journals. As time permits, he acts as an adjudicator at music festivals, speaks at band clinic sessions, and is a busy guest conductor. In 2000, Dennis helped establish the Ontario Band Association. He is an avid photographer and traveler, having visited almost 30 countries around the world.
Berthold Carrière, CM, MMus'72
During his 34-year tenure as director of music (1975-2007) at the Stratford Festival, Berthold Carrière (MMus) composed and arranged music for over eighty Stratford productions. There he served as musical director and conductor for The Mikado (repeated in the U.S. on Broadway, and at The Old Vic in London, England) and for HMS Pinafore (including an American tour of the production). He composed music for The Tempest and Twelfth Night for the Stratford Festival season in 1999, which also aired on CBC Radio. Berthold has been the musical director, arranger and conductor for other major productions including King Lear, starring Christopher Plummer, at New York’s Lincoln Center. He has received Dora Awards for musical direction (The Mikado, 1987 and The Boy Friend, 1981) and a special Stratford Festival Guthrie Award for his “contribution to Canadian theatre at large”. Berthold holds a MMus in composition from the University of Western Ontario, receiving Western’s Alumni Professional Achievement Award in 2000. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada (2001) and has also received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2003).
Robert Cooper, CM, BMus'72, MMus'76, DLitt
One of Canada’s foremost choral conductors, Robert Cooper (BMus, MMus, DLitt) is currently Artistic Director of Chorus Niagara, the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, the Opera in Concert Chorus, and the Faculty of Music Women’s Chorus, University of Toronto. Robert has had the honour of directing many youth choirs, including the Ontario Youth choir and the National Youth Choir of Canada. In 1997, he made his Carnegie Hall debut for A Celebration of Canadian Choral Music. Acknowledged as an innovative programmer, Robert has also commissioned and premiered many new works by both Canadian and international composers. As Executive Producer of opera and choral music at CBC Radio Two, he brought fine choral music and operatic performances to all of Canada for thirty-one years. He has served as President of the Ontario Choral Federation and the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors, and presently sits on the Board of Directors of Chorus America. Robert Cooper is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Brock University for his significant contribution to the Canadian choral community, and is a Member of the Order of Canada (2004).
Kenneth Fleet, BMus'75, BEd'76
Kenneth Fleet (BMus, BEd, MMus) taught vocal and instrumental music for thirty years at Medway High School in Arva, Ontario where he built a choral program that won provincial and national awards, including the CBC Choral Competition. Ken has also taught at Western along with conducting the UWO Singers, Chorale and Concert Choir there. Ken co-conducts the Amabile Mens’ and Boys’ Choirs in London, Ont., with fellow Western graduate Carol Beynon, winning three CBC National Radio Competition awards with them. He also conducts London Pro Musica, an adult community choir. He is currently President of the Board for Choirs Ontario. Ken has co-edited a series of choral octavos, published by Neil A. Kjos Music Company, which are distributed worldwide. He has conducted choirs at several International Society of Music Educators Conferences, the World Choral Symposium in Minneapolis, a special Toronto concert for Queen Elizabeth II, the Harvard Intervarsity Men’s Choral Festival, the World Festival of Singing in Prague and at the American Choral Directors National Conference. In addition to his degree from Western, he holds a Master of Music degree from Westminster Choir College, Princeton.
Elaine Overholt BMus'75
Elaine Overholt (BMus) is one of North America's most respected and treasured singers and vocal coaches, having coached stars such as John Travolta, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Queen Latifah. She attended Western as a Piano Performance major but later switched and graduated in Voice Performance. Always continuing to teach voice privately, she has sung on hundreds of jingles, developed a solo recording and performing career which garnered a No.3 single on Billboard, performances in Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Israel and the high Arctic, for our Canadian troops. She has sung back-up for stars such as Tina Turner, Anne Murray, the legendary Ray Charles and recently was the coach and celebrity judge on the Andrew Lloyd Webber produced CBC TV show "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”. Elaine is about to start production on her own national television show "Big Voice" where she will help non-professionals realize their secret dream of performing. Elaine’s highly acclaimed “Big Voice” DVD/CD is selling all around the world. Elaine credits her work and joy ethic to her time at Western's Faculty of Music.
Adrianne Pieczonka, OC, BMus'85
Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka (BMus) is hailed as “dramatic and stunning”, known for her beauty of tone that can “bloom into radiance or shrink to a whisper" (Daily Telegraph). She performs on leading opera and concert stages throughout Europe, North America and Asia under the direction of such conductors as James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Sir Neville Marriner, Claudio Abbado, Richard Bradshaw, and Lorin Maazel. Adrianne began her career at the Canadian Opera Company in Lady MacBeth of Mzensk in 1988, returning in 2006 to perform her acclaimed role of Sieglinde in Die Walküre to celebrate the opening of the Four Seasons Opera Centre. In 1991 she became a member of the Vienna Staatsoper where she continues to enjoy great success. Adrianne was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (2007) in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Earlier in the same year, Adrianne and fellow alumnus Michael Schade were the first Canadians awarded the Austrian title Kammersänger. Kammersänger(in), or chamber singer, is awarded to distinguished singers who have made a significant contribution to the arts in Austria.
Louise Pitre, BEd'79
After graduating from Western with a bachelor's degree in music education, Louise Pitre (BMus, DMus) had planned on a sensible career as a high school music teacher - until she landed a role in a musical revue during her final year at the university and was bitten by the acting bug. By 1990, she was a favourite in Toronto's theatre community, playing the role of Fantine in Les Misérables to critical acclaim in Montréal (bilingual production), Toronto, and Paris, and appearing on the Paris cast recording of the long-running musical. Louise was catapulted to national fame in 1992 when she portrayed legendary French singer Edith Piaf in three different productions of Piaf. In 2001, Louise made her Broadway debut as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!. Recently, Louise played the role of Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun in Toronto, Taff Baron in the CBC television series MVP, Céline Dion’s mother in the CBC mini-series Céline and host of the series Star Portraits on Bravo. Louise has been honoured with three of Toronto's prestigious Dora Mavor Moore Awards for her performances in Mamma Mia!, Piaf, and Blood Brothers.
Michael Schade, BMus'88
Michael Schade's (BMus) voice has been hailed as ringing, exceptionally elegant, silken, translucent, sensuously ethereal, glorious, and dynamic. The Mozart tenor of choice on international stages in Europe and North America, he is equally at home in New York, Vienna, Paris, Los Angeles, Toronto, Salzburg, Dresden, Tokyo and London. His passion for his art form embraces recitals, opera, concerts and recordings. As a prolific recording artist and multiple award-winner, Michael’s Arie e Duetti, a Mozart feature recorded with Russell Braun and Isabel Bayrakdarian (CBC Records), won the 2007 JUNO award for Best Classical Album. His recording of Daphne (Decca) with Renée Fleming was nominated for a Grammy in 2005 and his recording of St. Matthew Passion (Teldec), conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt won the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance. Michael is a regular guest of the world-famous Lied-festival Schubertiade Schwarzenberg in Vorarlberg, Austria. In March 2007, Michael and fellow alumna Adrianne Pieczonka were the first Canadians awarded the Austrian title Kammersänger. Originally bestowed by the royal courts, the title Kammersänger(in), or chamber singer, is awarded to distinguished singers who have made a significant career in Austria.
Nancy Telfer, BMus'79
Nancy Telfer (BMus) has composed more than 300 works for soloists, chamber ensembles, orchestras, bands and choirs, many of which are published in Canada, the United States and Europe. Her music, ranging from beginning to virtuoso levels, is performed throughout the world. In addition to composing, Nancy frequently acts as a music festival adjudicator, and has presented workshops and conducted massed choirs on every continent except Antarctica. Her books on music education including Successful Performing, Singing In Tune, Singing High Pitches With Ease, and Successful Warmups, are widely known and published in several languages. Largely influenced by conductor Deral Johnson and arranger Kenneth Bray, Nancy's reputation for creative experimentation is linked with the belief that all music should delight the ears, capture the imagination of the mind and feed the soul. In each of her pieces she has attempted to bring some new kind of experience to the performers so that their lives might be more meaningful and more enjoyable. Nancy has always been interested in the outdoors and often draws inspiration from the beauty of natural environments.
Barbara Willis Sweete, BA'75, DLitt
A founding partner of Rhombus Media, Barbara Willis Sweete (BA, DLitt) has produced and directed more than 30 films since the company's inception in 1979. She is now considered to be one of the world's pre-eminent directors of films related to music. Barbara’s films have won innumerable awards including Geminis, Genies, Emmys and an Oscar nomination. In 2002, she made her feature film debut with the film, Perfect Pie, based on the Judith Thompson play. The following year she directed a feature-length drama for television entitled Elizabeth Rex, based on the Timothy Findley play. Other notable films include The Planets (1993), Dido & Aeneas (1995), The Four Seasons (2000), Don Giovanni Unmasked (2000), Romeo and Juliet (2001), The Tale of the Magic Flute (2004), Five Days in September (2005), and The Young Romantic (2008). In addition to her work with Rhombus, Barbara directs the Metropolitan Opera's cinemacasts, which are broadcast live to more than 800 movie theaters around the world. Born in British Columbia, Canada, Barbara has an ARCT (Piano Performance) from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, a BA (Honors, Music) from the University of Western Ontario, and a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from York University.