Research Profiles - Music Performance Studies
The creative activity of the Music Performance Studies faculty represents in depth research into performance techniques and practices from historical periods and artist performances of the past and how they inform the present. Consideration of politics, gender models, and social and cultural ideologies all serve to construct, inform and influence this research. At the heart of the MPS department, then, is the preparation of the next generation of performer/researcher/pedagogue who has the capability to research and engage in multiple languages and the ability to recreate music ranging from early medieval musical expressions to the creation and performance of the most modern.
My research includes the study and performance of wind ensemble literature; large instrumental ensemble pedagogy; and conducting pedagogy. As the Music Director for the Western University Wind Ensemble, my programming includes standards within the repertoire, historically important works, chamber pieces, transcriptions, concerti, contemporary works, and new works. We work to create historically, theoretically, and culturally informed performances. With this intent in mind, the Wind Ensemble has released two recordings: Apparitions (Albany Records 2011) and Explorations (Mark Records 2016). These CDs include a world premiere; the only full, published recording of Howard Cable’s Ontario Pictures; as well as some of the earliest available recordings for certain works. I have also been asked to contribute study guides for eight volumes of the Teaching Music Through Performance in Band series, published by GIA.
As a professor of instrumental ensemble techniques, I am constantly searching for better ways to rehearse instrumental ensembles and choose appropriate conducting gestures. This research is shared with my classes, presented at conferences, and included in articles written for the Canadian Winds, and the Canadian Music Educator Journal. I have conducted or presented my research in Wales, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States.
Sophie Louise Roland
As Chair of the Music Performance Studies Department I continually seek to have a positive impact on the musical lives of our students. I believe in the education of music, in sharing experiences with the next generation, and in inspiring young artists. My research has always covered a wide breadth of activities since my undergraduate years. My interest in drama, musicology, and obviously, voice shaped my master and doctoral studies, and eventually my career. In addition to being an active performer as a mezzo soprano, I have created two elite summer programs: Canadian Operatic Arts Academy (COAA) and Accademia Europea dell’Opera (AEDO) dedicated to the training of operatic musicians.
Since 2009, COAA has provided student singers, collaborative pianists, assistant stage directors and conductors from all over Canada and abroad with an intensive three-week workshop in which skills for operatic rehearsal and performance are explored and sharpened. Students receive musical and dramatic coachings, direction in character research and development, seminars addressing repertoire, diction, professional development, and sessions in stage deportment (movement, combat, dance). The academy concludes with a public presentation of operatic scenes prepared during the workshop.
AEDO is an international operatic preparation program in which Western and Centro Studi di Luigi Boccherini in Lucca, Italy, collaborate in producing multiple staged operatic productions within a four-week period. The participants come from all over the world, receiving seminars, master classes, coachings and lessons in preparation for fully staged performances. AEDO will soon be transitioning into an institute in which vocalists, directors, conductors, instrumentalists, composers, and musicologists receive discipline-specific training in operatic production.
As an active, established, concert pianist and pedagogue, I aim to create connections between research and formation. My research on the art of performance focuses on the interconnection between the instrument, awareness of the body and mental state of the performer, and its effect on freeing the artist’s full potential. My investigation places a distinct emphasis on the performer as an entity that commands a fine balance between emotional and rational states of being. The gesture of the pianist is one area of piano technique that I am studying very closely.
As an active performing artist I have collaborated with international artists and ensembles such as James Campbell, Joel Quarrington, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Martin Beaver, Rivka Golani, and the Penderecki, New Zealand, and New Orford string quartets. I have received support from Research Western for my recording projects, adding three commercial CDs to my discography in recent years under major Canadian labels ATMA, CBC, Marquis Classics, and Espace 21 Records. My recordings of Brahms’ works for solo piano received nominations for CD of the Year at Quebec’s Prix Opus and were placed alongside Murray Perahia’s interpretation by the WholeNote magazine. Collaborations have led to the signing of an exchange agreement between Western and the Universidade Federal de Belo Horizonte, in Brazil, and invitations to perform and teach at the Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Madrid, a first for Western University. My participation in numerous festivals and juries for leading institutions such as Conservatoire de Montréal, the Glenn Gould School, the Montreal International Competition and the Canadian Music Competition, allow me to advocate for my field of research and contribute to forging the next generation of young classical musicians and audiences.
Over the past decade, I have been formulating ideas to enrich the musical landscape within Canada. Searching for meaningful ways to fuse tradition with innovation has been of utmost importance to my artistry and teaching. As a concertizing artist, my research of the violin repertoire reflects the exciting diversity of today’s performance landscape. This springs from a curiosity to expand my repertoire, push boundaries of my knowledge, and fulfill my desire for creativity. Though these research interests reflect my life as a performer, I am passionate about instilling this curiosity in the next generation.
In this context, my research led to the founding of Magisterra Soloists in 2015. The group is a vibrant Canadian string ensemble that merges professionals with up and coming artists, to provide engaging, accessible, and gutsy performances. Additional mandates include commissioning composers and educational outreach through “Magisterra in Schools.” The group also offers a mentorship program for select young artists “Magisterra Fellows” who are nominated to participate throughout each concert season. I am particularly proud to have led this group on a professional six-city concert tour to Brazil with partial patronage from the Canadian Consulate in Rio de Janeiro. This trip exposed the musicians to the rigours of touring, and required adaptability, reliability and consistency of artistry, all of which are demands of a professional musician.