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Classical composers come to life in professor’s debut album

By Costa Maragos Posted: December 17, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Dr. Christine Vanderkooy, has performed as a soloist in Canada and Europe. She is frequently invited to adjudicate music festivals and competitions.
Dr. Christine Vanderkooy, has performed as a soloist in Canada and Europe. She is frequently invited to adjudicate music festivals and competitions. Photo courtesy of Pierre-Etienne Bergeron.

Praised for her “sensitive and passionate artistic interpretation,” Dr. Christine Vanderkooy performs extensively as a solo pianist and collaborative artist.

Her album, Schubert and Schumann, is receiving positive reviews and airplay on radio stations across North America, with one of her pieces airing recently on the CBC Radio network.

Thanks to recent funding from Creative Saskatchewan, Dr. Vanderkooy has been able to find the means to promote her album. It’s available for purchase at christinevanderkooy.com and at the University of Regina Bookstore.

Dr. Vanderkooy completed a Master of Music degree as well as a Doctor of Music at McGill University. She’s been teaching at the University of Regina since 2007.

Dr. Vanderkooy is on sabbatical until the fall of 2016. We caught up with her to talk about her album, her love of Schubert and Schumann and the immense opportunities that await U of R music students.

What attracted you to the idea of featuring Schubert and Schumann in one album?

I love the music. I love the romantic piano repertoire. The Schubert Sonatas have only relatively recently come to our attention. The three final sonatas are long, thoughtful, melanchonic and joyful. Schubert knew he was dying when he wrote the late sonatas and they are just magical. The B flat is the most magical one. I was playing it for a long time and was delighted to record it.
The expansiveness of the Schubert is paired with the more neurotic Schumann work. The 18 pieces in Davidsbündlertänze are very short and alternate quickly between Schumann’s two alter egos, Eusabius and Florestan.  It’s a wonderful challenge to have to change characters so rapidly, and it makes the work a true contrast from the 4 longer movements of the Schubert.  It’s one of the things I found interesting about pairing these two works together for the recording.
 
How has your CD been received?

It’s been wonderful so far. It was played on a very popular CBC Radio network show, Sunday Morning with Michael Enright. It’s getting air time on Radio Classique in Quebec, the big classical music station in that province. I’m also told it is being played on some stations in the U.S. and a number of university radio stations are playing it too. It’s all encouraging. We’re planning on entering it in the JUNO Awards.

How did you go about letting people – including radio programmers – know about this CD?

Thanks to support from Creative Saskatchewan, I was able to hire Jane Harbury, a very well-established publicist who has done a wonderful job getting the word out. I don’t have the skills or contacts to reach people in the same way that a publicist does.  So that has been a big help. The CD has been featured on the cover of some prominent music teachers’ magazines including the cover of Tempo.

How did you feel when you heard one of your pieces played to a network radio audience?

I was delighted!  Now that it’s done, I’m just happy for people to listen to it.  I feel I did some of my best playing on this CD and I’m very happy with the final result so it’s wonderful that it’s reaching an audience. It’s nice to have it out there.

What advice do you have to students thinking of entering the U of R music program?

Come and join us! One of the advantages students have at the U of R is that it is a small program and they will get a lot of attention.  I often tell students that, when they come to the U of R to study music, they have the chance to be a big fish in a small pond and to explore opportunities they may not have access to in larger centres. 

For example, we’ve had undergrad students who do professional placements playing with the Regina Symphony.  Our music students have the chance to accompany the choir, TA class, or perform as soloist with the UR Orchestra.  Our students complete the program having had a wealth of experiences and go forward with a full and impressive c.v. There are tremendous and varied career opportunities for music students.  Their music degree can lead them into graduate school or to a career in music or a related field.  We have a hugely successful hiring rate for music education graduates.  

We sometimes speak with students who are passionate about music but feel it is more practical to look at other programs or feel it is financially advantageous. However, we find some students who take that route transfer back into music. They follow their passion. That is as important as the process itself. It is about the journey. You come out of a degree a different person than when you go into it.   

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