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The Mount Royal Conservatory of Music was established in 1911 as one of the original divisions of Mount Royal College. The Conservatory was formed to prepare students for local examinations in music offered by the Toronto Conservatory and the Royal Academy of Music. The original vision for the Conservatory also included a Fine Art School and a School of Expression, Physical Culture, and Dramatic Arts. The Conservatory opened, under the musical directorship of Wilfred V. Oaten, with an enrollment of seventy-five students, but enrollment grew quickly to ninety-five students by 1913-1914. The Conservatory was originally designed to be financially separate from Mount Royal College and self-sustaining. The majority of its funding came from student fees, with the college only responsible for covering deficits. As a result of this funding arrangement, student registration and retention numbers were always vital to the Conservatory’s success. In the early days of Mount Royal College the Conservatory accounted for the majority of student registrations and played an integral role in establishing Mount Royal’s reputation.
Musical instruction formed the basis of the majority of the Conservatory’s early programs. Instruction was provided for the piano, violin, organ, voice, musical theory, and was expanded to include woodwinds and saxophone in the 1920s. Significantly, the Conservatory started offering examinations from the Toronto Conservatory of Music starting in 1915 and became a location for their administration in the west. In addition to the two-year diplomas offered in affiliation with Toronto Conservatory, Mount Royal originally only offered a single two-year diploma of its own for pianoforte teachers. Music was a common aspect of college life during Mount Royal’s formative years. Conservatory students and faculty provided music for campus events, social clubs, and performed for local Methodist churches and with their choirs.. The Conservatory was also especially well known for its orchestras. Two of the most well-known and successful orchestras were the Mount Royal Junior College Symphony Orchestra, which was founded in 1937 by Director Jascha Galperin, and the Calgary Youth Orchestra, which was formed in 1968 by Frank Simpson. When the Calgary Symphony was disbanded from 1939-1955 the Conservatory’s Junior Orchestra became Calgary’s only opportunity for large-scale musical entertainment, cementing the orchestra’s prominence in Calgary. The Mount Royal Junior College Symphony Orchestra was renamed the Calgary Symphony Orchestra under the directorship of Clayton Hare in 1949, and underwent a large restructuring in 1965 under Hare’s replacement, John S. Bach. Bach divided the orchestra into a junior orchestra, an intermediate orchestra, and the Southern Alberta Youth Orchestra. By the time Mount Royal College moved to the Lincoln Park campus in 1972, the Conservatory had three string orchestras, two full symphony orchestras, five choirs, and a range of brass and woodwind ensembles. All of this cemented the Conservatory’s position in the burgeoning Calgary Arts community and garnered the college much praise and esteem.
The 1940s and 50s saw a large amount of growth for Mount Royal College and the Conservatory. To better accommodate the growing space needs of the Conservatory, Mount Royal opened a branch Conservatory location in the North Hill community of Calgary in 1954 which could fit up to one hundred students. During John Garden’s term of college Principal (1942-1958), he made moves to bring the Conservatory more formally under the administrative and financial structure of the rest of the College by establishing the Conservatory of Music Committee, which included the Principal and a member of the Board of Governors. This committee created formal employment contracts for Conservatory faculty, granted a salary to the Conservatory Director (as opposed to a percentage of student fees, as had been the previous practice), and established a formal portion of the college budget for the Conservatory, ending some of the Conservatory’s reliance on student fees. The 1950s also saw the introduction of a new music examination system that led to certificate and diploma awards and the adoption of an external examination process. The Conservatory also started offering its first degree program in affiliation with Trinity College and expanded musical instruction to cover the accordion, tympani, and xylophone.
The School of Expression, Physical Culture, and Dramatic Arts within the Conservatory was focused on providing instruction in public speaking, elocution, and dramatic arts and offered courses in English literature, composition, voice culture, philosophy of expression, and storytelling. By 1915-1916 the School of Expression started offering its first two year diploma in expression. Similar to the musical instruction programs, the School of Expression had a significant impact on the art and culture community outside of the College. Faculty and students produced regular dramatic productions, put on public performances, and organized dramatic readings by popular artists of the day. The speech and drama portions of the School of Expression curriculum were expanded in scope with the appointment of instructor Leona Paterson, a pioneer in speech arts and future Conservatory director, in 1944. Some of her successful initiatives for the school included the formation of the Reader’s Theatre and the Children’s Theatre in 1951. She also introduced new areas of study such as radio and television broadcasting, a speech-therapy program, a new theatre arts program, and implemented a board of examiners for speech arts, similar to that for musical examinations. The Conservatory of Music changed its name, to the Conservatory of Music and Speech Arts, for the 1961-1962 academic year, to reflect the growing prominence of the speech programs offered through the School of Expression.
The Fine Arts School was established as part of the Conservatory in 1911 but has had a less consistent presence than other areas of instruction, with the school being disbanded and reformed as student interest and registration waxed and waned. Similar to the School of Expression and the musical instruction program, the Fine Arts School offered classes that supported areas of instruction offered by other college departments as well as offering stand alone classes for members of the public. Early fine arts instruction focused on watercolors, oil painting, leather tooling, china painting, metal working, wood carving, and drawing. During the 1920s the Fine Arts School offered several diploma options, including a two year diploma in freehand drawing, a two year diploma in the history of art, and a one year diploma in design. After a period of inactivity, the Fine Arts Division was reformed in late 1965, under the directorship of Peter J. Hodgson, in the hopes of eventually expanding to diplomas. However, the program was not a success and it was discontinued by 1969-1970.
Instruction in the dramatic arts was an early component of the Conservatory’s instruction program, and is listed as a part of the School of Expression starting in the 1915-1916 academic year. Many of the earliest theater arts courses were strongly connected to the Speech Arts program, focusing on elocution and performance voice work. The theatre arts program was expanded in the 1930s with the introduction of two educational streams for students. The first stream was catered to training theatrical performers and the second stream focused on training technical staff for TV and theatre productions. Director Cyril Mossop briefly introduced a ballet program in 1944 but the program only lasted until Mossop left the Conservatory in 1950. Mount Royal revisited offering a School of Dance, as part of the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension, in partnership with Alberta Ballet Company, in 1984, but it was ultimately unsuccessful and discontinued in 1987. With the move to the Lincoln Park campus, the number of professional quality facilities and theatre spaces that students had access to greatly increased. Threatre students staged productions on campus, in the new Wright and Leacock Theatres, that were open to campus members and the larger Calgary community. Starting in 1984, Mount Royal expanded to offer off-campus theatrical productions in the form of the popular ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ summer plays. Shakespeare in the Park productions originally took place in Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary, before moving to Prince’s Island Park, and were free events. Shakespeare in the Park productions became extremely popular, with the 20th anniversary performance of Julius Caesar in 2004 drawing over 40 000 attendees from July 2-11. Due to program cuts by the Alberta provincial government in 2013, the theater arts program, in its entity, was cut from the Conservatory. At that time, Shakespeare in the Park, was taken over by Theatre Calgary, and continues to offer free annual Shakespeare productions every summer that remain a popular fixture in the Calgary arts scene.
The 1980’s also saw considerable expansion and growth for the Conservatory. Director Norman Burgess (1978-1992) introduced a three-stream approach for Conservatory students with different levels of focus, learning outcomes, and instructional faculty. The first stream, which was expected to capture the majority of students and was focused on life enrichment and teaching students engaged with music at a hobby level. The second stream focused on preparing students for careers in music, and the final stream, which became known as The Academy of Music program, was dedicated to preparing gifted students, under the age of 18, for performance-based musical careers. The Academy of Music program received positive attention and attracted gifted students and instructors to the Conservatory from throughout western Canada and beyond. Many graduates of the program went on to find successful careers in television, radio, and as orchestra soloists. Another result of Burgess’ ‘student-stream’ initiative was the rise in prominence of both the Suzuki and Kodaly music programs. The Suzuki program was started in 1984 as a summer piano institute that focused on teacher training. However, the program was quickly expanded to teach a variety of levels and provide musical instruction in other instruments. A Certificate of Achievement in Suzuki Piano Pedagogy started being offered in 2002 and Conservatory faculty member, Merlin B. Thompson greatly expanded the Suzuki program by introducing videoconferencing in 2004. The Kodaly method is another program of music instruction adopted by the Conservatory with great success. Focused on teaching music to young children, the Kodaly method continues to be the basis of several of the Conservatory’s programs of instruction for children and adolescence.
Areas of instruction such as the Suzuki, Kodaly, and Academy of Music programs helped to increase the Conservatory’s prestige and form links with leading music schools and musicians around the world. In particular, the Conservatory formed beneficial links to schools such as the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the Colburn School in Los Angeles, the New England Conservatory, and Juilliard School in New York. Internationally the Conservatory’s reputation was bolstered by programs such as the Academy of Music program and the Morningside Music Bridge. The Morningside Music Bridge was an annual summer music workshop that brought aspiring international young musicians to Calgary. The Morningside Music Bridge started in 1996 and focused on providing summer workshops for students in violin, viola, cello, piano, and chamber music. As the scope of the Conservatory’s musical instruction increased so did the prominence and accomplishments of its students. Conservatory students excelled in local musical competitions such as the Kiwanis Music Festival and the Alberta Music Festival. Some of the Conservatory's most prominent students include Yuri Hooker, principal cellist of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; Tanya Kalmonovitch, violist; Rhian Kenny, flutist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Martha Baldwin, cellist with the Cleveland Orchestra; Katherine Chi, pianist and winner of the 2000 Honens Competition; Alan Van Sprang, TV/film actor, Michael Kim, Dean of Brandon University School of Music; and Leslie Feist, Juno award winner.
Conservatory faculty not only provided quality instruction for Mount Royal students but many were accomplished musicians and performers in their own right who contributed to the reputation and prestige of the Conservatory. The Conservatory started out with 5 full-time faculty members in 1911 and steadily increased from there as programs expanded and registrations increased. In 1943-44 there were fourteen full-time Conservatory faculty members, only one of which had a degree. By the 1960s, faculty had increased to almost fifty members, with more specialized credentials. In addition to full-time faculty, the Conservatory also hired instructors to teach in fourteen ‘associated branches’ and employed part-time instructors from the Branch Teacher Association, who taught music lessons out of their homes. By 1990 there were approximately 100 teachers on campus and another 40 affiliated instructors from the Branch Teachers Association. By 2005, the conservatory had 240 teachers on campus and another 50 affiliated teachers teaching from their homes, reaching 5,000 Calgary area students. Notable Conservatory faculty members include Leonard Leacock, pianist, composer, and Order of Canada recipient; Norma Piper, diva soprano ; Knight Wilson, violinist and former department head of the Conservatory of Regina ; and Mary Munn, concert pianist and Order of Canada recipient.
The Conservatory currently operates out of the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, a new building that opened in July 2015 and includes the 787 seat Bella Concert Hall. The Conservatory continues to offer a range of musical instruction, speech and drama class, private lessons and ensemble and choral instruction. Musical instruction ranges across a variety of instruments including cello, flute, guitar, piano, trumpet, clarinet, viola, double bass, euphonium, French horn, harp, oboe, organ, percussion, saxophone, trombone, tuba, bagpipes, ukulele, violin, and voice. The Conservatory also offers group instruction in stage combat, music theory and history, music literacy, Chinese classical music studies, improvisation, speech, and presentation. The Conservatory remains particularly well known for its focus on child and youth instruction with specialized programs such as Music with your Baby, Music Explorers, Adventures in Music, Piano Explorers, and ensembles such as the Calgary Youth Orchestra, the Junior Sinfonia, the Junior Orchestra Program, the Mount Royal Horn Choir, and the Arietta, Arioso, and Artia choirs.
Grant Paterson is a teacher, actor, musician, director, and adjudicator specializing in speech arts. Paterson began his teaching career in 1994, giving private lessons in drama and speech arts with his colleague Jim Dobbin. Paterson started teaching at the Mount Royal College Conservatory in 1995 in Speech, Theatre, and Communication Studies, and later served as the Coordinator of the Speech Arts department. Paterson continues to teach as a sessional speech arts instructor in the Conservatory and as a part-time lecturer in the School of Communication Studies.
Paterson is an examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music and was heavily involved in the merger of the Mount Royal College Conservatory and Royal Conservatory of Music syllabuses and examination criteria. Paterson is also a well-known speech arts adjudicator and has adjudicated at various speech, drama, and performing arts festivals throughout Alberta and Canada.
Paterson has been involved in many theatre productions in the Calgary area. The play Rhyme Rustler: The Ballad of Robert Service was written, directed, and performed by Paterson and was taken up for two seasons by the Vertigo Theatre. Paterson graduated from the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, London in 1979 and also holds associate diplomas in speech arts and drama from Mount Royal College and the Royal Conservatory of Music. Paterson graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1980 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1994. Paterson earned associate diploma (1976), licentiate (1985), and fellowship (1988) degrees from Trinity College of Music in London, England.
Grant Paterson is also the son of Dr. Leona Paterson, who founded Mount Royal College's Speech and Drama Department in 1944.
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The Mount Royal Faculty Association (MRFA) is a trade union that represents all full-time, limited-term, and contract academic staff at Mount Royal University. The Association "...provides a collective voice for faculty, promotes tenure and academic freedom, advocates for the highest standards of professionalism in higher education, and upholds the values of diversity, equity and human rights." The main purposes of the MRFA are to negotiate the collective agreement with the employer (the Board of Governors of Mount Royal University), and to represent members in the grievance process. The Association also provides professional development services for members, represents faculty in the shared academic governance of MRU, and advocates for post-secondary education.
Dr. Leona Flegal Paterson was a noted speech arts and drama educator, performer, and adjudicator who taught at the Mount Royal College Conservatory of Music for 33 years and directed the Conservatory from 1974-1977. Paterson was born in Calgary in 1912 to Otto and Mathilda Flegal and started making a name for herself in speech arts at an early age. Paterson’s first teacher was Calgary play-reader and impersonator, Theresa M. Siegal, under whose tutelage Paterson performed many reading concerts as a solo performer. Paterson was primarily educated in Calgary but continued her education in California; finishing high school and majoring in acting at the University of Southern California. She also earned an associate diploma (ARCT) in speech from the University of Toronto Conservatory of Music, studying under speech instructors Clara Salisbury Baker and Florence Aymong.
Paterson began her teaching career at a young age by offering private speech lessons in Calgary, and continued to offer private lessons to hundreds of speech students over her long teaching career. In 1944 she joined the faculty of Mount Royal College as the director of the Speech and Drama department of the Conservatory of Music. Early course offerings in the department include theory of voice training, technique of elocution, elementary prosody, public speaking, dramatic art, and a degree in elocution offered from the Toronto Conservatory of Music. During her time teaching at Mount Royal Paterson greatly expanded the speech arts program and introduced new programs such as a speech-therapy program for children with hearing difficulties, speech course designed for radio and television presenters, a reader’s theatre program, children’s theatre program, and an expanded theatre arts program. Paterson also introduced a board of examiners for speech arts that was similar to the examination process for music from the Toronto Conservatory. Paterson’s authority on speech arts was unprecedented in Canada. She authored numerous articles on voice production, readers theatre, and choral speech and published a book, Creative Communication: Teaching the Language Arts in 1972.
In addition to teaching at Mount Royal College Paterson was also a highly in-demand summer faculty member at other notable institutions such as the Banff School of Fine Arts, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Alberta. Paterson was a faculty member at the Banff School of Fine Arts for sixteen summers, starting in 1946, where she taught speech arts and drama to students from around the world. Paterson also traveled extensively throughout Canada conducting workshops and seminars to increase the profile of speech arts education and was well respected for her work as a speech arts adjudicator and examiner. She adjudicated music, speech, and drama festivals across western Canada and was instrumental in having speech and drama introduced to the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival. Paterson further helped to establish speech arts by founding the Canadian Speech Association and the Alberta Speech Association and served as President of both organizations.
Throughout her life Paterson received many awards honoring her contributions to Canadian speech arts and speech education. She received an achievement award in drama from the Government of Alberta in 1970, an honourary doctorate from the University of Calgary in 1974, and an honourary fellowship from Trinity College of Music London in 1984. The Canadian Speech Communicators Association named her "Speaker of the Year'' in 1983 and Paterson appears in the book 200 Remarkable Alberta Women: The Kay Sanderson collection, which was published by the Famous 5 Foundation in 1999.
Paterson was the wife of Harold Paterson and the mother of Grant Paterson, both of whom have worked as Mount Royal College Conservatory faculty. Harold Paterson taught literature and public speaking part-time and Grant has been teaching speech and drama classes since 1994.
dr. linda manyguns is the associate vice-president of indigenization and decolonization at Mount Royal University. She is a Blackfoot woman, born on the Tsuut'ina Nation and registered at Siksika Nation. many guns is an elder for the Buffalo Women's Society and part of the Beaver Bundle Society.
manyguns was a professor at the University of Lethbridge, in the Department of Indigenous Studies for 11 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from St. Thomas University, Master's from Carleton University, law degree from the University of Ottawa and PhD from Trent University. Her research focuses on Indigenous subjects and Indigenous methodologies.
manyguns' began her work on "The Ten Grandmothers" or "The Ten Old Ladies Project" while serving as the Executive Director for the Nii Touii Knowledge and Learning Centre. Her project involved interviews with ten female Indigenous elders who recounted their personal lives.
Paul Brandt, was born Paul Rennee Belobersycky on July 21, 1972. He is a Canadian country music artist born in Calgary, Alberta.
Brandt attended Crescent Heights High School in Calgary and Mount Royal University, where he graduated from the nursing program in 1992. Brandt has an ongoing relationship with MRU and has served as Storyteller-in-Residence from 2016-2018.
Brandt made his music debut in 1996 with the release of his single “My Heart Has a History.” This single propelled him to become the first Canadian country singer to make the top 10 list on Billboard Hot Country Songs since 1974.
Having a successful music career, Brandt was first signed by Warner Canada. His debut album “Calm Before The Storm” was released in 1996 and was certified gold in 1997 by the RIAA. Brandt followed this success with further albums “Outside the Frame” (1997), “That’s the Truth” (1999). He also released a greatest hits album that was only released in Canada titled “What I Want to Be Remembered For” (2000).
In the 2000’s Brandt started his own record label “Brand-T Records” through which he has released further albums of “Small Towns and Big Dreams” (2001), “This Time Around” (2004), “Risk” (2007), “Give it Away” (2011) and “Just as I Am” (2012).
Brand has won the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Album of the Year for “Small Towns and Big Dreams” in 2002, a Juno award for Country Recording of the Year for his album “Risk” in 2008 and many of his albums have been certified gold or platinum.
Besides his music career, Brandt has received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Lethbridge in 2009 and an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the Briercrest College and Seminary in 2010.. He was awarded the HRM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 and inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017.
Brandt is also a humanitarian and has many philanthropic endeavors. He has a campaign “Not In My City”, which raises money to support survivors of human trafficking in Calgary that was built with MRU students during Storyteller-in-Residence term.
In 1997, Brandt married his wife Elizabeth Peterson, with whom he has two children.
Antoine Eche is an Associate Professor of French at Mount Royal University.
He obtained his BA, MA in English and American Literature and MA in Teaching French as a Foreign Language and PhD in French Literature from the Universite de Tours.
Eche has taught French language courses internationally including the University of Strathclyde, University of Calgary and University of Cyprus. His research focuses on the Ancient Regime travel writing which he has published many books and journals on the topic.
He is a member of the Enlightenment Group at MRU and assists with the creation of colloquiums and other symposiums for the Department of English, Languages, and Cultures.
Ronald Smith was a student at Mount Royal University and member of the football team. Ronald graduated high school in 1958 and attended Mount Royal College for Business and Sales Management from 1960-1961.
In 1961, Smith was awarded The Henry Birks & sons Gold Medal for highest general standing in Second Year for Business Administration and The Calgary Section Council of Jewish Women Bursary for highest standing in Second Year Business Administration. He played football on the Mount Royal Cougars Junior Team and was number 74.
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