From Arts Student to Artistic Director

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kathryn Ladano

Written by Kathryn Ladano (BA ‘99, Music)

When people ask me what I do for a living, I always pause for a moment, wondering which of the many hats I wear best represents me. It’s a question I can’t easily or quickly answer because I’m increasingly involved in more and more different artistic ventures. It can be absolutely exhausting, but I love it. Just a few of the different hats I wear right now include Artistic Director, freelance musician, professor, and doctoral student.

The journey to where I am now began when I was a University of Waterloo Arts student, majoring in Music. Truth be told, I had really hoped to be a Wilfrid Laurier University Music student, but it was not to be. I’ve always been somewhat of an exception and that included my first serious artistic decision: to study the bass clarinet as my major instrument of study in an undergraduate music program. While UWaterloo welcomed me with open arms, I was not so lucky elsewhere.

Most university music programs at that time would not entertain the idea of having a student study an “unusual” instrument like the bass clarinet, citing that there simply wasn’t enough repertoire to study. While this was actually not the case at all, few universities at the time knew much about the bass clarinet. Fortunately this is gradually changing in Canada and there are now many more options for bass clarinet study, but still not enough in my opinion! Majoring in bass clarinet was a pivotal moment in my career. If this opportunity hadn’t been offered to me, I doubt I would have built a career in music. UWaterloo’s music program is very open and flexible; it allows students to pursue anything they want as directed study courses. It was in these courses I designed myself that I learned some of the most crucial information that later contributed to my development as an artist.

Kathryn performing
Since then I have accomplished many other things.  I’ve gone on to complete a Master’s degree in bass clarinet performance at the University of Calgary and I am currently working on my PhD at York University. I’ve released a solo CD (with a duo CD on the way) and continue to perform regularly as a freelance musician. I am also teaching two improvisation courses at Laurier. To add to my already hectic schedule, I was recently appointed Artistic Director of new music presenter/producer, NUMUS.

Although my free time is obviously rare, I wouldn’t give up anything that I’m currently doing. In all honesty, I consider myself to have the best jobs in world!