Aggie and Shannon Beynon

BA'75, English and BA'98, Music

Mother-Daughter artists

Beynon.Shannon (BA'98, Music) and Aggie (BA'75, English) Beynon are a mother-daughter duo who are pursuing their passion for music and fine arts through their selected careers.

In December 2000, Shannon released her first solo CD called My Illusion. She currently is in the opera chorus singing with Opera Ontario, which is putting on shows in Hamilton and Kitchener for The Marriage of Figaro. She is also pursuing a Masters of Music Education at the University of Victoria, through a three-year summer program.

While at Waterloo, her favourite class was Voice Studio because it gave her the opportunity to sing. Leonard Enns was her favourite professor - an incredible mentor and choir conductor. He is someone she looked up to because of his experience in music and composing, as well as his knowledge of music and being very accessible and easy to talk to.

I started university to learn something, not just to get a degree. University taught me many things - how to find resources to solve a problem, how to access information, how to get involved, how to audition, and how to get the information needed to make a CD. I met lots of people who were interested in what I was interested in. I was also able to discover what kind of careers were available. University gives you a chance to get your feet wet before trying to do something out in the real world - and it's so much fun!

says Shannon.

In addition, an Arts education gave me more confidence: working with people, singing, trying different projects, taking a variety of subjects - all these things allowed me to be adaptable regarding different types of jobs.

Shannon is a believer in following her passion. Her advice to students considering a BA is:

If you have any goals or aspirations, always think you can do it. Don't even consider how long or how hard - that's not the point.

And Shannon is living proof of that. She'll always follow her dreams because she is following it now. In five years' time she would love to be singing in a Disney movie. There is no doubt in our minds she will achieve that goal.

Artwork by the Beynon's.

Shannon's mother, Aggie Beynon, is the co-owner of the Harbinger Gallery on the corner of Regina and Dupont streets in Waterloo, as well as, a reknowned artist in metal work. Her art has been shown and sold in over 200 galleries, museums and shops in Canada and around the world. In 1999, she was named Oktoberfest Woman of the Year in the Literature/Art category. Her work has been mentioned in two books, Barros' Ornament and Object and Crawford's A Fine Line: Seventy Years of Studio Crafts in Ontario.

While at Waterloo she pursued a degree in English. Her favourite course was the study of Shakespeare's plays and her favourite professor was Dr. Shields (retired) with the course "Practice and Theory of Criticism". Near the end of her studies at Waterloo, she started to develop an interest in the Fine Arts by taking some studio courses. She continued that area of study at the University of Kansas by pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree while raising three daughters.

At Kansas, she worked closely with an Engineering professor, Ken Rose, to develop a unique metal process, combining powdered metals, to form a textured metal. She was able to develop a process that experts said wasn't possible. That process continues to influence her art.

I've observed that the best business people are the ones who are the most well rounded. If you can communicate on levels that are not just from your own narrow bias you will be more successful. The more you can communicate with other people on a variety of topics, the more successful you will be. The onus is on the individual to learn.

Aggie says.

Arts is an intellectual pursuit - just like math. We don't often understand why arts is an important as, say, math. I believe an arts education helps us establish our values and further, helps us define ourselves culturally. The arts are part of the cornerstone of being educated.

In addition to Harbinger Gallery, Aggie is actively involved in her community. She has chaired and co-chaired numerous fund raising projects for the benefit of art organizations. Her most recent endeavour is a "Brush with Art", a registered charity. She initiated this grassroots fundraising venture that creates partnerships with businesses, galleries and artists to maintain a cultural environment in this area. In the last four years Brush With Art has raised over $80,000 for the visual arts community in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Aggie is very grateful for the life she has and feels she has been given a lot by the people in her life. If she had to do it again she says,

I'd learn more. I would take opportunities I didn't take before. I would work on being more confident - earlier. Every experience in life is an important experience because everything leads to where you end up.

Both Shannon and Aggie are examples of following your dreams, pursuing your passion and creating opportunities in your life.

Affiliation: 
University of Waterloo

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