Remembering Alfred Kunz, Waterloo's music man
Born in Saskatchewan in 1929, Kunz and his family moved to Kitchener when he was a teenager. After seven years of study at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Kunz returned in Kitchener as a music teacher in the early 1960s, founding and conducting the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Orchestra and Choir. For two years, he was commissioned by the Beth Jacob synagogue to compose, arrange and conduct festival music. In 1964, with the assistance of Kitchener's Concordia Club, the German Canadian Singing Association, and the West German government, Kunz spent a year studying composition and conducting in Germany, where he studied with renowned composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. He would return to Germany for further study and to conduct various musical groups at regular intervals for the rest of his career.
Kunz was hired as the University's director of music initially for a one-year term, in August 1965. As director of music, Kunz was responsible for the direction of all extra-curricular student musical activities and productions as part of the Cultural Program Centre. He established and provided oversight for mass choirs made up of students, faculty, and staff, as well as chamber choirs, orchestras and concert bands. More than 150 students were involved in the program.
The three main musical groups at Waterloo would produce an average of five shows a year, many of which were sellout performances (Kunz noted that one year they sold tickets to a dress rehearsal), as well as noon-hour concerts and other events across campus.
Kunz's first major performance on campus was Handel's Messiah, put on at Christmas in 1965, beginning a tradition of Christmas concerts that continued for many years.
Kunz composed the music for the University's school song, The Black and White and Gold, which became a Warrior Band staple after being introduced in September 1966.
He also staged numerous productions at the Theatre of the Arts, including operas of his own composition. Kunz said that the theatre had "unlimited possibilities" for experimenting with new musical arrangements and compositions.
In 1967, his oratorio The Big Land was performed in the Theatre of the Arts in December to celebrate Canada's centennial, featuring words by St. Jerome's College's Larry Cummings.
Throughout his tenure as music director, Kunz was active both on and off campus in the local, national, and international music community, conducting choirs, ensembles and other groups at concerts, competitions, festivals and special events too numerous to mention.
In the late 1970s, the University was facing significant financial pressures and was forced to make budget cuts, which led to, among other things, the elimination of Kunz's position as musical director in 1979, 14 years after it had been established. Conrad Grebel University College took on the responsibility of maintaining the choir, orchestra, and concert band.
After leaving the University, Kunz continued to achieve acclaim as a composer and community music leader.
In 2001, the University of Waterloo recognized Kunz with an honorary degree for his many contributions to the local music community. At the convocation ceremony, a choir performed a seven-minute choral motet entitled Peace in lieu of the usual address given by an honorary degree recipient.
A celebration of Alfred's life will take place on Sunday, February 3 at 2:30 p.m. at Benton Street Baptist Church in Kitchener. Fittingly, it will feature a sing-along.
Get your game on at the GI Jam
Calling all gamers: the Games Institute's Global Game Jam for Winter 2019 is taking place this week.
The Waterloo Game Jam, also commonly called the GI Jam, is a thrice-annual, multi-day event, with each one open to the public and designed to appeal to a wide variety of "playful people."
The event takes place in two stages:
LEARN (Thursday, January 24), @Games Institute (EC1), 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. - Learn the starter skills and the team spirit needed to be a strong competitor for the GI Game Jams and to work in the game industry. Taught by the Jam veterans and indie game devs of UW Game Dev Club. This event is free.
MAKE (Friday, January 25 to Sunday, January 27, @EV3 1408 and 3406: Attendees can try their hand at building their own games from scratch along with helpful advice and guidance from GI mentors. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online via Shopify. Please note that both the online payment form as well as the Eventbrite guest registration are necessary to attend this event.