Music Conference will celebrate Music and the Environment

April 22, 2014

Sound in the Land LogoWATERLOO, ON – Conrad Grebel University College is well into preparations for the third in a series of music festival-conferences from June 5 to 8. Sound in the Land 2014 – Music and the Environment (discovering Mennonite perspectives), is both a festival with multiple concerts and performances, and a conference with papers and presentations exploring “ecomusicology from various perspectives, locally and globally. It will bring together composers, speakers, performers, sonic artists, and writers, from Korea, South Africa, Europe, USA, and Canada. Keynote speakers are R. Murray Schafer, well-known Canadian composer/founder of World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, and Gus Mills, foremost South African environmentalist/researcher. Musicians and environmentalists will be in dialogue, discovering new ways to listen to the earth and create musical and verbal responses to the planet.

Renowned Korean media artist Cecilia Kim will present her multi-media Earth Songs. Commissioned works by Larry Warkentin (orchestra), Joanne Bender (children’s choir), and Bryan Moyer Suderman (folk) will be premiered. Inter-Mennonite Children’s Choir, Rockway Mennonite Collegiate Combo, Tactus Vocal Ensemble, Festival Choir, Grebel Gamelan, First Nations Choir, Waterloo Chamber Players Orchestra, and Mennofolk performers will present concerts of nature-themed music. Dawn Chorus will be a unique outdoor concert of Murray Schaefer’s work on Sunday morning. Mennonite singing will abound, with Marilyn Houser Hamm leading congregational hymns. Writers, poets, musicians, and sonic artists will collaborate on environmental themes. Events, including concerts open to the public, will occur on campus at Conrad Grebel, the Humanities Theatre at UWaterloo, and off-campus at the historic Detweiler Meetinghouse in Roseville, Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo, and local nature reserves.

As part of Grebel’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, the College is pleased to be hosting an event of this specific scope and focus, bringing together some of the world’s leading musicians, scientists, and environmentalists in order to work at understanding the compelling issue of the 21st Century – the welfare of our planet's environment – from a lyrical/artistic and scientific context. Director Carol Ann Weaver says, “We hope to listen to the earth differently, finding new ways to create musical responses to our beautiful planet stressed by climate change.  We are already part of the earth’s ecology so our music is part of a wider global sound.”

Laura Gray, Chair of the Music Department at Conrad Grebel, is looking forward to this event that strongly embodies Grebel’s core values of scholarly excellence, creativity, stewardship of creation, and leadership. "At one of the conference sessions, several of our Music students will lead a forum on sound and the environment with other students from Canada, the US, and Germany," she noted. “Some of the students on the panel are currently in my Music and Landscape seminar, and I look forward to seeing how they transform their research into an academic presentation.” True to its academic roots at Conrad Grebel, Sound in the Land will prominently feature university students in sessions and concerts, including UWaterloo Music and Environment students, student composers from the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canadian Mennonite University, Goshen College in Indiana, and a panel of ecomusicology students from Darmstadt, Germany.

Caroline Bordignon, a second year Music student, is participating in the student panel. “I am interested in hearing the variety of styles and creative ways people interpret the environment through music, and the aspects that have inspired them to create music in such ways,” Bordignon explained. Not only is Bordignon participating as a panelist and student, but her first orchestral piece – created in Carol Ann Weaver’s Composition class – will be performed as part of the conference. The piece, entitled Wind, is described by her professor as intricate and brilliant, and in writing it, Bordignon “discovered a love for composition that I never knew I had.”

Sound in the Land is being organized by various Grebel Music faculty and staff, as well as area professional musicians (Bryan Moyer Suderman, Tilly Kooyman), Rockway Collegiate Principal (Ann Schultz), and a Memorial University NL ethnomusicologist/professor (Doreen Klassen). Conrad Grebel University College is home to the University of Waterloo’s Music Department.  Proceedings from the conference will be published in a special (Fall 2015) edition of The Conrad Grebel Review

For a full schedule, details on presenters and performers, and to register, visit


Thursday, June 5, 2014, 3pm-11pm
Conrad Grebel University College

Friday, June 6, 2014, 8pm
Orchestra Concert
Theatre Centre, University of Waterloo

Saturday, June 7, 2014, 8pm
Chamber Concert
Conrad Grebel University College, Chapel

Sunday, June 8, 7pm
Choral Concert
Knox Presbyterian Church, Waterloo, ON