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Accomplished Musician joins Grebel Faculty

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


March 21, 2017Karen Sunabacha

WATERLOO, ON -- Dr. Karen Sunabacka will be Conrad Grebel University College’s new Associate Professor of Music at the University of Waterloo. Beginning July 1, 2017, she will teach music theory and composition, and continue her active work as a composer, performer, and scholar.

Sunabacka is currently Associate Professor in Music Theory and Composition at Providence University College, in Otterburne, Manitoba. “Dr. Sunabacka brings to her new position nearly ten years of teaching experience in music theory and composition and a familiarity with a community-focused music program,” noted Grebel’s Dean Marlene Epp. “Her scholarship as a recognized and innovative composer on themes of women's voices, landscape and place, and indigenous histories, will make a significant contribution to Conrad Grebel, the University of Waterloo, and the broader community.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Sunabacka as a colleague in the Music Department,” remarked Music Department Chair Laura Gray. “Karen's passion for teaching and interacting with students was evident during her campus visit and our students will be very keen to work with her. As a sought-after composer of national and international stature, she has received commissions from some of the finest ensembles in Canada and abroad.”

Sunabacka’s music has been performed in Canada, the USA, Brazil and the United Kingdom. Her most recent premiere involved a collectively written five-movement symphony, De Natura Sonorum, performed by the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Canada. Each movement was inspired by the natural beauty of a different Canadian region. Sunabacka wrote Movement IV, titled “The Prairies.”

“At Grebel, I saw a community that offered academic spaces for research and teaching, spaces for artistic exploration, spaces for music and art, spaces for community worship, spaces for conversations, and spaces for friendship between academics, students, and the greater community,” reflected Sunabacka, when asked what drew her to the job at Grebel. “I am looking forward to continuing to teach and compose in an interdisciplinary environment, but I am also excited about new creative and collaborative possibilities.”

“We are delighted to welcome Karen Sunabacka to Grebel and to the University of Waterloo,” commented Jim Pankratz, Interim President. “She comes with extensive experience and a high level of competence in teaching, composing, administration, and collaborative community engagement. She understands the distinctive mission of Grebel and is eager to contribute to it.”  

Karen SunabachaOriginally from Winnipeg, she graduated from the University of California, Davis with a PhD in Music Theory and Composition. In addition to her teaching and composing, Sunabacka is the founder of the Providence Performing Arts School, performs in chamber groups, and has a private cello studio.

Conrad Grebel University College is home to the Music Department at the University of Waterloo. The College teaches music theory, composition, history, ethnomusicology, church music, jazz, popular music and culture, and offers vocal and instrumental studio instruction individually and in ensembles. Founded in 1963 by Ontario Mennonites, the College’s mission is “to seek wisdom, nurture faith and pursue justice and peace in service to church and society.”

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