Fill-ins let boarders be part of ‘Mother-Son Dinner Theatre’
Upper Canada College’s second annual “Mother-Son Dinner Theatre” event was another smashing success on March 30.
“The sold-out event had 220 moms and sons enjoy an evening of laughs together,” says Laura Dallal, chair of the Arts Booster Club. Along with ABC co-chair Amelia Rattew, they were the driving force behind Big Time Murder Productions’ murder mystery presentation of The Silence of the Hams at UCC’s student centre.
The night began at 6 p.m. with Upper School boys and their mothers enjoying a gourmet taco buffet dinner and designer doughnuts for dessert. Teacher Dale Churchward then provided introductory remarks that focused on the importance of the relationship between mothers and sons.
From there, the play’s plot involving UCC being sold began to unfold. The College’s new owner invited losing bidders to the evening’s events to bask in his glory as he shared his plans for the school, and it was up to those in attendance to sleuth out who did what. Teachers Julian Bauld and Judith Macdonell respectively played a victim and witness, and displayed some comedy chops, as part of the show.
While most of the day students who attended the $60 a head dinner were able to do so with their birth mothers, that wasn’t the case for the boarders interested in the show whose families are far away from Toronto. Not to fear, however, as UCC staff members Chantal Kenny, Julia Kinnear, Jody McLean and Tricia Rankin stepped up and became stand-in moms for four boarders.
Kenny volunteered to be IB2 student Charlie Yang’s substitute mother for the night since his real one lives in China.
“Without a doubt, it was the most rewarding event I attended this year, thanks to Charlie,” says UCC’s executive director of admission. “He was humble, smart, funny, thoughtful and completely at ease with our mom-son status for the night.
“I learned about his home and his family and how grateful he is for his parents to offer him this opportunity of a lifetime to live and learn at UCC. I was able to connect with other moms and sons who also went out of their way to get to know ‘my Charlie.’”
The Silence of the Hams carried on the momentum of last year’s inaugural show, A Brimful of Asha, starring Old Boy Ravi Jain ’99 and his mother Asha. With the glowing reviews received by this most recent “Mother-Son Dinner Theatre” production, it seems pretty certain that UCC has another tradition on its hands.
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Juno Award nominations for two UCC private music teachers
Upper Canada College private music teachers Trevor Hogg and Mackenzie Longpre ’06 were involved in musical projects that were up for Juno Award consideration in Calgary over the weekend.
Hogg is a saxophone teacher and member of Peripheral Vision, which was nominated for the group jazz album of the year for its independently released Sheer Tyranny of Will. The award ultimately went to Allison Au Quartet for Forest Groove.
Still, it’s been a good run for Peripheral Vision. The Toronto-based quartet of Hogg, guitarist/composer Don Scott, bassist/composer Michael Herring and drummer Nick Fraser performed last Friday night as part of the JUNOFest music festival that was part of last weekend’s celebration of music.
Peripheral Vision previously received the Galaxie Rising Star Award at the 2012 Montreal Jazz Festival and the group has maintained a busy touring schedule in support of Sheer Tyranny of Will and the earlier Spectacle: Live! and Peripheral Vision albums.
Hogg also contributed to Tara Davidson’s Duets, which lost out to Robi Botos’ Movin’ Forward in this year’s solo jazz album of the year Juno competition.
Longpre is an Old Boy who teaches percussion at UCC and performed on the vocal jazz album of the year nominee Some Version of the Truth from Tara Kannangara. Emilie-Claire Barlow’s Clear Day ultimately took the Juno in that category.
Longpre has had an eventful career since taking music classes at UCC with Tony Gomes, Myles Crawford, Peter Smith and Peter Merrick. He studied drums in the University of Toronto’s jazz program, performed with a variety of people in different genres as an in-demand sideman, and started teaching drums at UCC to supplement his income.
“Like most freelance musicians in town, I’ve always been a part of roughly a dozen different groups,” says Longpre. “This constant playing has also afforded me the opportunity to travel and tour.
“I’ve played in Chile, Japan, Europe and all over the U.S. and Canada. I also started writing my own music and leading my own groups and have put out an EP and full-length record.”
Longpre appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this year, backing alternative pop artist Banners, who released a self-titled record in January and has been touring extensively in support of it.
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UCC theatre is the tie that binds students, Old Boys
The Winter 2015 edition of Upper Canada College’s Old Times alumni magazine featured an article on Old Boys involved in theatre and how they’ve maintained connections to the school and helped students. That tradition is continuing, as you’ll find out below.
Several Old Boys contributed to the recent UCC and The Bishop Strachan School production of Hamlet, clearly illustrating the strong bond that alumni feel for their alma mater and its theatre program.
Justis Danto-Clancy ’07 helped with design and technology implementation. Chris Tully ’15, who’s studying at the University of King’s College in Halifax, spent a day working with and training the tech team. Andrew Musselman ’99 sat in on a rehearsal. And James Graham ’07 ran workshops for the cast and worked one-on-one with Grade 11 student and aspiring actor Theo Iordache. Others also lent a hand and several theatre alumni returned to the school to watch the play.
Andrew Musselman ’99 and Dale Churchward
Such involvement has been an important component of UCC’s co-curricular theatre program since Dale Churchward became its director in 2000.
“To a man, they speak of the value and satisfaction of returning to mentor young students,” Churchward says of the Old Boys who come back to share their knowledge. “Students feel a kind of kinship to alum with theatrical expertise beyond their obvious respect for guests who are experienced in their field.”
The International Baccalaureate theatre course includes a history component within an academic program of study, while the co-curricular program is focused on practical aspects of theatre, including tech as a major component of design. So while there’s overlap, there’s a clear difference between the academic program and the co-curricular program, the latter of which is available to all students interested in some aspect of performance or production.
Churchward encourages students to ask questions of Old Boys who’ve attended a variety of theatre programs in Canada and abroad, both through universities and conservatory programs. Since 2000, alumni have attended The National Theatre School, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, New York University, Julliard, the University of Chicago and many other institutions to pursue theatre.
Iordache is looking to follow in their footsteps.
“UCC is the place that introduced me to theatre, and my passion for it grew out of my involvement in drama classes and co-curricular shows,” he says.
Iordache started at UCC in Grade 7 and joined a production of Molière’s The Forced Marriage because he felt the need to be more involved in his new school. He appeared in the musical Tom Sawyer later that year and, after playing Horatio in Hamlet, is working on his eighth show at the College.
“We’ve got exceptional teachers at the College, as well as great facilities and resources to work with,” says Iordache. “The David Chu Theatre, for example, is better equipped than many professional theatres I’ve seen.
“Being able to work with that level of hardware under the supervision of the amazing faculty we’ve got is something other high school students would only dream of.”
The Old Boy network also plays an important role, and Iordache and Graham (who studied theatre at Northwestern University) hit it off quickly when they were introduced to each other late last year.
“We sat down at a coffee place and talked about his college experience and the reality of working as a theatre practitioner in Toronto,” says Iordache. “He’s given me a lot of great advice as well as practical information, and even offered to let me help out at his theatre company (The Howland Company) this coming summer.”
Graham says he jumped at the chance to help out with Hamlet.
“I remembered why these shows had been important to me when I was a UCC student, and what the guidance of Old Boys such as Andrew Musselman and Ravi Jain had meant to me at that time. Their passion and joy gave me a glimpse into what it was like to care about something so deeply.
“Back then, it gave me permission to find my voice, to be vulnerable and to think it might be possible to travel a road less taken. For my teenage self, that was what had meant the most to me.”
The conversations between Iordache and Graham helped lead the young thespian to decide that he’ll attend theatre school instead of a conservatory after graduating from UCC.
“I can get a double major and study something more practical as well, such as economics,” says Iordache. “Theatre will always take the number one spot for me, however.
“I’ve been eyeing a few schools in the U.S. that provide a great theatrical education coupled with strong academic programs — Brown, Yale, Northwestern and NYU chief among them. I’ll still apply to Juilliard, however. What actor can resist?”
While Graham hopes that “in some small way I did my part to carry the torch forward,” he’s also looking to the past by working with Phil McKee ’01 on a Howland Company production of The Glass Menagerie that will be performed in September at The Theatre Centre. McKee will direct, Graham will act and UCC theatre students will be in the audience.
“Alum know that UCC continues to support their work as they move on from the College,” says Churchward. “That is perhaps a small point, but it seems to me an important one.”
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Model UN takes ‘best club’ award at ‘Super Bowl’ of the circuit
The accomplishments just keep coming for our Model United Nations club. Our team took the “best club” award at the University of California, Berkeley Model United Nations (BMUN), held March 5 and 6.
The success is even more incredible as UCC was the only Canadian school represented. This accomplishment means our team has won a best delegation award at every major conference attended over the past three years, at McGill University, Harvard University, Columbia University and now again at UC Berkeley.
BMUN is the oldest Model UN in the world, started in 1952, with more than 1,800 students from around the globe participating. “Model UN in California is like nothing else you’ve seen,” says faculty adviser Matt Griem. “Many schools have Model UN as a full-credit high school course, and most, if not all history classes use Model UN in the curriculum.
A fellow teacher from Wisconsin told Griem that BMUN is the “Super Bowl” of Model UN. Schools from Southern California, such as Huntington Beach High School in Orange County and Mira Costa High School in Los Angeles are extremely competitive and are known around the world.
There are individual awards, awards for schools that take Model UN as a class and awards for schools that have clubs (like UCC). The boys fought hard in their respective debates, showing a strong knowledge of international affairs, the skill to convincingly speak in front of hundreds and the ability to negotiate and broker compromise with people holding very different points of view.
“This year, we ‘chipped away’ at the BMUN big prize,” says Griem, earning points for one first place finish and many second and third place awards. This disappointed some of our boys, who tried their best, but for one reason or another (and sometimes for reasons totally outside their control) couldn’t capture the first-place gavel.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of UCC boys as when I watched IB2s such as Justin Lu and Joe Noss encourage and coach the younger boys, telling them to keep their head up, to be proud, and most importantly to be respectful, even when things didn’t go your way,” he says. “We’ve been talking about character lately- and these guys demonstrated it!”
The team this time round was:
For the IB2 guys, this will be their last conference of their high school career. Please congratulate all of them when you seen them at school.
–adapted from a file by Matt Griem
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Prep debaters tackle resume virtues versus eulogy virtues
All Upper Canada College Grade 6 and 7 students discussed whether resume virtues are more important than eulogy virtues to have a purposeful life, and that formed the basis for the 13th annual colour house debating tournament.
“At UCC we value boys becoming their best self,” says Wernham West Centre for Learning Primary Division coordinator Tina Jagdeo, who oversaw the program and worked with the students along with Prep character program director Laurie Fraser and Kassie Dwarika of McLeese Debate. “We saw the house debate as an opportunity to explore this concept.
“It provided an opportunity for the boys to reflect on what values are important in their lives. Do they prioritize academic grades and success or their internal value and relationships with family and friends?”
The boys have been preparing for the debate since the first week back to school in January, doing much of the work on their own time and during lunch and recess periods. Some of the key materials they explored to help them were David Brooks’ The Road to Character, Martin Seligman’s Flourish, George Vaillant’s “Grant Study” and biographies of a number of successful men and women.
“They were working on all of the IB approaches to learning skills, including their thinking skills, their research skills, their communication skills and their self-management skills,” says Jagdeo.
The first debating round involved six teams and 24 students, and the best of them made it to the final. The two teams were then asked to argue for the opposite side of what got them there.
“We wanted them to have a broad perspective and think deeply about both sides of the issue,” says Jagdeo.
Daniel Tang, Daniel Botros, Morley Roden and Dillon Aristotle (who stepped in for an ill Vikram Rawal) faced off in the final against Joey Katz, Drake Belanger-Polak, Jinoo Kim and Jordan van Slingerland. Toni Agbaje-Ojo moderated the final while Andrew Frith and Tim McCowan acted as timekeepers.
The boys exchanged their views in front of four judges: speaker, author, facilitator and well-being teacher Louisa Jewell, who founded the Canadian Positive Psychology Association; Piotr Pikul, a partner with McKinsey & Company in Toronto; UCC head steward Elliott Birman; and Dr. Greg Evans, the director of The Happiness Enhancement Group who also serves on the board of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association.
Both sides presented strong points and the judges were hard-pressed to come up with a winner. They did, however, and their decision will be revealed at the Prep arts assembly in April.
There are no other debates for students of this age to take part in, but this will provide valuable experience for Upper School debating, where the focus is on competing against other schools.
“There’s a track record of Prep debaters doing very well in the debating program at the Upper School,” says Jagdeo.
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UCC debaters are the best in Ontario
Upper Canada College hosted the Ontario Provincial Debate Championships and its debaters captured first and second places on Feb. 27 and 28.
Thirty teams from across the province took part in the tournament, which included five preliminary rounds, a semi-final and final. UCC’s two teams made it all the way to the end and squared off against each other to decide the provincial title.
The two UCC teams debate in the provincial championship final.
Kimathi Muiruri and Malcolm Risk faced off against Nitish Dhingra and Logan Ye to debate the merits of a progression toward a society without police. Both teams presented their arguments well, but it was Muiruri and Risk who came out on top.
Ye placed first among the 60 individual speakers in the tournament and all 10 of the UCC students finished in the top 10.
Both teams have qualified for the Canadian National Debating Tournament in Saskatoon on April 9 and 10. Courtney Turner, who coached the boys along with Lulu Wang, rates their chances of winning as fair.
“It will be a tough tournament,” she says.
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UCC-BSS co-production of Hamlet impresses and captivates audiences
“To be or not to be?” That question has gripped so many Hamlets throughout the ages. Audiences witnessed the stunning opening of Hamlet in the David Chu Theatre on Feb. 17 to 20.
This inspiring co-production, with the Bishop Strachan School’s theatre program, was a fitting tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. It kept audience members on the edge of their seats: the show was cast gender blind and included unconventional staging, physical and emotional combat, and wondrous technical achievement.
Under the skillful direction of Dale Churchward and co-producer Heather Crawford, the cast of 13 did not disappoint. Nicholas Czegledy was a convincing young Hamlet, tortured by the events that befell his father and family. Trish Rooney played Gertrude opposite her new husband and king Claudius, played by Atef Abedin. Jake Bradshaw appeared as the Ghost of King Hamlet, returning to remind young Hamlet to revenge his death. Jack van Nostrand provided perfectly delivered comic relief as Corambis.
Other key roles were played by Kate Urquhart in the role of Ofelia, Abigail Holland as Leartes, Theo Iordache as Horatio, Jocelyn Roy as Gilderstone, Isabel Coleman as Rossencraft, Jeff Collins as Marcellus, Kate Fanjoy as Cornelius and Max Allen as Bernardo.
The play came to a riveting finale with the final sword-fight scene and the tragic end to the state of Denmark as Fortenbrasse swept in with his thugs to clean up the remains. The stunning technical direction was carefully choreographed and planned by Imran Jessa and Ernest Leung with the guidance of Old Boy Justis Danto-Clancy and the support of stage managers Anne McGrath and Can Hepkarabelli. Jack Sarick and John Mace were the tech crew.
In addition, Tessa Oxtoby and Sean Manucha were the amazing stagehands, Simon Fon the fight director and Benjamin Caldwell the fight captain. Rindy Bradshaw and Diane Rothman provided costume design. The show was promoted with a highly stylized trailer produced by Robert Wong with the direction and guidance of David Crawford. James Potts created compelling posters and tickets; his photography captured the essence of this innovative production.
-Arts Booster Club
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Author Tanis Rideout offers thought-provoking library visit
The Macintosh Library was pleased to host Tanis Rideout, a Toronto poet and author whose first work of poetry focused on super-heroines, on Monday, Feb. 22. Her first novel Above all Things, based on George Mallory’s attempt to climb Mount Everest, has been widely acclaimed and praised by author Joseph Boyden as “simply breathtaking.”
While we were delighted to have an author of such calibre in our midst, the main purpose of the visit was to draw attention to our collective connection to what Rideout noted as our “birthright,” our free and safe access to bodies of water for recreation, fishing and enjoyment.
As Poet Laureate of Lake Ontario, Rideout was invited to UCC by science teachers Lisa Bonney and Premek Hamr to focus on a project called Waterkeeper. As noted in the organization’s promotional pamphlet, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper “is working to win back Lake Ontario, to restore our watershed’s natural assets and to ensure that every community has equal access to natural justice.”
Rideout’s easy and friendly presence with the boys ensured an accessible presentation which acknowledged her stature as a writer. She began by reading from her poetry collection Arguments with the Lake, while also giving the limelight to the larger purpose of her activism and that of a group of artists (including Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip and songstress Sarah Harmer) on environmental justice.
In describing an initiative to gather stories of personal connections with water, called “Watermarks,” Rideout explained to the group that the exercise of recording meaningful testimony is of value in two ways. First, it shifts our collective focus to what we value in nature, and to what we take for granted or habitually characterize in ways that do not serve us. Second, our collective reflections on what we value in the natural landscape can carry weight in a court of law when contesting threats to the environment.
Rideout asked the group, “Do you swim in Lake Ontario?” Most answered no, because the lake is polluted. The author explained that this was not always the case, and that there is an app that the boys can use on their phone called Swim Guide, to find hidden and beautiful swimmable bodies of water to enjoy in Ontario, and to learn how to protect your health as a recreational water user.
The boys were shown some examples of watermarks (from celebrated Canadian author Joseph Boyden, former NHL player Kevin Lowe and Rideout herself) and guided through a discussion as the presentation concluded. Many of the students had ready contributions to make regarding their enjoyment of lakes and their respect for the dangers and power of water in nature.
Boys will create their own watermarks as an environmental systems project, and were encouraged by teacher Heather Crawford to consider the links to other areas of knowledge and ways of knowing as a basis for their work in Theory Of Knowledge.
A display supporting the Waterkeeper initiative and themes connected to Tanis Rideout’s work is currently on at the Macintosh Library.
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Form 7 bands win music festival awards
Upper Canada College’s Form 7 bands, under the direction of teacher Paul McGarr, have been rewarded for their impressive performances at two music festivals.
“The boys in all three bands have been working extremely hard at home and during rehearsals to prepare themselves for these festival performances,” says McGarr. “They have come a long way since September.”
The wind ensemble received the gold award and Yamaha Percussion Excellence Award, while Matthew Shouldice was presented with the leadership award for wind ensemble at the Ontario Band Association Festival on Feb. 13. The concert band took the silver award and Aaren Fung received the leadership award for concert band at the same festival.
The jazz band was honoured with the gold award at the Feb. 17 to 19 Humber Next Generation Jazz Festival.
“The boys played very well at each of their performances, which is a great stepping stone towards the Montreal Heritage Music Festival band trip from April 22 to 24 in Oscar Peterson Hall on the campus of Concordia University,” says McGarr.
All three bands will perform at the London Festival of Music on May 6 at Western University.
McGarr says there are 67 boys in the co-curricular music program and 28 of them were new to UCC in September.
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Mandarin students hit Pacific Mall to celebrate new year
Mandarin students from Branksome Hall, Havergal College and Upper Canada College, and members of the UCC Mandarin Club, celebrated the first day of the Chinese New Year at the Pacific Mall in Markham on Monday, Feb. 8.
As a crew of 87 people, we had the restaurant for ourselves. This means that we monopolized the Karaoke system, singing a lot of Chinese songs while ha ving authentic Shanghai cuisine. After our Dim Sum feast, we divided into different groups and participated in a challenging scavenger hunt searching for specific items in the mall. Each member of the winning team won a lucky cat, symbolizing good luck and fortune. For students, that might mean good marks, in the new year.
We also had the opportunity to go shopping and attend a traditional culture show organized by the mall, where we enjoyed the singing and dragon dance. Overall, it was a successful event and we really had a good time. Thanks to Ms. Jane Li for organizing the field trip and to Mme. Mary Gauthier for accompanying us.
Yizhou Yu (IB2) and Victor Pang (IB1)
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