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Jazz fills the air at Club Bluenote

The velvety sounds of jazz filled the air at UCC’s Club Bluenote on Wednesday, Feb. 3. Weston Hall at the Prep was transformed into a candlelit jazz café, complete with coffee and sweet treats at every table for the audience to enjoy.

Our dedicated and talented boys in the Prep’s Grade 7 jazz band, and the Upper School’s junior, intermediate and senior jazz ensembles performed to a packed house. The intermediate jazz band opened the show with Sonny Rollins’ classic “St. Thomas,” to much applause. The night continued with fabulous music featuring many accomplished soloists, including Rex McArthur on tenor sax and David Zhou on clarinet, both in Grade 7 jazz, Sam Moore on alto sax in junior jazz, Henry Gage on alto sax and Raphael Berz on trumpet in intermediate Jazz, and Brandon Tse on tenor sax in senior jazz.

The Prep choir also performed at Club Bluenote, charming the audience with its swinging renditions of “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and all-time favourite standard “Blue Suede Shoes.” The senior jazz ensemble closed the show with Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September,” highlighting the vocal talents of Adair Simpson and guest performer Jen Brodie from the Bishop Strachan School.

What a fun night. Jazz on, gentlemen.

A big thank you to our incredible music teachers – Ms. Edmondson, Mr. Gomes, Mr. McGarr, Ms. Scott, and Mr. Smith – for organizing this wonderful evening.

– by Elissa Fingold for the Arts Booster Club

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UCC-BSS co-production of Pippin enchants and uplifts


There was plenty of “Magic to Do” at the Bishop Strachan School theatre as the Upper Canada College-BSS co-production’s performing arts students put on four sold-out shows of Pippin from Wednesday, Jan. 27 through Saturday, Jan. 30. (“Magic To Do” is the opening number of the show.)

Under the masterful direction of Alice Barnett, musical direction by David Atkinson and vocal direction by Debbie Piotrowski, the cast of 25 sang and danced their hearts out in this edgy, circus-filled performance featuring colourful costumes and impressive acrobatics.joegophotoPIPPEN-54

The play is about a young prince searching for meaning in his life thorough different experiences, from intellectual achievement, lust for women and power, and war.  Sean Manucha was very convincing as the young prince. Nathan McLean portrayed a powerful and commanding King Charlemagne while Benji McLean did not miss a beat as Pippin’s brawny brother Lewis.  And Alex Lawson shined as the cute young boy Theo.joegophotoPIPPEN-66

Rounding out the incredible cast of players were Mark Debono, Christopher Lord, Sarosh Waheed, Kesha Shpilevskiy and Ethan Ullmann. Together they formed a formidable ensemble.

An incredible 10-piece live band accompanied the show including Jacob Gotlieb, Flynn Tanner and Gabriel Birman.

The amazing production team kept everyone in line thanks to the assistant stage managers, amongst them Paul Zaki and Seyon Rajadual. In the end, after it was all said and done and the stage lights were off and make-up and costumes were removed, the audience realized that sometimes your corner of the sky is right where you are.

-The Arts Booster Club

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Prep art reception celebrates Form 4 artists

The Actor’s Court on the second floor of the Prep was abuzz with excitement on Wednesday, Jan. 27. The Form 4 art reception drew a big crowd to celebrate the amazing creativity and hard work of these enthusiastic artists.

As part of their “Ancient Societies” unit of inquiry, Form 4 boys researched mythological characters from past societies and reflected on what these characters can tell us about the values held by those societies. The boys reflected on today’s society and what we value. They created mythological characters inspired by our civilization.

In art class, each boy planned a mask project to represent a specific mythological character. The boys applied their knowledge of clay hand-building techniques to create sculptural masks with physical attributes that communicate the character’s role in 21st century society.

Actors’ Court was filled with joyful, proud looks on the faces of our boys as they showed their parents, friends and siblings their striking mythological clay masks and vibrant Canadian Landscapes acrylic paintings, completed in the fall.

– Astrid Player (Form 4 and Y1 parent) and Monika Kastelic (Primary art teacher)

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Model UN wins huge at Harvard

This is huge news on the Model UN front. Sixteen boys on the Model UN team earned “Best Large Delegation” at the 64th annual Harvard Model United Nations (MUN) in Boston, from Thursday, Jan. 28 to Sunday, Jan. 31. They also earned 15 individual awards. This means UCC was number one of all schools attending. 

More than 3,500 students participated, from 230 schools hailing from 38 different countries. It’s highly competitive and very prestigious. “UCC has not attended this event before and quite frankly, the goal was try our best and see what we could do,” says faculty adviser Matt Griem.

This is, by all accounts, an amazing accomplishment. As the secretary-general of the conference noted, we “made quite an impact.”

This achievement also means we’re the first international team to win the Harvard MUN’s “Best Large Delegation” prize in the past 10 years. (They are currently checking their records as we may be the first international team to ever win the prize!).

If you see these boys, please congratulate them and feel free to ask them about their experience. Thanks also to Jyoti Sehgal for all her planning and prep work, and for helping with supervision.

The team included the following boys (individual awards in brackets):

Elliott Birman (gavel, first place)
Nikhil Kassum (gavel, first place)
James Coady (gavel, first place)
Joe Noss (gavel, first place)
Ronan Murphy (gavel, first place)
Justin Lu (outstanding, second place)
Imran Jessa (best delegation team member)
Matthew Jagdeo (gavel, first place)
Charlie Mortimer (honourable mention, third place)
Tom Reeve (honorable mention, third place)
Miles Hoaken (honourable mention, third place)
Matthew Wang (honourable mention, third place)
Daniel Reid (gavel, first place)
David Niddam-Dent (outstanding, second place)
Adam Rothman (outstanding, second place)
Conrad Mahoney (honourable mention, third place)


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Fall Music Night delights

Family and friends gathered in Laidlaw Hall to enjoy Fall Music Night on Nov. 4. It was UCC’s first major musical event of the school year, showcasing our talented boys. With just a few weeks to prepare, all of the bands and UCC’s choir, The Blue Notes, performed brilliantly to a delighted audience.

The senior wind ensemble opened the show to much applause and set the tone for a very entertaining evening. The Year 1 junior jazz band followed, featuring a wonderful solo by Ben Lee on flugelhorn in “Night Mist.” Performances continued with the concert, symphonic, Intermediate and Senior jazz bands, as well as the vocal harmonies of The Blue Notes. All highlighted the incredible and lively talent of our musicians. The evening ended with a strong solo performance by Brandon Tse in the senior jazz band. The song was titled “Hit the Ground Running.” The boys certainly did!

Many thanks go out to Mr. Gomes, Mr. Smith, Ms. Scott and Mr. Merrick. It’s fantastic to see and hear how far everyone has come in such a short time. Fall Music Night was an enjoyable success!

-Elissa Fingold

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Prep musicians add sparkle to Festival of Christmas Music

(See full video of concert below.)

Laidlaw Hall was filled with the joyous sounds of holiday music as the senior wind ensemble and the Prep and Upper School choirs performed in UCC’s annual Festival of Christmas Music and Readings on Sunday, Nov. 29.

Parents, students and friends came together in song to celebrate the upcoming holiday season. Our musicians and singers were phenomenal, with an impressive vocal solo performance by Form 5 student Andrew Ma in the processional carol, “Once in Royal David’s City.” Other notable performances include talented soloists, Form 5 student Joshua Bougadis and Form 7 student Max Sipos who sang beautifully in “Myn Lyking.”

A special thank you goes to the boys in the Prep concert band who welcomed the audience to the Upper School with a selection of Christmas carols, a terrific prelude to the day’s main event.

Elissa Fingold

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Waiting for Godot … has arrived

The waiting is over as the cast of Ben Caldwell, Aaron Ash Cutajar, Charlie Hughes, Kohilan Paramaanantham and Evan Enns anticipate the arrival of the audience. Waiting for Godot runs from Wednesday, Nov. 25 to Saturday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. in the lecture theatre.

The plot of Samuel Beckett’s play is simple. Two tramps are waiting by a tree for the arrival of Godot. Their comical efforts to pass the time parody the human condition, and the everyday language of their exchanges takes on a universal significance. Two other characters, Pozzo and Lucky, appear as a master and his servant.

Each is representative of vaudeville characters. The purely comical aspect of the play involve traditional routines that come from the entire history of farce. The final character, a boy, appears and offers a message from Godot.

The language of the play has gravity, intensity and conciseness. Beckett’s Godot has its own beauty and suggestiveness and it makes its own comment on humanity’s inexhaustible search for meaning. It has been called one of the most beautiful allegories of our time.

The show would have not been possible without the dedicated and skillful direction of Judith Macdonell, and the fantastic crew: stage manager, Melissa Taylor; costumes and props, Nicki Perpick; fight director, Geoff Scovell; set design, Mr. Denstedt; poster/ticket design, Shaig Abduragimov; stage painting, Duc Pham and Shaig Abduragimov; light designer, Nik Tsatsos; light and sound technician, Ross Graham; “Front of the House”, Owen McKernan and Charles Marshall; Photography Joseph Gorzeman; Film Trailer Maggie Crawford.

Tickets are on sale all week in the student centre.

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Guest war novelist John Wilson encourages student reflection

The Macintosh and Wilder Libraries were privileged to host John Wilson, noted Canadian author of historical fiction for young people on Monday, Nov. 9. Wilson is the author of 42 books and recipient of numerous literary awards and honours, including finalist for the Governor General’s Award and inclusion on the New York Public Library’s “Best Books for the Teen Age List.”

When he was young, Wilson’s parents regaled him with tales of their lives in India at the time of the Raj; it was a formative exposure to historical story telling that piqued his curiosity and need to understand. Born in Scotland, a Gaelic speaker as a child, and later a geologist by training, he began his career in Zimbabwe. That list of traits and experiences alone could make for an engaging presentation, and the boys were curious about his heritage, immediately noting his brogue.

Most significant however, as Wilson began his series of anecdotes and storytelling, was the author’s range and depth of knowledge about the two World Wars and his fascination with history as “wonderful place he wants to visit.” Wilson stylized himself as a time¬ traveller who “tells lies for a living,” but in fact it was clear his real goal is to connect young people with the truth of war, through artful facilitation of reflection via the vehicle of compelling and gripping fiction.

Wilson expertly engaged the curiosity of seven classes at both schools in the course of one day, hardly missing a beat. He visited our Upper School Holocaust assembly and wove the themes of that presentation into his conversation with Y2 Canadian history classes that afternoon, along with an examination of the history and origins of Remembrance Day. The Grade 6 boys listened with rapt attention to the methods by which Wilson researches the time and place of his war novels. Wilson was able to weave helpful information about the writing process into the presentation – when he wasn’t fielding a multitude of questions!

Wilson’s books feature protagonists of the same age as our Upper School boys, which, when placed in historical context, raise natural comparative questions for the reader: How would I have reacted? Would I have deserted? Would I have sacrificed my life in an act of bravery?

Wilson also carefully pointed out what past societal attitudes were borne out of ignorance or naivete. He asserted that boys know more today than their historical counterparts and are subsequently more cynical, that it might be challenging to understand the “gung-ho” enthusiasm of the young men who set out on the biggest adventure of their lives as young soldiers.

He also asserted that we now know more about the consequences of war, like post-traumatic stress disorder, and are hopefully more likely to treat our veterans with respect, rather than hiding them away in institutions as was done in the Scotland of his childhood.

We hope that students will return to the libraries to borrow Wilson’s incredible books and we look forward to hosting him in the future. The boys left the sessions with questions about what’s next in his repertoire, and we look forward to adding new publications to our library collections. The day was a powerful reminder about the value of history and an exhortation to ever remember and reflect.

– Mari Roughneen and Pam Love

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Model UN weighs in on Paris shootings

[News update on this story: After the Paris attacks we asked members of the Model UN to weigh in with their perspective. The video below records their responses.]

For the third year running, UCC’s Model UN won “best large delegation,” equivalent to first place overall, at the Secondary Schools’ United Nations Symposium, hosted by McGill University in Montreal. The 20 students beat out more than 1,000 participants from 66 different schools across North America.

“I can’t stress enough how much of an achievement this is for the boys,” says faculty adviser Matt Griem. “Model UN can be mentally gruelling.” He explains how the students are in their sessions for at least eight hours a day, giving speeches that represent an entire nation. They also need to understand advanced foreign policy and international relations issues, as well as negotiate, prepare written resolutions, lobby others to join their cause, debate with people who see things differently, and trying to obtain consensus where possible.

“All the while, they do it with people judging their performance,” says Griem. “Yet, the boys love it.”

Winning the “best team” award was also an incredible accomplishment. “Having won it the last two years in a row, the boys did not go into this event with any expectations other than to do their best,” says Griem. “A large number of teams from other schools worked hard to unseat us and were hoping for a different outcome this year.”

Notably, UCC won a school record of 13 “gavels” for top performance in their respective simulations. The team members and their individual award positions are as follows:

Elliott Birman, Head Delegate, 1st Place
Nikhil Kassum, Head Delegate, 1st Place
Joe Noss, 1st Place
Justin Lu, Team Member
Adair Simpson, Team Member
Imran Jessa, Team Member
James Coady, 1st Place
Ronan Murphy, 1st Place
Ernest Leung, 3rd Place
Brent Leung, Team Member
Miles Hoaken, 1st Place
Matthew Jagdeo, 1st Place
Charlie Mortimer, 1st Place
Tom Reeve, 1st Place
Conrad Mahony, 1st Place
Daniel Reid, 1st Place
Campbell MacKinnon, Team Member
Matthew Wang, 1st Place
Adam Rothman, Team Member
David Niddam-Dent, 1st place

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Student collage beautifies construction zone

You can find art in the most unlikely places. Just call it UCC’s very own version of “graffiti alley,” informally commissioned by none other than Principal Jim Power. He approached art teacher David Holt with a request for a student volunteer to beautify the provisional back wall of the Bernick Family Foyer while its new atrium is under construction.

“I love photography; I’m less so a painter,” says IB2 student Austen McMurchy. His wonderful creation taps into UCC Archives’ digital collection of College Times images, dating back to 1894. (McMurchy is also this year’s co-head of College Times, Canada’s oldest student publication, started in 1857.)

Through some Photoshop wizardy, McMurchy’s final mural of the College is composed of more than 20,000 archival images, with “few repeats” he’s proud to say. The final result salutes our history and stands as a placeholder for what’s bound to be a new iconic design feature of the College. Stop by and check it out.

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