Camrose plays excellent host to the 2017 Kodály Symposium
Yuel Yawney (left) and Sungyong Lim of the Borealis String Quartet perform at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre as apart of the 2017 Kodály Symposium in Camrose, Alta. on Aug. 10, 2017. Ryan Stelter/Camrose Canadian
The 2017 Kodály Symposium held in Camrose was a success.
Delegates from all over the world came to the University of Alberta-Augustana campus to discuss and share ideas about the Kodály Method. A method of music teaching developed by Zoltan Kodály (1882-1967), a Hungarian composer. This was the third time the symposium was held in Canada, as it was previously in Wolfville, N.S. in 1977 and Calgary in 1991.
"It's not always in great big cities, when we were in Poland, we weren't in Warsaw, but we were in Katowice which is a small centre," president of the Internatoinal Kodály Society Dr. James Cuskelly said. "One of the advantages of that it is small. So, you get a feel for the local community a little bit. You get the feeling that you're in a community, rather than in just a big city."
Ardelle Ries, who spent a lot of time organizing this symposium and was a big reason why the Kodály Symposium came to Camrose said they were able to surprise some people.
"I think some were surprised that there would be such rich possibility in terms of our infrastructure, because we're a small town. There was lots of wandering downtown and they loved the trails, our community," the associate professor of music at Augustana said.
Ries had plenty of time to plan this symposium, and drew on things she liked and disliked from other symposia.
"We knew for three years that it would happen here so it's kind of like the Olympics that way," she said.
"We had the luxury to plan and we also had the luxury to travel to see other symposia. I saw one in Edinburgh and I was in Asia as well. In those I wanted to make sure that we had representation of children, some of those they didn’t have children that were participating."
The Calgary Girls' Choir came to perform on opening night on Aug. 8, followed by the Borealis String Quartet, who also had a show last Thursday.
The musical performances were a hit, but Ries said the programming was also a hit with the delegates.
"The one thing I heard from all the delegates was that they're just so thrilled with the standard of presentations," Ries said.
"We have a very rich program of workshops and research papers and research posters that everyone is incredibly stimulated. They say they're walking out of here with their minds absolutely teeming with ideas."
Another aspect of this edition of the Kodály Symposium that stuck out to vice-president of the International Kodály Society, Dr. László Nemes of Hungary was the inclusion of Indigenous music. Leela Gilday, a Dene singer who was taught using the Kodály Method was one of the performers during the week.
"For me it was a very pleasant culture shock, because I lived here in the 1990s and to be honest during that time I didn't hear so much of the Indigenous music," Nemes said. "Especially music that is inspired by that musical language so it's wonderful to see how music received a strong inspiration from this culture."
Camrose was a great host to many people, including Brendan Hogan, a music teacher from Boston, Mass. who had never been to Alberta before.
"It's a beautiful city, the campus is a nice retreat, beautiful facilities, I've enjoyed the walking trails," he said. "The landscape here is beautiful, I've never been in the prairies."
Ries grew up in the prairies, and she says she has seen a beauty in the landscape surrounding the Rose City.
"I've come to see this immense beauty of the prairies, the open space which I think has something to do with opening your mind. Or has the potential to open your mind," she said. "Letting people know that this is beauty here, we don't need the drama of the mountains or the sea."