Engaging and exciting events taking this month for students to explore
Black History Month is an opportunity for conversation and to delve into parts of history that are often overlooked by many in Canada. It is also a chance to celebrate Black cultures and communities. The following is a list of events, all occurring virtually, taking place over the course of the next month.
FEB. 7 – FEB. 13
Black History Month Speakers Series —Day One Tues. Feb. 9, 7-8:30 p.m. ESTHosted by Ontario Black History Society, the first event of this series will feature film director and author Cheryl Foggo and author Lawrence Hill. This event is open to everyone in the community. Further information and registration details can be found here.
Black Muslim Jeopardy Night Thurs. Feb. 11, 6–7:30 p.m. EST
Hosted by the Muslim Student Association’s Anti-Black Racism Committee and McMaster’s Muslims for Peace and Justice, this exciting and engaging game night offers Black Muslim students the chance to connect with one another. Please note this event is closed to Black Muslim students. Further event details can be found here.
Relationship Summit Thurs. Feb. 11, 8:30–10 p.m. EST
Nu Omega Zeta, McMaster University’s first Black-focused sorority, hosts their annual Relationship Summit. The theme of this year’s event is “Love or Lust?”. The discussion will explore topics including the realities and complexities of modern love, black love and self-love in today’s society among others.
Please note this event is closed to racialized and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) students. Further details and registration information can be found here.
Noon Hour Concerts: Jackie Washington Day Fri. Feb. 12, 12-1 p.m. EST
Part of HPL’s Noon Hour Concerts series, this event features LTtheMonk, Santiago Rozo-Paz, Cam Watson and Lucas Hibbs in a celebration of multi-award winning Hamilton blues musician Jackie Washington. This event is open to all community members. Further information and registration details can be found here.
FEB. 14 – FEB. 20
The Real Truth: Black History in Islam Wed. Feb. 17, 7-8:00 p.m. EST
Hosted by the Muslim Student Association’s Anti-Racism Team, this event explores the often overlooked history of Black Muslims in Islam and hopes to create opportunities for important conversations. This event is open to everyone in the community. Further information and registration details can be found here.
Guest Speaker: Mario Rigby Thurs. Feb. 18, 1–2:00 p.m. EST
In an event hosted by the Hamilton Public Library and the Black History Month Committee of Hamilton, adventurer and author Mario Rigby shares stories about his travels. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period. This event is open to everyone in the community. Further details and registration information can be found here.
Black History Month Speakers Series —Day Two Thurs. Feb. 18, 7–8:30 p.m. EST
The second day of the OBHS’ Black History Month Speaker Series. In this event, historians and curators from Black Historic Heritage sites will speak about their respective heritage sites and museums. This event is open to everyone in the community. Further information and registration details can be found here.
FEB. 21 – FEB. 27
Black History Month Speakers Series —Day Three Tues. Feb. 23, 7-8:30 p.m. EST
The third day of the OBHS’ Black History Month speaker series. This event will feature storytellers Sandra Whiting and Kesha Christie. This event is open to everyone in the community. Further information and registration details can be found here.
Sharlene Mollett– Tourism Troubles: Feminist political ecologies of land and body in the making of residential tourism space in Panama Wed. Feb. 24, 4-5:00 p.m. EST
University of Toronto human geography professor Sharlene Mollet’s talk will focus on Afro-Panamanian women’s participation in Bocas’ tourism enclave. For further details and registration information please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Author-Led Online Book Club with Jael Richardson Fri. Feb. 26, 1-2:00 p.m. EST
Hosted by HPL, author Jael Richardson leads a discussion about her book Gutter Child. Gutter Child is set in a world where society is divided into the two groups: the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter. Part of the Gutter, Elimina Dubois is one of 100 babies taken to be raised in the Mainland in a social experiment led by the Mainland government. This event is open to the community.
Further details and registration information can be found here.
If we have the ability to hold more accessible events, what’s stopping us from doing that?
This year, McMaster University’s Welcome Week was held entirely online due to the physical distancing restrictions in place for COVID-19. As a result, many events took place through platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Discord, Zoom and Twitch.
Events were held in two different ways. There were synchronous events, or events that took place during an allotted time with live representatives, that ranged from as early as 8 a.m. to as late as 8 p.m. On the other hand, some events were asynchronous and a long period of time was provided for first-years interested in participating and had no live component to the event. For example, the McMaster Students Union website scavenger hunt, which could have been completed any time during Welcome Week, required students to search through the MSU website to complete tasks. However, asynchronous events seemed to be few and far between, when we should be aiming to hold more events that don’t impose specific timing restrictions in order to increase accessibility for Mac students.
There are many issues with synchronous events. The first issue arises with the fact that the Welcome Week schedule is in eastern daylight time, which automatically puts international students at a loss. During an in-person Welcome Week, many international students are already disadvantaged, as events largely cater to English-speaking students. In addition, domestic and in-province students often know a few students going into McMaster, whether it is a family member, high school classmate or friend, which can ease the transition into university. On the other hand, international students may rely on orientations such as Welcome Week to make friends.
Since many events take place during EDT daytime hours, students who have large time zone differences may find it hard to attend events as many events will occur during the night for them. In addition, some platforms used for synchronous events are Twitch and Discord, which are blocked in China. This adds an extra barrier for students who want to attend events but are living outside of Canada. McMaster has provided the option for students in China to use a free express virtual private network to access McMaster’s online learning resources, but it’s unclear whether this will include extracurricular activities that are not related to academics.
It is important to note that many of the synchronous events were held multiple times throughout Welcome Week. For example, the faculty of social sciences held an event titled “Let’s Chat About It” which was held at four different times on Sept. 7. In addition, some Welcome Week events were recorded, which gives students who could not attend access to information they may have missed. While these are good considerations and we should continue to provide multiple options for students, we need to continue to strengthen these accommodations by making them completely asynchronous. Although recorded events are great, they do not provide students with an option to interact and engage with the event other than watching or listening to a video.
Although recorded events are great, they do not provide students with an option to interact and engage with the event other than watching or listening to a video.
Another issue with synchronous events is that many of these events are held either very early in the morning or during normal work hours, which prevents many students from attending. While past Welcome Weeks events also occurred at these times, it is now likely that more students are working part-time or full-time to make up for the financial strain that COVID-19 has had on everyone. Early morning events, on the other hand, can be difficult for students to attend as COVID-19 has had an impact on many people’s ability to have a consistent sleep schedule.
What we do know is that we have the capacity to run asynchronous events. The MSU website scavenger hunt proves that we can successfully hold asynchronous events. Making asynchronous events that are interactive and informative makes the event more accessible for students who may not be able to attend events at specific times due to a difference in time zone, a day job or because they’re dealing with sleeping problems.
Making asynchronous events that are interactive and informative makes the event more accessible for students who may not be able to attend events at specific times due to a difference in time zone, a day job or because they’re dealing with sleeping problems.
Asynchronous timing of events is something that we should consider continuing for events taking place throughout the school year. As we continue to physically distance and cope with an ongoing pandemic, many students are facing additional challenges that may not have come up during a normal school year.
Some people may argue that asynchronous events are harder to plan — and while that may be true, we shouldn’t avoid planning more accessible events just because they’re more difficult to hold. If Welcome Week is supposed to help first-years build community with their peers, we shouldn’t be leaving certain groups out of Welcome Week just because it’s more convenient.
By: Donna Nadeem
The Disability Justice Network of Ontario is a Hamilton-based organization launched in September by McMaster alumni Sarah Jama and Eminet Dagnachew and McMaster student Shanthiya Baheerathan.
The co-founders initially got together because of their aligning interests. For instance, Jama was working with the McMaster Students Union Diversity Services as an access coordinator, trying to push the university to create a service for people with disabilities.
“I always think that there is more that could be done, that the institution doesn’t do a good job of supporting people with disabilities in terms of responding to professors who don’t want to accommodate. There is still a lot from what I’m seeing as a person who has graduated,” said Jama.
Last year, the co-founders received an Ontario Trillium grant over 36 months to create and run the organization. The basis of DJNO is to pose questions to the community of people with disabilities to see what it is they want to work on and how DJNO can use their resources to support the community it serves.
One of DJNO’s larger goals is to politically activate and mobilize people with disabilities who consistently get left out of conversations that affect their lives.
“Our goal is to politically activate and mobilize people with disabilities across the city and the province over time and to be able to hold the institutions and places and people accountable for the spaces that they create,” said Jama.
The research committee for DJNO has recently been working on data collection for a study on issues for racialized people with disabilities.
According to Jama, there is a lack of data collection on this subject.
The DJNO also has a youth advisory council that teaches people with disabilities how to politically organize.
In just a few months of being in operation, the DJNO has hosted several events, such as a community conversation event about the Hamilton light rail transit project, a film screening and panel discussion about Justice For Soli, a movement seeking justice for the death of Soleiman Faqiri, who was killed in prison after being beaten by guards.
The film screening and panel discussion was organized alongside McMaster Muslims For Peace and Justice and the McMaster Womanists.
On March 26, the DJNO will be hosting an event called “Race and Disability: Beyond a One Dimensional Framework” in Celebration Hall at McMaster.
This discussion, being organized in collaboration with the MSU Maccess and the MSU Women and Gender Equity Network, will tackle “the intersections of race/racialization, disability, and gender for all McMaster Community Members.”
Next week, the DJNO will also be organizing a rally with Justice for Soli in order to speak out against violence against people with disabilities.
“The Justice for Soli team has been tirelessly advocating for justice, accountability, sounding the alarm of deeply systemic issues in the prison system, namely the violence that it inflicts on racialized peoples, and people with disabilities,” reads part of the event page.
For McMaster students interested in getting involved with the organization, DJNO has some open committees and is looking for individuals to help identify major community issues.
The campaign committee meets at the Hamilton Public Library monthly. Students can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
By: Rimsha Laeeq
As a commuter at McMaster University, getting home early isn’t always an option. For students who commute, studying late for a midterm in the library or attending an evening event is hardly an easy decision to make.
When deciding to stay late on campus as a commuter, transit is an issue to consider. It is crucial for students to be involved in the many activities that the university hosts. Students should not have to worry about their safety when commuting home from school.
This is why the Hamilton Street Railway should extend their bus schedules to the later hours of the evening.
The HSR has many buses that operate throughout the day, from the eastbound to the westbound, including the 5, 1, 51 and the 10, otherwise known as the B-Line Express.
Nevertheless, after 7:00 p.m., the B-Line stops running, meaning off-campus students have to either arrange their own rides or take one of the three other buses, which usually requires transferring onto another bus in downtown Hamilton.
As an off-campus student, the last B-line bus I can take to reach home under an hour departs from McMaster at 6:43 p.m. With most events ending after this, it becomes difficult for me to get home.
My 50-minute commute on one bus turns into an hour and 15-minute commute over two buses, and includes waiting in the heart of downtown to catch the second bus.
Students living off-campus are often forced to leave campus early and miss amazing events that McMaster offers because their bus won’t run after a specific time.
Being a university student does not mean to solely “work with academics”. I believe it is important for the HSR to extend their bus timings not only for the safety of their students but to allow students to become more involved with the different events taking place on campus.
With extended bus timings, students can engage in the abundant cultural events occurring at McMaster, with the opportunity to meet several other students at the university from a variety of programs and levels. This gives students the benefit of learning about the diverse cultures present at McMaster.
Off-campus students shouldn’t feel like they don’t belong, or don’t have a say in many of the events taking place due to inconvenient bus timings. These students, including myself, need to be a part of the university culture.
When it comes to academics, H.G. Thode Library of Science and Engineering is open until 2:00 a.m. during exam season for students to effectively study, whether that be alone or in groups.
For most students, once you sit down to study and are motivated to do so, you can study for hours on end. With a restricted time period due to bussing, this can often demotivate students, as getting in a ‘grind’ mode may be quite difficult for some.
Additionally, students study differently, which means that they need to be able to switch up their study environments. Some students prefer to study on campus while others prefer their home. Students shouldn’t have to compromise their academics because a bus doesn’t run at a later time.
For students who commute using the B-Line Express, this bus only runs on weekdays. With midterms, exams or other events occurring on the weekend, students are forced to take two or more buses or find alternate means of transport to get on campus.
Students should not be afraid of staying late at the school they attend. They should feel safe and have no difficulty commuting back and forth from campus on the daily.
When considering the safety of students, their involvement at McMaster and networking with people to make their university career a more fun-filled experience, HSR bus timings should most definitely be extended.
For students who are currently commuting and have to stay late, the McMaster Students Union offers a volunteer service, the Student Walk Home Attendant Team, who will walk or bus with students to their destination. This service is open seven days a week from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
By: William Li
On Feb. 11, Uighur activist Rukiye Turdush’s presentation at McMaster University about China’s mass internment of Muslims was disrupted by student protestors.
Controversially, these students had rallied not only to protest the event, but to coordinate with the Chinese Embassy.
The Washington Post reports that this coordination went beyond ordinary consular services: in addition to sending photos, the students say they were requested to search the talk for any university officials or Chinese nationals.
This is alarming, as it represents an attempt to harass and intimidate Turdush into silence. It is also disturbing because the Chinese government has no business collecting information about political events on campus.
It is important to remember that the Chinese Communist Party currently runs an authoritarian government with absolute control of China, including its foreign embassies. The regime also has a long history of violently crushing dissent.
Most notably, at the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, thousands of students were massacred with tanks and machine guns. Lawyers, activists and even Nobel laureates are regularly imprisoned for criticizing the Communist Party. Today, China also uses internet censorship and a social credit system to neuter any challenge to Party rule.
The incident with Turdush shows that similar political repression is not something distant and foreign; it is something that happened on campus and continues to happen.
One of the most overlooked victims here are the Chinese international students. This is especially true if photos are being sent to the Chinese Embassy. This essentially creates a system of fear in which students surveil each other, reporting to officials any deviance from the Communist Party line.
For international students seeking a liberal education in Canada, where our academic freedom would let them develop skills in independent-thinking that may be frowned upon in China, these hopes are dashed.
Instead, they are kept on a tight leash. Any deviance from Party-approved behaviour risks a report to the embassy, and resulting repercussions back home such as endangering family members or losing job and business opportunities.
Despite being on Canadian soil, these students will never get to fully experience basic freedoms that Canadian citizens take for granted. If Chinese students cannot speak freely, or even attend a political event, without risking state punishment, then this prevents any real discussion about Turdush’s presentation or any issues affecting them.
Even worse, this kind of political repression is being advanced by McMaster Students Union-ratified clubs.
In a statement written in Chinese, the McMaster Chinese Students and Scholar Association, McMaster Chinese News Network and McMaster Chinese Professional Society condemned Turdush and confirmed they contacted the Chinese Consulate in Toronto.
The McMaster English Language Development Student Association, an affiliate of the faculty of humanities, and the McMaster Chinese Graduate Students Club also signed the statement.
This statement was not directed at Turdush, nor any non-Chinese students. Rather, for the international students who can read Chinese, the thinly-veiled threat was crystal clear: promote the Communist Party line on political issues, or you will be reported to the Chinese consulate.
This is deplorable. MSU-ratified clubs and affiliates of the university should not be surveilling McMaster students and reporting their activities to foreign governments.
They should not propagate an environment where fear of surveillance prevents students from speaking out. They should not masquerade as safe spaces for international students if they have a hidden agenda to allow authoritarian regimes a backdoor to covertly monitor their citizens abroad.
There is also evidence that this problem is not unique to McMaster. The Chinese government has actively tried to influence academic institutions in several liberal democracies, particularly with its Confucius Institutes.
The MSU needs to investigate if these clubs have violated the Clubs Operating Policy by reporting political activity on campus to the Chinese government, through negatively affecting students’ ability to conduct their lawful affairs (188.8.131.52), interfering with other clubs’ activities (184.108.40.206) or failing to fully disclose connections to bodies outside of the MSU (4.2).
Declining to take action would betray anybody who feels surveilled, muffled or repressed by the Chinese government, and tarnish the MSU’s reputation as a safe and inclusive union that puts students’ interests first.
By: Areej Ali
Nu Omega Zeta is a Black-focused sorority at McMaster that aims to support and enrich the Black community on campus and in Hamilton.
While the sorority was founded in September 2011, plans to launch Nu Omega Zeta were in the works months before the sorority’s founding date.
The seven Nu Omega Zeta founders first looked to Black Greek organizations in the United States, which provided a good perspective on how they should establish their own chapter.
For instance, today, the sorority pairs up new members with a ‘Big Sister’ who provides guidance and support.
The founding members first looked for an executive board and then created the symbols, guidelines and pillars that the sorority would stand for.
According to Eno Antai, the current president of Nu Omega Zeta, members do not need to identify as Black in order to join the sorority.
Nevertheless, the group is Black-focused, aspiring to “promote the growth and enrichment of Black undergraduate students and to enhance their education through the strengthening of the relationships within the Black community.”
In particular, Nu Omega Zeta stands for “Sisterhood, Volunteerism and Knowledge.”
Over the few years, members of the sorority have volunteered at Empowerment Squared, a Hamilton-based charity that seeks to empower marginalized and newcomer communities in Hamilton.
The sorority also runs campus events such as “Chance on Campus,” a one-day event that gives grade 10 and 11 students the opportunity to experience post-secondary life at McMaster and learn about the university’s organizations and academic and financial resources.
“When I look back and think why I wanted to join Nu Omega Zeta, I remember feeling very isolated and alone on campus in my first year,” said Gabriela Roberta, a member of the sorority.
“I had no intentions of joining a sorority. However, Nu Omega Zeta was the first and only organization to reach out to me and make me feel as though my fears are not only my own,” said Roberts.
Roberts added that the sorority immersed her in a community of women that truly understood her struggles and concerns.
She strongly feels that Nu Omega Zeta has been a transformative life experience.
For Jet'aime Fray, another member of Nu Omega Zeta, the sorority means sisterhood. Fray explains that the sorority has allowed for her to create long lasting friendships and has given her a unique opportunity to volunteer in Hamilton.
“In a society that refuses to acknowledge Black women, having a space that allows you to be unapologetically who you are and celebrates you is very needed,” said Antai, who feels that the space Nu Omega Zeta provides to acknowledge Black women is much needed and can give many students a home away from home.
Julianne Providence joined Nu Omega Zeta for precisely this reason.
“I saw it as a space where I could belong. I had seen the ladies on campus and admired the connections they had with each other,” said Providence.
Omega Zeta hosts a number of initiatives throughout the year, including rush events, parties, relationship summits, workshops, networking events about education and support in the Black community and a ‘World AIDS Day’ panel discussion.
By: Natalie Clark
When the quaint and beloved Westdale Theatre closed down in early 2017, residents of the Westdale community and many McMaster students were especially upset. Although fairly run down, the Westdale had been the community’s hot spot for Friday night dates, Hollywood’s must-see films and the best popcorn in town for as long as anyone could remember.
On Feb. 14, the Westdale community celebrated the long-awaited re-opening of the Westdale Theatre. Guests were told to dress in period attire for a special event accompanied by cocktails and a screening of the 1942 classic, Casablanca. The event also featured a silent auction, where guests could explore the new and improved venue while admiring local Hamilton art.
With searchlights lighting up the night sky and a red carpet gracing the floor of the doors of the theatre, the Westdale certainly dressed to impress for their grand re-opening. The 350 ticket event sold out in two weeks.
For the past 30 years, the Westdale was owned by an elderly man in Toronto. It wasn’t until he passed away that his family put the theatre up for sale, allowing new owners to claim the theatre, known as the Westdale Cinema Group.
“An enormous amount of changes were made… the theatre was in terrible condition, we spent 2.5 million dollars restoring it,” mentioned Fred Fuchs, chairperson of the Westdale Cinema Group.
“Besides equipping it with state-of-the-art projection, screens, new seats, new sound, new acoustic panelling, we also had to completely redo the air conditioning and the heating, the electrical system, the roof, the bathrooms — it was a complete overhaul of the entire theatre,” said Fuchs.
About two years later, the Westdale Theatre is back open for business, and the community is thrilled. Westdale resident and Silhouette alumnus, David Simpson, had one word to describe the re-opening event, “fabulous”.
“I think that the re-opening will be great for Westdale and for McMaster too, creating a hub for the community,” said Simpson.
Members of the Westdale community are thrilled about the re-opening of the theatre but are also admiring the other advantages that the theatre welcomes to the community.
“It’s wonderful to see it revitalized, and to see hundreds of people in the theatre is great,” said Vivian Lewis, a member of the Westdale community.
“I think that the theatre is going to bring a diversity of films to the community,” mentioned Lewis. “Right now in Hamilton we just have lots of box theatres that are showing the same thing on every screen, and so this theatre will be our chance to see more art films and more alternative films that aren’t currently available in Hamilton.”
Aside from standard film movies, the Westdale Theatre will also be hosting frequent live music shows, talks, performances and other special events.
“I’m excited about the idea that it’s not just a movie theatre anymore and that it’s also performance based,” said Sue Trerise-Adamson, another Westdale resident.
“I think that is a really good idea, and it expands all the possibilities of the theatre… I think it’s a real anchor for the whole community of Westdale,” mentioned Trerise-Adamson.
Westdale locals have already begun visiting the theatre for their regular screenings and are grateful to have the theatre back in the community.
Experience the new and improved Westdale Theatre on your own and check out all available screenings and shows on their website: https://www.thewestdale.ca/now-playing/
By: Andrew Mrozowski
“In the beginning God created Adam and Eve (allegedly), but she soon realized how boring their parties were and created Adam and Steve to be their neighbours and show them how it’s done,” read the official Adam and Steve manifesto.
Since 2016, Adam George and Steve Hilliard have been throwing the queerest parties that Hamilton has seen for decades under their event planning name Adam and Steve. These two community event organizers have a single mission, to create community and carve out LGBTQ friendly events within the Hammer.
“[Our events] are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s like your gayest wildest wet dream,” said George.
George moved to Hamilton in the late 2000s to attend McMaster’s science program. Shortly after meeting Hilliard on campus, the two students clicked. Hilliard went on to graduate from the nursing program and became a full-time nurse while George became a full-time realtor.
The “semi-engaged” duo — they have an ongoing competition over proposals — loved making a life together in Hamilton, but they felt something was missing in their community.
Being inspired by the fact that there weren’t any queer spaces currently in Hamilton, George and Hilliard had an idea. What if they planned and hosted parties in Hamilton that they would want to attend?
“We were tired of having to go to Toronto to have fun,” explained George.
“We were both inspired by being queer, inspired by fun, beauty and I have an intense love of drag. I really wanted to give a stage to queer artists,” added Hilliard.
Historically, Hamilton has had a rough history with queer spaces amounting to raids and police brutality.
“At any given moment, there was at least four or five [gay bars and clubs]. Hamilton was almost too gay and this history is tragic. If you look up the lists of the top ten worst police raids, one of them was in Hamilton at a bathhouse downtown,” said Hilliard.
“But now, we’re moving towards a queer scene about being whoever the fuck you wanna be,” added George.
Attracting the likes of popular Toronto queens, such as Priyanka, and RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8 contestant, Thorgy Thor, the dynamic duo is always on the lookout for who can throw the greatest party.
“We wanted to throw parties that we wanted to go to. Right before we started doing events, we always thought ‘Why hasn’t a RuPaul queen come to Hamilton?’ Then once we started throwing events, it was one of those things where you didn’t think was possible and then one day, I just googled … what would it take to get a RuPaul queen to come,” said Hilliard.
“We did a survey on our Instagram to see if there was interest… in four days the first show sold out and then we added a second date, and that one sold out,” added George.
Community is a large reason why George and Hilliard throw their parties. The duo’s goal is not only create community and a space that fosters inclusivity through their events, but they also wanted to become part of the community.
“It’s about creating a family in this city,” said Hilliard. “Queerness was never something that was handed to us.”
George and Hilliard are consistently looking towards the future and are hoping to open up their own space. The goal is to have a party every night, so there will always be a safe space for the community to celebrate and have fun.
Always busy planning parties, the duo has big plans for this coming romantic weekend. Adam and Steve will be hosting Heart On: Queer Galentine’s Day Party featuring House of Filth on Feb. 16 at Absinthe Hamilton on 38 King William Street.
“Queer and gay bars left [Hamilton], but the gay and queer people didn’t. We need to give those people and ourselves a safe space where they can meet new friends, be safe, and won’t ever need to leave the city at all,” explained Hilliard.
The future for Hamilton’s LGBTQ+ looks as bright as the pride flag thanks to event organizers like George and Hilliard. Adam and Steve events are where you can put glitter on your face, wear your cutest shirts and dance the night away in a safe and inclusive space for all.
By: Andrew Mrozowski
From Jan.12 to Jan.19, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra will run their fourth festival in their composer festival series. This year, the focus will be on Baroque-era composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.
“Bach is arguably the most influential and relatable composer of all time. His beautiful orchestral music and his fascinating life will be a joy for everyone to experience. I do think that Bach is the ultimate composer. He has that perfect balance of musical skill, transcendent spirituality, and human emotion,” said Gemma New, the music director for the HPO.
The HPO has partnered with various venues and amateur orchestras across Hamilton with the goal of teaching the community more about composers’ music and life.
“What we really wanted to do was connect people in the community to a single composer’s work and give the public many different perspectives on that particular composer,” said Diana Weir, executive director of the orchestra and McMaster alumna.
With previous festivals spanning the lives of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, the HPO has seemingly been on a roll with the popularity of their artist festival series and the community’s engagement.
“We really wanted to do something to see amateurs and professionals work together in other organizations. [Hamilton] has a very strong amateur music scene, so everything must reflect what Hamilton is interested in and what Hamilton needs,” said Weir.
“Music contributes to a person’s sense of wellness and we are committed to explore how to use our artists to contribute to the wellbeing and life satisfaction of the community.”
This year, there are nine different events spanning the course of the seven-day festival. There is an event for everyone in this year’s Bach Festival whether you are an avid fan of this era or not. The Sil has highlighted three events that students may enjoy:
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Redchurch Café and Gallery, 68 King Street East
Inspired by Bach’s coffeehouses in Leipzig, Germany, HPO’s Associate Concertmaster Lance Ouellette is hosting a casual night in conjunction with Redchurch Café and Gallery. Enjoy Bach on the violin accompanied by beer, prosecco, or a latte as well as the current art exhibition, Fell Through by Paul Allard and Jonny Cleland.
Shawn & Ed Brewing Co., 65 Hatt Street, Dundas
The fan favourite event returns to Shawn & Ed Brewing Co. Enjoy a night of Bach music performed by an HPO trio while drinking specialty beer at this local craft brewhouse.
Bar opens at 5:30 p.m. Music and drink pairings from 6-7 p.m..
Tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
FirstOntario Concert Hall, 1 Summers Lane
Concluding the week-long festival, expert Baroque conductor Ivars Taurins and the HPO are putting on one final show featuring the works of Johann Sebastien Bach. At the end of the concert, stick around for the Pro-Am jam.
You can have the chance to perform with professional musicians and conductor Ivars Taurins in this professional-amateur jam session of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by J.S. Bach.
Tickets start at $10
Must purchase a ticket to register and participate in Pro-Am Jam
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This festival is different from other music festivals you may find. As the HPO’s main goal is to break down barriers to access in the community, they’ve aimed to make the events affordable, especially for a student-budget. They’ve also brought the music outside of the typical performance in a concert hall where guests may feel intimidated.
“I really hope that people will feel like they are connected to the HPO and [the HPO] is connected to the community. The HPO is somewhere where people can develop memorable experiences with their friends and loved ones,” said Weir.
So enjoy a drink and listen to Bach at a café, or perhaps go to the library and attend an insightful talk and beautiful performance, wherever and however you experience the Bach Festival the HPO will be sure to take you back to the Baroque-era.
By: Drew Simpson
On June 26, the McMaster University board of governors, specifically the executive and governance committee, approved recommendation from the senate executive committee to establish the Centre for Networked Media and Performance.
According to the Oct. 18 board of governors meeting agenda, the vision for the CNMAP is “the production, exploration and analysis of new forms of expression, communication and collaboration enabled by networks and networking techs.”
As highlighted in the agenda, the approval for the centre comes as the rapid proliferation of technology continues to outstrip discussions about their human uses and impacts. At the heart of the technological revolution is the advent of “the network,” namely connections such as shared software, online communications and new electronic and data environments.
“Humanities research has a special role to play in this context,” reads part of the agenda.
“Research and research-creation in the media and performing arts offer a setting in which new configurations of our networked landscape can be imagined, actualized, evaluated, and transformed in experimental ways.”
As of its launch this past summer, the CNMAP has been utilizing the networked imagination laboratory and the black box theatre in L.R. Wilson to organize workshops, conferences, interdisciplinary collaborations and other forms of artist-centric research.
According to the board of governors agenda, the centre has interest in hosting an interdisciplinary national sound conference at McMaster in 2019.
Some examples of the ‘nodes,’ or research spaces, that are said to comprise the centre include the cybernetic orchestra, pulse lab, networked imagination laboratory, software studies reading group and the sounds studies reading group.
The the CNMAP also connects these nodes through an online platform aimed at facilitating communication and collaboration.
Some anticipated CNMAP expenses include national and international conferences, server software costs for the online platform and the cost of graphic design and promotion, which can involve hiring undergraduate multimedia students.
Revenues allocated to these expenses include the seed funding of $40,000 by the humanities faculty vice president of research.
In its first semester, the CNMAP was involved with organizing and promoting a number of events, including four free live coding workshops and the “Imaginary Landscapes” exhibition, which occurred in Dec. 2018 and featured soundscape performances, a cybernetic orchestra concert and an informative artist-centric poster demonstration.