Brandon University welcomes back former instructor for ‘pro series’ performance

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The 2019-20 pro series season welcomes back a former Brandon University (BU) School of Music instructor — percussionist Ben Reimer and his Park Sounds colleague, violist and viola d’amore player Jennifer Thiessen for a concert on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at the Lorne Watson Recital Hall.

Both are Manitoba-raised – Thiessen hails from Austin and Reimer is from Winnipeg — but most recently, the two musicians have made Montreal their home. This homecoming has rekindled fond memories for Reimer.

“The School of Music at Brandon University is a very important place for me. Around 15 years ago, I was invited to build a percussion program at the university, from the ground up,” said Reimer, who recalled some highlights, like performing with Dame Evelyn Glennie and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, playing at the Winnipeg International New Music Festival, and travelling to annual Percussive Arts Society International Conventions. “We started with only two students, but eventually we had a vibrant percussion program, with students performing throughout the community. Many of these percussion students have gone on to be leading figures in the arts and education community in Manitoba and across Canada.”

This will be not Reimer’s first performance in the pro series. As a School of Music faculty member, he had the opportunity to premiere several solo works by Canadian composers. For this performance, he and Thiessen will also present new commissioned works by four other Canadian composers, namely Karen Sunabacka, Michael Matthews, Marielle Groven and Dan Morphy. As well, there will be an arrangement of ‘Letting Go,’ in homage to the late composer, Greg Lowe. Presenting their dEbut program, the Park Sounds duo has chosen works that reflect a central theme – “Root Systems.”

“The program is inspired by the root systems of prairie plants, in which the deep roots of native prairie grasses are shown to mirror their above-ground growth. It also explores themes of origin, belonging and culture,” said Reimer. “It began with two existing pieces for percussion and viola – Luciano Berio’s ‘Naturale,’ and Tigran Mansurian’s ‘Duet and Taghs’ – in which both composers deal directly with the traditional musics of their cultures of origin. Berio quotes Sicilian folk music, and Mansurian’s ‘Taghs’ are transcriptions of traditional Armenian songs.”

The October 8 recital will begin at 7:30 p.m., in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall, in the Queen Elizabeth II Music Building, at BU.

The following week, another Montreal-based group – Collectif9 – will make its first appearance in the pro series. These string players, who met during their university days, fuse contemporary interpretations and classical repertoire. They will be on the Lorne Watson Recital Hall stage on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. Also that week, on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m., the duo of saxophonist Greg Gatien and pianist Michael Cain launches BU’s Homecoming Weekend with an unforgettable evening of jazz favourites.

Tickets to all pro series events are $20 for adults, and $15 for students, seniors, and alumni. Subscriptions for the 2019-20 season’s nine remaining performances are also available – $85 for adults, and $50 for students, seniors, and alumni. New this year is the flex pass – your choice of five tickets for $60. Tickets and subscriptions are available at the door or in advance at the Main Office of the School of Music.

The School of Music gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of Manitoba, through a Consolidated Arts Programming Grant through Culture, Heritage and Tourism.

Please note that seating in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall is limited and that programmes are subject to change. For an up-to-date listing of pro series and student performances, please visit


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