Alberta Politics
The music recital hall at the University of Lethbridge (Photo: University of Lethbridge).

Impact of UCP’s brutal post-secondary funding cuts sparks fear in University of Lethbridge’s Music Department

Posted on January 10, 2022, 1:57 am
6 mins

Faculty and students in the University of Lethbridge Music Department are fearful of the impact of a “drastic restructuring” of academic programs brought about by the Kenney Government’s brutal funding cuts to Alberta’s public post-secondary institutions in last February’s provincial budget.

In a letter to published Saturday on the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra’s Facebook page, U of L Music Professor Brian Black said the institution is considering merging its music and drama departments into a single department of performing arts, then rolling them both into a new faculty of fine arts and humanities. 

University of Lethbridge Music Professor Brian Black (Photo: University of Lethbridge).

“This would mean that the Music Department would lose its identity as a separate, distinct department – one that has existed at the university since its founding in 1967,” Dr. Black wrote. 

“Our Music Department has been an important part of the cultural life of the city for over 50 years,” he wrote in the letter. “We are afraid that its visibility will now be reduced, which will make it harder to attract students and will lessen the impact of our community events and outreach programs, further damaging the cultural life of the city and the department itself.

“Already with serious cutbacks to our department budget and the continuing struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic we have been forced to scale back on activities in the community,” he continued. “The possible merger could make the situation much more difficult.”

Dr. Black, a musicologist educated at Montreal’s McGill University, urged members of the Lethbridge community to send him letters to forward to U of L Provost and Academic Vice-President Erasmus Okine emphasizing the importance of the music department’s programs or just telling their stories “if you have been positively impacted in any way.” 

Judging from Dr. Black’s comments and other reports circulating among students, many of whom only learned of the proposed changes on Friday, faculty members were only given a few days from last month until today to respond to the university’s restructuring proposals.

Rumours in the university community suggest the changes will be announced and rubber-stamped by the administration very quickly, possibly as soon as today. 

Students are also concerned about the survival of the Music Department’s Bachelor of Music Digital Audio Arts program, which saw its enrollment tripled only last September. Graduates are in high demand, and the only other similar degree-granting program in Canada is in Montreal.

U of L Music Department students (Photo: University of Lethbridge).

“The effects this has will be huge,a former music student tweeted Saturday. “Music always get shafted. Students aren’t going to pay ridiculous $$ for a degree from performance arts when they can get a real one from an actual music department. 

Thanks to Dr. Black’s letter, we have a clear idea of what the impact could be on one department. However, other departments may be impacted as well. As is so often the case under Conservative governments in Canada, all studies in the liberal arts and performance arts are likely to be cut back. 

That may not worry many UCP Caucus members from the rural ridings surrounding the city of Lethbridge. Indeed, some MLAs are likely to wonder why a university would teach music at all when all you have to do to hear the stuff is turn on the radio in your truck!

It’s convenient for the UCP that the impacts of its attack on the province’s public post-secondary institutions can be implemented under the cover of the pandemic when students and community members are unable to gather on campus to make their concerns known.

Unlike public post-secondaries, the UCP did not cut the subsidies the province provides to private universities, many of which in Alberta are religious institutions. 

The restructuring in Lethbridge also comes during negotiations with the U of L Faculty Association, whose collective agreement expired in June 2020. 

Formal mediation between the association and the university began on Dec. 21 and more mediation days are expected to be scheduled this month. 

“If, despite our best efforts, mediation fails, then the way is clear for potential job action, including a strike vote, and, should agreement still prove elusive, lock-out or strike,the ULFA said in a short update on Christmas Eve. 

The university’s iconic original building (Photo: University of Lethbridge).

48 Comments to: Impact of UCP’s brutal post-secondary funding cuts sparks fear in University of Lethbridge’s Music Department

  1. Just Me

    January 10th, 2022

    I suppose these cuts to the music program can be easily reversed, provided that the U & L declares Mart Kenney the greatest composer of all time.

    I mean that man was a genius on the level of Mozart, Beethoven, and J.S. Bach. There isn’t a single Russian composer that can hope to stand up before Mart Kenney’s brilliance. And there hasn’t been a composer or musician who can hope to be mentioned in the same breath as Mart Kenney and His Western Gentlemen. I would go even further and demand — DEMAND — that the masterworks of Mart Kenney and His Western Gentlemen be played 24/7 everywhere on the face of the earth.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 10th, 2022

      Excellent idea, Just Me. The Mart Kenney Lethbridge School of Music. And the U of L Western Gentlemen field hockey squad. DJC

      Reply
  2. pogo

    January 10th, 2022

    How could anyone, in good conscience, destroy creative learning? Well, it is surplus to requirements! Whoa! Some have asked me why I left my family and home, now you know. My entire youth was spent being knuckled by people who think art is a waste of time. But there’s always more with people like that… https://youtu.be/n4Arlam70bI?t=2

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    January 10th, 2022

    All these pretend conservatives and Reformers in the UCP know how to do is cuts, cuts, and more cuts, to make up for their foolish financial policies and their fiscally reckless ways, just as their hero, Ralph Klein was doing. Peter Lougheed surely was right, when he said that you can’t trust Reformers.

    Reply
  4. B

    January 10th, 2022

    Who cares?!?! Post secondary is WAY too expensive for most Canadians and thats NOT Kenney’s fault. Besides, Canada needs more nurses, not rappers and pianists. This story is pointless. I could execute every conservative in Canada and tuition would still go up. You lunatic, greedy lefties are JUST AS MUCH TO BLAME for education in Canada being for the rich. This country needs to be torn down and rebulit WITHOUT the input of the GARBAGE boomers.

    Reply
    • tom in ontario

      January 10th, 2022

      As Dr. Evil said to his son Scotty in Goldmember, “Turn it down a notch.”

      Reply
    • mr perfect

      January 10th, 2022

      David: You appear to have acquired a nice little troll. I guess it’s too much to expect him to be house trained.

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        January 10th, 2022

        Mr. Perfect: It’s true. Training a troll, like a bad dog, takes patience and persistence. DJC

        Reply
    • Phlogiston

      January 10th, 2022

      In a reply to a previous blog post, you advocate the culling of the old and infirm to prevent the mass suicide of the young depressed by Covid lockdowns. Now, you fantasize about mass executions. I suspect your brain has been addled by too many violent first-person shooter video games.

      In any event, the article is not pointless. Why are we providing money to private universities and schools in the first place? If resources are scarce, it is the public institutions that need to be protected, not the private ones, to ensure the maximum benefits for all citizens.

      In my experience, graduates of Music programs (and the arts and humanities in general) are quite likely to be highly accomplished in other areas that would make them successful in the workplace. Furthermore, not everyone has the aptitude or the inclination to be a nurse or to pursue a STEM-based degree. It is harmful to many young people for the UCP to be cutting funding for public universities, causing the universities, in turn, to cut the arts and humanities programs. These cuts will either force our young out of the province or into degree programs that they are not well suited for. Not a good situation either way.

      Reply
    • A little bird

      January 10th, 2022

      You realize, brain genius, that cuts to public universities across the board includes health care faculties ?

      Also, in addition to this insanely corrupt double standard for private religious institutions that Kenney has overseen, he was a cabinet minister in the neoliberal Harper government for its entirety.

      He IS actually at fault for a good percentage of this, thats just recent history.

      Reply
    • D

      January 10th, 2022

      Wow, B. Try some Sanka brand coffee. It’s naturally decaffeinated.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      January 11th, 2022

      B: If I was in control of this blog, I’d have you blocked. That’s up to the creator of this blog. Greedy, lunatic lefties. That’s a weak retort you have there. Alberta was never, ever run by left leaning governments. Post secondary education in Alberta was made more costly by these pretend conservatives and Reformers. Why are you even commenting, if you don’t like the content?

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        January 11th, 2022

        Anonymous: I am tolerant of critical comments, even intemperate ones, if they stick to the topic. I am particularly tolerant of intemperate comments when they are made to responses to their original commentary. This is because I am committed to free speech, and because I believe that if you dish it out, you should also be able to take it. I moderate all comments personally and normally draw the line at abuse, threats, potentially defamatory material, irrelevant commentary and commercial pitches. Typically, but not completely consistently, I find that commenters of the left are more polite and less abusive than those from the right. This may not be the experience, however, of people who publish right-wing blogs. I find people who are enthusiastic about certain causes – in particular opposition to gun control and COVID vaccinations, and belief in cryptocurrencies and the unbridled benefits of fossil fuels and, lately, nuclear power, can be quite cranky with anyone who disagrees with them. This is a fault. DJC

        Reply
    • pogo

      January 11th, 2022

      Dearest my next favourite key after A; I am a complete fan of the caps key! Rock on! You are not an embarrassment! You are the astounding triumph! For you brave knight! Enjoy! https://youtu.be/92HThhW0pAE

      Reply
  5. Phlogiston

    January 10th, 2022

    No surprise here. The conservatives are more likely to punish the arts and humanities, but this prejudice against these degrees is widespread. However, savvy employers know that, even if it might cost a little more to train a new hire who has a degree in the arts or humanities than someone who has some other kind of degree, the long-term rewards more than justify the initial cost. When I was a manager of dot-com company many years, my first go to was someone who had a background in the arts or humanities. It always paid off well.

    For some background: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20190401-why-worthless-humanities-degrees-may-set-you-up-for-life

    Of course, the knuckle-dragging UCP caucus couldn’t care less of the value that education and culture adds to this province and its success. They don’t have the faintest clue about the study of music and what it entails. Furthermore, they have no idea how hard it is and how bloody smart you have to be to get a degree in Music. It is a very hard degree to achieve. And, importantly, performance is only one part of it. In fact, many music students don’t take the performance route at all. They specialize in other areas related to the study of music. Grouping the faculty of music in with drama is just plain wrong.

    Reply
    • Abs

      January 10th, 2022

      Indeed, Phlogiston.

      A few years ago, I met a former music student from the University of Alberta. He was recruited by the Faculty of Medicine, and went on to become a specialist surgeon, earning a coveted fellowship at a top teaching hospital in the U.S., before returning to Alberta.

      It was no surprise to me, because a professor of medicine and chief orthopedic surgeon at an Edmonton hospital had spoken to high school students at a band festival a few years prior. He said that music students make excellent surgeons for a number of reasons, including their disciplined studies, which often begin in their preschool years, their manual dexterity from years of playing an instrument, and their scientific approach. Let’s talk, he said.

      Of course, this government does not respect doctors, either.

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        January 10th, 2022

        Abs: My late father, a PhD in astrophysics, prattled on at length about the synergies (my word, not his) among mathematics, music and philosophy. DJC

        Reply
        • Carlos

          January 11th, 2022

          Well I think I would have liked to talk to your father. I think it is all interconnected in amazing ways and despite all the knowledge we have right now I still believe we know very little.

          Reply
        • Albertan

          January 12th, 2022

          Agreed….I purposefully introduced music to both of my children with the knowledge that “children who play instruments are able to complete complex mathematical problems better than peers who do not play instruments, and, may also learn other skills that help them perform better in school.” My children are adults now, one being a systems analyst who could have been the better musician but who lacked desire or was stubborn or something, and the other, educated to a PhD level, actually a political scientist. 🙂

          Reply
  6. Kang

    January 10th, 2022

    Alberta has been occupied by looters. As with all carpetbaggers they leave nothing for the population. A few years ago, Red Deer College had a world-renowned Drama and Music program as well. Graduates were in very high demand and of course the community had the benefit of many high-quality music and drama presentations over the academic year. It was all gutted under the chairmanship of a Conservative appointee and Board of Directors.

    Since that time Red Deer’s population has more than doubled with zero new cultural, educational, or environmental infrastructure added. Now Red Deer College is a technical school and an over-built sports facility few actually use. Hardly the type of thing to attract a balanced community.

    One Conservative proudly told me he expected Alberta would become more like Montana with a few of us farmers and ranchers left and perhaps one city with sophisticated institutions. We are well on our way.

    Reply
    • Abs

      January 10th, 2022

      https://calgaryherald.com/entertainment/theatre/mount-royal-jazz-program-cut

      https://theyyscene.com/2014/03/13/ffwd-farewell-blues/

      History keeps on repeating itself under conservative governments in Alberta.

      If conservatives want Alberta to be more like Montana, a low-wage state, perhaps they should cut private universities and private schools loose, instead of funnelling public money into them. But you know, people like Kevin J. Johnston think Montana is utopia: unregulated coyote hunting 24/7 year-round. Choose your weapon. Yihaw! Fun times.

      As for the provost and VP Academic leading the charge, he describes his area of interest as “delivery of nutrients from the forestomach to the small intestine and absorption and metabolic fates of these nutrients in the small intestine and how that impacts on the productivity of the ruminant animal” on a Dairy Farmers of Canada website. Cow patties, I say.

      Reply
  7. Abs

    January 10th, 2022

    It is absolutely sickening what Kenney’s UCP are doing to public post-secondary institutions in our province. Cut, cut cut, forcing the institutions to make “choices” that would never have come to pass otherwise. Meanwhile for private religious post-secondary institutions, funds from the Alberta government continue to flow. This is a slap in the face to faculty, students and the Lethbridge community.

    No public post-secondary institution is safe from Kenney and the UCP, with their agenda of destruction. It begs the question, why would any student commit the investment of time and money to a university program in Alberta, knowing it could be cut when they are close to attaining their degree? The answer is that University of Lethbridge music students were blindsided. They didn’t know. In this case, their entire department could be eliminated with a stroke of a pen.

    The Digital Audio Arts Program in particular is a kind of hybrid program that combines core music knowledge and theory with technical skills that can be applied immediately in the workforce. It is not duplicated anywhere in the province, nor is the only other degree-granting program of its kind in Canada a DAA major. Isn’t this just what Kenney ordered universities to do — create employment-oriented programs and avoid program duplication? Yeah, well, it’s on the chopping block, too.

    Much of the campus at the University of Lethbridge is silent now, with most in-person classes resuming on January 22, due to the pandemic. What will music students be returning to? What else could go if these cuts are not deep enough and hard enough? Why would one department be targeted for elimination, and not cuts to programs across the board? Is this a mediation tactic to cow professors from all faculties, knowing they and their departments could be next? Will heartfelt pleas be enough to turn back the clock on what seems to be a done deal? Why the apparent cloak of secrecy?

    First they came for the music department…

    Reply
    • A little bird

      January 10th, 2022

      Unbridled Criminality Party

      Reply
  8. Michael

    January 10th, 2022

    A bit of perspective here: this kind of things is happening everywhere. I work at U of Calgary, and quite a few years ago the four faculties of Fine Arts, Humanities, Communication and Culture, and Social Sciences all got rolled into one megafaculty. Opinions are divided as to whether that has been a success, but the motivation was more efficiency and lower admin costs (fewer Deans should certainly save money, since they are ridiculously overpaid, but since a whole crop of associate Deans is cropping up all over I am less than convinced). Departments are also being thrown together – instead of separate French, German and East Asian (that was weird one) and so on departments, we now have a School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures. Not long ago, Dance, Drama, and Music (and parts of Art I think ?) got combined into a School of Creative and Performing Arts, Archaeology and Anthropology are now one department as are Classics and Religion. However, nearly all of the PROGRAMS within those units have remained intact, so students can still get a degree in Music, Drama, French, or whatever. The Music people at Lethbridge should really put their efforts into making sure their program survives, since the existence of a department is not a prerequisite for running a program. It would be naive to expect, in a small University like Lethbridge, that the current trend among administrators to combine departments, faculties and everything else in the name of efficiency (again, I am sceptical about the actual savings) and “getting rid of silos” and “encouraging interdisciplinarity”, which we have seen at both U of C and U of A, as well as all across the country, would leave them unscathed.

    The arts are always going to get the short end of the stick, unfortunately. Witness the bizarre decision in Australia recently to charge MORE for arts degrees to stop people from choosing them.

    As for B’s contention that PSE is WAY too expensive for most Canadians, this seems not to be true. According to some criteria we have the highest rate of participation in PSE in the world (Universities and Colleges combined, CGEPS might have a distorting effect here, since these comparisons internationally can very apples to oranges), which suggest people are willing to pay. Tuitions fees have gone up, sure, but they are still moderate (for Canadians) compared to the US and other countries. I would be all in favour of abolishing tuition, but that alone won’t improve access. With our current set-up, eliminating tuition would in large part be a subsidy to the wealthy, as their children disproportionately go to University. Around 50 % of students graduate with no debt, and the average debt at graduation of the other half is $ 25,000 (this would include students in very expensive programs like Medicine, Vet Med, Law etc). Again, I would like this to be zero, but it is not the crisis that some make it out to be. In terms of access, better targeted student aid, and better support for disadvantaged students in K-12 would make more sense than tuition elimination or reduction of student debt post-graduation which does absolutely nothing to increase access.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 10th, 2022

      Michael: The desire to reorganize things is a constant in human history. So is the prevalence of fads, not just in clothing and entertainment, but in management ideas as well. Back in the day, when my late dad was the dean of arts AND sciences at the University of Victoria, mega-departments were the norm. Over the past few decades, I have been bemused by the proliferation of faculties and deans at many universities. So, to comment on my own story, I don’t think it much matters if the U of L’s Music Department is in one faculty or another, or whether the faculty is large or small. I do think it matters that there be one department dedicated to that important field – and, moreover, that consultation with students and faculty be timely and genuine. In this case, the consultation appears to have been neither. DJC

      Reply
      • Michael

        January 12th, 2022

        David, you are dead on about fads and institutional reorganization. However, I think what is getting lost in all the comments here is that nobody (including Dr. Black) is saying that the music program is being eliminated with these mooted plans. At U of C, we don’t have a Music Department, or a French Department, or a Classics department, any more. But that does not mean those subjects are not being taught, and that students are not getting degrees in those disciplines. My own department offers six different programs (in Biological Sciences). Alberta students will still be able to get education and degrees in Music at U of L, U of C, Mount Royal and so on after the proposed changes.

        UCP cuts to PSE are brutal indeed, but how they are distributed and managed at each institution is still, for better or worse, an internal matter for that institution. Unfortunately, upper admin is obsessed with rankings and so on, so the cuts tend to be most severe to units that don’t bring in a lot of research money or a lot of students. And those are the units who can least afford to absorb the cuts, in general.

        Fully agree with Mr. Perfect about Lethbridge having a lot going on. I worked at the AAFC Research Station before moving to Calgary, and played in various musical groups at U of L and elsewhere. Having two government research institutions (don’t forget ADRI) and both a University and a College contributes immensely to the quality of life of a small city like that.

        Reply
  9. mr perfect

    January 10th, 2022

    Full disclosure: Our eldest daughter received her MSc at U of L. The university, along with the Agriculture Research Station contribute to making Lethbridge a very livable and quite cosmopolitan for a city its size. The idea that a music program doesn’t contribute to our economy is ridiculous and short sighted for those who don’t look further in how the arts contribute overall in job creation and opportunities. Kang, too bad about Red Deer College. Short sighted meatheads in powerful positions overlook the fact that not everyone in small towns wants to go to rodeos or play hockey, there is diversity everywhere. I suggest those who disagree with me study history of the Renaissance Period in Europe.

    Reply
  10. Hammer

    January 10th, 2022

    This kind of reminds me of years ago when the PC’s tried to squeeze CKUA out of existence. If it wasn’t for Albertans with a bit of forward and commmunity thinking it would have disappeared. Whether the Reform ilk admit or not, the Arts pour in tens of millions to the Alberta economy.

    Reply
  11. Dave

    January 10th, 2022

    Kenney and the UCP are doing what they do best – destroy things, built up by others over the years.

    So, those who want to get a music degree, particularly in southern Alberta, will be more likely to vote with their feet and leave Alberta. I am not sure if there is still a music program at the U of A, but funding to it has been gutted even more, so that probably not be a good option such students. So, most likely the brain drain from Alberta continues or gets worse.

    Perhaps the money saved by this will help pay for Kenney’s corporate tax cuts, but I doubt it will cover very much of it.

    Reply
  12. tom

    January 11th, 2022

    In the aftermath of the 2008 crash, it was cities like New York, which had a vibrant arts economy, that still prospered. Just look at the end-credits of a movie to see how many people are employed by creative endeavours.

    Reply
  13. Sara-Anne Peterson

    January 11th, 2022

    My well educated granddaughter and her partner are heading west as soon as they can. They see no good future in Alberta.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 11th, 2022

      Sara-Anne: My daughter, who recently completed her PhD, doesn’t even live on this continent. The UCP was not the only factor in her decision, but it was a consideration. DJC

      Reply
      • Carlos

        January 11th, 2022

        I am not surprised because I have a daughter and a son and they are gone for good. Yes the UCP was a consideration. Actually even before the UCP, the 43 years of mismanagement was a strong consideration.

        Reply
  14. Carlos

    January 11th, 2022

    What to expect from the UCP – this is predictable. A group of people that have no respect for education never mind music. I can see their eyes rolling – music? what is that for? Does not make billions forget it.
    It has never been this sad to live in Alberta these days. What a catastrophe this all is. I am sorry but the money for Universities is already in the pipeline and that fantastic war room.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      January 11th, 2022

      CARLOS: If the UCP do return to power in Alberta, after 2023, and it will likely only happen by cheating, Alberta will be screwed – big time!

      Reply
      • Carlos

        January 11th, 2022

        Of that I have no doubts. I also have no doubts that if that happens I will leave if not earlier anyway

        Reply
  15. Scotty on Denman

    January 11th, 2022

    Jason Kenney’s UCP government don’t make no sense. Alberta needs to diversify, not reversify. And it’s fair strange, given his own grandfather was a musician of note, that K-Boy’s buckboard of Bibles, brimstone and buggy-whips back to the 19th century doesn’t stop for a sarsaparilla at the former Fort Whoop-Up along the way because the booming, turn-of-the-century hub-city of southern Alberta and future home of Lethbridge University has had an illustrious musical history since at least back then, one which this struggling province might capitalize upon today, as it already has in the past. Giddy-up Kenney would be better advised to put his blinkers back on the horses.

    And what about that Rudyard Kipling connection? Well, he threw my maternal grandfather a birthday a party, his third, aboard the steamship; my great-grandfather had befriended the great writer while he, my great-grandmother and their toddler emigrated from Leister, UK, to Lethbridge Alberta, in 1907 (Kipling was on route to New York). Within four years, my grandfather was a virtuoso violinist (his mother was a pianist and father sang light opera), and by 1921 had won a scholarship to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, joining the faculty just a year later when he also became music director at CKNC Radio—but not before his orchestral conducting debut, in Lethbridge, when he was only twelve years old (!) Perhaps it was something in the water. Or the prairie air.

    My great-grandfather owned an auction house in Lethbridge from 1907-21, moving thence to Hogtown where he eventually purchased his partner’s 89 year-old family auction house in 1939, changing the name to Waddington’s which remains Canada’s premier auction house to this day; my grandfather and great-uncle sold it in 1962, but it retains that name. (See Maclean’s, “Sold to the Lady With the Pink Hat”—she objected to the auctioning of her repossessed furniture —with a shotgun.)

    Geoffrey Waddington (after whom my son and I are named) had a remarkable musical career, starting in Lethbridge. He conducted for shows on CKNC Radio in Hogtown, like The Neilson Hour, Canada’s first national-broadcast variety show, in 1929, continuing when CKNC was taken over by the CBC, in 1933, which featured his orchestra on shows like Forgotten Footsteps, an hour-long dramatic production—and others—all live-to-air.

    He went freelance during the War, conducting for Wayne and Shuster’s This Is The Army show. Then back to CBC in Winnipeg, then to Alberta’s All-Canada Radio. He was appointed consultant to CBC English Radio in 1947, then music director in 1952 when he co-founded the CBC Opera Company. He also founded the CBC Symphony Orchestra in that year, which played live-to-air in the weekend slot after Opera at The Met ( from New York City, it’s Saturday afternoon live!) I remember trying to hear my grandmother playing piano in the CBC orchestra while I played with my kid brother on the living room floor in front of the huge radio with the wooden, gothic church facade. Both my parents also worked various aspects of show-biz for the “Mo-Co” (TV) so none of this seemed very special to us kids at the time. Except, of course, when I got to meet Tommy Hunter backstage when I was about five—look up!—waaaay up!…(different show, but describes Tommy pretty well).

    When Grandpa suggested recording these performances, top brass said it’d never work—people wouldn’t stand for “canned orchestras”—but they tried it, it worked and gave the broadcaster much more flexibility: he thus became the first director of CBC Records (which, I think, is still profitable). He was Glen Gould’s favourite conductor during that genius’ Canadian recording sessions (Grandpa Geoff is said to have been first to hang the mic directly under the grand Steinway—probably to muffle Gould’s compulsive muttering whilst he played). In 1956, Geoffrey Waddington was awarded an honorary doctorate by Dalhousie University and The Alberta Music Award for services to Canada. In 1959, he became director of CBC’s National Competition for Young Performers, doubtless remembering the beginning of his own career in Lethbridge back when he himself was so young.

    He’d been a professional musician since he was 17 years-old and picked up the bad habits of his older colleagues which he struggled with for the rest of his life. We remember him as a quiet, thoughtful person respected by all. He died in 1966, just a year before Lethbridge University opened. I remember the day—we didn’t see our mother for a week after that.

    Naturally, he’d have been proud of the music faculty in his old hometown but, being very proper, I doubt he’d express his disappointment in education cuts in Alberta today quite the way I would—but, then, I started playing blues guitar (which absolutely horrified my grandmother) in the shadow of nuclear mushrooms until old enough to put on caulk boots, cut down trees from Alberta to Vancouver Island, then stand ‘em back up again, during which I picked up the expletive habits of my co-workers that I regularly apply to the UCP, but only in the privacy of my home while learning to play the Blues—still— in my dotage. Nope, I was never to be the prodigy my grandfather was—but very, very few ever were or will be.

    Did I mention he was from Lethbridge, Alberta?

    I’d like to think K-Boy would properly fund music and other arts education to build on Alberta’s reputation and to help diversify an economy too vulnerable to the decline of a single, dominant industry. Unfortunately, the consistency of the UCP’s grand, SoCon engineering project—one-tenth ass-backwards-practicality, nine-tenths ass-forwards-ideology —is likely to disappoint because, like the HarperCon nursery that nursed it, when an electoral shellacking looms larger on the approaching horizon and the conversion therapy schedule is way behind, it’s time to get in a hurry. Yeah, like Harper did with Northern Gateway pipeline and the Fair Elections Act, inflicting both with terminally rash rush-rash.

    …hey!—that’s got a kinda catchy beat to it! See!— there’s always hope.

    Reply
  16. Athabascan

    January 11th, 2022

    Oh, here’s an idea:

    Why not take all the public money Concordia University (private university) siphons off and re-direct it to the public university that is The University of Lethbridge?

    There, fixed it for you. You’re welcome!

    Reply
  17. Alan K. Spiller

    January 11th, 2022

    Isn’t it funny how Albertans whine and cry about it costing too much while these fake conservatives treat us like morons and continue to screw us out of our oil and tax wealth , trying to buy votes from their rich friends, and ignorant Albertans just keep re electing them. They even tried to elect reformer Erin O’Toole who like all the rest of them has no solution to any problems only blames it on Trudeau. While on the news they point out the cost of living around the world has increased by 28% since covid this fools tries to blame it on Trudeau. It’s all he’s got. While we have fools in Alberta believing all Kenney’s lies and blaming it on Notley.

    This wasn’t happening in Lougheed’s day and I can assure you from being in Norway it’s not happening there. University students are paid $1000. Per month to go to school , no tuition fees of any kind, and if they need housing it only costs $200. Per month. All schools costs for all students is free, along with all health care costs. Even prescription drugs are covered by the government. While Norway collects a 78% tax on their oil industry giving them a $1.4 trillion savings account and Alaska collects proper royalties on their’s giving them $77 billion Alberta who by far produces far more oil than the other two has a province in financial ruin thanks to these damn reformers. Norway has a 40% sales tax but it is only on things that people don’t really need and as they pointed out it keeps their young people from getting too far in debt, which I certainly saw as a bank manager.
    I’ m like some of you I have told my kids to get out of here as soon as they can I see no future in Alberta thanks to these Reformers and we only have Albertans to blame for letting it happen.

    Reply
  18. Alan K. Spiller

    January 11th, 2022

    I had a very interesting conversation with a medical doctor about 20 years ago. He told me that some of his doctor friends and him decided to do a survey. They found it hard to believe that Alberta seniors were still supporting Ralph Klein after what he had done to our health care system and how he had treated doctors and nurses, driving a lot of them out of the province, leaving us short which could effect these seniors. They kept a record of who these seniors were who were supporting Klein and discovered that a huge portion of them ended up with dementia, which made them wonder if that’s what was effecting their thinking. I found it interesting and maybe that explains it because my senior friends and I are finding that the only people still supporting Kenney are seniors.

    Reply
    • Comment

      January 17th, 2022

      Alan
      Your comments are very interesting and informative. With Kenney & the UCP, it also depends on where one lives in AB. My constituency has voted. and will always vote, conservative. No matter what. Many remain blissfully uninformed and unaware of policy and platforms, and don’t even care. They are professionals who vote conservative even if they are shooting themselves in their own foot. They are seniors and young people, too. There is no hope where I live – the hope lies in the rest of the province. I think it will take more information getting out to people who don’t read blogs or other such venues. I see how information I read just here is nowhere to be found on ‘the news’ at suppertime.

      Reply
  19. A little bird

    January 12th, 2022

    Albertans love to whine about arts funding being a waste but there are a lot of successful musicians from Alberta, and not the ones you’re thinking of. Redd Volkert, one of Nashville’s premium guitar slingers for the last (40?) years cut his teeth playing in Edmonton.

    Reply
    • St Albertan

      January 12th, 2022

      I hope you and I are not the only ones who remember the greats!
      Redd Volkaert 1977-1985
      “Ran out of places to noodle in British Columbia, Canada, and relocated to Edmonton, Alberta. Once there and after lots of car trouble and nowhere to live but the car, I hooked up with a trio named ‘Picker’, headed by drummer /singer Gordon Green, for three years trying to learn how to sing and play at the same time.
      Joined the Prairie Fire Band (a 5-piece hard core traditional Country and Western Swing band) with steel guitarist Dick Kruger in ’81 for a couple of years, gathering TV and recording experience while studying under Big George Moody (my first live hero). Then entered Danny Hooper and Country Spunk with fiddle phenomenon Calvin Vollrath for another couple of years of hardcoredom. These two bands are where I think I learned a lot of music and business from two of the best band leaders in Canada.” https://youtu.be/VzcdXHQa5MY?t=3

      Reply
      • A little bird

        January 12th, 2022

        Danny hooper ! That name rings out too. Alberta is a fertile ground, despite folks historically doing their best to not make it so.

        Reply
        • Yee....Haw!

          January 13th, 2022

          I’m old enough to know better, but I really miss the thrill of the live music scene back then. One Horse Blue down to Jerusalem Ridge! Plus our blues and jazz greats! Big Miller? Rock bands? Be still my broken heart! Edmonton spawned some of the best Pursuit of Happiness I can imagine! Why? People like Tom Ralston, Tommy Banks, the whole faculty at the UofA and GMCC. Even the agents like Ida! Don’t forget our gal though! https://youtu.be/p8OyRj1NkJw?t=4

          Reply
          • A little bird

            January 17th, 2022

            Now that’s a great suit. Katie Dawn is a treasure to be sure.

            Edmonton has punched well above its weight for a long time, something about the prairie isolation I think. Build it or die trying.

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