Category: events (Page 1 of 3)

“We Are Family”: Performing in the CMU Opera | Guest blogger: Katy Unruh

City Workers in Love snuck up on me. I had no idea what I was getting into when I auditioned for this little comic opera by Neil Weisensel. With a concentration in Vocal Performance, I knew I needed the credits, but I had no idea the hours I put in to earn them would be some of the best, the most fun, most rewarding of my years at CMU so far.

If you’ve never been involved with the production of an opera, I’m not sure I can truly communicate the massive effort it takes. As both a cast member and a production assistant on this show, I got to know it from every angle. I learned my music, and by osmosis, almost everyone else’s. I memorized how to move and when, painted set pieces, made props, took notes in rehearsal, put together costumes, and the list goes on.

But what a list of tasks and projects doesn’t show is all the relationships which were built and shaped through the work on this show.

Katy performs in City Workers in Love
Katy (third from left) performs in City Workers in Love

First, there was my character. I had to discover who she was: her past, her mind, her relationships, even her physicality. She is still in my head—even now I find myself listening for Mavis’ reactions to the things I encounter in my daily goings-about. Mavis taught me new ways of seeing people with grace and to take myself less seriously sometimes.

Then there’s our director. Without David Klassen this show would never have happened! He brought light and warmth and patience into our rehearsals. He expertly saw potential in each cast member, a set design in a poster and an empty stage, and movement in stillness. He made the Laudamus Auditorium on Friday afternoons a safe space, giving us permission to feel and move and make mistakes as we learned about ourselves, our abilities, and each other.

And where would I be without my fellow cast members? One of the recurring lines in City Workers in Love, the mantra of the street crew, is, “We are family.” Over the course of the year this became truer and truer. In our small yet hardy cast, each voice mattered greatly and each distinct personality coloured the atmosphere. The more we learned to blend our voices and our natures, the closer we became. To sing is so deeply personal in the first place—your instrument is your body, your self—and to share that personal work in such intense circumstances speedily forges a bond that’s not easily broken.

In the last two weeks of preparation I hit my stride.  Every moment I could spare was spent on opera, either in a determined rush to put together the final details or contentedly dwelling in the joy of the process. This show left its mark on me. Even as I write this I still find bits of paint stuck in my hair, and I feel almost like a proud mother, changed and affirmed by a product of my effort which took on a life of its own.

Katy Unruh is a 4th year Bachelor of Music student focusing on Vocal Performance and Music Education

CMU’s School of Music: Why the Many Hours in a Practice Room Are Worth It

So far, the three years I have spent studying music at CMU have been the most challenging, but also the most rewarding.

Emma Heinrichs - CMU’s School of Music: Why the Many Hours in a Practice Room Are Worth It

Studying music is unique because you are constantly able to see how the things you are learning in the classroom directly relate to your individual growth as a musician.

This allows us to see how our hard work is paying off, and provides a reward for the endless amount of hours spent in a practice room!

CMU takes a more holistic approach to music. The music program aims to develop well-rounded musicians, as opposed to musicians who are only proficient in one area. And it addresses many areas of musicianship that are often overlooked and not covered in private music lessons.

I have also found that CMU values you as a person. Yes, you are here to get an education, but your success as an individual is also valued.

Within the larger community of CMU, the music school feels like a tight-knit family of students and faculty, who support and care for one another. I feel comfortable asking my profs questions about my degree, assignments, future, or even just what’s going on in my life.

Within the music degree, CMU places value on collaborative work, which allows you to share in the process of music making with your peers.

For me, collaborative work has given me the opportunity to work together with various vocalists and instrumentalists, sing in and accompany choirs, lead music in chapel, and play in the Mennonite Community Orchestra.

Emma Heinrichs - CMU’s School of Music: Why the Many Hours in a Practice Room Are Worth It

Several highlights for me have been singing in CMU ensembles with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, accompanying a vocalist for their credit recital, and playing in the Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition. All of these are experiences where I have seen my learning applied practically, and how it’s paid off.

It’s tough to truly experience what I mean if you’re not in the music program at CMU. But every once in a while, the music program gives a glimpse into the tight-knit family that it is. And there’s probably no better place to witness that than at Christmas at CMU.

Though it’s not a requirement to be a music student to be in one of CMU’s many ensembles, the strengths of the music program that I mentioned, such as the holistic education and community, really shine through at the make-your-own Christmas concert. So get in the holiday spirit, and come to Christmas at CMU on Saturday, November 25th with concerts at 2:00 and 7:00!

Emma Heinrichs is a 3rd year Music student at CMU.

God’s salvation at Portage and Main

I’m uncomfortable with salvation. Not because it’s a bad concept. I’m uncomfortable because it’s at the root of Christian faith, but I don’t know how to talk about it. Salvation feels abstract and distant a lot of the time. I can say that it has something to do with sin, and something to do with Jesus, but then I get stuck. 

Photo: The presentation of Jesus in the Temple, by Lawrence OP

Photo: The presentation of Jesus in the Temple, by Lawrence OP

I learned early during my time at CMU that you need to define your terms before having a conversation. This is why I have such a hard time talking about salvation: I don’t know how to define or explain it.

Is God’s salvation in the birth of Christ?

In Jesus’ death?

Is it in the continual saving works of God?

As I muse over these questions, I’ve settled into the idea that salvation is acknowledging the presence and work of God in the world. A lot of my discomfort with salvation is when it’s simply equated with accepting Jesus into your heart and going to heaven when you die. There is more going on than that. When Simeon sees salvation in the temple (Luke 2), there is something tangible and active. 

Seeing salvation acknowledges the presence of God in the world and trusts that God’s work of redemption is in progress. Simeon’s song looks at God’s mission of salvation for the whole world. Through healing of body, soul, and relationship, God invites us to see salvation in the midst of the broken world.

A few weeks ago, I was at the protest in support of Standing Rock in downtown Winnipeg. A group of students biked there together, meeting professors and others there. We began by standing alongside the road, calling, “Water is life!” Eventually the intersection was closed off, and we walked into the middle of the road at rush hour. The intersection was dark, the sounds of the street were distant, and there was a sense of communal adrenaline. It was here that I prayed for God’s salvation.

CMU students at Portage and Main

CMU students at Portage and Main

Although this was a hopeful event, I was struck by the brokenness of the world. Despite the energy and passion, when I was standing in the dead intersection, it felt hopeless. Any effort that we tried would be shut down, and the powers of the world were winning.

Here I prayed that Jesus would come and set things right, mending the effects of sin on our tired bodies and aching souls. I prayed for light and peace and hope. Wondering what would happen next, I realized that I was standing at the corner because I have seen God’s salvation.

I believe that God has, and continues to, redeem and heal the world. If we believe that, we must join in with God and show that we have seen God’s salvation in Christ. As the people of God, we are to join in God’s mission of redeeming the world, whether that’s in the middle of an intersection, at the lunch table, or in the classroom.

Photo: Bjorklund Jakob

Photo: Bjorklund Jakob

This moment, standing in the middle of Portage and Main, has become my image for Advent this year.

Waiting expectantly for something to change.

Waiting for the birth of the one who is light.

Waiting for the end of suffering and injustice.

Waiting for the in-breaking of love.

But while I wait, I remember that Christ is alive,

Our salvation is here,

The light has come.

We wait expectantly for Jesus, who invites us to see the world in a new way. At the same time, we remember God’s faithfulness and proclaim God’s mercy, for we have seen the salvation of God!

Laura

Christmas at CMU

"Grandpa Dietrich" (

“Grandpa Dietrich” (Associate Professor of Music) animates Christmas stories during Christmas at CMU

I have always loved Christmas. There is something mysterious and magical that comes along with it. The radio stations start playing O Holy Night and Christmas movies such as Home Alone and It’s a Wonderful Life are playing. Some of my favourite Christmas memories include cherishing a warm drink by the fire with a good friend, driving around on a sunny day as fluffy white snow falls from the sky, and of course family dinners that are always a tiny bit awkward.

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Father Christmas visits CMU

Coming to CMU and leaving my hometown in Ontario, I was nervous that I would lose many of the traditions that brought me so such joy during the Christmas season. However, as we neared Christmas there were many decorations surrounding our north campus (otherwise known as “the castle”). Overnight, everything had become festive: the beauty was overwhelming and it felt as though the castle had been transformed into Santa’s home. It doesn’t get much more magical than that, folks! The joyful and welcoming atmosphere that I had missed so much from home was sparked once again and my excitement could not be contained.

My friends informed me about Christmas at CMU, an event where friends and family gather to spend time in community, enjoying cookies and apple cider while listening to AMAZING musical compositions. I couldn’t wait to listen to the beautiful voices and instruments that the CMU choir, guitar ensemble, and many others were going to perform.

On the day of Christmas at CMU, the sun was shining and I knew it was going to be a great day. As my friends and I walked into the building, we were filled with Christmas cheer and felt a wave of relief from school stress and assignments. In this moment, the only thing I needed to worry about was getting my apple cider and enjoying some beautiful music.

Since my first Christmas at CMU, it has become an annual tradition and continues to be a great memory. It is something that I look forward to every year as a magical, joyful, and welcoming experience.

Emilie

Christmas at CMU is this Saturday at 2:00 and 7:00 PM. Join us!

Imagine Yourself on Campus: why visit?

When I was in the process of trying to decide where I wanted to go to university, a huge part of my decision was going and visiting the schools that I was considering. Being able to see a university gave me a sense of what it was like to be a student there. When I came to visit CMU, I knew that I could picture myself here.

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Four good reasons to come visit campus:

  1. Picture yourself there: It is really important to be a student in a place where you feel comfortable and where you can picture yourself, whether you are a commuter or living on campus. At CMU, campus visit days give you the opportunity to eat in the cafeteria, see a dorm room, and hang out in Marpeck Commons. These are the main places where students spend their time, and it’s a great opportunity to see if you can picture yourself there too.
  1. Learn about programs: When I was in the process of applying for universities and thinking about what I wanted to study, I only really knew about the programs that I had friends in or heard stories about. Coming to campus can give you an introduction to the wide range of courses that are offered and the different degrees, majors, and concentrations available at CMU.
  1. Meet professors and students: Going to visit a university means getting to see more than the building and hearing about the programs; it’s also an opportunity to interact with people you could potentially be spending a lot of time with. I always love hearing about the things my professors and fellow students care about. Coming to campus can be a chance to hear students talk about what they love to study. You’ll realize that the professors love what they teach and care about their students.
  1. Ask questions and get answers: When I feel overwhelmed by decisions or a lot of new information, I often don’t know where to begin asking questions because there are so many. What kinds of dorm rooms are there? What kind of food is in the cafeteria? What is an interdisciplinary degree? Do you have to be Mennonite? Why would I choose a small university? A campus visit day is an opportunity for you to be guided through the campus and have the space to ask questions, hear others’ questions, and get answers right away.

Even though there is a lot to take in, seeing the campus and meeting people is a good place to start thinking about university. Our next campus visit days are Friday, November 4 and 25. We have an open house on October 21. You can find more details here.

Laura

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