On Wednesday, Memorial Uni-versity of Newfoundland (MUN) music school director, Tom Gordon, will give a public performance that will signal the end of his tenure as director.
"To me, this is the greatest job I could possibly ever have had," said Gordon in an interview with The Telegram last week.
Gordon has been head of the School of Music since 2000 and under his watch, the school has seen several changes such as:
the opening of the Petro Canada Hall, in 2005;
the addition of graduate degree programs (Master of Music, Master of Ethnomusicology and Doctor of Ethnomusicology);
the creation of the Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media, and Place;
an increase in music school student population by 60 per cent, to today's 200 students. (Of that total, 40 students, or 20 per cent of the population, are now studying in graduate programs.)
In addition, music programs have remained competitive under Gordon. Despite the increase in population, only one in every four people who apply to enter the music school are ultimately accepted.
Interacting with students
Those that are offered a place, find roles in the 40 or so music-school concerts each year. They also have had the chance to interact with the school director, who has taught each year of his tenure and has been known to regularly attend student performances.
"I always pick a course that every student has to take," said Gordon of his teaching.
Students have also been included in Gordon's research initiatives. For example, his study of the music influenced by the Moravian missionaries to Labrador led to a concert tour of communities by 12 students.
Research in Labrador is one area Gordon said he plans to study further over the next year, a year where research will be his central focus.
He is then planning to return as a regular faculty member, in Sept-ember 2011, for "maybe one or two more years," he said.
Stepping down, task unfinished
Asked why he would step down from the director's position, a position he found so rewarding, Gordon said he wants to give the chance for someone to come in with fresh ideas for the school.
"It's an exhausting job and I'm ready to do something else that I love," he said.
One thing the director said he feels has been left unfinished is the planned improvements to the music school building.
"This building was built for 120 students. We have 200 students now," said Gordon. "So we're bursting at the seams now."
In addition to use by students and faculty, the M.O. Morgan Music Building is a popular site for evening rehearsals, concerts and meetings for choirs, festivals and musical groups within the city and province.
The director estimated about 30,000 people from the public would come through the building in 2010.
He said he hopes to see fundraising for improvements to the building pick up soon.
Director's Choice concert
Soon after Gordon first arrived to take the position of Director of the MUN School of Music in 2000, a concert was organized featuring faculty members.
"We thought a good way to end this 10 years would be to do the same thing," he said, explaining the idea of the Director's Choice concert, planned for Wednesday evening.
Gordon, "a Sunday pianist" will perform, along with harpsichordist Mary O'Keeffe - his "partner in life as in music."
Asked if he might give a speech during the concert, the director replied, "I don't know if I can." Instead, he may simply let the music speak for him.
The Director's Choice concert begins at 8 p.m. in the D. F. Cook Recital Hall at the MUN School of Music building. It is the final event on the 2009 - 2010 Music at Memorial concert series. Tickets can be reserved by phoning 709-737-4700.