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Laurier Centre for Music in the Community marks grand opening with a celebration of song and dance

The Laurier Centre for Music in the Community (LCMC) officially opened its doors to the public with a spectacular performance event, incorporating musicians, interpretative dancers and elaborate costumes.

On March 28 and 29, spectators were treated to the world premiere of Imaginibus Mundi, which was composed by Laurier music Professor Peter Hatch and senior students Colin Labadie and Heather Olaveson. This was followed by a multidisciplinary production of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, which highlighted the relationship between performance and life just as Orff intended it when he composed the piece more than 70 years ago. It’s something few modern interpretations of the piece have managed to do, but for LCMC Director Lee Willingham, nothing could have been more appropriate for the centre’s grand opening.

“The piece was written to be performed by professionals and amateurs together,” said Willingham. “It exemplifies the purpose of our centre. The performance was remarkable and the audience was thrilled.”

Formally established in 2007, the LCMC brings together interdisciplinary researchers from Laurier and other institutions to study the sociological, philosophical and educational aspects of community music, and how it is defined and expressed. The centre also involves the community through performances, conferences, festivals, town-hall forums and book publications. The LCMC’s approach is based on the assumption that many people know a lot about music and use it purposefully.

“People are like wine connoisseurs — they know a great deal about the music they’ve chosen,” said Willingham. “We’re aiming to remove the walls of the hallowed high temples of music and find ways to open ourselves to the community. We can learn a lot from each other.”

Part of the process involves deconstructing traditional performance rituals, something Hatch calls the invisible barrier between performers and audience or “the fourth wall.”

Imaginibus Mundi, for example, was written for the street, not the stage. Buskers welcomed audience members waiting outside Laurier’s Theatre Auditorium, immediately immersing them in the performance and transforming them from observers to participants. As the buskers led the audience into the auditorium, Imaginabus Mundi gave way to Carmina Burana, and attendees experienced community music like never before. The avant-garde Motus O Dance Theatre, Laurier choirs, instrumentalists, soloists and high school choirs came together to bring the classic piece to life. The addition of costumes, multimedia elements and live video footage of audience reactions took Orff’s 1930s vision to modern new heights.

The event, which was financially supported by the Musagetes Fund at the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation and a special initiatives grant from Laurier, also included a Saturday morning town-hall meeting called Intersections: Music in Everyday Life. Martin de Groot, executive director of the Waterloo Regional Arts Council, and Edwin Outwater, music director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, joined community members for a lively discussion about how music faculties can intersect with people’s musical lives.

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