Introducing The Dan School of Music and Drama
This past Thursday April 7, 2016 I had the great privilege to attend a gala concert in honour of the naming of the new school of Drama and Music at my Alma Mater, Queen’s University.
The new school combines the already prestigious schools of Music and Drama into one unified institution.
“Our plan is to create the pre-eminent School of Drama and Music in Canada and one of the leading such schools in the world,” says Craig Walker, head of the Dan School of Drama and Music. “Moreover, we hope to lay down new paths for scholarship in the field of music theatre. This generous donation by the Dan family will help enrich the learning and research environments for students in drama and music at Queen’s and help our students reach new heights.”
I am proud of have been mentored by Craig Walker both as a student at Queen’s and early in my career as I was learning the ropes. I was overjoyed when he contacted me in February to ask if I would take part, along with several other Queen’s alumni, in the concert.
The evening was hosted by Drama professor, Greg Wanless and featured the great Tim Fort (who was also one of my mentors), as well as several other alumni who have gone on to make their careers in drama and/or music. I had the distinct pleasure to perform a duet with Robin Evan Willis who was in first year when I was a fourth year. Robin and I sang an old Irving Berlin standard, “You’re Not Sick, You’re Just In Love” and had a blast doing it.
The guest of honour however was Aubrey and Marla Dan. Aubrey is a celebrated businessman and philanthropist who had a deep love for the performing arts. He is also the founder and head of DanCap productions in Toronto where he has produced many live productions. He is also a Broadway producer. The Dan’s daughter is a recent graduate of the Queen’s Drama department and when he was approached by Craig Walker for a donation he surprised everyone by exceeding everyone’s expectations of generosity. The University thanked him for his generous $5M endowment by naming the new school of Drama and Music after its most generous benefactor. Aubrey was invited on to the stage during the gala to discuss the sequence of events that lead up to the massive gift. We finished the evening off with the final scene from “The Drowsy Chaperone” (starring professor’s Wanless and Fort and the entire ensemble of performers including Aubrey Dan himself) and a cocktail reception afterwards.
It was good to be back on campus (especially to see the new Isabelle Bader performing arts centre) and remind myself how lucky I am to have studied at Queen’s and to be part of such a proud legacy.