About Us

About the Song Institute

As ancient as our species, Song is an expressive vessel for our personal, tribal, societal, and global experience. Its poetry chronicles our collective journey across millennia, its music penetrates beyond the realm of words to the core of our beings. From lullabies to laments, in rituals and celebrations, in diverse therapeutic environments, song expresses the fusion of human thought and feeling across the planet. An intercultural bridge, it reveals the commonalities of our inner beings within the diversities of human societies.

The Vancouver International Song Institute was formed through the collective efforts of an international group of renowned musicians, music scholars, poets, composers, and social scientists, as a stronghold to support the perpetuation of Art Song as a vital human legacy.

From Graham Johnson’s Songmaker’s Almanac, to Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata’s Aldeburgh Connection, from Francois Le Roux’s Centre de la Mélodie Française, to Paul Sperry’s Joy in Singing, from the Florestan Recital Project and Leave it to Diva, to Susan Youen’s profound writings, from Margo Garrett’s championing of American composers to sounds of contemporary song composers and performers, these are people whose work manifests deep dedication to Art Song’s power and beauty. The Song Institute’s home base at UBC in Vancouver is an outgrowth of our innovative work at the UBC School of Music, supported by its former Director Jesse Read, current Director Richard Kurth, and the Faculty of Arts.

Stories must be heard if they are to be perpetuated. The Song Institute is a gathering place to learn, commune, and celebrate this vast international trove of experiential history. It is a haven for experimentation with new forms and new songs. Performers explore expressive boundaries, teachers discuss mentoring means, listeners hone their musical understanding. Together we enjoy the expansive wealth of lectures encompassing a broad spectrum of humanities studies with links to the cognition, music therapy, and neuroscience research communities (artsong.pwias.ubc.ca). We welcome you to the conversation!

"Our dreams for the Song Institute extend further: an ongoing international centre for the interdisciplinary study of all song as a central phenomenon of our species – and for the creation of new sung stories to travel along the millennial continuum." - Rena Sharon, Artistic Director

Rena Sharon, Artistic Director

A Dream in the form of an Institute

Our intensive interdisciplinary approach includes: fascinating lectures ranging from poetry, history, philosophy, to physiology, biomusicology, music therapy and more; workshops on acting, movement, and stagecraft; Masterclasses and Lectures classes and performances with world-class artists; and explorations in an array of related areas. The programs foster an encompassing circle of collective aspiration, receptive listening, and daring creative expression. Art song needs advocacy, and the Song Institute is a haven for brainstorming, experimentation, and supportive feedback. Bring your ideas, and join the revolution!