Two recent graduates from Memorial’s School of Music have already reached what many musicians would consider to be the pinnacle of professional achievement. Both Andrew Dunsmore (a percussionist) and clarinettist Sean Rice have won prestigious full-time positions in major Canadian orchestras.
Last month, Mr. Dunsmore was appointed percussionist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, fulfilling his long-standing dream of becoming an orchestral musician.
The son of Memorial professor Dr. Douglas Dunsmore, who specializes in choral music, the younger Dunsmore took up percussion while still in high school and has studied with Don Wherry (founder of the Scruncheons percussion ensemble) and associate professor of percussion Dr. Rob Power of the School of Music.
Mr. Dunsmore holds a bachelor of music from Memorial, a master's in music from the University of Toronto and an artist diploma in orchestral performance from the Glenn Gould School. He enjoys the diversity of instruments within the percussion family and the flexibility of the percussionist’s role.
"I can perform with a symphony orchestra one night, a contemporary chamber ensemble the next day, a world music ensemble later than week and tour with a rock band on the weekend. Who wouldn’t enjoy that kind of diversity in their jobs?" said Mr. Dunsmore, who credits the School of Music for making him comfortable performing for an audience.
A clarinettist since the age of 10, Sean Rice was born and raised in St. John’s and graduated with his bachelor of Music from Memorial's School of Music in 2005. After studying with professor Paul Bendzsa, he received his master's from the prestigious Julliard School in New York and is now a doctoral candidate there. He won a position as second clarinet with Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in November 2010.
Memorial’s School of Music receives raves from Mr. Rice with regards to the way it allows students to grow and excel at their craft.
“I think Memorial offers unique opportunities where both an individual and an ensemble can have access to the resources and teachers of the school but also the resources of the community in St. John's. The opportunities to perform and build professional experience are readily available to students and these invaluable experiences are what separate the school from other musical institutions,” he said.
Having two alumni recently placed in major Canadian orchestras is a proud moment for the School of Music.
“They say it takes 15 years to make a professional musician: Andrew Dunsmore and Sean Rice show just what can be done when talent, opportunity and a nurturing community come together,” said Dr. Ellen Waterman, director, School of Music.