New Kaplan chair hits all the right notes

Véronique Mathieu stepped in as the inaugural David L. Kaplan Chair in Music at the U of S on July 1.

In this new chair—made possible by a $2-million donation from alumni Xiaoping (Bob) Xu and Ling Chen and named in honour of their former music professor—Mathieu will focus on training undergraduate and graduate violin students, deepen the Department of Music’s connection with the community, including the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, and enhance the international reach of the university’s musicians.

“I’m grateful and honoured for the opportunity to be the first to take up this special role,” said Mathieu. “Holding the David L. Kaplan Chair in Music is a rare opportunity to help guide the next generation of musicians and give them the type of experience their talent and dedication deserves. I look forward to working with my new colleagues and the Saskatoon community to continue building a strong strings program at U of S.”

Mathieu has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Asia, Europe and South America, as well as South Africa, the United States and Canada. She is a prize-winner of the Eckhardt-Gramatté Contemporary Music Competition (2012), the Krakow International Contemporary Music Competition (2010), and is a three-time winner of the Canada Council Bank of Instruments Competition.

Mathieu has extensive undergraduate and graduate teaching experience in Canada and in the United States. Most recently, she served as the director of the strings division at the University of Kansas School of Music. Other significant roles include visiting teacher at the Toronto School for Strings and artist-in-residence at the Festival International de Musica Erudita de Piracicaba in Brazil.

“Nurturing students’ passion for the performing arts and maximizing their learning potential is integral to the College of Arts and Science academic mission,” said Peta Bonham-Smith, dean of the College of Arts and Science. “Ms. Mathieu’s appointment will allow us to train and educate students specializing in violin and to enhance the strings corps both locally and nationally.”

“[David Kaplan] embraced us with profound love and care when we first came to Canada from China in the 1980s as graduate students,” said Xu. “His strength of character, warmth and unconditional devotion to his students serve as the model by which we—and countless others—live our lives. After graduation, Dr. Kaplan’s spirit stayed with me, it guided me to help more students in my homeland as I started my own career as a consultant for Chinese students who wanted to study overseas.”

“The establishment of this chair epitomizes the importance of collaboration and partnerships to our university,” said Peter Stoicheff, U of S president and vice-chancellor. “Thanks to Bob and Ling’s generous support, the possibilities for our music students to create, collaborate and build careers are greatly enhanced. The opportunity to continue our partnership with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra through Ms. Mathieu’s work will be rewarding for our university, the faculty in the Department of Music, and our students.”

Kaplan, head of the Department of Music for nearly 20 years, played several instruments, composed numerous pieces of music, and conducted orchestras and bands, including the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. In recognition of his influence, Kaplan was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2002 and was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2006. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 91.

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