UVic News – University of Victoria
When the fourth-year saxophonist of the School of Music Baylie adams wanted to have an impact on the community during Black History Month last February, she was inspired by her own instrument. “We only heard about black composers in terms of jazz music, so I read about black composers to find a more diverse repertoire,” she explains. “I had never even thought of it in terms of a classical saxophone.”
Adams’ research led her to American classical composer William Grant Still, the first African-American to conduct an orchestra in the United States and, in 1931, the first to have his African-American Symphony performed by a traditional American orchestra.
Inspired, she applied for and received a student life grant of $ 1,500 from the Office of Student Life to fund the project. From there, his Cantabile Quartet, completed by fellow music students Alex Tiller, Ayari Kasukawa and Cole Davis, was quick to record an online recital. In appreciation of William Grant Still: a virtual benefit concert has presented a number of compositions by Still, including one written specifically for the saxophone, performed by Adams with accompanist Yousef Shadian.
In addition to inspiring people to learn more about this specific black composer, the recital raised over $ 900 for the Aleppo Blue Marists, a charitable fund directly supporting those affected by the ongoing war in Syria. Hosting a fundraising gig also helped Adams feel like she was contributing to the various Black Lives Matter actions going on at the time. “Putting work into an event like this made me feel better about all the injustices,” she says.
Undertaking such an effort in the middle of his final year of study is one thing, but it’s even more remarkable considering that it happened during the COVID lockdowns, which were particularly difficult for musicians in the world. ‘orchestra.
“It’s hard to play a recital when there is no one in the crowd,” she explains. “It’s hard to be proud of your performance when there’s no audience, when you’re sitting in your room playing your instrument in front of people in line. “
Yet, as Adams notes, this “the show must go on” mentality ended up being one of the biggest teachings of his Bachelor of Music program.
“It was a difficult thing that I learned at UVic, but it was a good thing,” she says. “Being in rehearsal really made my degree special – I will never forget that experience. . . although it sometimes meant that my teacher would tell me, in a kind way, that I need to work harder. It changed the way I conducted myself during rehearsals and made me work harder. Because of that, I became a better player overall.
Proof of this is her current enrollment in UBC’s Master of Music program, where she draws daily inspiration from the lessons learned here.
I constantly refer to my teachers at UVic because I want people here at UBC to know what they have taught me. But I also find myself messaging the students who are still at UVic, sharing what I’m learning here now. Working with other people has helped me learn to listen better to the opinions of others and become more comfortable sharing my own thoughts.
—Baylie Adams, UVic Class of 2021
While she was a part of both the contemporary Sonic Lab ensemble at the School of Music and the Wind Symphony at the University of Victoria, Adams did not limit her academic experiences to music alone. In addition to a work-study position with Alumni Relations, she also enjoyed working for Multifaith Services, where her technical support position helped her overcome the temporary loneliness of being a remote musician.
“I invited all of my friends to join the weekly online sessions – meditation, yoga – so we got to see each other there,” she recalls. “It was really a great experience. Meditating with other people, whether in person or online, was new to me.
Adams is also excited to be returning to campus to graduate. . . this time in person. “It looks a bit like a dream,” she laughs. “The human presence becomes more familiar again, but still seems a little nostalgic.”