Dr. Debra Cairns

Cairns Photo (June 2017).jpg

Affiliation: University of Alberta, Professor Emerita
Presentation: Interest Session, Participatory Workshop
Title: Beyond the Beats--Shaping the Musical Landscape through Gesture and Intent
Abstract: What happens behind, beneath, between and around the edges of beats is what allows the conductor to create a more effective gesture and intent that beneficially shapes the composer’s musical landscape. The session is designed both to whet the appetite of those at the beginning stages of their careers, and provide ideas for experienced conductors and educators.

Biography: DEBRA CAIRNS, DMA, FRSC, Professor Emerita (University of Alberta)

An award-winning conductor, Debra Cairns has been recognized in both performance and academic domains through CD publications, national broadcast recordings and competition prizes with i Coristi (the chamber choir she founded in 1994), as well as through articles, a scholarly edition of a Renaissance mass, and a book. She is the recipient of various awards, including Choir Alberta’s Richard S. Eaton Award of Distinction and Patricia Cook Memorial Award, and being named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dr Cairns’ research into the relationship of conducting gesture to choral ensemble sound has resulted in the development of philosophies and approaches to conducting that have a direct bearing on vocal production and choral sound. Applying this knowledge to her own work as a conductor, she has also shared her findings through lectures and masterclasses across the country, and through her work at the U of A with undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to successful careers as conductors and educators.