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Q & A with Pat Carrabré

Learn more about Pat Carrabré, the new Director of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

What led you to the Chan Centre?

I’ve enjoyed a varied career. My core work has been as a composer, writing for a wide range of performers and groups including the Gryphon Trio, Janina Fialkowska and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. It looks like I’ll be focusing on the voice for the next little while, as I’ve agreed to write new pieces for the Elektra Women’s Choir and the Vancouver Chamber Choir. Another area I’ve been involved with is artistic programming. I began a concert series in Winnipeg even before I had moved back from graduate studies in New York City. Since then I’ve been artistic director of a small string orchestra (the Brandon Chamber Players), and co-curated the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival. I was also the weekend host of CBC Radio 2’s late evening show, The Signal, which had a mandate to cross genre boundaries. I began my administrative career early, with some small non-profits, then at the Manitoba Arts Council, and later in the university environment. At Brandon University I was Dean of Music and Vice-President (Academic and Research) and since last summer, I’ve been Director of the School of Music at UBC.


What excites you most about your new role?

The Chan Centre has been an important performing arts presenter for over two decades, so I’m looking forward to working with the team here to ensure that work continues. But I am also hoping to reach out and make new connections: across the campus, in the community and beyond. Bringing different artists together to create projects where they can explore and take chances is also something I’m interested in supporting.


How do you see your roles as Director of the UBC School of Music and Director of the Chan Centre working together?

I see the relationship between the School of Music and the Chan Centre as being very complementary and natural. I think as we begin working more closely together there will be lots of opportunity to develop projects and concert ideas that will benefit our students and our audience. We’re excited to connect future visiting artists with UBC students and the broader academic community in even more meaningful ways, linking their artistry and ideas with some of the great research that’s being done here at the university.


You’ve been at UBC for a year now. Has anything surprised you?

I was immediately attracted to the breadth and vision that’s articulated in the university’s strategic plan, “Shaping UBC’s Next Century.” The UBC Faculty of Arts has also completed its own document, and the Indigenous Strategic Plan is coming close to approval. I’ve been involved with a lot of planning documents over the years. What really amazed me was the work that has been done to support those plans and encourage us all to think about the big issues as we position ourselves in the world.


The world is experiencing unprecedented change, with the arts facing particular uncertainty. In your opinion, what are the most important considerations for cultural institutions in order to adapt and move forward?

We need to make room. The dominance of colonial structures has made it difficult and sometimes impossible for many voices to be heard and there’s incredible value in diversity and inclusion. The first step is to accept the Truth, which is not easy. But only then can we move towards Reconciliation. I firmly believe that is the path to a better future.


What inspires you?

Great musicians and where I live. The size of the trees here is still a little hard to take in. I’ve written pieces with titles such as Prairie Sky and Winter Wind. We’ll have to see how my new positionality as a guest in this beautiful territory will impact my music and my programming ideas.


What are you listening to these days?

I’ve been enjoying Jarrett Martineau’s show, Reclaimed, on CBC. There is so much vibrancy in the music of the Indigenous resurgence. I’ve always listened to a broad range of music, so I’m also enjoying new albums by Canadian composer and multi-instrumentalist Owen Pallett, and NYC-based chamber ensemble yMusic.


When you’re not at UBC, where are we likely to find you?

My wife, Mary Jo and I love to walk in the Pacific Spirit Park and sit out on our terrace to watch the sunset. I’ve also been enjoying outdoor exercise options, especially running and biking.


Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

Stay tuned for information about the Chan Centre’s fall season. We are putting together a great selection of online concerts that we hope will allow us all to stay connected in these challenging times, and look forward to welcoming audiences back to the venue once it is safe to do so.




Thu Jul 23, 2020