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Global performers

School of Music alumni return from world stage as visiting faculty

Campus and Community

By Marcia Porter

School of Music alumni E. Mark Murphy and Dr. Sean Rice have careers that take them all over the world, but the two musicians are thrilled to be teaching in their hometown this school year.

“I’m super excited to come home,” said Mr. Murphy, who is filling in for Dr. Caroline Schiller while she’s away on sabbatical. “The school has a great vibe.”

Mr. Murphy, far right, has performed in operas, operettas and musical theatre productions throughout Europe and North America.
Photo: Submitted

Since graduating from the School of Music in 1999, Mr. Murphy completed a master’s degree at Boston University and another master’s degree in Germany.

His career has taken him around the globe performing opera, operetta, musical and concert repertoire, including more than a decade performing in the German opera system.

For the past three summers, Mr. Murphy has served as producer and executive director of College Light Opera Company in Falmouth, Mass.

Photo of well-dressed people, with spotlight on well-dressed man in suit for opera show
E. Mark Murphy in character.
Photo: Submitted

Formative years

Looking back on his student days, Mr. Murphy says he’s grateful the School of Music recognized his talent, and supported and nurtured his development as an artist. He cites now-retired faculty member Dr. Doug Dunsmore for having an important influence on him.

“Memorial is a really special place and it was important for me to stay in touch,” he said.

Mr. Murphy plans on sharing his insights gained on stage over many years of international performance experience with his students over the fall and winter semesters.

“You have to be able to sing, tell a story and communicate. You really have to develop your performance chops.”

Dr. Sean Rice

Since graduating from the School of Music in 2005, award-winning clarinetist Dr. Rice has also made his living predominantly as a performer.

He completed master’s and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School in New York, and has a busy life in Ottawa, Ont., playing second clarinet with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Photot of man in suit holding a clarinet
Dr. Sean Rice, second clarinetist and bass clarinetist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, hopes to share his knowledge of the performance world as a faculty member.
Photo: National Arts Centre Orchestra

This year he’ll take over the clarinet studio from Dr. Christine Carter, who is on maternity leave.

“It’s a privilege and a pleasure to fill in for Dr. Carter, who has done a great job building the clarinet and saxophone studio,” said Dr. Rice, taking time to chat during a busy Canada 150 season with the orchestra.

“I’d like to help continue the work she is doing with her students. They sound great. I’ve always loved teaching, and teaching this many students is exciting. It’s a great school and there’s a lot going on; I was lucky to spend my first degree at home!”

Since beginning his music career, Dr. Rice has collaborated with School of Music faculty members, including Dr. Jane Leibel and Dr. Maureen Volk, and maintains a trio with Dr. Vernon Regehr and fellow alumnus Patrick Cashin.

He was recently back in St. John’s with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, playing with Shalloway Youth Choir for the Canada 150 tour.

“They’re phenomenal,” he said of the youth choir. “They possess such a high level of professionalism, and watching them gave me such pride.”

St. John’s life

Pride in culture, where music and storytelling are highly prized, is one of the reasons he’s looking forward to spending the next year in St. John’s.

With his strong background as a musician performing orchestral music, Dr. Rice says he hopes to offer students some insight about how to prepare for auditions, the daily life of an orchestral musician and more.

“It is a privilege to work in an environment that puts such an emphasis on music.” — Dr. Sean Rice

He understands the importance of good teaching and credits former teachers Vincenza and Grant Etchegary for getting him started on the clarinet in elementary school years ago.

But it was after winning the top prize in the Kiwanas Festival as a 16-year-old that he realized, “I was on to something.”

“That’s why I’m really excited to come back. It is a privilege to work in an environment that puts such an emphasis on music.”

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