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Profound impact

Memorial recognizes pair of remarkable faculty members with top honour

Campus and Community

By Jeff Green

Internationally respected performers. Champions of Canadian music. Beloved mentors.

Dr. Nancy Dahn, left, wearing a dark-coloured top and holding a violin, and Prof. Timothy Steeves, right, wearing an orange-coloured shirt.
From left are Dr. Nancy Dahn and Prof. Timothy Steeves, the 2021 recipients of the John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professorship.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Two award-winning researchers from the School of Music are receiving Memorial’s highest institutional honour for their extraordinary contributions to teaching and learning, research and public engagement.

Dr. Nancy Dahn and Prof. Timothy Steeves are the 2021 recipients of the John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professorship.

The award is presented to faculty who embody the university’s mission by demonstrating exceptional teaching, undertaking world-class research and sharing their knowledge and expertise nationally and internationally.

Named in honour of Memorial University College’s first president, the award comprises the lifetime designation, Distinguished University Professor, and a one-time unrestricted grant ($20,000) to support future research, teaching and/or public engagement activities at Memorial.

Premier ensemble

Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Dahn, violinist, and Prof. Steeves, pianist, School of Music, record professionally as the acclaimed chamber ensemble Duo Concertante.

They are recognized around the world for their deep contributions to their art, while their work has elevated Memorial’s growing reputation for leading-edge music scholarship.

Recognized as Canada’s premier violin and piano ensemble, Dr. Dahn and Prof. Steeves have performed more than 600 concerts over the past two decades. Their 12 critically acclaimed recordings have garnered Juno and East Coast Music awards and received praise in German, Austrian, British and Canadian media.

The pair has received more than 100 research and artistic grants from sources ranging from the Canada Council for the Arts to Canadian Heritage.

For 25 years, Canada’s leading composers have written more than 65 major compositions for them. The pair continues to add to this legacy of new works through sustained commissioning activity.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. Dahn and Prof. Steeves are well known and admired within the arts community as founding artistic directors of the Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival.

Through the annual event, they have presented more than 125 guest artists from around the world; mentored more than 350 young musicians and composers representing 10 countries; and travelled to more than two dozen communities for school tours and performances.

‘Highest level’

“Nancy Dahn’s contribution to recorded music, especially of original works by Canadian and international composers, is among the most distinguished of any violinist whom I have encountered,” Dr. Jon Kimura Parker, professor of piano, Rice University, said in a letter of support for the nomination.

“These contributions are a performing musician’s equivalent of publishing at the highest level.”

Dr. Dahn received her training at the New England Conservatory of Music, the Juilliard School and the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received master of music and doctor of musical arts degrees in violin performance.

‘First-class beacon’

“It is hard to think of an artist who has done more for the musical community in Canada than Prof. Steeves,” Dov Scheindlin, violist and former artistic director, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and associate member, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, said in his letter of support.

“His international career as a star performer combined with his commitment to developing a strong musical culture at home has contributed greatly to the reputation of Memorial University as a first-class beacon of artistic achievement.”

Prof. Steeves holds a bachelor of music (honours) degree from the University of Western Ontario, a Diplom-Musiker from the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media in Germany and the Solistenexamen from the University of Music Freiburg, also in Germany.

The pair received the President’s Award for Outstanding Research in 2003 and both were named University Research Professors in 2016.

Dr. Dahn and Prof. Steeves will be recognized during the President’s Awards celebration scheduled this month.

April 1 deadline

Memorial welcomes nominations for the John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professorship.

Graphic featuring the text: Do you know a phenomenal professor? Nominate them for the John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professorship. The President's Awards 2022, along with a trophy, star and leaves.

Nomination packages must be submitted electronically to researchawards@mun.ca by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 1.

More information about the award, including its terms of reference and information on materials required for nomination packages, is online.

Those considering applying should contact their unit’s grants facilitator (or, if the unit has no grants facilitator, the person with signing authority for your unit) to confirm if there are earlier, internal deadlines. Internal deadlines must be factored into the timing of the development and submission of the applications.

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