Dr. Jakub Martinec is a big believer in the power of community.
The assistant professor of choral conducting and director of choirs at Memorial’s School of Music was honoured in 2020 with the President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service, primarily for his role in leading the Atlantic Boychoir.
Dr. Martinec says working with local, regional and national choirs allowed him to find his community and his place in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“My family and I moved to St. John’s from the Czech Republic where the concept of community and community service are exceptionally important, as it is here,” he said. “Through my work with the Atlantic Boychoir, I have been able to build bridges and connect with many wonderful musicians and hundreds of families across the province who are now dear friends.”
His work with the choir, based in this province, is but one example of his generosity in sharing his professional musical expertise with others beyond his academic responsibilities at Memorial. The choir accepts all boys, regardless of their musical training, socio-economic status or learning challenges They are taught challenging classical repertoire at winter and summer music retreats, as well as weekly rehearsals.
“I am grateful to the community members who nominated me for this award and to the selection committee who recognized the merit of my contributions to the community.”
This musical and social training has prepared the choir not only for performances on the island, but for sold-out performances in prestigious European musical centres like Nuremburg, Vienna, Salzburg and Prague.
The choir, for example, performed three sold-out concerts with the Nuremburg Symphony Orchestra with 2,300 audience members in attendance each night.
This fall, the Atlantic Boychoir is expanding to New Brunswick, offering this unique type of ensemble singing to more boys and young men across Atlantic Canada.
Promoting musical excellence
One of his nominators said Dr. Martinec’s “inexhaustible passion for promoting musical excellence” is best exemplified in his volunteerism for innumerable workshops for music teachers and choral and orchestral conductors.
Dr. Martinec says he was honoured and humbled to receive this recognition from his university peers and community.
“I am grateful to the community members who nominated me for this award and to the selection committee who recognized the merit of my contributions to the community through my research at Memorial and the Atlantic Boychoir,” he said.
“This has been such a difficult year for everyone and this news renewed my motivation to continue with the work that was interrupted by the pandemic.”
Dr. Martinec also says the connection between the university and the community is “tremendously” important if academic research is to make a difference. Highlighting community contributions reminds us all of this significant connection.
“I believe that the arts are an essential part — actually the true heart — of a strong community. My work with the Atlantic Boychoir has served to make us feel ‘at home’ here.”
Nominations are currently open for the 2021 President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service. The deadline is July 30, 2021.
If you know someone deserving of recognition, check the details for the nomination process here.