Celebrated BU pianist inducted as Fellow to Royal Society of Canada

November 25, 2022

Megumi Masaki (photo credit: Robert Hechler)

Megumi Masaki is today being inducted as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada.

Masaki is a professor of piano in Brandon University’s School of Music, director of the New Music Ensemble, curator/founder of the annual BU New Music Festival, and Artistic Director, E-Gré National Music Competition. She is in Calgary for the prestigious ceremony, part of a three-day celebration and conference. Masaki is one of 102 new Fellows inducted to the Society during their Celebration for Excellence. This recognition for career achievement is the highest honour an individual can achieve in the Arts, Social Sciences and Sciences.

BU professor Megumi Masaki being honoured by the Royal Society of Canada.

“I am deeply honoured to be recognized by the Royal Society of Canada for my interdisciplinary research and body of work in the creation and performance of new music and interactive multimedia,” Masaki said this morning, ahead of her induction. “I am grateful to Brandon University, our wonderful School of Music and my amazing students for the support. The environment at Brandon University is forward thinking and dedicated to innovation and positive change. Music has the power to help address pressing challenges of our time and I look forward to continuing to advocate for social and environmental justice.”

Yesterday evening, Masaki also performed at a pre-celebration soirée, held at the National Music Centre Performance Hall, also in Calgary. She performed “See the Freeze, Hear the Thaw” from her HEARING ICE project. The evening featured creative performances that, working within and across artistic forms, explore contemporary concerns, including climate, social justice, inclusion, and community.

Written in collaboration with people in the Northwest Territories who are among those most impacted by climate change, HEARING ICE is a piano and multimedia narrative work that raises awareness of those impacts on ice and communities. It’s one of many collaborative multimedia works in Masaki’s long list of compositions and premieres, which cumulatively have elevated her as an innovator who reimagines the pianist, piano and performance space.

Masaki’s work explores new models of interaction and integration of sound, image, text and movement in multimedia works through new technologies, including hand-gesture-motion tracking to generate and control live-electronics and live-video, 3D visuals, piano controlled video game, e-textile sensors and artificial intelligence. As a Japanese-Canadian artist, her work is also connected deeply to community, acting on Truth and Reconciliation calls to action, and how human rights and environmental issues can be communicated through music and multimedia performances to create narratives that speak truth to power.

“It has been quite incredible to witness the recognition that our colleague, Professor Megumi Masaki, has been receiving over the past many months,” said Greg Gatien, Dean of BU’s School of Music, adding that it had been rewarding to attend two of her performances on campus this semester. “She is a wonderful example of the great work that takes place in our renowned School of Music, and occasions like this serve to remind us all how very fortunate we are to work and study with such dedicated, talented, intelligent, and creative colleagues.”

“Megumi’s contributions to Canadian and global culture show that major talent thrives right here in Brandon,” said BU President David Docherty. “Megumi’s innovative style captures attention around the globe and she is a magnet — an extraordinary artist who draws other artists to Western Manitoba to work with her. She is a gift, here at home and globally.”

Earlier this year, Masaki was also named to the Order of Manitoba.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) comprises the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences, and The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. The RSC. recognizes excellence, advises the government and the larger society, and promotes a culture of knowledge and innovation in Canada and with other national academies around the world.

“The Royal Society of Canada is delighted to welcome this outstanding cohort of artists, scholars and scientists. These individuals are recognised for their exceptional contributions to their respective disciplines and are a real credit to Canada,” says RSC President Jeremy McNeil.

 

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