Dear Friends of GroundSwell:
My name is Victoria Sparks, and I was recently appointed President of Groundswell’s Board of Directors. I have been serving on the board for the past 5 years as a board member and then as Treasurer, but my relationship with Groundswell goes back much further. I am a percussionist, and so, by nature of my instrument, I have deep connections with new music. Percussionists are often seen as the experimenters, the ones who are willing to do the unusual things. Because of that willingness, we have befriended by another creative group of people, the composers! This partnership is rooted in the 20th century repertoire that pushed percussionists to explores the extremes of what is possible in the sound world.
I teach percussion at the University of Manitoba and am privileged to be able to share my love of traditional and weird percussion sounds with my students. Talking about sound, what it means to create it, consider it and curate it, requires commitment and open-mindedness. We learn what the boxes are so that we can push ourselves to think outside of them.
I have had the opportunity to develop as a professional musician through performances created and curated by the Artistic Directorate team at Groundswell on many occasions. These performances the highlights for me. They have challenged my technical and artistic boundaries and I am so grateful to get to perform with exceptional roster of local and visiting musicians who grace our stages each year. Winnipeg has a vital and active musical culture and I see Groundswell’s role as creating connections between a series of overlapping styles and genres. Contemporary chamber music is a place for musicians and sound artists to collaborate, to connect through a mix of musical languages and to create new things through those connections.
As President of the Board of Directors, I see my role as continuing to support those artistic and creative goals through transparent governance and cultural leadership in our community. The board has recently completed a strategic planning process and I am looking forward to implementing recommendations from the report that will push Groundswell to continue along our path to serve our community through creative programming and educational outreach. This will take place though encouraging diversity in many forms (composers, performers, venues, collaborators and more) and by prioritizing the creation of inclusive spaces where new music is an amplifier for all voices to express themselves.
One of the ways I’d like to commit myself to these goals is to be open to the opportunities that will come as we push our organization to walk along these paths. Part of welcoming diverse voices is staying quiet long enough to hear what they are telling us. Listening is one of the most important things that we do as musicians. I want Groundswell to provide spaces for artists to share their voices, sounds, ideas and stories. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say! Looking forward to seeing you soon at one of our events, please take a moment to say hello if you have a chance!
Victoria Sparks is a percussionist who performs as principal Timpani/Percussion with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and works with other Manitoban arts organizations, including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Groundswell New Music Series, the Winnipeg New Music Festival and the Nordic Music Days (Faroe Islands, 2021). Victoria performs with the clarinet/percussion duo Viðarneisti alongside Catherine Wood. She is the Percussion Area Head at the University of Manitoba, teaching lessons, directing the percussion ensemble and teaching percussion techniques. She is the founder and director of the MBA Prairie Percussion Workshop (since 2012), an annual education and performance event for percussion students. She serves as the President on the executive boards of Groundswell Inc and the University of Manitoba Faculty Association and is the Vice-President of the Music Professionals of Manitoba (local 190). Victoria is a Yamaha Artist and proud to support their creative and educational projects.