Young musicians, actors, dancers, writers, and other artists now have a high school that speaks their language in Winnipeg.

On Wednesday, the University of Winnipeg launched its performing arts program at its on-campus high school, The Collegiate.

The hope is to establish The Collegiate as "a centre for artistic excellence that encompasses many forms," said U of W president and vice-chancellor Lloyd Axworthy.

Chantal Kreviazuk

Chantal Kreviazuk and University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy at the performing arts program launch on Wednesday. (Katie Nicholson/CBC)

“As a thriving high school within a university campus, The Collegiate is already unique in Canada. Building on this foundation is a burgeoning performing arts program that re-imagines The Collegiate as the place to go for creative students whose interest lies in music and the arts," Axworthy said.

To that end, the university is creating programs in partnership with the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts (MCMA) and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB), stated a news release from the U of W.

In September, The Collegiate will begin offering an instrumental band program, while a choral program will be established with teachers from the MCMA.

Bolstering The Collegiate’s evolution, the MCMA is moving into UWinnipeg’s historic Bryce Hall from its current location on Bannatyne Avenue in the Exchange District.

Chantal at piano

Chantal Kreviazuk performs at the launch of the U of W Collegiate's performing arts program. (Katie Nicholson/CBC)

Work is about to start on a project converting Bryce into state-of-the-art music facilities, including a spacious instrumental music classroom and ten studio spaces, according to the U of W news release.

"Our newly renovated central location will serve as the perfect base to support our principles of providing excellent, accessible music education,” said MCMA executive director Norine Harty.  

A jazz dance program will also be introduced, along with established courses in art, drama, extra-curricular dance and creative writing on campus, the U of W said.

"Other performance arts, such as additional form of dance and musical theatre are planned for the future, as are opportunities for Collegiate students to earn credit hours in a music course at the undergraduate level," stated the news release.

One of the collegiate's most famous graduates, singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, who graduated in 1990, performed at Wednesday's launch and lauded the new program.

"What amazing opportunities for young minds to sort of go into their education every day with the actual support, you know, of who they are and what they're trying to achieve," she said.

Honorary doctorates

Kreviazuk is also set to receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters from her alma mater during a special convocation in the afternoon.

Other recipients include:

  • Dr. Denis Mukwege (Honorary Doctor of Laws) — He co-founded of the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 1988, just as war in the region was breaking out. The Panzi hospital is now known as a refuge sought by tens of thousands of women physically damaged by sexual violence.
  • Joseph Stern (Honorary Doctor of Laws) — A graduate of United College (now University of Winnipeg), Stern worked in the federal public service, managing the refugee determination process and helping to shape Canadian refugee policy. "As chair of Canada’s Refugee Status Advisory Committee (RSAC), Stern contributed a humane and progressive voice to the international conversation on how the democratic west can ­– and should – help the world’s dispossessed and persecuted," stated the U of W award biography.