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Young musicians fill sabbatical positions in the UPEI Music Department

by Annette Campbell

If you have been around the UPEI music department at all this semester, you've probably run into them, two fresh new faces, jostling around and doing all manner of things professorial. "They" are Karen Bulmer(left) and Ross Osmun, two young professional musicians gaining teaching experience as sabbatical replacements for the 2001 winter term.

With Greg Irvine and Francis Gray both on sabbatical this term, the department needed highly qualified individuals to fill their shoes for four months. The call went out and these two young scholars willingly stepped into the breech.

Karen Bulmer, a native of London, Ontario, began playing the tuba at the age of sixteen. "Before that, I played the flute," she confides, "people always seem to find that interesting." She began her music education at the University of Western Ontario, then continued with professional studies in Florida, finally ending up at Yale, working toward her PhD in performance with Toby Hanks. She completed the course work in May 1999 and is now getting some of the professional experience required to obtain her doctorate.

Ross Osmun is from Windsor, Ontario, and he too started to play at an early age. After completing his ARCT in piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, he moved onto a combined bachelor of Music, Science and Education. Science? Yes, well originally, Osmun was going to be a world-famous biochemical engineer, but his love of music kept drawing him back to the piano. He went on to graduate work in music at Eastman and graduated in September 2000 with a PhD.

Of course, I posed the obvious question: "So what do you think of UPEI?" After a chuckle and the requisite "it's great" response, the two became quite serious. "As the saying goes, `it's a great small university,'" stated Bulmer, "it's a much warmer atmosphere here, there's more comraderie than at a large institution." Both found that the smaller classes were a great plus as well. "With smaller groups, there is more room for creativity," agreed Osmun, "you try things you wouldn't be able to do with a larger class."

What does the future hold in store for these two? "A tenure-track position, hopefully," smiles Osmun. Both agree that performance will continue to be a big part of their careers as music educators. There it is, a snapshot of two music professionals on their way up.

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