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Music instructor recipient of Alberta Choral Federation’s Award

On October 25, music instructor Colleen Whidden accepted the Alberta Choral Federation’s Patricia Cook Memorial Award at a luncheon in Edmonton. Presented annually, the award recognizes a person, choir, institution, program or corporation who demonstrates exemplary service to advocacy in arts education in Alberta.

“I was very excited to receive this award,” says Whidden. “I know that there are so many amazing arts advocacy projects happening in this province so it was very humbling to have been chosen. It was especially meaningful to have my doctoral faculty advisor and past recipient of this award, Malcolm Edwards, present the award to me.”

The Music division in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary nominated Whidden. Division chair Joelle Welling recommended her commitment to arts education.

“Colleen has a passion for music education,” says Welling. “Two years ago, she created the Calgary Music Teacher’s Conference, which developed into an extremely well received annual event.”

The Calgary Music Teacher’s Conference brings together faculty members, elementary and secondary music teachers, professional musicians, music businesses and students for professional development opportunities. 

“In my past career as a secondary music teacher, I attended numerous professional development sessions that were not relevant to my music specialization,” says Whidden. “I always had the desire to create a conference designed specifically for music teachers in the field.”

The conference is coordinated through the fine arts consultants in the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District. By doing so, Whidden was able to create a collaborative, collegial atmosphere between the school boards and the university.

Whidden‘s commitment to arts education can also be seen through her teaching of various courses in both the Werklund School of Education and the School of Creative and Performing Arts. She also conducts the University Chorus and leads Music Theatre, formerly known as the UCalgary Operetta Company.

“She is a passionate teacher and mentor for her students and has a large impact on both our students and the larger community,” says Welling.

“Receiving this award is a recognition of all the extra time and effort given by so many arts advocates for their field,” says Whidden. “Even though my name is on the award, there are numerous people who have been dedicated to helping me advocate for the arts and so I see this award as a recognition for all."