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Wednesday, 06 August 2014 15:29

Upgrades and additions are music to the ears of MHC’s Visual and Performing Arts GM

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Catherine Annau loves the direction the Medicine Hat College is taking. Catherine Annau loves the direction the Medicine Hat College is taking.

It’s a busy time of year for Catherine Annau, manager of Visual and Performing Arts at the Medicine Hat College.

Annau, whose job it is to oversee the visual communications program and the conservatory of music and dance, is gearing up for the start of the next education session.
This year, there seems to be an extra amount of excitement thanks to a new building, new programs and a fresh attitude. The commitment to excellent programming and instruction has always existed, but now there seems to be a willingness to add some innovation and modernization in a lot of different facets of the conservatory.
This renewal is more than just the new addition and modernization of the vis-com building, it’s in the programs. With the changes in place coming this year, Annau will not take all the credit.
“It’s been a question of resources, it’s not been wanting to get it done,” says Annau who credits college administration and the college’s leading-edge attitude of the new president Denise Henning. “The college is undergoing a period of renewal.
“It’s not like I came here and just came up with them. We’re just harnessing that desire for new programs... Again, it was just a matter of opportunity. Many of the instructors had these courses in mind themselves. It wasn’t strategic (per se) it’s what they thought people would like. We know from other communities what people like too. They are active ... they are still attracted to music, still attracted to movement; we want to enhance what they are doing.”
There’s a number of new programs and classes on offered. While the children’s music and dance is an impressive a line up as ever, there are a number of new classes which focus on the teenagers and adults.
New courses musically include a Pops Choir (music from 1950s-90s for those 17 and up); Brass Instrument Ensemble (12+), a drumming circle, Jazz 100 (16+), Latin Ensemble (14+), and a School of Rock (14+).
The drumming circle and Jazz 100 don’t require auditions.
Dance-wise, there are new classes for the adults that require no experience on behalf of the students. These include a new adult stretch class, adult ballet class and adult hip hop. For these adult classes, no experience or certain skill level is necessary. 
Annau is also encouraging those who knew how to play instruments before and are reconsidering, to try instruments out. They can rent them to see if they would like to use them. They also have private instruction available.
“Just go have fun and learn a new thing or revitalize something you already know,” explains Annau. “Maybe they just need to brush up their skills (they) feel (they) have lost. It’s not too late. Go have fun and learn, stretch your boundaries. Music and dance, it’s for everyone.”
Annau says the quality of instructors is impressive and the multi-talented people the college has on staff allows them to do programs such as these. A lot of the traditional classes have impressed Annau because of the commitment of the students and their parents as well as members of groups such as the community band.
She wants the conservatory and the visual communications building to become a cultural education for southeast Alberta.
Construction on the visual communications building where the conservatory is housed is almost complete. The plan is to have a grand opening Sept. 18 with a slated time of 4 p.m. Besides the opening, there will be an alumni art show featured.
As a documentary filmmaker, TV producer, published author, and former actor, it’s not surprising that Annau is well aware of the importance on all types of media. She was thrilled to see the website get an upgrade.
She highly encourages people to check out the website for immediate updates on the conservatory and to use it as a way to register for different programs.
“It’s a very current website, it’s a very dynamic place with the most information available,” explains Annau. “(For example) we’re hoping to move to online registry, which is especially beneficial for out-of-town people ... It’s really been revitalized.”
Annau came to Medicine Hat via Toronto.
Having an extensive background in the media from her previous work, it’s not surprising she and the college have partnered with the local Shaw TV station to do a segment called go! Southern Alberta which can be seen on the station as well on the website, which links to  YouTube. Annau is the volunteer host and plans to showcase different people, programs and events within the faculty.
To check out the programming, go to the college’s website at: and follow the links.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor