Educator, pianist first to be honoured with arts awards

Awards named for two key figures in UBC community--artist Sam Black and theatre builder Dorothy Somerset

by Bruce Mason staff writer

Kit Grauer and Robert Silverman are internationally acclaimed artists and educators, but both say it is a very special honour to be the first recipients of two new UBC awards which pay tribute to legendary figures in their respective fields.

Grauer, an associate professor of Curriculum Studies in the Faculty of Education, has been named the first recipient of the Sam Black Award for Education and Development in Arts.

Silverman, a professor of Music, is receiving the inaugural Dorothy Somerset Award for Performance and Development in Arts.

"As one of many students of Sam Black, I am honoured on a deeply personal level," says Grauer, an accomplished art educator. "His passion for art and teaching had an international impact and influences me and my work on a daily basis."

"I admired him as an artist, but even more as a teacher and we remained very close until his death in 1998," she says.

Grauer recently completed a three-year term as president of the International Society for Education Through Art (INSEA) which Black helped found.

A 1994 Isaac Walton Killam Teaching Prize-winner, she began a World Wide Web project with UNESCO at INSEA to highlight good art practices around the world.

Silverman, a renowned pianist and mentor, recalls many evenings at UBC's Dorothy Somerset Studio, which closed in 1997.

"I am grateful to be the first to receive the award named for her and to UBC for recognizing its performing artists in such a tangible and appropriate manner," he says.

"I never wanted to be an artist in residence with my head in the clouds, so from my first day at UBC in 1973 I have tried to make a contribution," says Silverman, who has set a standard for a performing artist in a university position.

An active performer at the highest international level, he has excelled as a teacher and served for five years as a director of the School of Music.

Among his many accomplishments is learning the entire cycle of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas and performing it on seven occasions. His 10-CD recording of the sonatas will be released in the fall.

Sam Black's 41-year association with UBC began in 1958 as a professor of Fine Arts and Art Education.

Well-known as a brilliant artist and educator, he earned UBC's second Master Teacher Award after Walter Gage in 1970 and was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts as a master artist in 1977.

His work is in private collections around the world, including Grauer's own.

Dorothy Somerset made an inestimable contribution to theatre education.

After becoming director of the UBC Players' Club in 1934, she established a lending library of more than 3,500 books and was the driving force behind the first Frederic Wood Theatre, created out of an army canteen hut in 1951.

She was also instrumental in the building of the present theatre and served as its first artistic administrative head until her retirement in 1965.