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The gift of music

A birthday gift in honour of a Western faculty member and alumna supports Music Building renovation and expansion

by Krista Habermehl, MA'05 | November 24, 2014

The gift of music
Dr. Barbara Lent, MA'74, MD'78, plays the trumpet as part of the New Horizons Adult Band, an initiative of the Don Wright Faculty of Music.

Dr. Barbara Lent, MA’74, MD’78, took piano lessons as a child and participated in music classes in middle school, but never formally took up an instrument – that is until she heard of the New Horizons Adult Band.

A professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Dr. Lent picked up a trumpet for the very first time in 2002 when she joined the band. She has been entertaining audiences with the band ever since.

“I wanted to play the clarinet or the saxophone but I missed the first session because I had teaching responsibilities … so I was given the trumpet,” says Dr. Lent. “It’s been great. Everyone tries hard but there’s no competitiveness. I’ve learned new skills and have a greater appreciation for musicians. I also met lots of people, and playing for an audience is terrific.”

The New Horizons Adult Band is an initiative of the Don Wright Faculty of Music to provide instruction to adults wishing to learn, or re-learn, how to play wind or percussion instruments. Established in 1999, the band is the first of its kind in Canada.

The band has come to play an important role in Dr. Lent’s life and consequently that of her husband, Western Faculty of Law Professor Robert Solomon. “I am one of the many ‘band aides’,” says Prof. Solomon with a chuckle. “I carry instruments for some of the more elderly musicians and set up banners. It’s just a great deal of fun – very enjoyable.”

On the occasion of Dr. Lent’s 65th birthday, Prof. Solomon was inspired to make a gift to the Don Wright Faculty of Music – as a fitting tribute to the place that has provided him and his wife with so much pleasure. “It’s important for us to give back and particularly to support student-oriented projects and education,” says Prof. Solomon.

The Don Wright Faculty of Music is currently undergoing a $25-million renovation to upgrade and expand the Music Building.

When the couple learned that the faculty’s greatest need was for the $25-million Music Building renovation and expansion project, they directed their gift of $50,000 to the initiative. In recognition of their generous support, a rehearsal studio will be named in honour of Dr. Lent.

Currently, the music facility is bursting at its seams – with more than 700 students using a space originally intended for 450. The building renovation will double student space, creating a new 48-seat recital space, additional and larger rehearsal halls and practice rooms and seminar spaces.

According to Betty Anne Younker, dean of the Don Wright Faculty of Music, the building renovation and expansion will create a better environment for music teaching and learning.

“For our students to learn, compose and perform at their best, they need spaces that allow musicianship to flourish,” says Younker. Central to the renovations are rehearsal and teaching spaces, like the studio supported by Dr. Lent and Prof. Solomon, where accomplished vocal and instrumental instructors will offer one-on-one time for all performance students.

“We were inspired by Betty Anne’s enthusiasm for her students and her concern that they have appropriate space to practice and perform,” says Prof. Solomon. With this donation, Dr. Lent and Prof. Solomon are giving the gift of music to future music makers, a gift that they have enjoyed the past decade through the New Horizons Adult Band.


This article appeared in the Winter 2014 edition of Impact Western
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