Music Issue: Playing an unintentional tune

Editor’s note: As the Juno Awards 2013 prepare to celebrate the best of Canadian music this weekend, Western Journalism students help us celebrate the best in Western Music. Read the full Music Issue.

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Whether it’s because Music professor Kim Lundberg is playing bits of his own composition on his piano, helping students with harmonies or compositions or chatting with colleagues, the door to his office is always open.

A large chalkboard with staff lines sits in front of a bookshelf lined with old books and sheet music. In the corner stands a piano. This office is where Lundberg juggles his two passions — composing and teaching.

Lundberg, 63, is an accomplished composer and a professor of 26 years with the Don Wright Faculty of Music. He teaches undergraduate and graduate skills courses in composition, keyboard harmony, music dictation and theory.

As a composer, Lundberg has written roughly 200 pieces ranging from symphonies to short choral works. He is currently working on a symphony — six years in the making — a concerto and a song cycle.

As a teacher, Lundberg oversees 16 teaching assistants in addition to teaching classes and making himself regularly available to his students.

He is most proud of his family. He and his wife, Ellen, have been married for 28 years and have two children, a daughter, 27, and a son, 25. His family has supported him “in every way you can imagine”.

But Lundberg would be the first person to tell you that his 26-year teaching career was far from inevitable.

“If you had told me 40 years ago that I would wind up teaching at Western I would have laughed in your face,” Lundberg said. “I would never have dreamed that in a million years when I was a kid.”

Lundberg was born in Toronto in 1949. Music was part of his life from a young age. His mother, grandmother and uncle all played piano. At 6, Lundberg began playing on the piano and started to organize notes. By 8, he had begun to write music down and by 13 he was taking piano theory lessons.

“That’s really when my music education began,” Lundberg said. “I wasn’t interested in being the world’s greatest pianist. I was interested in writing.”

After finishing high school, Lundberg completed one semester of a music degree at the University of Toronto before moving to Saskatoon for work. This is where he met his wife.

While in Saskatoon, Lundberg completed a degree in music composition at the University of Saskatoon. After his undergrad, he began looking for graduate work. This was in 1986. He was drawn to Western by the idea of studying under former professor and composer Gerhard Wuensch whom he greatly admired.

He graduated from Western in 1991 with a master’s degree in music.

Lundberg has continued to compose throughout his teaching career, citing a deep passion for the craft rather than the desire to sell his work. Among his favorite composers are Chopin, Bartok, Sibelius, Debussey and Ravel. He has a passion for native American music and an appreciation for all musical eras.

Exploring as wide a range of music as possible is something that Lundberg emphasizes to his students.

While composing started Lundberg’s path towards teaching, he says being a professor is his real passion. “I really love it when the light bulbs go on in students who have been struggling,” Lundberg said. “That’s worth teaching for me.”