Brueggergosman, Measha

Degree conferred: Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.)

to be Doctor of Letters

Fredericton-born Measha Brueggergosman is one of Canada's best known sopranos and a rising star on the international stage. Measha began singing in her church choir and with Mabel Doak as her teacher, her talent developed as she participated in the Fredericton Music Festival, Fredericton High School productions and summer music camps in Rothesay, N.B., and at the Boston Conservatory.

After studying with the gifted New Brunswick soprano Wendy Nielsen, Measha attended the University of Toronto, graduating with a bachelor of music degree. She made her debut to great acclaim, even before she graduated, in the premiere of the opera Beatrice Chancy, which was filmed for the CBC. Early on she received several awards, among them the Grand Prize in the 2002 Jeunesses Musicales Montreal International Competition and first prize at the Dutch International Vocal Competition.

Although only 33, Measha has performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and with all the major Canadian Symphony Orchestras. Her 2009-2010 schedule alone included performances in Los Angeles, the Netherlands, South Korea, St. Louis and Cincinnati, not to mention her stirring rendition of the Olympic Hymn at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. She also made her debut with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela, under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.

Known in some quarters as "the barefoot diva" for her habit performing shoeless, Measha embodies versatility as a classical, jazz and gospel singer, combining a high level of musicianship with a charismatic stage presence. Her recordings with the CBC and the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label have yielded nominations for a Grammy and three Junos. In 2008 she won the Juno for Best Classical Album and just last month an East Coast Music Award in the same category. She has given a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth and has sung for numerous world leaders including Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and the queens of Denmark and Norway.

In addition to her strenuous concert schedule, Measha has lent her voice and energy to several social causes. Just last December she joined with local folk musician David Myles in a concert to raise money for Hospice Fredericton. She is a goodwill ambassador for three international organizations: The African Medical and Research Foundation, Learning Through the Arts, and the World Wildlife Fund. This has taken her from primary schools in New Brunswick to displaced persons camps in Uganda.

Measha has become a TV personality as host of a European cultural variety show and appearances in Canada on Bravo, MTV, and MuchMusic. As the subject in an episode of CBC's genealogy program Who do you think you are ?, Measha learned that her ancestors came to Nova Scotia in 1783 among the Black Loyalists fleeing the American revolution. Her four-times-great grandparents settled in Fredericton and it somehow seems fitting, on this the 225th anniversary of UNB, that we honour a person so deserving of recognition and whose New Brunswick heritage is as old as the university and the province itself.

by Gordon Mason, University Orator

From: Honoris Causa - UA Case 70, Box 4

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