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Elizabeth Sadler performs wonders

2020 DFOM graduate Elizabeth Sadler works miracles in performance.

June 16, 2020 — 

NOTE: We in the Desautels Faculty of Music are incredibly proud of our students. While COVID-19 is sidelining in-person commencement ceremonies around the globe, we want to find alternate ways to celebrate our graduates and give them the recognition due to them. Until we can gather together to properly applaud the years of study and practice that have led to this milestone, please join us in congratulating our 2020 Desautels Faculty of Music graduates.

Today we celebrate Elizabeth Sadler!

Like many university students, Elizabeth Sadler was not entirely sure what she wanted to do when she arrived at the University of Manitoba. In 2014, she entered University 1, which is designed to allow students to explore different courses and programs in order to help guide them towards the program that is right for them. Sadler took different courses, but could not escape this nagging feeling that she had to explore the passion she had harboured since age 3.

Before she knew the alphabet, she already knew all of the words to Shania Twain’s songs, and walked around her house singing into a Fisher-Price tape recorder, performing for anyone who would listen. She joined the University of Manitoba Concert Band during her U1 year, playing clarinet. It all became very clear to her that what she wanted out of life was music.

Sadler left the University of Manitoba briefly to complete an Associate of Applied Arts Degree in Professional Music from the School of Music Vocations in Creston, Iowa. With degree and practical experience in hand, she successfully auditioned for the Desautels Faculty of Music Jazz Studies program, studying vocal performance.

She immediately dove into ensemble work, learning and performing a diverse repertoire of music with the University of Manitoba’s Women’s Chorus, small jazz ensembles, University Singers, Cantata Singers, and the Jazz Vocal Ensembles.


Elizabeth Sadler gets it done

Anyone who has ever worked with Sadler knows she is meticulously organized, driven, smart, and musical. Sadler has been on the Dean’s Honour List for all four years of her studies, and, this past year, she was accepted into the Women in Jazz Organization Mentorship Program.

“I was paired with New York based jazz vocalist, Lucy Yeghiazaryan, who I took virtual lessons with” says Sadler, who must be thankful for a pre-COVID introduction to remote learning!

In addition to her academic and musical achievements, Sadler has shown she is very capable of something else:

At the drop of a hat, she can perform wonders.

“In the summer of 2018 I was asked to arrange and perform the final number for the 2018 U of M Distinguished Alumni Awards,” she says.

“I reduced an orchestral arrangement of ‘Le Jazz Hot’ from the musical Victor/Victoria, for octet,” she says.

To take a piece meant for orchestra and arrange it for a small ensemble is an incredible feat in itself, but for Sadler, it may have been the easiest task for the event.

“I had less than a week to arrange, hire and rehearse my band,” she explains of the quick turnaround needed for the performance.

“Thankfully I was able to perform with many of my U of M jazz colleagues who have become dear friends. It was surely a night to remember full of friendship and musical achievement,” she says, noting that her ability to pull it all together so beautifully is one of her proudest moments in the faculty.

“Special shout out to Stacy Wyatt, Jade Laningham and team for planning fantastic events!” she adds.

Sadler’s ability to organize and put on gorgeous performances has made her a favourite hire for the University of Manitoba’s special events.

Not willing to wait until graduation to perform professionally, Sadler has been very active in seeking out opportunities, and then blowing away audiences with her talent. Last summer, she and fellow Desautels graduate Connor Derraugh collaborated to perform at the TD International Winnipeg Jazz Festival, which was previously written about HERE.

She has also performed at many other events around the city, including at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain and for an organization that helps people with brain injuries. She also performs with her band the Flat Land Soul Band, which includes Aaron Bartel, Anthony Bryson, Ilya Osachuk, Jaimel Nucom, Max Osawa, Nam Nguyen, Robert Hunter, and Tristan Martinuson, almost all of whom are either Desautels graduates or students.

The band released their debut EP, “Middle of Somewhere” last April, and a review of the EP by Stylus Magazine credited Sadler’s vocals with “[giving] their sound a distinct tone.”

You can hear the band’s soul and funk grooves on the Flat Land Soul Band’s Soundcloud.


Favourite pieces learned in the faculty

“This is such a hard question to answer!” exclaims Sadler.

“For me it is hard to pick a favourite in anything, as my interests are always evolving based on how I feel and where I am in my life,” she says.

“Dr. Elroy Friesen is a master at selecting a fantastic choral program. One of my favourite pieces that I sang when I was in University Singers was ‘Woodsmoke and Oranges,’ by Canadian composer Ian Tamblyn, and arranged by Rebecca Campbell. This was primarily a vocal piece with light percussion accompaniment and some choreography. It highlighted themes of nature and Canadian heritage. You felt like you were in the woods or on the edge of a lake at dusk while singing or listening to this piece,” she says.

“While I was in this choir we toured Europe during May of 2017 and performed the piece many times during our choral exchanges with different choirs in countries such as Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia,” she says of the piece that has also come to remind her of a fantastic travel opportunity with the choir.

“Elizabeth is one of the most generous-spirited people I have had the privilege of working with,” says Friesen, an associate professor of music, who is the Desautels Faculty of Music’s area head for choirs, and the director of the University Singers.

“She brings joy and enthusiasm to every rehearsal, and genuinely cares for those around her,” he adds.

Recordings of this piece, and others performed by the University Singers during the trip, can be found HERE.


Faculty mentors

Sadler found her mentor, Jon Gordon, early in her degree, and is incredibly thankful for him.

“He provided the foundations I needed to begin developing my relationship with the jazz tradition. I really enjoyed and took a lot away from his jazz composition class as well,” she says of Gordon, who is a Desautels associate professor, teaching jazz saxophone and Jazz Composition and Arranging.

“Elizabeth Sadler is one of the finest students I’ve worked with in recent years,” says Gordon of Sadler.

“Her work ethic and progress during her time at our school was terrific! She did great work in my composition and arranging class, and was highly creative in her assimilation of the concepts we worked on for ensembles of various sizes, including a writing a terrific great big band arrangement,” he says.

“She also did excellent work in our lessons, and in the ensembles she studied and performed with. Her creativity and her potential are exceptional! She’s been a joy to work with, and I look forward to seeing and hearing her music in the coming years!” says Gordon.

“Dr. Shannon Unger, Dr. Catherine Robbins and Karly Epp have been three amazing educators to me with respect to vocal technique, pedagogy and vocal style,” says Sadler of other faculty members who helped her develop as a musician.

“They all taught me different ways of how to grow my own voice and how to start being able to teach others to do the same. They are all so passionate about what they teach and are role models to me as musicians and as strong females,” she adds.


Credit recital and final performances

Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, the Desautels Faculty of Music had to cancel all of its remaining events for the 2019-2020 season. In addition to final ensemble performances, about 40 student credit recitals were cancelled, including those of graduating students, whose final credit recitals serve as a sort of capstone project showcasing what they have learned throughout their studies. Sadler was one of the last students to be able to perform her credit recital before the shutdown began. She shared the evening with her sister, Ashleigh Sadler, who is also a Desautels Jazz Studies student, and, like Elizabeth, is a talent to watch for!

“As a jazz student I have primarily performed music from ‘The American Song-Book’ otherwise known as jazz standards,” Sadler says of her repertoire.

“This year I performed an arrangement of ‘The More I See You,’ a jazz standard published in 1945,” she says of a piece she arranged for performance.

“It was composed by Harry Warren with lyrics by Mack Gordon. The arrangement came together beautifully thanks to the wonderful collaboration of some of my peers,” she says.

“I have also had the opportunity to perform some of my own compositions,” says Sadler.

“My other favourite this year from my recital was my own composition entitled, ‘Where Do Memories Go.’ It is in the style of a jazz ballad, a slow and lyrical piece of music. This piece started off as a poem I wrote one night before falling asleep,” she says.


Advice for incoming students

Sadler has been an exceedingly successful student in the Desautels Faculty of Music’s jazz program, and she has some advice for the students who come after her.

“It is very important to be patient with yourself throughout your music degree,” she says.

“You will go through both achievements and challenges you never expected. Keep an open mind to where new possibilities may lead you. Strive to ask the ‘why’ behind everything you do, in music and in life. Lastly, don’t take for granted any of your experiences, positive or negative,” Sadler says.

“Your music degree will be some of the most inspiring and influential years of your life.”


“I would sincerely like to thank my parents Karen and Jeff,” says Sadler.

“They never once questioned my choice to pursue my interests in music. They support me in everything I do,” she says of the family that has produced two phenomenal musicians.
“A huge thank-you to my best friend and sister Ashleigh, my grandmother Pearl and my extended family and friends. I am lucky to be a part of a village that is overjoyed with my successes and are there to catch me the many times I fall,” she adds.

“Thank you to Dr. Stuart Sladden and Avonlea Armstrong-Green, both mentors and dear friends.”

“Thank you to Karen Santos – you have helped me climb a ladder I never thought possible,” she says of her friend, who is also a 2020 Desautels graduate.

“Thank you Sue Stone-Scott for your professionalism and friendship, I already miss working for you.”


Next steps

“Music is a big piece of who I am but there are many other layers,” says Sadler.

She looks forward to taking a well-deserved break from academics post-graduation, but of course will continue to perform with her various music groups extensively.

“All in all I enjoy most the chance to be able to connect and communicate with people, no matter what the medium. I look forward to a lifetime of interesting friendships and experiences,” she says.

Through her varied interests, Elizabeth has also picked up conducting, and will further develop her technique in the upcoming year.

“I will continue to be working with Joie De Vivre Community Choir as their apprentice conductor under Dr. Stuart Sladden,” she says of the conducting work she began last year.

Finally, in line with her relentlessly curious nature, Sadler will continue to explore, learn, and grow.

“I really look forward to travelling far and wide when safe to do so! Otherwise, you can likely find me looking for life’s answers between the pages of Eckhart Tolle and/or the bottom of a teacup!” she says.

We look forward to hear Elizabeth Sadler’s beautiful voice and thoughts for a lifetime. With her talent, hustle, and prolific performing, we know her voice will carry across Winnipeg, Canada, and the world.

Congratulations, Elizabeth!

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One comment on “Elizabeth Sadler performs wonders

  1. Karen Sadler

    Such an awesome person, student and performer!

    Congratulations Elizabeth we are so very proud of you and all your accomplishments!

    Love mom and dad!

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