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Eye from the sky
The entrance to McGill's downtown campus will be graced by more than the Roddick Gates this summer. And how. From June 5 to September 15, an outdoor exhibit by renowned photojournalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand will be displayed on part of the University's grounds.
After being viewed by more than eight million visitors worldwide, Arthus-Bertrand's exhibit, "Earth From Above," will be displayed along the western side of McGill College Ave., between Ste. Catherine and Sherbrooke St., and at the foot of the University's campus. The photo exhibition will present some 120 giant-sized photographs that were taken from altitudes of 30 to 3,000 metres above ground.
Arthus-Bertrand has travelled around the world, from Africa to New York City, chronicling how our globe looks from up above. His work is considered a photographic synopsis of the state of our planet.
Most of his colourful images portray the earth's vast array of natural habitats and urban jungles. Accompanied by descriptive texts, Arthus-Bertrand's photos encourage viewers to reflect on the evolution of our planet.
The "Earth From Above" exhibit is the culmination of 10 years of work by the photographer. He clocked 3,000 hours of flight time, aboard countless helicopters, to capture images of 85 countries on five continents.
Arthus-Bertrand developed a passion for aerial photography while doing a photo report on Kenya's lions. Fascinated by the unique perspective of our planet as seen from above, he immediately refocused his attention on this new medium.
"Aerial photography adds a whole new dimension to our understanding of our planet's evolutionary pattern," says Arthus-Bertrand. "I deliberately took these photographs from a height of 30 to 3,000 metres because I felt that the altitude would provide a greater sense of awareness."
Each of Arthus-Bertrand's large-sized prints, which measure six feet by four feet, will hang in specially made weatherproof showcases for the Montreal exhibit. The unusual outdoor venue was selected to allow a maximum number of viewers to freely sample the photographer's work. This summer, other Arthus-Bertrand exhibits are also taking place outdoors, everywhere from Poland to Brazil.
The artist's Montreal show is being sponsored by Lombard Odier, a private Swiss bank, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in this city. Lombard Odier has already bankrolled Arthus-Bertrand's world premiere exhibit in Geneva in 1999 and a subsequent exhibit in Zurich in 2001.
For samples of Arthus-Bertrand's work, please consult www.yannarthusbertrand.com.
Is there a doctor in tune?
PHOTO: Owen Egan
Even when out of their white coats, the doctors and medical students of I Medici di McGill can't help but help people. The orchestra -- whose players are mostly in medically related fields -- will be wrapping up their 13th season with a benefit concert for Alzheimer's research, featuring works by Cimarosa, Bizet, Offenbach, Ravel and Grieg.
Director and founder of the ensemble Dr. Ante Padjen is a professor of pharmacology. He said that the work of the orchestra has always been at least partially therapeutic in nature -- they perform several times a year for hospitalized patients and senior citizens, as well as for fundraisers. It's beneficial for the members too -- many of the musicians appreciate the chance to escape the demands of their profession. Iwan Edwards -- a music professor and renowned conductor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Chorus -- has been the Maestro of I Medici for the past two years.
"Our goals are to present medical activities in a different light and to contribute to some good deeds," said Padjen.
The ensemble is finishing their season with a bang -- in addition to the fundraising concert, they also played on May 23 for the Health Sciences convocation.
I Medici's final concert will be at the Erskine and American Church, corner of Sherbrooke and du Musée. June 3 at 8 pm. Admission is $20. Call 766-2010 or check out www.imedici.mcgill.ca.
They study everything from axons to anthrax, and they're coming to a convention centre near you. The Canadian Federation of Biological Sciences will be in Montreal for their annual meeting, June 12 - 15.
An umbrella organization of 10 other biological and biomedical societies, the CFBS annual meeting is a showcase for young researchers and a forum to address issues of concern to the research community.
"In the post-genomic era we wanted to focus on more functional topics," said physiology chair Dr. Alvin Shrier, who is the incoming president of the CFBS. He explained that Montreal's research strengths made it a natural host for the event.
The conference will cover two main themes. The first, neurological development, will be chaired by McGill's Dr. Remi Quiron, scientific director of the Douglas Hospital. The second theme is physical activity, nutrition and chronic disease.
It's not all research science though -- the CFBS makes an effort to address issues of public concern as well. This year, on June 15, there will be a special policy forum on bio-terrorism and its implications.
"It was a topic that was on everybody's mind and we felt it had a practical relevance," said Shrier.
The CFBS conference will be held in the Palais des Congrès. For more information check out www.cfbs.org/annual45.
Tadja Hall welcomes all
PHOTO: Owen Egan
Take a walk on the mild side and venture west next month for a free glass of wine and canapés on the shores of Lake St. Louis. Tadja Hall, the faculty club of Macdonald Campus, welcomes all members of the McGill community to its open house on June 27 from 3-6 pm.
And while you're there drinking your wine to the sounds of lapping waves and rustling leaves, you'll have the opportunity to visit the newly renovated premises. Tadja Hall, for the uninitiated, is more than a place for a meal or a game of snooker. The 141-year-old house that originally belonged to Les Soeurs de l'Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal is also a small hotel whose two rooms were recently renovated.
Which is one of the reasons the venerable building is opening its doors. Pierre Charette, chef and manager of Tadja Hall, wants everyone at McGill to be aware of the facilities and to consider the building next time they hold a meeting, need accommodation for a visiting lecturer, throw a party -- even a wedding. As he reminds us all: "Anyone who's a member of the downtown faculty club is automatically a member of Tadja."
Those who aren't members may still rent the meeting rooms or book a party provided their group has at least 20 people.
After a few changes of hands, and a few years when the seemingly abandoned house was known as the "haunted house," Tadja was bought by David Stewart, a long-time benefactor of McGill University, and given to the University in 1974. By 1978 it had become the Macdonald Faculty Club.
Few, however, use the official name. Tadja Hall is how the club is known, and its namesake, Stewart's cat, may be viewed in her portrait, hanging in the dining room above the fireplace.
Open House at the Macdonald Faculty Club, June 27 from 3-6 pm. RSVP to 398-7994.
Having the answers
Why is the sky blue? Why do bad things happen to good people? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Most importantly, where is a good place to get a coffee on campus? The "Ask Me" program -- a joint project of Development and Alumni Relations and the Admissions, Recruitment and Registrar's Office -- can answer all your questions, and will do so, starting this August 25, running to the end of September.
The "Ask Me" campaign will see some 400 alumni, faculty, staff and students don T-shirts advertising their willingness to answer any question new students may have relating to McGill or Montreal -- from where to get lunch to where to find a place to live. Starting on residence move-in day -- last year volunteers served lemonade and cookies along with side orders of wisdom -- the T-shirt-wearing know-it-alls maintain a highly visible presence on campus, actively seeking out those who look like they may be lost, dazed or confused.
"Last year we had one staff member who was walking home, wearing a T-shirt, and these two girls saw her on Sherbrooke. They had come in from Calgary and didn't have a place to live, so they said, 'Hey, let's ask her!' So she took them up to residence services and they got a room," said Alumni Services Manager Leisha Lecouvie.
Since "Ask Me" crew are all from McGill, it goes without saying their near-limitless knowledge comes naturally -- but as back-up, they do come armed with a bag full of campus and city maps and FAQ sheets (and free Frisbees).
If you are interested in participating in the "Ask Me" program, call Leisha Lecouvie at 398-1578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Faculty and staff can contact Admissions at 398-8939.