New KPU alumnus and VSO create music for future grads

Wed, Oct 3, 2018

A recent graduate of Kwantlen Polytechnic University is giving back to his alma mater by composing an original piece of music for upcoming convocations. The piece was recorded by members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. 

The music, commissioned by KPU Provost and Vice President, Academic, Dr. Salvador Ferreras, will receive its premiere this week as it accompanies students walking into the hall for their graduation ceremony.

“I’ve always felt KPU should have its own music for important occasions,” says Ferreras. “When searching for a composer, I wanted to highlight a music student and the faculty that helped him or her achieve great things.” 

When he approached the School of Music faculty, Ferreras was directed to Joel Melnyk, a 2018 graduate of the Bachelor of Music in Musical Arts program.

“Joel is a talented percussionist who has shown a remarkable gift for composition,” says music instructor Zdenek Skoumal. “He soaks up all ideas and advice presented to him to create fascinating musical statements that reach beyond his level of training. When I was asked to recommend a student to write the convocation fanfare he was an easy choice.”

Melnyk’s concentration at KPU was percussion, which involves learning more than 50 instruments.

“Salvador requested brass, so trumpets, trombones and horns and he also wanted percussion,” says Melnyk. “I hadn’t written much for brass before this point, but I had plenty of ideas, which made the writing process not too difficult.”

After creating the first draft and receiving feedback from Ferreras, who is also an accomplished percussionist, Melnyk reworked the composition until it was perfect.

“Joel’s convocation processional music is a delightfully melodic work that transcends modern and classic compositional lines,” says Ferreras. “The composition, recorded by the leading players of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, lends convocation an air of dignity, grandeur and beauty that is just right for this all-important milestone for students and all our community at KPU.”

Melnyk says he is proud he completed not only this piece but also his degree. He crossed the stage earlier this year and knows exactly what the current graduates are going through.

“I know this will be an emotional day for those crossing the stage and I congratulate them for doing so."

Melynk’s piece will debut at KPU’s fall convocation ceremonies on October 3 and 4.

For more information about KPU’s music program, visit