Fall Lectures

Fall Series  2022

Olivier Courteaux

Olivier Courteaux

China: The History and Geopolitics of a Superpower

Presented by Olivier Courteaux
Tuesdays, October 11 to November 29, 2022
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon

To be offered virtually and in-person.

Registration will begin on Tuesday, September 6 at 10:00 a.m. and tickets will be on sale until Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at midnight. After October 4, it will not be possible to register for this lecture series. Please note that if you are attending virtually you need buy only one ticket at $40 per household. If you are attending in-person the cost is $40 per person.

The economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s transformed China into an industrial powerhouse. And economic power led to dreams of surpassing the US on the global stage, not to mention reconquering Taiwan.

A new world order is emerging as proposed in 2013 by Xi Jinping: “The realization of the Chinese dream will bring happiness to the Chinese people as well as to the other peoples of the world.” Behind the words, what is China really up to?

11 October 2022 – Xi Jinping and China’s “Great Renewal”

At the end of the 18th century, imperial China was the largest and wealthiest country in the world. But its power proved fragile. As early as the mid-19th century, China was not able to stop the repeated interventions of the West and Japan. Unable to modernize itself, the empire entered a period of decline that led to its demise and a long period of civil war – a war ultimately won by the Communists in 1949. Since then, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has done everything to help China regain its rightful place on the global stage: the number one spot!

18 October 2022 – China, Russia and the War in Ukraine

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24, 2022 caught Beijing by surprise. Yet the Chinese authorities quickly offered their support to Vladimir Putin’s move against Ukraine, at least in words and through an active pro-Russia propaganda. What are China’s motives? And how long can it maintain an increasingly precarious balancing act between its political and economic partnership with Russia and its economic ties with the West?

25 October 2022 – Hong Kong and Taiwan: Political and Territorial Challenges for Beijing

Following its decision to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong, a move that ended the territory’s limited political autonomy, China set its sights on Taiwan. Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, is an invasion of Taiwan imminent? A look at China’s complicated relationships with Hong Kong and Taiwan.

1 November 2022 – The True Ambitions of Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping is the architect of China’s modernization and economic development. In power between 1978 and 1992, he is considered one the great political figures of the 20th century. He transformed poor and backward China into the world’s second-leading economic power and ended its isolation on the global stage but remained uncompromising in the face of political dissent.

8 November 2022 – The New Silk Roads: Strengths and Weaknesses of a Global Project

In 2013, President Xi Jinping resuscitated the mythical silk roads – a gigantic project welcomed by some countries but prompting mistrust and paranoia in others. What is China’s ultimate goal?

Central Asian countries are caught in the middle of increasing tensions between China and Russia. How has China managed to impose its political and diplomatic influence in Central Asia?

China’s “new silk road” faces much resistance from India, and for good reasons. Beijing’s grand project is threatening India with commercial, geostrategic and military encirclement. No wonder the government of New Delhi is bent on thwarting the Belt and Road Initiative at every turn. But for how long?

15 November 2022 – The People’s Liberation Army: a Serious Competitor to the U.S. Army by 2050?

The People’s Liberation Army is getting stronger by the day. In recent months, numerous displays of force have strengthened the perception of a growing Chinese military threat among neighbouring countries and foes, not least the U.S. What is the state of China’s military today? Can it match the U.S. military by 2049, the centennial of the communist regime? If so, what are the consequences for Asia and the world?

22 November 2022 – China’s Strategy in the South China Sea

According to most experts in international relations, China’s repeated claims over the South China Sea have no legal basis. And yet China has refused to modify its maritime strategy in the region, arguing it is merely defending its “historical rights.” Can China be stopped in the South China Sea?

29 November 2022 Will the 21st Century Belong to China?

Asia is bound to play a dominant role in the 21st century, in part because of its economic growth and demography. China or India: which of the two powers has the greatest chance of leading the pack? Is there anything the West can do to stop, or at least slow down, its perceived decline?

Olivier Courteaux received his B.A. in history, M.A. in war and conflict studies and Ph.D. in contemporary international relations from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He has lectured at various Canadian universities, including Ryerson and the Royal Military College of Canada. 

He is the author of The War on Terror: The Canadian Dilemma (2009), Canada Between Vichy and Free France, 1940-1945 (2013) and Four days that Rocked Québec (2017) on Charles de Gaulle’s famous 1967 “Vive le Québec Libre.” He is currently working on his latest book, The Empress Eugenie and Egypt, a French Passion.

Many of us will remember Dr. Courteaux’s fascinating lecture series on Propaganda that he presented virtually to an enthusiastic Lifelong Learning Mississauga audience in the spring of 2021. Some also attended his 2021 virtual historical journey through Spain for Hot Doc’s Curious Minds.

Olivier Courteaux

Howard Mednick

What Is This Thing Called Classical Music?

Presented by Howard Mednick
Thursdays, October 13 to December 1, 2022
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon

To be offered virtually and in-person.

Registration will begin on Tuesday, September 6 at 10:00 a.m. and tickets will be on sale until Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at midnight. After October 4, it will not be possible to register for this lecture series. Please note that if you are attending virtually you need buy only one ticket at $40 per household. If you are attending in-person the cost is $40 per person..

When people say they enjoy listening to classical music, what exactly are they listening to? The world of classical music includes many different things. The purpose of this lecture series is to review several styles, genres or formats of classical music and to shed some additional light on what it is all about, without getting into the technical details. You might like some of these pieces and others perhaps not so much. But at least you will come away with a better understanding of what classical music is all about.

13 October 2022   Symphonies – I Hear a Symphony

The symphony represents the ultimate in classical music because all the familiar instruments of the orchestra are involved. Even watching a symphony can be exciting – almost like a team sports event. Each member of the orchestra has a specific task to do or position to play, and the conductor, or head coach, must make sure it is all done in a coordinated manner. That is called teamwork, in both sports and music. Get ready for the start of this program when the conductor blows the whistle – or rather, raises the baton.

20 October 2022   Piano Concertos – One Plays the Piano with One’s Mind (Glenn Gould)

A piano concerto is very much like a symphony, but it features a great solo performance by a pianist in coordination with the rest of the orchestra. The piano itself is a wonderful instrument in that it has 10 individual instruments, also known as fingers, to play music in harmony with the rest of the orchestra. It is no surprise, then, that many of the great composers, who were accomplished pianists themselves, chose to highlight their favourite instrument.

27 October 2022   Violinists – Virtuosos or Virtuosi?

Not to be outdone by the piano, the violin is a particularly important instrument in the orchestra. The violin is a difficult instrument to include in solo with the rest of a large orchestra. Many composers created concertos that featured the violin, but not nearly as many as for the piano. As well as concertos, many other pieces feature one violin along with the rest of the orchestra. What is important with the violin is the violinist him/herself. That is often the key to hearing a great violin piece. Virtuoso or virtuosa, pick up your bow and let’s begin.

3 November 2022   Other Concertos – Don’t Forget These Instruments

Although most concertos highlight the violin or piano along with the rest of the orchestra, in many concertos other instruments are featured in solo.  In some cases, small combinations of instruments are featured in solo, along with the orchestra. It is a bit unusual to hear these, but they still create wonderful pieces of music. Examples include the trumpet, harp, viola, cello, guitar, saxophone and clarinet. The composers did not want them to feel neglected, so we will pay special attention to them in this lecture.

10 November 2022   Sonatas – Performing Solo

In a sonata, the performer of the instrument plays alone without a full orchestra for accompaniment. In some cases, there is only a piano to accompany the soloist on another instrument, usually a violin or a cello. Although the musicians in the performance number only one or two, the music that was written for these situations is delightful.

17 November 2022   String Ensembles – Yes, Strings Attached

When the string instruments – violin, viola, cello and bass – are grouped together by themselves, they present a sound that in some cases rivals that of a full orchestra. It is no surprise that many composers wrote an abundance of music for these instruments alone. We will hear them as a trio, quartet, quintet, octet and even as a full string orchestra. No matter how many are involved, it is great music to listen to.

24 November 2022   Opera – A Night at the Opera with The Marriage of Figaro

How can you discuss classical music without opera? In this case the featured opera will be The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart. Some people say this opera was an important factor in initiating the French revolution in 1789. There were many reasons for the revolution, and this opera reflects those times and provides insights into some of the factors leading to the overthrow of the French monarchy. But most importantly, it has some great music, both orchestral and vocal, and a crazy comic farce of a story. You will hear the highlights of this opera along with a narrative of the story. Vive la France! Vive Mozart!

1 December 2022     Not Elsewhere Classified – A Musical Potpourri

The previous lectures in this series have covered a wide range of topics and formats in classical music, but still not everything. This lecture will present examples of some well-known and perhaps some not so familiar works that do not quite fit the previous lectures’ categories. Nevertheless, these pieces should be included in any discussion of classical music because there is always something for everyone to enjoy.

Howard Mednick is known as a “Classical Music DJ.” He is a retired computer systems consultant who has been an avid listener of classical and orchestral music for many years. He has researched and studied many aspects of classical music and has prepared lectures that are informative, entertaining and fun. He has presented at Baycrest, Ryerson University LIFE Institute, public libraries, social groups, synagogues and churches in the GTA, and, more recently, at similar venues in Israel.

Howard takes a creative approach to his programs, often with off-the-wall topics, covering everything from Mozart to Mahler. You will come away with an appreciation for great classical music!

Howard Mednick