Jamie Syer received first prize in the CBC Talent Competition in 1977 and completed his Doctoral degree from the Yale School of Music in 1986. His first academic position was at Mt. Allison University. He was subsequently on faculty at Mount Royal Conservatory, the University of Calgary, and the University of Regina.
Church music was always an important part of his activities, and Jamie served as organist and choirmaster at a number of Calgary congregations.
From 2004-2012 Dr. Syer was based in Victoria, British Columbia, where he held several positions at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, including as its first Dean from 2010-2012. During those years, he benefitted from the experience, advice and friendship of many colleagues at the Conservatory, especially Winifred Scott Wood.
Jamie founded and directed the Victoria Conservatory’s Young Artists Collegium Program, which continues to provide enriched instruction and mentoring for talented young classical musicians. He was a sessional instructor at the School of Music, University of Victoria, where he also lectured for the Department of Continuing Education and led two travel study tours to France.
Returning to Alberta in 2012, Jamie was for six years Manager of the Sundre Municipal Library. Discovering the new roles of public libraries, Jamie was instrumental in fostering not only books and literacy, but also the Library’s growing visibility in its community.
Jamie is married to violinist Laurie Syer. The small rural community of Bergen, Alberta has been their home base for musical activities since 1992. For 20 years, until 2014, they ran an annual summer music workshop for young people. Strings & Keys attracted hundreds of students during that time, studying with faculty who returned year after year from across Canada.
Dr. Syer has performed at a wide variety of venues in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Denmark, Hungary and the US. Together, he and Laurie were featured performers at the Cambridge History Festival, and at the central-European interdisciplinary conference Canada in the European Mind.
Jamie continues to enjoy teaching and performing. He was recently a guest artist with the Sidney Classical Orchestra, and plays chamber music with the Springbank Trio and other ensembles. He has time to indulge his longtime interest in letterpress printing, and assists Laurie with the products of their outdoor wood-fired brick oven, featured at the Bergen Farmers’ Market. He is a busy adjudicator of music festivals, glad to see festivals less competitive than when he was a festival performer himself.
During the pandemic, Jamie has produced a series of “long-distance piano duets” with former students and colleagues.