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Symposium: John P.L. Roberts, the CBC and music in Canada

Presented by the School of Creative and Performing Arts and the Libraries and Cultural Resources of the University of Calgary, and the Institute for Canadian Music of the University of Toronto

Oct. 1, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Oct. 2, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Symposium is part of a series of events to mark the acquisition of the John P.L. Roberts fonds, housed in Special Collections of Libraries and Cultural Resources at the University of Calgary.

The Symposium will reflect on John Roberts’s contributions to the development of music in Canada and beyond during the second half of the twentieth century.

Between 1957 and 1975, Roberts worked as a producer and served as ‘Head of CBC Radio Music’ in Toronto. Under his direction the CBC commissioned, performed and disseminated hundreds of works by Canadian composers. This remains an unprecedented achievement in the history of this country.

Roberts was also a close friend of Glenn Gould and facilitated Gould’s transition from concert pianist to ground breaking recording artist during the 1960s. During this period he was personally involved in bringing Stravinsky to Toronto on numerous occasions. In so doing, Roberts contributed to transforming Toronto: from a cultural backwater in a crumbling empire into the city we know today.

Topics will include: art and identity politics; building cultural infrastructure; aesthetic choices and compositional voices at the CBC; music and electronic media; the rise of Toronto as a cultural centre; John Roberts on the international scene.

These are significant aspects of the history of music in Canada that need to be better understood.

Join us in celebrating the 40th anniversary of World Music Week and International Music Day on October 1, 2015. John Roberts coordinated both events in Canada in 1975.

Registration details are coming soon.


October 1

New Works Calgary presents a tribute concert to the pioneering arts administrator and cultural policy advisor John Roberts.

Calgary’s finest practitioners of new music, Ensemble Resonance and the Wild West New Music Ensemble, are joined by Honens laureate, pianist Winston Choi, in performances of music by some of Canada’s most well-known composers who where commissioned by Roberts during his tenure at the CBC: John Beckwith, Norma Beecroft, Srul Irving Glick, R. Murray Schafer, and Harry Somers.

This historic concert will also feature music by Canadian composer Brian Current and the world premiere of a newly commissioned piece by Calgary composer Hope Lee.


Traces of Canadian Music Development

At the symposium we are pleased to show exhibits of historical documents from the John P.L. Roberts fonds and the archives of composers John Roberts promoted and supported, including Violet Archer, Norma Beecroft, Srul Irving Glick, Bruce Mather, R. Murray Schafer and others.

These archives are all part of the Richard Johnston Canadian Music Archives Collection at the University of Calgary. An on-line research resource will be launched as well, featuring a selection of digitized documents from the John P.L. Roberts fonds.