Centennial celebrations, 1967

Centennial celebrations, 1967. Events which marked the 100th anniversary of Canada's Confederation. Undoubtedly the most concentrated and imposing of these were the epoch-making Expo 67 and its companion World Festival, both in Montreal. But other celebrations of that year, diffused throughout the country under the name Festival Canada (1967) and less easy to summarize, nevertheless mobilized Canada's creative and performing arts, and particularly music, to an unprecedented degree.

The Centennial Commission, formed in January 1963 under the Secretary of State, Judy LaMarsh, appointed John Fisher as its commissioner and Nicholas Goldschmidt as chief of its performing arts division. It was the performing arts division which planned and subsidized Festival Canada (1967) (not to be confused with the later annual Ottawa summer festival which began as Festival Canada (Ottawa) but was renamed Festival Ottawa in 1978).

Under the Festival Canada umbrella national tours were organized for Anne of Green Gables, Les Feux-Follets, Don Messer and His Islanders, the MSO, the National Ballet of Canada, the NYO, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and the singers Gordon Lightfoot and Ian and Sylvia Tyson. These artists also appeared at Expo 67.

A year-long festival was held in Ottawa, featuring performances by the aforementioned groups and individuals, by the COC, and by the 200-member mixed-voice Canadian Centennial Choir, formed by Goldschmidt to perform for the festivities. (The choir remained active in Ottawa's musical life in 1990). An entertainment entitled 'Centennial Spectacle,' with words by Robertson Davies and music by Louis Applebaum, was scheduled for presentation on Parliament Hill 1 Jul 1967, but never took place.

Financial assistance was made available to performing arts groups across Canada for productions and commissions; the Canadian Music Centre alone received a grant of $60,000, which it used to help in the commissioning of some 45 works, each of which was to have at least one public performance in Canada during 1967.

Professional and amateur entertainments were organized on a regional basis, by means of grants to local groups for performances within their communities. Choral groups, opera companies, symphony orchestras, and chamber ensembles were encouraged to give special performances. This resulted in presentations of works such as Britten's War Requiem by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Verdi's Requiem by the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Orff's Carmina burana by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Messiaen's Turangalila-Symphonie by the TSO, and Verdi's Otello and Gounod's Faust by the MSO. Operas, premiered or otherwise presented in conjunction with the program, included Somers' Louis Riel and Pannell's The Luck of Ginger Coffey (by the COC), Rigoletto (Vancouver Opera Association), and Faust (Edmonton Opera Association).

Other organizations assisted by Centennial Commission grants included the FCMF, for a national competition held in Saint John, NB; and the JMC, for competitions in Quebec City, Guelph, and Vancouver, and a concert by the national winners at the PDA in Montreal.

The Canadian Folk Arts Council (Conseil canadien des arts populaires), founded in 1964, was assisted by the Centennial Commission in the presentation of 100 folk festivals across Canada during 1967. Many musical groups were among the 35,000 participating in provincial and regional festivals that demonstrated the varied cultural heritage of Canada.

Among grants given to assist individuals were those awarded to Edward B. Moogk of London, Ont, to assemble the nucleus of a collection of Canadian recordings for deposit at the National Library of Canada; and to Arnold Walter of Toronto to assist in the preparation of the book Aspects of Music in Canada/Aspects de la musique au Canada (Toronto 1969, Montreal 1970).

Among numerous works written for the centennial year (see also list below) were the official thanksgiving 'Centennial Hymn'/'Hymne de centenaire' (Leeds, 1967; music by Rex LeLacheur, English words by Rev Kenneth Moyer and French words by Ronald Duprès), commissioned directly by the Centennial Commission, and Willan's 'Anthem for the Centennial of Canadian Confederation'/'Hymne à l'occasion du Centenaire de la Confédération canadienne' (B611). The Willan anthem, commissioned by the Canadian Inter-Faith Conference and known also as the 'Centennial Anthem,' was a setting of words by Robert Choquette, adapted into English by John Glassco, and published by BMIC in 1966. Other national songs composed for centennial year were Bobby Gimby's 'CA-NA-DA' and Raymond Gould and Frederick Sheffield's 'My Canada' (Chappell ca 1967).

As a joint centennial project RCA Victor and the CBC released the 17-album series Music and Musicians of Canada/Musique et musiciens du Canada (RCA CCS-1007-1023/RCI 213-229), containing 42 compositions by 32 Canadians, performed by a wide variety of Canadian musicians and the 9-album series Canadian Folk Songs: A Centennial Collection/Chansons folkloriques du Canada: Collection du Centenaire (RCA/RCI CS-100/5-ACM 39, CD), containing 120 selections.

The records of the performing arts division of the Centennial Commission are held at the NA of C.

Composer/Commissioner(s) A-G

The appended list of composers commissioned to write works for the centenary, and of their commissioners, was extracted from the December 1967 issue of Musicanada:

Murray Adaskin/CBC (2)

Istvan Anhalt/Simon Fraser U; University of British Columbia Chamber Singers

Louis Applebaum/Centennial Commission; Edmonton SO; Expo 67; federal government; NAC (2)

Violet Archer/CBC; RCCO; Hugh Bancroft; two others

Milton Barnes/OFSO

John Beckwith/Vancouver International Festival; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; CBC

Norma Beecroft/Ten Centuries Concerts; Dora and Leo Velleman (puppeteers); Waterloo Lutheran U

Jack Behrens/U of Saskatoon

Lorne Betts/OFSO

Keith Bissell/Centennial Commission; St Catharines SO; Confederation Centre, Charlottetown

François Brassard/CAMMAC

Alexander Brott/CBC; Canadian Pavilion, Expo 67; Les Grands Ballets canadiens; Lawrence Lande; McGill Chamber Orchestra

Barrie Cabena/RCCO

Morley Calvert/Montreal Brass Quintet

Jean Coulthard/Rolston-Moore Duo; Vancouver SO

Edgard Davignon/La Chorale de la Vallée de l'Or

Roger Deegan/Strathcona Composite High School

Maurice Dela/MSO

Gordon Delamont/Ten Centuries Concerts

Samuel Dolin/Stratford Festival; Toronto Repertory Ensemble

S. C. Eckhardt-Gramatté/CBC; Marta Hidy Trio; University of Manitoba

Robert Fleming/Canadian Pavilion, Expo 67; OMEA; Ottawa Music Festival Association; Dora and Leo Velleman

Harry Freedman/CBC; Lois Marshall; NYO; Saskatoon SO; Stratford Festival

Serge Garant/Youth Pavilion, Expo 67

Srul Irving Glick/Toronto Chamber Orchestra; New Dance Group of Canada

Theo Goldberg/Vancouver SO

Composer/Commissioner(s) H-Z-

Frank Haworth/Sudbury Arts Guild

Jacques Hétu/Duo Pach; JMC; Quebec Woodwind Quintet

Otto Joachim/TSO

Kelsey Jones/CBC; Baroque Trio of Montreal

Janis Kalnins/Halifax Trio; New Brunswick SO

Talivaldis Kenins/Saskatoon SO

Edward Laufer/Halifax SO

Rex LeLacheur/Centennial Commission

Sir Ernest MacMillan/CBC

Bruce Mather/CBC; Ten Centuries Concerts

William McCauley/Dora and Leo Velleman

Oskar Morawetz/Donald Bell; Festival Singers

François Morel/CBC; Edmonton SO

Bernard Naylor/University of Manitoba; University of Manitoba Chamber Music Group; Choristers of Winnipeg

Raymond Pannell/COC and the Centennial Commission; London SO

Jean Papineau-Couture/CBC (2); Festival Singers; Steven Staryk

Barbara Pentland/ARCT Associations of British Columbia; Hugh McLean Consort; University of British Columbia Chamber Music Ensemble

Clermont Pépin/MSO; NAC

Michel Perrault/CBC; Victoria SO

André Prévost/Expo 67

Eldon Rathburn/NFB

Godfrey Ridout/CBC; CMEA; National Ballet of Canada; Toronto Board of Education

R. Murray Schafer/Berkshire Music Festival; CBC; Pavilion of the Chemical Industries, Expo 67; St John's Brass Consort; Vancouver Alumni of RCMT

Harry Somers/CBC (2); COC and the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation; Institut international de musique du Canada (see Montreal International Competition)

Ann Southam/New Dance Group of Canada

Morris Surdin/Hart House Orchestra; 'Mac 14' Theatre Society (Calgary)

Norman Symonds/CBC; Ten Centuries Concerts; Winnipeg SO

Robert Turner/Cassenti Players; CBC

John Weinzweig/CBC; Judy Loman and the Toronto Repertory Ensemble

Healey Willan/Centennial Commission