Robin Harrison

Robin (Keith) Harrison. Pianist, teacher, composer, b London 28 Jul 1932; LRAM (Royal Academy of Music) 1954, ARCM (Royal College of Music) 1954, FTCL (Trinity College, London) 1983, hon ARAM (Royal Academy of Music) 2002.

Harrison, Robin

Robin (Keith) Harrison. Pianist, teacher, composer, b London 28 Jul 1932; LRAM (Royal Academy of Music) 1954, ARCM (Royal College of Music) 1954, FTCL (Trinity College, London) 1983, hon ARAM (Royal Academy of Music) 2002. Robin Harrison studied percussion as a youth, then played percussion and clarinet in Royal Air Force bands. He concentrated on piano with Harold Craxton and organ with C.H. Trevor 1952-5 at the Royal Academy of Music, followed by studies 1955-6 with Carlo Zecchi in Rome and Salzburg, and 1956-61 with Ilona Kabos in London. He also studied accompanying with Ivor Newton. He performed in the Sir Henry Wood Promenade Concerts and on British, Dutch, and South American radio before moving to Canada in 1970 to teach piano and music history at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. He was head of the piano division there, and retired in 1994. Harrison was a member of the Canadian Arts Trio 1971-4, toured 1976-7 for the Jeunesses Musicales of Canada (Youth and Music Canada), gave solo recitals across Canada, and has made guest appearances with several Canadian orchestras, eg, the Saskatoon Symphony. He was a guest artist at American Liszt Society Festivals in Canada (1977 and 1996) and the US (1978, 1984), and the American Matthay Association, and performed on CBC broadcasts. In 1979 the University of Saskatchewan sponsored a recording, Robin Harrison Plays Chopin, produced in Saskatoon by Studio West. Describing a Harrison performance, Murray Adaskin noted his 'formidable technique which permits him to sing with the greatest ease and beauty' (Canada Music Book, Spring-Summer 1971). Harrison has given many workshops and master classes, has adjudicated at music festivals and was an examiner for the Western Board of Music and the Royal Conservatory of Music. He made his conducting debut in the Saskatoon Opera Association's 1987 production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. In 1994, Harrison retired to Cape Breton; he gave occasional recitals eg in the Maritime provinces and the US, and taught privately as well as at Acadia University and the University College of Cape Breton.

His compositions include a Bagatelle for piano and seven songs to poems by Christina Rossetti and Thomas Lovell Beddoes, and other works published in England and Canada. His wife is the piano teacher Marilyn Harrison.


Further Reading

  • Burt, Eric O. 'Saskatoon classical pianist cuts record,' Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 9 Mar 1979

    - 'Harrison recital lends support to arts school,' ibid, 13 Sep 1986

    Wanzel, Lorna. "Robin Harrison," Canadian Music Teacher, Fall 2002