Music of Australia and New Zealand in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Music of Australia and New Zealand in Canada

As long-time sister dominions, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have many parallels.

As long-time sister dominions, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have many parallels. They also have striking differences: eg, the relative geographical and social isolation of the two dominions as compared with Canada's proximity to the USA and Canada's two European cultures, English and French. Though Australia and New Zealand were colonized somewhat later than Canada, Australia, in particular, has paralleled Canada in its contribution of world-class musicians to the international scene. If only the few names which leap immediately to mind are cited (the Canadians Emma Albani, Maureen Forrester, Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, Jon Vickers; the Australians Nellie Melba, Percy Grainger, Joan Sutherland), the danger of a claim to pre-eminence by either country quickly becomes apparent.

Possibly the first Australian to tour in Canada was Melba, who sang in Toronto in 1903 and 1913 and in Montreal in 1922 and probably earlier. Percy Grainger gave many recitals in Canada, established friendships and corresponded with several Canadians (Douglas Clarke, Ernest MacMillan, Lyell Gustin, and others), and taught Alma Brock-Smith, Muriel Kerr, Éviola Plouffe, and Marshall Sumner. An early guest of the Musical Art Club of Saskatoon, he also served it as honorary president from 1924 until his death.

Arthur Benjamin resided and taught 1939-47 in Vancouver and Max Pirani taught 1941-8 at the Banff SFA and in London, Ont. Reciprocal visits saw Sir Ernest MacMillan guest conducting in Australia in 1945 and Sir Bernard Heinze in Canada 1946-7; Heinze also conducted the CBC Symphony Orchestra, the TSO, and the MSO in 1952, and the MSO again in 1960, also preparing a report that year on the orchestral situation in Canada for the Canada Council. Heinze returned to Australia after his first visit with scores by Brott, Champagne, MacMillan, Morawetz, Walter, Willan, and others. In 1958 works of Archer, Coulthard, Freedman, Morawetz, Pépin, Rogers, Weinzweig, and Willan were performed at the University of Western Australia as part of the Commonwealth Festival, and in the ensuing years, works by other Canadians have been introduced to Australian audiences.

The noted Australian jazz clarinetist Don Burrows lived in Toronto in 1950. Joan Sutherland (whose husband, Richard Bonynge, also Australian, was artistic director of the Vancouver Opera 1974-9) made her North American debut as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the 1958 Vancouver International Festival and has sung in several subsequent Vancouver Opera and COC productions, besides appearing in recital in Montreal, and Toronto. French hornist Barry Tuckwell has performed in Canada and coached the Ayorama Wind Quintet. The Melbourne SO, under Willem van Otterloo and with the Australian soprano Marie Collier, performed at Expo 67. In pop music, the singer Helen Reddy, the Bee Gees, the Little River Band, and Sherbet performed in Canada during the 1970s. Australian rock groups continued to enjoy great popularity in Canada in the 1980s, particularly INXS, which toured Canada in 1988. The singer Rolf Harris, who recorded 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport,' first performed in Vancouver in 1961, has been a program host for CTV and has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Musicians of Australian birth resident in Canada include (years given are those of immigration): Rachel Cavalho (1948), Jack Lander (1950, a leading jazz bassist in Toronto during the 1950s and early 1960s at the House of Hambourg, who also worked with the Travellers and later led groups in that city's dinner clubs), Marshall Sumner (1950), Howard Leyton-Brown (1952), Harry Mossfield (1952), John Peter Lee Roberts (1955), Barrie Cabena (1957), John Capek (1973, a Toronto-based studio arranger, composer, and producer), and Sir William McKie, former music director of Westminster Abbey, who retired in 1963 to Ottawa, where he died 1 Dec 1984. The CBC music program producer Diana Brown (b Hutson) moved to Canada in 1955. The rock-music journalist Ritchie Yorke arrived in 1967.

Among musicians of New Zealand birth who have lived or spent some time in Canada are the violist Ralph Aldrich (who has played in various chamber music ensembles and has taught at the University of Western Ontario), the musicologist Warren Drake (a faculty member 1966-74 at the University of Toronto and later head of the School of Music, U of Auckland), Maria Bauchope Hambourg, Jean Macleod, the composer and french hornist John Rimmer (M MUS Toronto 1968, D MUS Toronto 1972), the baritones Mark Pedrotti (Artist Diploma Toronto 1977; in 1991 continuing an active career as a concert and opera singer in North America, Australia, and New Zealand) and Donald Rutherford (who studied at the RCMT 1966-9 and sang with the COC), the pianist Gloria Saarinen, the soprano Lynne Cantlon (a pupil of Irene Jessner and Anna Glawari in the COC's 1971 production of The Merry Widow), and the composer Ronald Tremain (who taught 1970-89 in the music department at Brock University). Austrian-born Georg Tintner was based in New Zealand and Australia 1938-87, and then moved to Canada to become conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia. Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa has sung in concert and recital in Canada.

Canadians who have toured in Australia include Emma Albani (1898, 1907), Edmund Burke (1911-12), Paul Dufault (1913 with Lilian Nordica), Éviola Gauthier (1914), Ross Pratt (ca 1946), Lois Marshall and Weldon Kilburn (1960), Maureen Forrester and John Newmark (1962), Denyse Angé (1964), the Irish Rovers (1969 and 1974), George Zukerman (1972 and 1978), Paul Brodie (1977), Arthur Ozolins (1978), the Canadian Electronic Ensemble (1978), Robert Silverman (1979), Nexus (1986, 1988) the Toronto Children's Chorus (1988), and the TS (1990). Don McManus and Huguette Tourangeau have sung with companies in Australia. Cornelis Opthof and Joseph Rouleau toured there with Joan Sutherland in 1965, and the organist Martin James directed musical theatre in Sydney in the 1970s. Anna Russell toured in Australia and recorded in the Sydney Opera House in 1973. The Toronto blues band Mainline toured in 1970. The Canadian-trained Australian-born saxophonist Doug Foskett and the Canadian-born trumpeter Jack Feyer (both pupils of Gordon Delamont) have composed for Australian radio and TV. Several Canadian musicologists attended the International Musicological Society meeting in Melbourne in August 1988, including Eugene Cramer, Carl Morey, Zoltan Roman, and John Shepherd.

During a sabbatical leave John Beckwith lived in Auckland from January to May 1978. The pop singer Gloria Kaye, Canada's representative to the 1978 Pacific Song Contest telecast from Christchurch, New Zealand, was chosen best performer in the festival. Douglas Mews, b St John's, Nfld, 1918, went to Auckland, New Zealand in 1969 and worked as a church musician, a composer, and a university lecturer in composition. Musicologists Carl Morey and George Proctor delivered papers at a May 1984 meeting in Christchurch of the Association for Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand. In 1991 choral conductor Brian Law announced his plans move to New Zealand in 1992 to become conductor of the Christchurch City Choir. The pianist Diedre Irons emigrated to New Zealand in 1977, gaining prominence there.

As an interesting footnote, James Barr (1779-1860) is credited with the melody of Craigie Lee ('Thou bonnie wood') on which Waltzing Matilda was later based. He was born in Scotland and died in Canada.

Further Reading