Walter Babiak

Walter (Andrew) Babiak. Conductor, violist, composer, arranger, b Saskatoon 11 Oct 1933; B MUS (Toronto) 1955. After lessons 1939-51 at the TCM (RCMT) with John Montague (violin), Elie Spivak (viola), and Louis Murch (piano), he


Walter Babiak

 Walter (Andrew) Babiak. Conductor, violist, composer, arranger, b Saskatoon 11 Oct 1933; B MUS (Toronto) 1955. After lessons 1939-51 at the TCM (RCMT) with John Montague (violin), Elie Spivak (viola), and Louis Murch (piano), he studied at the University of Toronto with Nicholas Goldschmidt, Oskar Morawetz, Godfrey Ridout, John Weinzweig, and others. Babiak was a violist in the Hart House Orchestra, the CBC Symphony Orchestra 1959-60, and the TSO 1957-60. He studied conducting with Boyd Neel, Walter Susskind, and, in 1962 at the University of Amsterdam, with Franco Ferrara. He was associate conductor 1960-6 and guest conductor 1984-7 of the National Ballet of Canada; music director of the Canadian Chamber Orchestra (Toronto) 1968-72, the Brantford Symphony Orchestra 1968-74, the Stratford Festival theatre orchestra in 1969, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet 1981-4; and guest conductor of the Stuttgart Ballet 1979-81 and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in 1989. He founded the North York Symphony Orchestra in 1970. In 1971 he was guest conductor of the Vienna State Opera Ballet during its first North American tour. In a long association with the Shevchenko Musical Ensemble in Toronto, he has frequently been its guest conductor and arranger-orchestrator, most recently beginning in 1984. In addition to hundreds of adaptations, arrangements, and orchestrations, Babiak has composed over 40 original works, including Sinfonietta for Strings which won a 1957 Canadian Composers' Award, Soliloquy for Violin... 'To be or not to be' (1987), and A Child's Christmas in Wales (1989) for two narrators and orchestra. In a career distinguished by wide versatility, Babiak has also been a broadcaster, adjudicator, and lecturer. He has continued to perform as a studio violist and he conducted the Studio Arts Orchestra for Sue,Hammond's Classical Kids series of recordings, including Beethoven Lives Upstairs (Classical Kids SAN-1003) and Mozart's Magic Fantasy (Classical Kids SAN-1023) which won Juno awards for best children's album in 1990 and 1991 respectively.

Further Reading

  • Schulman, Michael. 'Walter Babiak: a musician who prizes versatility,' CanComp, 157, Jan 1981