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Robert Harris

Music that Changed the World

Illustrated Music Lectures with Robert Harris

I wouldn’t dream of attending a concert without first hearing Robert Harris’ take on the music.
His knowledge and his ideas simply add so much to what I enjoy about the music festival.
- A Summer Music Patron, 2015

Join CBC Radio host and producer, and Globe & Mail music critic, Robert Harris, for the fourth year of his informative and entertaining musical lectures. Originally inspired by Harris’ own 20-part conversations with Michael Enright on CBC Radio One’s popular The Sunday Edition, these presentations have grown to become a significant annual aspect of Stratford Summer Music’s programming. Each lecture, liberally sprinkled with musical examples illustrating key points, will demonstrate the impact that the titles and selected works have had upon music’s place in our lives.

Wednesdays, July 19, Aug 2, Aug 9, Aug 16, Aug 23 | 11:00 am | University of Waterloo

Thursday, August 3 

$25 per lecture, or $120 for all six - lecture series by calling 519.271.2101 | 1.866.288.4313

Wednesday, July 19.  11am.  U.W.

O Canada: The Surprising Story of our National Anthem                         

In this 150th year of Confederation, just about everything we know, or think we know, about our national anthem is wrong.  Its composer, Calixa Lavallée, is a mysterious figure in English Canada and not that well known in French Canada.  The truth is that Lavallée performed in blackface as a minstrel for ten years, fought and was wounded in the US Civil War, was hounded out of Quebec just after he wrote O Canada and became a major figure in the history of American music.  Most importantly, O Canada was not intended to be Canada's national anthem at all, but French Canada's national anthem.  How it came to be what it is today is a fascinating Canadian story. 

Part 1 – Wednesday, August 2.  11am.  | U.W. Part 2 – Thursday, August 3.  11am.  U.W.

Canadian Musicians Who Changed the World.                                                                                                                          

We're still getting used to the notion that Canadian musicians are good enough to be hired in Canada instead of foreign competitors.  What we don't realize is that we're far more important than that to the world's musical culture.  Canadian musicians aren't just as good as anyone else;  over the centuries, we have contributed unique and remarkable things to music around the world and without us, the world's music would be quite different.  Whether it was Glenn Gould reshaping everything from the performance of Bach to the use of technology, or Leonard Cohen providing a uniquely Canadian perspective on twentieth century pop music, or Dame Emma Albani (née Marie-Louise-Emma-Cécile Lajeunesse of Chambly, Quebec) changing opera performance in the nineteenth, Canada has changed the way the world makes music. 

Wednesday, August 9.  11am.  U.W.

Citizens of the World Who Changed Canadian Music.                          

In the same way that Canadian musicians and administrators have changed the way the world makes music, musicians and administrators from around the world have done so for Canadian music.  This was especially true in the twentieth century when European refugees from Hitler's Germany laid the foundations for post-war Canadian musical life:   from Franz Kraemer of the CBC and the Canada Council, to Helmut Kallman of the National Library.  Along with others 'from away' like Nikki Goldschmidt, Richard Bradshaw, even Alexander Neef at the Canadian Opera Company, these citizens of the world have helped shape Canadian music into what it is today.

Wednesday, August 16.  11am.  U.W.

Don Pasquale:  A Comic Gem                                                                       

It's easy to dismiss Gaetano Donizetti as a spinner of lush melodies and extravagant bel canto confections, but this nineteenth century opera composer was, and is, much more significant than that.  From his harmonic originality to his invention of Chopin-like melody, Donizetti deserves far more attention than he gets.  We'll look at him and his comic gem, Don Pasquale, before it’s presented this week at Revival House.

Wednesday, August 23.  11am.  U.W.

Whither the CBC?                                                                                            

Confederation is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.  Last year the CBC celebrated its 80th, which means we've had this central expression of our cultural life for more than half the entire existence of Canada as a separate nation.  Needless to say, the fate of the CBC is never far from the surface when the history of Canada and Canada's culture are a topic of conversation, but recently that conversation has become sterile, as our way of thinking about the Corporation finds itself increasingly out of tune with modern political and communication technology realities.  The world that discovered the Internet twenty years ago demands different thinking than the world that discovered radio a hundred years ago. Ironically, the early history of the CBC might provide us with essential clues to help shape its future. 

Lecture Series presented with the support of:

The Woodlawn Arts Foundation in honour of 

M. Joan Chalmers C.C. O. Ont.

Hosted by:



Illustrated Musical Lecture #1

Wednesday July 19 | 11 am

University of Waterloo | Stratford Campus

$25 (+$5 at the door)

Illustrated Musical Lecture #2

Wednesday Aug 2 | 11 am

University of Waterloo | Stratford Campus

$25 (+$5 at the door)

Illustrated Musical Lecture #3

Thursday August 3 | 11 am

University of Waterloo | Stratford Campus

$25 (+$5 at the door)

Illustrated Musical Lecture #4

Wednesday August 9 | 11 am

University of Waterloo | Stratford Campus

$25 (+$5 at the door)

Illustrated Musical Lecture #5

Wednesday, August 16 | 11 am

University of Waterloo | Stratford Campus

$25 (+$5 at the door)

Illustrated Musical Lecture #6

Wednesday, August 23 | 11 am

University of Waterloo | Stratford Campus

$25 (+$5 at the door)