Don Anderson

Praised in the Winnipeg Free Press as “Winnipeg’s classical music hero” and for “an astounding musical career,” and on CBC Radio as “Manitoba’s foremost musical historian,” Don Anderson is an internationally recognized advocate of classical music. He has more than 35 years’ professional experience in celebrating it through print, radio, and teaching.

Don is one of North America’s most widely published authors of program notes. Since he began writing them 34 years ago, he has written more than 180 seasons’ worth, for 25 orchestras, chamber ensembles and schools, from British Columbia and California to New York and Vermont, from Manitoba and Minnesota to Texas and Arkansas, as well as the United Kingdom. His latest client is the prestigious Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. His other clients have included the major symphonies of Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Rochester (New York), and San José (California). He has also written notes for touring performances by the London Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and the orchestras of Montréal, Ottawa (National Arts Centre Orchestra) and Québec, as well as feature articles for many of his clients. His CD liner notes appear on the Chandos, Harmonia Mundi, CBC and TSO Live labels. For the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, he has also written season brochures and concert presentations, and has hosted intermission chats in tandem with such world-class solo artists as violinists Maxim Vengerov and Janine Jansen.

He is the author, publisher and distributor of the best-selling book Tuning the Forks: A Celebration of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. It has been hailed as “the best book on music-making in Canada (and for that matter, much wider afield) that I’ve ever read, and a serious work of art in itself.” – Bramwell Tovey

Don has contributed articles to magazines in Canada and abroad, such as Opera Canada, the SwissAir Gazette, and the program books of England’s Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. He wrote for the Winnipeg Free Press, the city’s major newspaper, over a 25-year period (1977-2002). His contributions included reviews of concerts, recordings, videos and movies, plus feature articles and interviews. He is also a contributor to The Encyclopedia of Manitoba. MORE >>




For brilliance, audacity, quirkiness and endless stylish surprises it’s tough to beat the movies of those wise-ass Minnesota brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen. Through 17 movies in 31 years they’ve been creating their own unique world, filled with unpredictable plots, astonishing dialogue and (mostly) inept criminals. Instructor Don Anderson has done his best to fulfill the impossible task of choosing six representative films from their catalogue. He will introduce each one with extensive background information and trivia to enhance your enjoyment, while bonus interviews and documentaries will flesh out the Coens’ world even farther.

Blood Simple (1984): The Coens’ debut feature is a hard-edged homage to ‘film noir,’ the school of 1940s film-making where bad things happen while what seemed like a water-tight criminal plot unravels with cold inevitability. John Getz and Coen favourite Frances McDormand head the cast, and M. Emmet Walsh gives an unforgettable performance as the ultimate sleazy private investigator.
Raising Arizona (1987): What could go wrong? A young couple who can’t have children hatch a goofy plot to fill that void, in this laugh-out-loud farce that first displayed the Coens’ cheerfully warped sense of humour. The very young Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter play the couple, ably supported by John Goodman in the first of his many stellar Coen movie performances.
Miller’s Crossing (1990): The advisor to a prohibition-era crime boss has a tough job on his hands as he tries to keep two rival gangs from going to war with each other, in this super-stylish crime drama starring Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden and Albert Finney.
Fargo (1996): The very pregnant police chief of a small, wintry Minnesota town (Frances McDormand, Oscar winner for best actress) sets out to solve a kidnapping and murder case, in this unique mash-up of crime drama, outrageous farce and affectionate satire of the Coens’ home state’s residents. Many critics considered it the best film of the year, and Manitobans will identity strongly with much of it.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000): Set in Mississippi during the Great Depression, this delightful update of Homer’s The Odyssey follows three not-too-bright escaped convicts as they journey across the countryside in search of treasure. George Clooney, John Turturro, John Goodman and Holly Hunter head the cast. The film’s enchanting, Grammy-winning soundtrack score sold eight million CDs and inspired a surge in the popularity of folk and bluegrass music.
No Country for Old Men (2007): A hunter who stumbles upon the aftermath of a drug deal that’s gone wrong and takes off with $2 million in cash, finds himself being relentlessly tailed by a maniacal killer who wants the money back, in this potent suspense drama starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem (supporting actor Oscar) and Josh Brolin. With it, the Coens finally won the best picture and best director(s) Oscars. It also won for adapted screenplay.

Please note: These films contain violence and coarse language.

Six Saturdays
Oct 3, 17, 31; Nov 14, 21; Dec 12
7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Fee: $100

This course take place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to and click on Community Classroom. Please note that contents, fees and dates are subject to change.



This entertaining and intriguing course surveys and celebrates the vast repertoire of history’s most significant chamber music medium. Instructor Don Anderson traces its development, from its virtual invention by Joseph Haydn, through the classical period masterpieces of Mozart and Beethoven, the expansive, romantic-era works of Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Dvořák, and visionary works of the last century by composers such as Ravel, Bartók and Shostakovich. Also included are three major works that add one more instrument to the string quartet line-up: Mozart’s sublime Clarinet Quintet and virtuosic Horn Quintet, and the warm-hearted Piano Quintet No. 2 by Dvořák. The outstanding roster of performers, on CD and DVD, includes the Alban Berg, Amadeus, Borodin, Cleveland, Emerson, Enso, Fine Arts, Gewandhaus, Hagen, Juilliard, Kronos, and La Salle Quartets, Quartetto Italiano, pianist Sviatoslav Richter, horn soloist Radovan Vlatković, and clarinettist Sabine Meyer.

Fee: $110 (seven weeks)
Daytime Course
Tuesdays, September 29 – November 10
10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Location: Millennium Library, 251 Donald St.
Evening Course
Wednesdays, September 30 – November 25
Please note: No classes October 14 and November 11
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Location: Bryce Hall, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave.
Please note that contents, fees, dates and locations are subject to change.

To enroll or for more information, call the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts at 204 943 6090 or email



Each of these outstanding films tells a story containing powerful emotions, a strong, involving plot and vividly performed characters. As widely varied as they are in subject matter, they share deep insights into such vital issues as love, honour, compassion, courage and conscience. You won’t soon forget them. Don Anderson will introduce each of them with extensive background information and trivia. Bonus documentaries and interviews will enrich your enjoyment.
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937): This excellent film treats a subject that remains extremely timely: how people should treat their aging parents. Director Leo McCarey (Going My Way, An Affair to Remember) filmed this touching story with dignity, grace and poignancy. Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi and Thomas Mitchell head the cast.
Random Harvest (1942): A World War One veteran (Ronald Colman) awakens in a hospital to discover that he has amnesia. His search for his identity brings surprising, highly emotional results. This ultra-smooth production from MGM, the Tiffany’s of Hollywood studios, co-stars Greer Garson and does full justice to the James Hilton novel it was based on.
Watch on the Rhine (1943): Nazi sympathizers in Washington D.C. target a man who has arrived from Europe after working for the German underground. Lillian Hellman’s powerful play inspired Paul Lukas to give the performance of his life as the refugee freedom-fighter. He beat out such better-known stars as Humphrey Bogart (in Casablanca) and Gary Cooper (For Whom the Bell Tolls) to win the best actor Oscar for this film. Bette Davis co-stars as his wife.
A Face in the Crowd (1957): Here’s another film of startling timeliness, showing how the mass media can manipulate the public into accepting whatever it gives them. A radio talent scout (Patricia Neal) discovers a down-on-his-luck singer/comedian (Andy Griffith, who gives a performance that will astonish you) and shapes his increasingly influential career path. This joint creation of writer Budd Schulberg and director Elia Kazan (who had previously teamed up for 1954’s best picture Oscar winner, On the Waterfront) is quite undeservedly one of the least-known of the great American films.
The Accidental Tourist (1988): While attempting to recover from the death of their young son, an emotionally distant travel writer (William Hurt) and his wife (Kathleen Turner) discover how difficult such a period of life can be. Geena Davis won the supporting actress Oscar for her vivid performance as a brash dog-sitter who shakes up the Hurt character’s life. This poignant, at times quirkily funny drama also received Oscar nominations for picture, adapted screenplay and music.
Five Thursdays, Oct. 1 – Oct. 29, 2015
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Fee: $80

This course takes place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to and click on Community Classroom. Please note that contents, fees and dates are subject to change.