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), San José (California) and San Juan (Puerto Rico). 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 >>




This entertaining and informative course celebrates Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s glorious music within the framework of his life and times. You’ll learn a great deal about his personality, through his correspondence and the observations of people who knew him. Musical selections sample all the forms he worked in, including symphonies, concertos, operas, chamber music, piano solos and choral works. The music is performed on CD and DVD by a galaxy of superlative musicians, including singers Cecilia Bartoli, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Lois Marshall and Bryn Terfel; the Metropolitan Opera; conductors Claudio Abbado, Sir Thomas Beecham, Leonard Bernstein, Karl Böhm, Sir Colin Davis, Carlos Kleiber, James Levine, Sir Neville Marriner and George Szell; violinist Janine Jansen; pianists Daniel Barenboim, Alicia de Larrocha, and Murray Perahia; the Beaux Arts Trio; the Hagen Quartet; and such front-rank orchestras as the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and Tafelmusik.

6 Tuesdays, Apr 12 – May 17, 2016
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Fee: $120

Bonus film screening: Mozart in Japan
Master documentarian Tony Palmer’s fascinating movie follows pianist Mitsuko Uchida as she visits her homeland to perform all the Mozart piano concertos.

May 10, 12:10 pm to 1:15 pm

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.



The best of books sometimes don’t make good movies, but when the people behind and in front of the camera truly connect with the authors, the results can be a superlative creation that’s fully worthy of the source material. This course celebrates five such outstanding page-to-screen translations, spanning a century of literature and 60 years of movies, and adds a comic epilogue about the difficult process of book-to-film adaptation. Don Anderson will introduce each film with extensive background information and trivia.

A Tale of Two Cities (1935): “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” This epic blockbuster from Hollywood’s golden era dwarfs all other screen versions of Charles Dickens’ all-time best-selling 1859 novel. Ronald Colman stars as Sydney Carton, a dissolute Englishman caught up in the tempest of the French Revolution and its aftermath. Oscar nominations: picture and film editing.
Trio (1950): The celebrated English author W. Somerset Maugham introduces three of his own marvellous short stories, comic and dramatic alike, in this superbly entertaining screen anthology. The cast features such first-rate English actors as Jean Simmons, Michael Rennie and Nigel Patrick, who gives a hilarious performance as an obnoxious cruise ship passenger.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962): Harper Lee’s beloved, Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 novel, set in Alabama during the Great Depression, sees its compelling story of racial prejudice through the eyes of two children. Their father, a highly principled lawyer (Gregory Peck) takes on the volatile case of a black man accused of raping a white woman. Out of eight Oscar nominations it won three: actor (Peck), art direction and – yes! – adapted screenplay.
A Passage to India (1984): The final film of master director Sir David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago) is based on E. M. Forster’s 1924 novel of east-west culture clash. Gorgeously filmed on location, it features Dame Peggy Ashcroft (supporting actress Oscar), Judy Davis, James Fox and Victor Banerjee. The film also won an Oscar for music score, and was nominated for picture, director, actress and – once again – adapted screenplay. Please note: this session will last approximately three hours and 30 minutes.
The Age of Innocence (1993): This sumptuously produced film examines the stifling, closed-in life of nineteenth-century New York’s upper class. Daniel Day-Lewis gives his usual brilliant performance as a man torn between the scandal-plagued Countess he loves (Michelle Pfeiffer) and the very proper establishment woman to whom he’s engaged (Winona Ryder). This adaptation of Edith Wharton’s celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning 1920 novel received five Oscar nominations and won for costume design.
Adaptation (2002): As a gleefully comic epilogue to the course, you’ll enjoy this mind-bending blend of fact and fiction about a writer (Nicolas Cage) who’s struggling with the task of creating a screenplay from a totally unfilmable book. Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper (supporting actor Oscar) and Tilda Swinton round out the cast of a film that also received Oscar nominations for actor (Cage), supporting actress (Streep) and – one last time – adapted screenplay.

Six Thursdays, Apr. 7 to May 12, 2016
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Fee: $100

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.


The best science fiction provokes your thoughts as well as sets your heart racing with excitement, and these six first-rate movies succeed on both fronts in high style and through state-of-the-art-at-the-time special effects. Don Anderson will introduce each film with plentiful background information and trivia, and bonus documentaries and interviews will enhance your enjoyment even more.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951): A visitor from outer space arrives with a startling message: mankind must live peacefully or face annihilation as a menace to the galaxy, in this cold war-era fable starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal. Gort the giant robot has become a sci-fi movie icon, and Bernard Herrmann’s trail-blazing electronic music score gives the film an eerie, unsettling edge. Klaatu barada nikto!
Forbidden Planet (1956): With a plot structure lifted from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, this big-budget MGM space opera follows a team of astronauts as they travel to a remote planet to find out what happened to the members of a previous expedition. Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen head the cast, bolstered by the charming Robby the Robot, impressive art direction and Oscar-nominated special effects.
The Time Machine (1960): Sci-fi pioneer H.G. Wells’ classic story follows a bold inventor (Rod Taylor) from 1899 to the distant future, where mankind has evolved in unexpected ways. Revered fantasy producer/director George Pal’s version of the story has thrills, imagination and warmth to spare, plus Oscar-winning special effects.
Planet of the Apes (1968): Astronauts find themselves in a place where apes rule and humans are slaves, in this grandly entertaining blockbuster that has spawned countless sequels and spinoffs. Charlton Heston heads the cast of a film with a screenplay co-written by Rod (Twilight Zone) Serling. It received Oscar nominations for Jerry Goldsmith’s dynamic music score and for costumes, and won an honorary Oscar for the pioneering makeup.
Blade Runner (1982): In the nightmarish, rain-soaked Los Angeles of 2019, a retired robot (or replicant) hunter (Harrison Ford) is reluctantly called back into service to track down a group of lethal, renegade replicants. A box office failure on first release, director Ridley Scott’s awe-inspiring vision of a bleak future has become a revered classic. It received Oscar nominations for visual effects and art direction. This course will present the ‘director’s final cut’ that Scott prepared in 2007.
Contact (1997): When what appears to be a message from an other-worldly intelligence reaches our planet, a dedicated astrophysicist (Jodi Foster) pushes for the contents of the message to be put into action. Adapted from the novel by the celebrated scientist Carl Sagan, this thrilling and thoughtful epic deals with issues of memory, love and dedication, and science vs. faith, embodied by a new-age guru played by Matthew McConaughey.

Six Saturdays, March 5 to April 9, 2016
7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Fee: $100

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.