Biography

 

Praise for Don Anderson

“Don was – and continues to be – the most valuable resource as musical pundit, researcher, writer, librarian and wit. He knows more about classical music than anyone I know.”

- Leon Cole, retired CBC Radio host (RSVP, Sound Track, etc.)

“Don Anderson has been writing programme notes for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 1998, and he continues to be an audience favourite. He writes fluidly and authoritatively on music from any period and in any genre – and is very enthusiastic to do so! Each programme note by Don is an engaging blend of historical context and commentary on the music which guide listeners in an informative yet accessible manner. Don is also a key contributor to the TSO’s season brochures – for more than a decade, he has provided concise and vivid concert descriptions which have been instrumental in generating interest in the orchestra’s performances.”

- Hannah Chan-Hartley, Managing Editor, Musicologist, Toronto Symphony Orchestra
hchanhartley@tso.ca

“(Don’s) writing style is scholarly yet accessible, making it conducive to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s need for program notes to appeal to and engage audiences with varying degrees of knowledge about classical music. He is reliable, dependable and flexible. He has accommodated changesin program promptly, allowed us to use his notes on our website, and has never missed a deadline.”

- Bret Dorhout, Vice President for Artistic Administration,
Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
formerly Artistic Administrator, Philadelphia Orchestra;
Director of Artistic Operations, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra artistic@stlsymphony.org

“Don Anderson is one of those crazy characters whose passions carry you along on a tidal wave of enthusiasm. His knowledge, and love, of all things musical inspire all those who find they cannot escape his laser beam. Be warned!”

- Tony Palmer, award-winning British filmmaker and author www.tonypalmer.org

“In everything he does, Don Anderson is a perfectionist. He was a tremendous resource and assistance to me during my 12 years with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. His fund of knowledge about music and musicians has been of inestimable value to me and the WSO. He is extremely efficient and very prompt to every request I have made of him. In short, Don is a very hard worker with an interesting mind and wide ranging intelligence. He is an excellent writer. He is a team player yet with a strong individual strength. All of these attributes are supported by initiative. It is a great pleasure to recommend Don. I should say also that it is the rare exception to express one’s endorsement of an individual as wholeheartedly as this.”

- Bramwell Tovey, Music Director, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra;
Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl;
formerly Artistic Director, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

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 40 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 35 years ago, he has written 200 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 and Hong Kong. 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. For the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, he has also written season brochures and concert presentations, and has hosted intermission chats in tandem with such word-class solo artists as violinists Maxim Vengerov and Janine Jansen.

His notes have embellished performances by a “who’s who” of today’s most acclaimed musicians: Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, Lang Lang, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Barenboim, Charles Dutoit, Maxim Vengerov, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Joshua Bell, Frederica von Stade, Samuel Ramey, Sir James Galway, James Ehnes, Pinchas Zukerman, Emanuel Ax, Ben Heppner, Karita Mattila, Marc-André Hamelin, Gerald Finley, Valery Gergiev, Michael Tilson Thomas, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Sir Andrew Davis, Marin Alsop, Leonard Slatkin, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and the Academy of Ancient Music among them. His notes have been distributed at Carnegie Hall, New York in support of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony (2008). His CD liner notes appear on the Chandos, Harmonia Mundi, CBC and TSO Live labels.

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

His closest relationship in the orchestral field has been with his hometown band, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Don was associated with them from 1981 to 2008. His activities included writing program notes, feature articles, season brochures and radio and print advertisements, creating and maintaining the orchestra’s repertoire database, and hosting pre-concert chats (1989-2006). In 1990, he coordinated the WSO’s search for its first composer-in-residence, a process that resulted in Glenn Buhr’s appointment to the position.

Don began his thirty-year association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1982. As producer, writer, music programmer, and commentator, he contributed to such nationally broadcast radio programs as DiscDrive (founding Associate Producer, 1985-87), Northern Lights, Music for a While, Take Five, RSVP, Command Performance, That Time of the Night, Mostly Music, Arts National and Sound Track, Manitoba-area shows including Arts Encounters and the Weekend Morning Show, and several music specials for television. He also served as a music librarian for 24 years (1988-2012), and as a radio archivist.

Since February 2014, he has been hosting a weekly radio show, Classical Kaleidoscope, which airs Wednesday afternoons from 1:58 pm to 4:00 on CKUW, 95.9 FM. You can also listen to it live at https://ckuw.ca, and hear past broadcasts through the CKUW archives at https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/classical-kaleidoscope.

He has written articles for 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.

Don has researched and/or written scripts for Musically Speaking concerts by the Vancouver and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, hosted by such well-known media personalities as Vicki Gabereau, Fred Davis, Leon Cole and Jurgen Gothe. He has interviewed numerous stars of popular music, including Henry Mancini, Shirley Jones, Marvin Hamlisch and Erich Kunzel.

In May 2011, he hosted a group of 14 on a wonderful trip to Vienna and Salzburg.

In October 2012, Don made his debut as a lecturer on the subject of film. He has presented sold-out courses on the legendary directors Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz; classic mystery films; beloved actress Audrey Hepburn; comedy classics of the 1930s and `40s; ghost stores for grownups; the legendary English film-making team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger; the five superlative films nominated for the best picture Oscar in 1982; acting icon James Stewart; the Oscar-winning directing and writing team of Joel and Ethan Coen; a group of five exceptional dramas; a set of six great movies adapted from great books; and an acting ‘contest’ between the two rival screen divas, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, all at McNally Robinson Bookseller’s Community Classroom. The Hepburn course sold out so quickly that a second section had to be added. For a complete list of Don’s upcoming courses and special events at McNally’s, please click the link on the home page.

Don has taught 40 continuing education courses in music appreciation at the University of Winnipeg and the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts (MCMA), has given lectures at the University of Toronto (see photo on home page), and the University of Manitoba, and has given illustrated presentations for Manitoba Opera, the International Cello Festival of Canada and the Asper Jewish Community Campus.

Student comments on Don’s MCMA courses:

  • I never wanted any of the sessions to end. This course was heaven – it brought me to tears of joy and sorrow.
  • Don obviously puts a great deal of time and energy into preparing his course material, yet his presentation of it seems so effortless – almost like he was there at the time the events took place.
  • Absolutely fascinating, as are all of Don’s courses! His depth of knowledge is astounding, and we are very fortunate to be on the receiving end of all that he prepares and presents to us. Perfect planning, perfect timing, stimulating, and Don draws us all in and holds us in the palm of his hand!
  • Don Anderson is an outstanding person. His sense of humour adds greatly to his immense knowledge of music. His presentation is always very knowledgeable and wide in scope, and when there are guest musicians there is always good cooperation between them. As always, this course came up to Don’s high standards.
  • Don is as gifted and inspired in his own way as many of the composers whom he teaches.
  • What can one say – Don is outstanding in every respect.
  • I can’t imagine how this could be done better.
  • Don is incredibly knowledgeable in this field. I have been listening to classical music for decades but he still manages to introduce me to new composers and pieces of music, which makes me appreciate even more the beauty of classical music.
  • There is certainly only one Don Anderson, and we are so lucky to have him to share his knowledge with us.
  • It is sometimes hard to put into words how much Don’s courses are enjoyed and appreciated.
  • Don, you are a window on the world of beauty.