John P. L. Roberts, the CBC and music in Canada

Symposium 1-2 October 2015

The School of Creative and Performing Arts (Faculty of Arts) and the Taylor Family Digital Library of the University of Calgary, and the Institute for Canadian Music of the University of Toronto are pleased to announce a Symposium entitled ‘John P. L. Roberts, the CBC and music in Canada’, which will take place on Thursday and Friday, 1-2 October 2015 in the Rozsa Centre of the University of Calgary. 

The Symposium is part of a series of events to mark the acquisition of the John P. L. Roberts fonds, housed in Special Collections of Libraries and Cultural Resources at the University of Calgary. The Symposium will reflect on John Roberts’s contributions to the development of music in Canada and beyond during the second half of the twentieth century. Between 1957 and 1975, Roberts worked as a producer and served as ‘Head of CBC Radio Music’ in Toronto. Under his direction the CBC commissioned, performed and disseminated hundreds of works by Canadian composers. This remains an unprecedented achievement in the history of this country. Roberts was also a close friend of Glenn Gould and facilitated Gould’s transition from concert pianist to ground breaking recording artist during the 1960s. During this period he was personally involved in bringing Stravinsky to Toronto on numerous occasions. In so doing, Roberts contributed to transforming Toronto from a cultural backwater in a crumbling empire into the city we know today. Topics will include: art and identity politics; building cultural infrastructure; aesthetic choices and compositional voices at the CBC; music and electronic media; the rise of Toronto as a cultural centre; John Roberts on the international scene. 

These are significant aspects of the history of music in Canada that need to be better understood. 

To register or to find further detail, please visit

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