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Ted Dawson: Biography

Ted Dawson
1951 -
Region: Ontario

Ted Dawson

Ted Dawson was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 1951, and began his musical studies in violin, piano, and composition in 1962 at the Victoria School of Music with a scholarship from School Director Otto Werner Mueller. From 1962-67, he also gained choral experience through ensemble work at Christ Church Cathedral and in the Victoria Choral Society.

Ted Dawson began his undergraduate studies in 1968, enrolling in the B. Mus programme in composition at the University of Victoria, while simultaneously working as violist for 4 seasons with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. In 1972, he won the CAPAC WIlliam St. Clair Low Fellowship and the Murray Adaskin Award, and began graduate studies in composition and electronic music at the University of Toronto. He completed his Master of Musical Arts the following year at McGill University, studying composition with Bengt Hambraeus and Alcides Lanza. Between 1984 and 1995 he further supplemented these studies with a Bachelor of Education (Honours Specialist) in music and visual arts from the University of Toronto (1985) and a Ph. D. in music composition (1995) from the State University of New York at Buffalo, studying with American composer Charles Wuorinen, theorist Martha Hyde, master percussionist/conductor Jan Williams, and musicologist Jeremy Noble. He was nominated for academic excellence to membership in the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honour Society.

In terms of creative output, Ted Dawson's works can be seen as developing in three stages: an early student period ( 1972-75) during his university years that produced the String Quartet "Pentad", the electroacoustic "Concerto Grosso I", and works for amplified instruments; a short second period of experimentation in Montreal (1976-80) outside traditional music boundaries that featured collaborations with artists in other media, including "Clouds of Magellan" for Slides and Tape (with Suzy Lake), dance pieces such as "Binaries" for 4 Dancers and Amplified Piano and Percussion as well as the performance piece "Joint Actions" (with dancer Dena Davida) and a purely visual/sculptural installation piece "Failsafe" (with structural engineer Paul Sorrentino). Many of these works were created with grants from the Canada Council for the Arts.

In 1980, Ted Dawson returned to Toronto and to the creation of more traditional musical forms. Commencing in 1986 with the solo piano work "Phantasms", his catalogue of works has grown over the past 20 years to include the SOCAN Prize-winning orchestral work "Traces in Glass" (1991) Symphony 1(1995), Piano Concerto "Wisteria" (2003/ revised 2006), "Dragon Songs" for Bass-Baritone Voice and Orchestra (1998/revised 2003), the wind quintet "Ice Dreams" (2003), and a song cycle for Soprano Voice and Organ written in the Estonian language entitled "Three Songs on Poems of Andres Ehin" (2006).

Dr. Dawson works have been performed widely and broadcast in North America, Europe, and East Asia, with notable performances in Vienna, Tallinn, Vilnius, Copenhagen, London, Paris, Bourges, and Taipei. In addition to composition, Dr. Dawson has held academic positions at Concordia, Queen's, Brock, and York Universities, and is the founder and current director of True North Foundation in Toronto. As organizer and promoter of Canadian music in Canada and abroad, Ted Dawson created the Composter Education Project, and has organized festivals in Montreal (Quoi de Neuf?) in 1979, in Estonia (Kanada Muusika Paevad) in 1993, and in Taiwan (True North Festival) in 1998.

In the past three years, Dr. Dawson's works have been featured at the Fredriksvaerk Music Festival in Denmark , at the Pärnu 4th Annual Organ Festival in Estonia, and at the Christopher Summer Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Ted Dawson is a member of SOCAN and the Canadian League of Composers.


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