Stewart Grant is a musician who brings to his work the insight of more than thirty years’ experience as a composer whose music has been performed by major artists in Canada and abroad, as an award-winning conductor, and as a chamber and orchestral musician who has performed with many of Canada’s finest orchestras.
Stewart Grant was born in 1948, in Fort William, Ontario, but he grew up and received his early musical training in Montréal, graduating from the faculty of Music at McGill University and the Conservatoire de musique du Québec, where he was awarded a Premier Prix in oboe in the class of Melvin Berman. His studies also included summers at Tanglewood, at the Aspen Music School and as a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, where he studied with Ray Still, principal oboist of the Chicago Symphony. While still a student, Mr. Grant organized and directed a chamber orchestra comprising students from both McGill and the Conservatoire de musique du Québec. Upon graduation, he joined the faculties of both these institutions and began his career as an oboist, performing with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, l’Orchestre de Radio-Canada and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
In 1972, Mr. Grant joined the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and it during his two seasons with his organization that he decided to pursue a career as a composer and conductor. He subsequently moved to Toronto, where he performed as oboist with the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet, the Hamilton Philharmonic and the St. Andrew’s Consort while pursuing studies in Composition and jazz arranging with Gordon Delamont.
In 1978, Mr. Grant was named Music Director of the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra in Alberta. Over the sixteen years he held this position, he developed the Lethbridge Symphony into one of Canada’s finest semi-professional musical organizations – establishing Musaeus as its resident professional chamber ensemble, founding the Southern Alberta Chamber Orchestra, and expanding the season from seven to a total of approximately sixty performances of various kinds per year. During his years in Lethbridge, he continued to develop as a composer in an ideal situation where his writing was part of his normal activities within the community. He also appeared as a guest conductor with orchestras in both Canada and the United States while remaining active as an oboist and pedagogue, teaching both in Lethbridge and at the biannual Canadian Festival of Youth Orchestras at the Banff Centre, and presenting countless performances and broadcasts as a member of Musaeus throughout Alberta and as far afield as the former Soviet Union. In 1998, in recognition of his accomplishments in Lethbridge, he was presented with the Heinz Unger Award at the national conference of the Association of Canadian Orchestras.
Since returning to Québec in 1995, Mr. Grant has composed commissioned works for various artists and ensembles, including the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, l’Orchestre de chambre de l’Estrie, Ensemble Musica Nova, violinist Martin Beaver, Le Quatuor Claudel, the Canadian Chamber Choir, the Ayorama and Estria Wind Quintets, pianist Paul Stewart and the Ottawa saxophone quartet Saxart. He has performed as a guest conductor and oboist with various orchestras, at the McGill University Faculty of Music and on the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s chamber series at the National Gallery. As a member of the duo Jaï which he formed with his wife, ‘cellist Joanne Grant, he has performed numerous concerts and produced a CD with organist Patrick Wedd. Since the fall of 1999, he has been Artistic Director of the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra, with whom he toured France in the summer of 2001 and with whom he produced Voix du Nord, the orchestra’s first compact disc.
Over the course of his career, Stewart Grant has also written for artists such as the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Regina Symphony Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Saskatoon Sinfonietta, the Foothills Brass, pianists Charles Foreman and Glen Montgomery, The Thirteen Strings of Ottawa, organist Dom André Laberge and contralto Maureen Forrester. His compositions have been performed by orchestras from coast to coast, including the Vancouver and Newfoundland Symphony Orchestras, Les Violons du Roy, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra – for whom he was “Composer of the Season” for 1995-96 – I Musici de Montréal, Symphony Nova Scotia, the National Youth Orchestra and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, as well as by artists such as pianist Stéphane Lemelin, The Aeolian Winds and James Sommerville, principal horn of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His music has been frequently broadcast across Canada on CBC Radio and has been performed in Europe, the United States, India and South America. His works are available through the Canadian Music Centre and the Theodore Presser Company.
The year 2001 saw the release of Sharing Visions, an award-winning television documentary based on Stewart Grant’s Sam Black Sketches that explores the creative process both from his perspective as a composer and from the perspective of painter Sam Black, whose sketches, paintings and prints provided the inspiration for the composition. The film culminates in a performance of the twenty-minute work by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Hoyt. A production of Patenaude Communications in association with Dinosaur Soup Productions, it has since been frequently aired on Radio-Canada, CFRN-TV, Canal D and the Canadian arts network Bravo!