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Alan Laing: Biography

Alan Laing
1937 - 2016
Region: Ontario

Alan Laing

Alan Laing has spent some forty-five years in Canadian theatre, music-directing and composing. He has held positions as Music Director at the Stratford Festival, National Arts Centre, and Neptune Theatres. He has written and performed at most major theatres in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Washington.

Compositions include several scores for CBC Television, most of Shakespeare’s plays over a forty-year association with the Stratford Festival, and many Canadian premieres, including Colours in the Dark, Nothing Sacred, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, William Schwenk and Arthur Who?, Summerfolk, The Wood Demon, The Floating World, Intimate Admiration, Mad Ballades and Not About Heroes.

His memorable theatre scores include “Romeo and Juliet”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, “King Lear”, and “Henry V” (Stratford), “Nothing Sacred” (Centrestage), “The Oresteia of Aeschylus” and “Camino Real” (National Arts Centre), “Hamlet” (Neptune), “Julius Caesar” (Vancouver Playhouse), “The Adventures of Pinocchio” and “The Dybbuk” (Manitoba Theatre Centre), and “Mad Ballades” (Grand Theatre).

He has co-created many small-company works, including productions based on Brel, Piaf and Kurt Weill, and several reviews and cabarets. Original musicals include Trumpets and Drums (23 songs) and the above-mentioned William Schwenk (some 60 songs, 12 original, based on Gilbert & Sullivan), which toured the country in 1979 in repertory with the NAC production of Hamlet. Some of his compositions for the theatre can be heard on the Stratford Festival CD Sweet Airs That Give Delight (Attic Records), and on Festival Gems (Hermione Presents), material from the Stratford Festival archives.

Most recently, his work has been heard at concerts in southern Ontario in London, Stratford and Guelph. He recomposed the 1991 Stratford score for Much Ado About Nothing into the ten-movement suite for singers, choir and orchestra. As a professional musician, he plays piano, harpsichord, flute, vibraphone, harmonica and various electronic instruments. As a conductor and arranger, he has shown he versatility in many different musical styles that attracted him initially to the theatre.

At various times in his life, he has been a radio actor, recital flautist, jazz pianist and mineral prospector, and shares, along with Richard Maltby and Stephen Sondheim, a deep interest in cryptic puzzles. For some years he taught mathematics and statistics at Canadian universities, and holds a B.A., B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the U. of Manitoba.



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