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Charles M. Wilson

DR. CHARLES M. WILSON, a native of Toronto, Ontario, where he was born in 1931, has pursued several careers as composer, conductor, organist, and teacher in public, high-school and university fields of education. He received both a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Doctoral degree in composition from the University of Toronto. During some thirty-five years as a choral conductor, he has held a number of appointments, including the Bach-Elgar Choir of Hamilton, chorusmaster with the Canadian Opera Company, and as a founder and director of the Guelph Light Opera Company and Oratorio Choir. For the greater part of these years, he has lived in Guelph, Ontario, where he worked as an organist-choirmaster in a local church, and as a teacher in high-school. For the past nine years he has been Professor of Music at the University of Guelph. In 1988 he became Composer-in-Residence at the University of Guelph, a post which involved the operation of the Electronic Music Studio. In 1993 he retired from the university and subsequently moved to British Columbia where he and his wife, a contralto, have been giving many song recitals including both Wilson's most recent vocal works and other 20th century repertoire.

Not surprisingly, Wilson's compositional activity is centred around vocal works; a song cycle for Contralto and Piano -"The Cave" (text by Miriam Waddington), a rewriting of an earlier song cycle, "Dream Telescope" for Contralto and chamber orchestra (recorded by the CBC Radio Orchestra and archived at the CMC), and a setting of a poem- "Images" for Contralto and Flute. New instrumental works include a one movement symphony and a 2nd symphony (in progress). Most recently, Wilson has completed a trilogy of cantatas for choir, soloists and string orchestra with harpsichord (for Palm Sunday, Tenebrae and the Resurrection).

Wilson's composition teachers have included Godfrey Ridout, Lukas Foss, Carlos Chavez and Aaron Copland, (the latter three at Tanglewood Music School). More recent influences in his musical thinking and style are Stockhausen, Carter, and the newly developing field of electroacoustic music. In light of his choral activities, it is not surprising that the larger part of his output has been in the area of choral music -- opera, oratorio, choral/ orchestral works, and solo song literature. Stylistically, he has written in most of the idioms of the 20th century, from serialism to indeterminacy, as well as tonal centred works, but all of his works are characterized and unified by a strong emotional lyricism that once again finds its origin in the human voice.

April 2004


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Canadian Music Centre