That so accomplished a composer as Dr. Turner nurtured me as graciously as he did, strikes me as remarkable. Not only did he embrace my fixation on pop music, he was the first composer whom I admired that suggested my strengths lay in musical theatre.
—Danny Shur, Winnipeg Composer
If it weren't for Dr. Robert Turner, Danny Schur might never have written such great musicals, Sid Robinovitch might not have come up with the theme for The Newsroom and pianist John Greer might never have tried composing at all.
Robert Turner had a way about him - of consuming music non stop, of listening to his students and of recognizing where their strengths lay.
As a composer he was prolific himself. When he passed away in January he left behind a large collection of compositions. Much of it was not available to hear. Until now.
At this month's Meet the Composer series at McNally Robinson, people will have the chance to hear previously unavailable recordings of some of Turner's music. The evening will launch Solo Works for Harp, Organ and Piano.
Dr. Peter Letkemann is a family friend and former student. He says "the four works on this CD represent a sample of Dr. Turner's musical
style - contemporary, eclectic, but always lyrical and accessible - and
provide an excellent example of his distinguished, creative, innovative
and lasting contribution to Canadian music."
Robert Turner in 1966 - CBC Times Portrait (CBC)
Dr. Letkemann helped created a website dedicated to the memory of Robert Turner
- done in cooperation with the Turner family. The website features a wide range of
information about the life and work of this great Canadian composer
"including biographies, photos, and a complete list of his 76
compositions, ranging from short, delightful piano pieces to chamber
music, concertos, large symphonic works and two operas (with program
notes, analysis, reviews, and sound-bites)."
The site also
includes personal tributes from former students and colleagues - a small
cross-section of the several hundred music students, including many of
Canada's finest composers and musicians, who were inspired by Robert
One of those tributes came from Danny Schur: I first met Dr. Turner in 1984, as a composition student at the
University of Manitoba School of Music. My one-on-one sessions with him
(he as composition mentor and me as immature farm boy) were notable for
his incredibly patient "bedside manner".
That so accomplished a
composer as Dr. Turner nurtured me as graciously as he did, strikes me
as remarkable. Not only did he embrace my fixation on pop music, he was
the first composer whom I admired that suggested my strengths lay in
I remember him matter-of-factly stating, "Your writing
shows a profound Broadway influence. You should pursue musicals." It
was at that moment that I thought, "If Dr. Turner thinks I can, I will."
And I did.Celebrate the music and memory of Robert Turner, Tuesday May 15, at 7:30 in the Travel Alcove at McNally Robinson.