A long time member of Winnipeg's musical community has died. Jeffrey Anderson, age 85 passed away on Tuesday, March 18 in Winnipeg.
Anderson led a busy and varied career, in broadcasting, journalism and music. He started out working with the music publisher Boosey and Hawkes in London. It's where he came to know many of the contemporary British composers like Sir Michael Tippett and Arthur Bliss.
'After seeing my father lying in front of the stereo, and hearing the loud and wild cacophony of music coming from our front room, friends would often ask…What is he doing? Our answer….. Working!' - Jeff Anderson Jr.
Anderson's first job in Winnipeg was as a music critic for the Free Press in the 50s. From there, he went on to become a music producer at the CBC. Eventually he was appointed as the head of CBC's radio and television bureau in London during the late 60s and early 70s.
Son Jeffrey Anderson recalls his father programming the very popular national CBC music program Sound Reviews, in the family's living room.
"My most vivid memory of my father was before the digital age. There he'd be in front of the stereo system, records everywhere," he recalled. "The music would be blasting away. He'd script the show with a stopwatch while listening to the music. He would write the scripts by hand and give them to my mother Heidi to type up."
According to Anderson Junior, Sound Reviews was innovative in that it discussed recordings in an in-depth way.
"Father often brought in panels of other composers or artists to discuss the music. He was passionate about contemporary classical music."
Anderson organized a Michael Tippet festival in Toronto. It inspired other Canadian composers and musicologists to look at classical music in a new way.
Upon retirement, he got involved on the board of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
Former MCO manager Rita Menzies says Jeffrey Anderson was invaluable to the MCO because of his knowledge and expertise in the world of music, much of it gained first hand.
"I would often refer to him as a ‘walking encyclopaedia.' He could provide information on repertoire, artists and recordings instantly," she explained. "As a board member, his commitment to the MCO was evident in his contribution of time and expertise writing program notes, making recommendations regarding guest performers and managing the MCO’s record and CD store. His sense of humour along with his story-telling often made for entertaining meetings. He will be missed."
Nicola Schaefer was a family friend of Anderson's since the late 60s.
"I was over at Jeff's house and his son Michael was sorting through a huge box of family photos. He pulled one out and showed me. I was stunned," she said. "It was taken circa 1972. Both our families are standing in front of Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, England."
"Jeff was working in England for the CBC at the time (and loving it!) The family had come down to Oxford for the day to visit us Schaefers, who were on sabbatical there," she continued. "What a great day it was - exploring ChurchilI's home, having a picnic and roaming around the grounds, with the kids getting stuck up trees, etc. I'd almost forgotten about it till I saw that photo!"
A celebration of Jeffrey Anderson's life will be held at St. Luke's Anglican Church, 130 Nassau Street North on Tuesday March 25 at 11 a.m.