CMC Associate Composer Dr. Alfred Fisher passed away on December 14, 2016 at Kingston General Hospital.
Fisher studied in the US with various teachers including David Burge, George Crumb, Douglas Moore and Owen Reed. He holds a Ph.D. in Music from Michigan State University.
Fisher was an incredibly versatile musician and academic who excelled as a composer, pianist, music theorist and writer on a wide range of subjects. His compositions include a number of significant works scored for a variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles with a strong emphasis on music for voice and piano and pieces for solo piano.
His distinguished record as a composer includes commissions from: Radio Telefis Eireann, Wayne State University, The International Suzuki Association, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Canada Council, the CMC and others. His works have been performed and broadcast throughout Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and in Europe.
His academic career included positions at various institutions. During his time at Acadia (1973-77) he was the founder and director of the Acadia University Electronic Music Studio. In 1978, upon his arrival at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, he served as Chairman of Theory and Composition, and once more advocated for electronics as a component of the department and undergraduate education—he equated composition students not having a grounding in electronics to “‘…graduating a physics major without a knowledge of magnetism.’”
These values are reflected in his broader considerations of music education and training. In an interview with Barry Edwards featured in the Canadian Composer magazine (December 1978), Alfred outlined his values relating to the structure and dynamics of a music program:
“‘There’s another end to all this and that is to develop the type of milieu within the music department that provides access to contemporary music of all kinds and at all times—not something special, not something that takes place only at certain times or that is heard only on certain programs. An attempt must be made to develop a contemporary musical culture that is in part integrated into the very life of the music department. In that way, the whole idea, the very concept of contemporary music loses its special status and composition students also lose their special status. And, of course, I do as well. We become working, functioning creative musicians.’”
He began his appointment at Queen’s University as the Director of the School of Music in July 1992. His colleague at Queen’s, John Burge, notes that “[Alfred’s] five years at the helm of Music at Queen’s were marked byvery successful fundraising efforts often involving the creation of student scholarships and bursaries.” Burge goes on to describe Alfred’s relationship to his students: “Alfred always enjoyed his time in the classroom and was especially inspirational when working individually with students undertaking advanced composition or independent studies. Many past students count their time with him as being truly enriching and even life changing.”
To mark his retirement from Queen’s in 2009 (as an Emeritus Professor), the School of Music held in his honour a two-day Symposium entitled “The Avant-Garde and the Future of Art Music”. The conference emphasized the progressive and philosophical approach that Alfred applied to much of his own creative and academic activities. The now named Dan School of Drama and Music notes with sadness the loss of a faculty member who gave much to help shape their program.
On behalf of the CMC we express our condolences to Alfred’s family, friends, and his many colleagues.
This release was developed in consultation with John Burge
About the Canadian Music Centre
The Canadian Music Centre is a catalyst that connects you to the ever-evolving world of Canadian musical creation through performance, education, and promotion. The CMC provides unique resources for exploring, discovering, and performing Canadian music. We are passionate about nurturing a musical community that honours our legacy and supports the professional development of Canadian musicians and composers. The Canadian Music Centre inspires fresh perspectives, celebrates inventive composers, and provides transformative experiences. We champion artistic diversity and embrace Canada’s rich cultural heritage in creative centres across the country and internationally.
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Contact: Matthew Fava
CMC Director of Ontario Region
T: 416-961-6601 xt. 207