Avison appeared as a solo pianist, as a duo pianist with Norma Abernethy and with Victor Babin, and as an accompanist to such performers as Maureen Forrester, Lois Marshall, and, on an RCI series of folk recordings, Emma Caslor. He composed and arranged music for CBC radio and TV programs, including 'River of the Clouds' and 'The Journey' in 1965, and in 1966 he was host of the six-part CBC TV series 'Man and Music'. He was associate director 1952, 1954, and 1956 of the Aspen, Colo, Music Festival, a part-time lecturer 1967-9 in orchestration at the University of Victoria, and a member 1968-71 of the Canada Council's arts advisory committee. A versatile conductor especially proficient in 18th-century music, Avison also conducted a vast quantity of 20th-century music, including premieres of such Canadian works as Murray Adaskin's Serenade Concertante (1954), Udo Kasemets' Violin Concerto, Opus 41 (1967), Bruce Mather's Music for Vancouver (1969) and Talivaldis Kenins' Violin Concerto (1974). In 1961, jointly with the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra, he received from the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, a commendation for services to contemporary music. In 1970 he was the recipient of the Canada Music Citation of the CLComp, in 1978 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 1980 he was awarded the Canadian Music Council Medal. The CBC Vancouver Orchestra presented a series of three concerts entitled The Avison Series to mark its 50th anniversary in 1988.
According to Bryan N.S. Gooch, Avison was "a truly sensitive and gifted musician; his knowledge of the repertoire was broad and detailed, and his performances were distinguished not only by an insistence on standards but by his own very real love for - and penetrating understanding of - his material. He was indeed a brilliant pianist (his reading was superbly accomplished); his energy and leadership are much missed."
Author Max Wyman
See Discographies for CBC SO, CBC Vancouver Orchestra, Edmonton SO
Hughes, Doug. 'A time to play and time to go,' Vancouver Province, 9 Mar 1980
Links to Other Sites
The History of Canadian Broadcasting
This site is dedicated to the visionary pioneers who created Canada’s broadcasting industry. Features profiles of members of the CAB Hall of Fame and much more. From the Canadian Communications Foundation.