Concerned about the teaching and performance of Canadian music in schools, he became involved in 1963 in the John Adaskin Project to introduce Canadian composers and hosted several youth concerts on CBC.
A grant from the Canadian Cultural Institute in Rome permitted him to study there (1969-71), completing works that revealed his interest in new vocal techniques. Eastern music and philosophy also influenced him considerably.
Somers's music is internationally respected and is performed throughout the Western world. He received major commissions from most of Canada's musical and theatrical organizations. His opera Louis Riel was commissioned for Canada's Centennial by the Floyd S. CHALMERS Foundation and was subsequently performed in Washington, DC, for the US Bicentennial. Always associated with intense feeling, his work is simple, eloquent and forceful, often using dramatic juxtaposition of styles, dramatic silences and sharp fluctuations in volume, which he called "dramatic unrest."
Somers became a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1972 and he received honorary degrees from the universities of Ottawa (1975), Toronto (1976) and York (1977). In 1986 he was the subject of a half-hour documentary, "The Music of Harry Somers."
Author MABEL H. LAINE
Links to Other Sites
Canadian composer Harry Somers dies
A CBC obituary for acclaimed Canadian composer Harry Somers.
An extensive collection of audio clips from recordings featuring the National Arts Centre Orchestra performing works by noteworthy Canadian and international composers. Click on a composer's name on the right side menu to access specific works. See also composer biographies and the interactive timeline of historical milestones in classical music. From artsalive.ca and the Virtual Museum of Canada.