To his own compositions Aitken brings the virtuoso performer's delight in sound, experimenting adventurously with instrumental timbre, electroacoustical colour and oriental techniques to produce music of high originality. His Berceuse for flute and orchestra (1992) has received several highly acclaimed performances. From 1960 to 1975 he taught at the University of Toronto. He taught for a decade from 1972 at Shawinigan (known from 1981 as the Johannesen International School of the Arts) where he founded Music at Shawnigan, a three-week festival devoted to chamber music. He was director of advanced studies in music at the Banff Centre from 1985 to 1989. From 1988 until 2002 Aitken was professor at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg, Germany. As a performer, conductor, and teacher he continues to present performances, carry out residencies, and give master classes around the world.
Named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1993, Aitken was given the Roy Thomson Hall Award in 1994 for contributions to Toronto's musical life. Among his other honours are the Canada Music Citation, the Jean A. Chalmers National Music Award, the William Harold Moon Award, and the title Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the government of France. In 2000 at the University of Miami, Robert David Billington completed his doctoral dissertation, "A Description and Application of Robert Aitken's Concept of the Physical Flute." In 2003 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Flute Association.
Author BARCLAY MCMILLAN Revised: ELAINE KEILLOR
Links to Other Sites
A profile of the multi-talented Canadian composer Robert Aitken. From the Canadian Music Centre.
The website for the Esprit Orchestra, a full-sized Canadian orchestra devoted exclusively to new music. Features musician profiles, a current concert calendar, discography, and excerpts from their recordings.
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.
Besides hockey and the maple leaf, there is little as symbolically Canadian as the CBC – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It grew out of a developing nation's need to express its identity and find its voice.