Rest in Peace, Tom Rolston (1932-2010)

June 3rd, 2010 § 2 comments


Thomas Rolston passed away last Saturday, May 29th, 2010. I remember him so fondly, and give thanks for the myriad ways in which he made my life and my music better.

I first attended the summer program in 1996, and from the very beginning Tom made me feel appreciated and supported. He was dedicated to making the Music and Sound program at the Banff Centre a welcoming place for artists. A simple idea, but in no other environment have I felt so well understood and free to learn. Tom and his wife Isobel knew that the greatest gift they could give to an artist was a place where they were treated like artists, trusted as artists and given everything they needed to function as artists.

Through his life and his ideals, he has touched the lives of so many people. He had so much love to give, and he receives so much love back in return.

Edit: Here’s an excerpt from a wonderful note by Myra Davies (full text here)

One of my earliest music presentations came about when Tom came to my office of UofA, introduced himself and suggested a series of lunch hour concerts with his Alberta String Quartet, at SUB Gallery. “Music to the people” Later at Banff, Tom & family formed the nucleus of the music program; interpretive artists, dedicated to classical rep, radiating the vibe, promoting continuity, generating energy, forming artists and producing concerts non-stop.

It was wonderful to work with them in their vibrant dedicated international community. Classical music isn’t dead. It’s closer to immortal. Constantly regenerating itself, it moves steadily through time on a conveyor belt of dedicated artists who serve it and pass it on to those they’ve trained. Through the Rolston years, I watched individual artist, rising and descending in power, and knew many of them. They’re amazing. They will play on until they drop, even when demented or terminally ill they keep on playing and doing concerts.

The subculture of contemporary arts tends to hostility to the classical music scene. I wonder if some of this attitude is because they have what we don’t; a rock solid belief in the lasting significance of the work they service. Each to his own. I’m so thankful that way back when, Tom Rolston invited me into his world.

Edit 2:

No obit in the Globe and Mail, but the Calgary Herald was the first to memorialize him.

Edit 3:

Obit in the Globe and Mail by Tamara Bernstein.

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