Sunday, January 13, 2008

Free at Last

When my wife, Ruth, graduated from Queen's University she had a wonderful convocation "speaker" who didn't say a word. The jazz pianist Oscar Peterson was awarded an honorary doctorate that day and was invited to play his address to the graduating students and their guests.

Yesterday I listened to the live broadcast of the tribute concert for Peterson held at Roy Thomson Hall. People lined up for hours to get into this free concert and I'm sure it was a thrill to be there. Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones were among the many who eulogized their good friend in word and music. Governor General Michaelle Jean was eloquent and his 16-year-old daughter, Celine, was touching in her reflection.

The finale was Peterson's Hymn to Freedom sung by opera star Measha Brueggergosman and several choirs. This piece was written in the early sixties and was adopted by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement as something of an anthem. It has the quality of a gospel call to freedom for all peoples. I have heard it before, but never in such a stirring rendition. It really was a tribute to one of Canada's finest musicians. R.I.P, O.P.

No comments: