David Keane (1943 – June 20, 2017)
a Founder Member of CIME / ICEM, and founder of Canadian Association of Electroacoustic Music (CAEM) passed away on June 20, 2017.
David Keane was a Professor Emeritus of Music and Composition at Queen’s University, Kingston. Joining the School of Music in 1970, he founded the Queen’s Electronic Music Studio, serving as its director until 1997. A dedicated teacher, he was also a prolific composer, writing for dance, theatre, film, radio, multi-media, installations, and the concert hall. Characteristically combining electroacoustic instrumentation with live performance, his music reflects his long-standing interest in polyphony – in particular, the isorhythmic motets of Guillaume de Machaut and the use of hocket technique – and his interest in musical perception, especially the listener’s discovery, in repeated hearings, of subtle and complex transformational patterns. Among his electroacoustic innovations, he developed a midi-baton for conducting live performers and midi-compatible systems, allowing the singers/actors the interpretative freedom available in conventional instrumentation.
David was a pioneering composer of ‘serious’ electroacoustic music, a world ambassador for Canada in this field, and an influential participant in the early days of many Canadian music Institutions. His works have been performed around the world: in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the U.K., Ukraine, and Yugoslavia, as well as throughout North America. He received numerous awards from the Ontario Arts Council and The Canada Council for the Arts and produced work for the National Film Board, the National Art Gallery of Canada, the CBC, the National Design Council, and the Ontario Science Centre. Outside Canada, he received commissions from MAFILM (Hungary), the Groupe de Musique Experimentale de Bourges (France), the National Endowment for the Arts (U.S.), and the Cuban Commission for UNESCO. He published articles and reviews on electroacoustic music and musical aesthetics, and the classic work in its field, Tape Music Composition (Oxford, 1980). A founding member of the Canadian Electroacoustic Society, he served for many years on its Board, and he was an elected member of the governing bodies of both the Canadian League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre. Recordings of his music include three dedicated albums, Lyra (1980), Aurora (1985), and Dialogics (1993), and individual pieces in collections such as The Anthology of Canadian Music (1990).
David Keane was also a double-bassist, playing in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (1964-67), the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (1969-1970), and the Kingston Symphony Orchestra (1970-75). He conducted the Kingston Chamber Orchestra (1973-76) and founded and directed the Kingston Camerata (1975-77), for which he produced several half-hour television programmes recognized by Can Pro awards. A serious traffic accident in 1977 curtailed his hiking, camping, and double bass playing, but after early retirement in 1998, he retrained as a fiddler, conducted extensive research into the history of fiddle music in Canada and the British Isles, and composed jigs, reels, waltzes, and hornpipes. He performed with a fiddle group in Scarborough and for many years he volunteered as resident fiddle player at the Scarborough Historical Museum. A committed member of the NDP, David Keane served as President of the Scarborough Southwest Riding Association from 2000 to 2007.
Despite his long and debilitating illness, David never flagged in his abundant joy of life and he made the most of his remaining time. His wife Melba Cuddy-Keane extends her sincere gratitude to all who gave him help and support: Chartwell Guildwood Retirement Residence, Chartwell Trilogy Long Term Care, the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities, the Neurology and ALS Clinics at Sunnybrook Hospital, the committed and compassionate palliative team at the Rouge Valley Centenary Hospital, and many wonderful care-givers, family, and friends. Donations, if so desired, might be to ALS Canada or the Canadian Music Centre. In lieu of a memorial service, performances of David Keane’s music are being planned.