Bill Orr / CMC BC Curator of Archives: To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Canadian Music Centre in British Columbia, we have invited the five people who have served as BC Director since its founding to reflect on events during their tenure.

Heather Pawsey is a celebrated soprano, a long-serving member of the CMC in BC’s Regional Council, and a true champion of the Canadian Music Centre, Canadian composers, and contemporary music in general. Heather served as Interim Director of the Canadian Music Centre in BC for several months in 2015 between the tenures of Bob Baker and Sean Bickerton.

Heather Pawsey, seen here with her biggest fan, Sean Bickerton

My tenure as Interim Regional Director at CMC BC was short, but memorable. There were a number of live-stream projects in the works, and it was challenging and exciting to pull together all the various team members needed to ensure that each one came off without a hitch. Of the many live-streams produced during that time, I was fortunate to be able to attend the world premiere of Stephen Chatman’s comic opera Choir Practice at UBC, and a moving performance of Larry Nickel’s Requiem for Peace at Shaughnessy Heights United Church.


It was immensely satisfying to see first-hand, on a daily basis, just how vibrant, responsive, and important the Centre is to so many people. It seemed that the phone was always ringing and the door always opening to composers, performers, educators, students, and the general public. Art Song Lab was holding its sessions at the Centre, so there was frequently live music at the end of the day (some of which I performed myself, being both Interim Regional Director and an Art Song Lab Guest Artist at the same time!)


Another highlight was hosting then-newly appointed Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra Alexander Shelley for an afternoon. Thanks to Dave, all our fancy new A/V gear was set up, and Stefan presented an excellent overview of orchestral works from the library, complete with scores and audio excerpts. I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Shelley was both surprised at the wealth of Canadian repertoire, and very impressed. Additionally, in a seemingly small but important step, Murray Adaskin’s piano was mounted on a dolly, allowing it to be easily moved — foreshadowing the functional versatility of what is now our beautifully renovated performance space.


Without question, however, the highlight of my time was working with Dave McLaughlin and Stefan Hintersteininger  — our phenomenally talented, knowledgeable and devoted staff — and spending time observing and talking with our team of equally talented, committed and incredible volunteers on the Digital Archives, Bill Orr and Greg Soone. With grace, passion and dedication to excellence, they all give their best to everyone and everything connected to CMC BC. With much-appreciated support from Glenn Hodgins at National and our Chair, George Laverock, it was my true privilege to work with our outstanding CMC BC team members. They taught me much, and I am grateful.


(Oh — and there was cake. Lots of cake.)


Heather Pawsey

We invite you, our readers, to send in your own recollection of events that have taken place here in the BC Region since it opened in 1977. If you have programs or newspaper articles that illustrate your memories, we will be pleased to make sure they are contained in the digital archive and will link them to your commentaries. Please contact us at