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. Bob Baker was CMC BC’s Director from 2009 until 2015.

It was a tremendous honour to serve the rich and vibrant Canadian creative music community as the BC Director of the Canadian Music Centre from 2009 until 2015. This was an amazing opportunity to work with CMC Associate composers, emerging composers, gifted performers dedicated to Canadian music, educators, BC Regional Council, CMC National Board and the incredible staff at the CMC.


The first thing I did as BC Director in 2009 was travel to Ottawa for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Canadian Music Centre at the National Arts Centre, with a full house listening to performances of Canada’s finest musicians performing compositions of CMC Associate Composers. NAC President Peter Herrndorf called the CMC “the most important musical organization in Canada.” I also had a chance to meet the CMC National staff and the other Regional Directors from across Canada. Former BC Regional Director Colin Miles drew accolades for his amazing work; he had just been awarded the coveted Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for his service to the community. I had big shoes to fill!


Vancouver was buzzing in February, 2010 with the Olympics/Cultural Olympiad, and Canadian culture was on full display. The future of the arts seemed bright, however that all changed shortly after the Olympics ended when the BC Government announced major cuts to the arts and not-for-profit sectors in BC. As a result, funding to CMC BC from the BC Arts Council and BC Gaming was cut 100%. But the BC Regional Council and I rolled up our sleeves and the BC Creative Hub  was born. The plan was to create a deeply engaging community resource which in turn would be increasingly valued. Another goal was to bring global attention to BC as a significant creative music community.


Thanks to a grant from the Deux Mille Foundation (to purchase 40 chairs for the performance space) and some elbow grease by CMC staff, the BC Creative Hub performance space was born. This new space was provided free of charge as a community resource for concerts, workshops, rehearsals, board meetings, and presentations about Canadian music.


The new space was quickly adopted by the community, and soon dozens of events a year were being held in the Creative Hub. The Creative Hub initiative was so successful that CMC National and other Regional Centres were also renovated to accommodate new performance spaces.


We were able to launch several important programs that were adopted by CMC Regional Centres across Canada. The CMC Score Reading Club was created to stimulate discourse and interest in our music library. CMC BC also partnered with the Canadian League of Composers to create the Emerging Composer Program, whereby emerging composers were mentored by local professionals in various fields to help provide them the necessary skills to make careers as composers.


One of the programs that I was most proud about launching was the Composer in the Classroom Project. Professional composers were placed in 12-week residencies in public school music programs in Metro Vancouver and the Okanagan. Associate Composers who took part in this project often commented that they learned more than the students!


A real highlight for me as Regional Director was collaborating with the Vancouver Dance Centre in the 10x10x10 Project (10 Composers, 10 Choreographers, 10 New Works) for the City of Vancouver’s 125th Celebration. We had an unprecedented run of four sold-out shows. This project was presented to Vancouver City Council as an example of the best use of the Vancouver 125th theme, community engagement and diversity.


In 2012, CMC BC was also thrilled to produce the Barbara Pentland Festival, made possible by her generous gift to CMC BC. Projects were launched and performed across Canada from Halifax to Victoria as well as internationally in Mexico and Russia.


It was also a pleasure to work closely with CMC Prairie Region Director John Reid producing the Western Canadian Music Award Classical Showcase Concerts celebrating the work of CMC Associate Composers. I was also honoured to sit on the committee that made a bid for the 2017 ISCM World Music Days. And the CMC BC Creative Digital Hub was developed in 2012 to increase the appreciation and awareness of CMC Associate Composers and the creative music community in BC on the digital platform.


I enjoyed working with Stefan Hintersteininger in changing CMC BC’s existing CenterPulse  Newsletter into a weekly digital enewsletter, which continued the CentrePulse tradition of listing performances of CMC Associate Composers. It was also an honour and thrill to work with BC Head Librarian Stefan Hintersteininger, Curator of Archives Bill Orr, Archival Information Architect Greg Soone on the creation and development of the CMC BC Digital Archive, which is an easily accessible resource.


The CMC BC Composer Distance Learning Project was developed to reach public school programs that are geographically remote and do not have easy access to CMC BC’s Associate Composers. This project received the TELUS Award for Technology Innovation in 2012.


CMC BC also embarked on a highly successful live video webcast project starting in 2013, with the goal of promoting the appreciation and awareness of performances of Canadian composers with ensembles like the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, UBC Opera Ensemble, Vancouver Chamber Choir, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and others.


The end of my story must include the good news that the BC Arts Council and BC Gaming restored most funding for the arts, with the 2014 BC Arts Council Music Advisory stating: ” … the current impact of CMC is commended as influential, necessary and important.”

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