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Maureen Forrester

89

B: July 25, 1930 in Montréal, QuébecD: June 16, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario

Born in Montreal to a Scottish cabinetmaker father and Irish mother, Maureen Forrester grew up in that time when much of the city`s east end was populated by thousands of working-class Protestant anglophones. Forrester had liked basketball as a young girl and left high school at 13 to take a job as a secretary to finance her singing lessons. Her mother had pushed her into church choirs at a young age where her future vocal prowess first became apparent. Quietly supported in her early years by Montreal Star publisher and philanthropist J.W. McConnell, Forrester sang with the Montreal Elgar Choir in 1951 and made her recital debut in 1953 with John Newmark, her preferred accompanist. Forrester had a long-term association with the music of Gustav Mahler, and was one of his most respected interpreters. Her 1957 performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony under Bruno Walther launched her into international stardom. After her discovery by the wider world in the mid-1950s, Forrester enjoyed a busy and lucrative international career. Yet she remained loyal to her country, championing works by Canadian composers, including Harry Somers, R. Murray Schafer and Alexander Brott. Her work and buoyant spirit helped generate worldwide respect for Canada and Canadian artists and it is without doubt that her most conspicuous act of service to Canada was her unpaid work as chairwoman of the Canada Council from 1983 to 1988, five of her peak potential earning years. Forrester had married the violinist Eugene Kash in 1957 and raised her family in Toronto. The competing pressures of home and career proved hard to sustain and the couple separated in 1974. Kash died in 2004. An Honorary President of the Toronto School of Music, Maureen Forrester was mother to actors Linda Kash, Daniel Kash and Gina Dineen and to daughters Paula Burton and Susan Whaley. Forrester was awarded Opera Canada`s first ‘Ruby’ award in the creative artist category in 2000, and in 2003, she was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec and in 2004, Forrester became a MasterWorks honouree by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada.The Stratford Festival also administers a Maureen Forrester Award, and features promising Canadian musicians in its Maureen Forrester Young Artists series. She made very few film and television appearances.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Selections from the Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach (1964)

The Medium (TV-1977)

Iolanthe (TV-1984)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
The Adventures of Tintin (voice, 1991)
Street Legal (1991)