(Ernest) John Robertson (b. 1943) was born in New Zealand but is a longtime resident of Canada. His secondary school offered music as a full time subject, allowing Robertson to find his footing. Upon leaving school, he went into the insurance business where he spent his working life. Having emigrated to Canada in 1967, he took a 3 year course of private study in the mid-1970s with Dr. Sam Dolin at the RCM in Toronto. Continuing to compose, his entry in the 1987 Composer’s Competition sponsored by the Nepean Symphony won him his first major public performance. Entries in the Canadian Contemporary Music Workshops in the late 1980s and early 1990s achieved three performances of his entries, including one at the final gala concert.
Post retirement, he has concentrated on getting his work heard more broadly, now having his compositions played in Canada, Mexico, Sweden, the U.K., the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and China. In 2014, the Rusé Philharmonic (Bulgaria) gave two concerts of his music, and subsequently the State Opera Rusé commissioned an opera from him. Orpheus – a Masque premiered in 2015, with revivals in 2016 and 2017 when it was one of the test pieces in the Blue Danube Opera Conducting competition. A companion piece for Orpheus, Lady Jane — a dance piece with actors — appeared in 2017.
His output covers most genres and all five of his symphonies have been recorded and released on Navona Records, along other works including concertos for trumpet and clarinet. He resides in Kingston, Ontario.