John Robertson

photo: Brian T.F. Lee

(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.

Albums

Voices of Earth and Air Vol IV

Release Date: September 9, 2022
Catalog Number: NV6465
21st Century
Vocal Music
Choir
Navona Records presents VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR VOL IV, a choral celebration of the human commonality we find within music. Featuring the works of six seasoned composers, each piece tells a sentimental story unique to each composer, fitting together like puzzle pieces and demonstrating the connective qualities of the human voice. Brought to life by Prague’s Kühn Choir, these choral works are sure to entrance and entice listeners with flowing tonality and artful text settings that demonstrate the powerful storytelling capabilities that vocal music wields.
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Piano Spectrums

Release Date: April 8, 2022
Catalog Number: NV6413
21st Century
Solo Instrumental
Piano
Acclaimed pianist Anna Kislitsyna stuns on PIANO SPECTRUMS, a profoundly emotive selection of aesthetic contemporary pieces – and a world-class interpretation ranging from tender filigree to unbridled, seething virtuosity. Ten contemporary composers share their works on this album with an eclectic program, both in terms of styles and subject matters. All the more outstanding, then, is how Kislitsyna scintillates with her wonderful, singing touch and musical sensitivity, effortlessly unifying ten unique voices into an album that is greater than the sum of its parts.
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Symphonies No. 4 & 5

Release Date: January 8, 2021
Catalog Number: NV6325
21st Century
Orchestral
Orchestra
In an age accustomed to three-minute pop songs being the norm, does the world need more full-length symphonies? Yes, says New Zealand Canadian John Robertson with his new release, SYMPHONY NO 4 & 5. Like their predecessors, these orchestral works make no sacrifices in terms of scale and style: they aim to be grand, aesthetic compositions, and are intended to be enjoyed as such.
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Virtuosity

Release Date: April 26, 2019
Catalog Number: NV6223
21st Century
Chamber
Orchestral
Clarinet
Orchestra
String Orchestra
Characterized by a unique style of instrumentation and experimentation with formality, VIRTUOSITY is the colorful expression of composer John Robertson's symphonic creativity. VIRTUOSITY combines a clarinet and a trumpet concerto, a symphony, and an orchestral fantasy based on a Maori love story – all on one album.
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Symphony No. 1

Release Date: July 1, 2018
Catalog Number: NV6167
21st Century
Orchestral
Orchestra
Deeply committed to a beauteous aesthetic, composer John Robertson's second album SYMPHONY NO.1 once more delivers a neoclassical triumph with tremendous potential for repeated listening. This release flaunts an unapologetically exuberant elegance ever-present in the composer's oeuvre. The heart of the album is, of course, Robertson's Symphony No. 1, a three-movement epos which explores the vast realm of classical tonality.
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Vallarta Suite

Release Date: August 25, 2017
Catalog Number: NV6117
21st Century
Orchestral
Orchestra
New Zealand born, Canada based composer John Robertson’s album VALLARTA SUITE showcases the continuation of classic orchestral traditions into the present day. The album’s three works testify to Robertson’s flexible compositional voice, which expresses playful, grand, and romantic materials within a welcoming style based on nineteenth century, and early twentieth century precedents. Performed expertly by the Jánaček Philharmonic Orchestra, VALLARTA SUITE is defined by beautiful melodies, confident orchestration, and classic musical forms.
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