An extraordinarily influential music professor who passed away last fall will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award, bestowed posthumously at Brandon University’s Spring Convocation later this month.
Professor Gordon, known to so many as “Bill”, joined BU’s faculty in September 1970, retired from the full-time faculty at the end of 2013, and continued to teach university courses until 2020. His career was remarkable for its duration, its depth, and its breadth, and the School of Music is a significantly richer place because of him.
“There is no doubt that Bill created a legacy characterized by hard work, genuine engagement, never-ending kindness, reliability, thoughtfulness, patience, commitment to excellence, and a sense of humour,” wrote music professor Wendy McCallum in a letter of nomination. “Bill’s outreach, musical leadership, vision, dedication, compassion, and mentorship touched BU students and alumni, colleagues in the School of Music, the local community, and the Canadian music scene. He provided 50 years of service to BU in the School of Music and in Student Services, and his service and outreach merit recognition and celebration.”
Much of Gordon’s lengthy service to Brandon University and to the wider community was detailed earlier this year in a memorial, posted in October after he passed away. The University lowered its flag to half-mast in his honour.
Among his many accomplishments were being hired to play in the recording sessions that led to one of the Beatles’ most acclaimed albums: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. As a wonderful horn instructor, he drew students to the School of Music from across Canada and leading a thriving and nationally renowned studio. He also found frequent success leading ensembles, directing the very first Brandon University Concert Band and going on to conduct the School of Music’s Wind Band, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, and Brass ensemble on many occasions. Most recently, Gordon, covering a sabbatical leave in 2020, successfully directed the School of Music’s Orchestra.
As an admired, trusted, and respected colleague, Gordon was appointed to serve as Acting Dean of Music on three occasions (2005, 2008, and 2013) as well as Interim Associate Registrar for the University (2005—2008).
Perhaps Gordon’s most permanent contribution will be his enormous input to the design and construction of the world-class Queen Elizabeth II Music Building. In the early 1980s, Gordon led a team of project managers and was ultimately appointed by Gordon MacPherson, then Dean of Music, to serve as Project Co-ordinator for the design and construction of the building. An enormous, multi-year effort, his work in this capacity is celebrated to this day: the Queen Elizabeth II Music Building School continues to be heralded as one of the finest purpose-designed and built facilities of its kind.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever been in another building with such definite functionality and purpose,” wrote former student Wendy Stenger in her nomination letter. “Bill has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to music education and to Brandon University and has done so with deep professionalism and aptitude. He has been a profound leader, and educator to generations of musicians, educators, and music makers.”
Brandon University’s Lifetime Achievement Award is approved annually by the BU Senate. The award recognizes people who have made significant contributions in service and achievement generally throughout their lives and in particular to Brandon University.
This year’s awards are being presented at Convocation, which has expanded to four ceremonies this year, on May 26 and 27, 2022. All ceremonies will be live-streamed. See BrandonU.ca/Convocation for more.
Gordon’s award will be presented posthumously during the Thursday morning ceremony on May 26. It will be accepted by his wife, Kathie.
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