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Alan Laing | 1937 - 2016

Alan Laing died at St. Mary's, Ontario on Saturday, October 22. He was a supporter of PAL Stratford and donated over 300 of his personal books to the PAL Stratford Theatrical Resource Collection.


A Celebration of the Life and Music of Alan Laing

The place: The Stratford Festival Lobby
The time: 2 pm
The date: Sunday November 27, 2016

More details to follow

BORN: October 5, 1937 in Winnipeg, Manitoba
DIED: October 22, 2016, in St. Marys, Ontario

Alan Laing died at his home in St. Marys on Saturday, October 22 after a long illness.

Alan was one of the most respected composers writing for the theatre in North America and while much of his work was written for the Stratford Festival, the National Arts Centre English Theatre Company in Ottawa, and the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, he was renowned for his brilliant musical collaborations in many theatres across Canada and the United States. He also had a long and productive association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and wrote a series of remarkable scores for CBC television dramas. A double album of some of his best theatre music was released last August in Stratford.

Alan was predeceased by his parents, Gertrude and Stanley Laing, and his brother Colin. He is remembered fondly by many members of his family including nieces, Lisa Marr-Laing, Jenny Laing, Catherine Wingfield, Anne Leach, his nephew Michael and sister-in-law Joan Laing.

Donations may be made in Alan's memory to the Performing Arts Lodge, [PAL] in Stratford.

Stratford Festival Message, October 24, 2016

As many of you already know, Saturday brought the passing of another hugely gifted and much-loved member of our Stratford Festival family. Composer Alan Laing was with us for 25 seasons, writing music for many of our most acclaimed productions and serving as our Music Director for Drama from 1970 to 1976.

Alan first joined us in 1967, when he composed the score for our première of James Reaney’s Colours in the Dark. Other works he helped create here included the stage version of Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid in 1973 and, in 1975, an extensively revised version of Brecht’s Trumpets and Drums.

Other Festival productions graced by his talents included Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1986), Henry V (1989), Not About Heroes (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1991), Treasure Island (1991), Romeo and Juliet (1992), Uncle Vanya (1992), King Lear (1996), Richard III (1997) and Othello (1994). His last season with us was 2004, when he composed John Wood’s production of Macbeth.

Alan also wrote and performed music for other theatres across North America and at CBC Television – where his work included Gordon Pinsent’s A Gift to Last – and held positions as Music Director at Neptune Theatre and at the National Arts Centre.

Earlier this year it was our great honour to host the launch of Alan’s two-CD collection Ka-Chunk: 40 Years of Music for the Theatre. In the liner notes, he wrote: “I’ve always had some versatility in musical styles, which I think is paramount in writing for the theatre, as opposed to writing for film or musical comedy, at least if one is to have a career in theatre in Canada.”

Alan, who began his career as a mathematician, was certainly versatile: not only a wonderful composer but also an accomplished performer on a whole range of instruments, including keyboards, flute, harmonica and vibraphone.

We are deeply grieved by this loss of a splendid artist and a dear friend.

Antoni and Anita

Alan Laing spent some fifty years in Canadian theatre, music-directing and composing. He held positions as Music Director at the Stratford Festival, National Arts Centre, and Neptune Theatres. He wrote and performed at most major theatres in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Washington.

Compositions include several scores for CBC Television, most of Shakespeare’s plays over a forty-year association with the Stratford Festival, and many Canadian premieres, including Colours in the Dark, Nothing Sacred, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, William Schwenk and Arthur Who?, Summerfolk, The Wood Demon, The Floating World, Intimate Admiration, Mad Ballades and Not About Heroes.

His memorable theatre scores include “Romeo and Juliet”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, “King Lear”, and “Henry V” (Stratford), “Nothing Sacred” (Centrestage), “The Oresteia of Aeschylus” and “Camino Real” (National Arts Centre), “Hamlet” (Neptune), “Julius Caesar” (Vancouver Playhouse), “The Adventures of Pinocchio” and “The Dybbuk” (Manitoba Theatre Centre), and “Mad Ballades” (Grand Theatre).

... from Composer Showcase at the Canadian Music Centre website.

More information will be posted here as it becomes available.

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