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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
December 3, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Maureen Forrester
Maureen Forrester

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Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Laurier acquires archive of material of great Canadian contralto

Patron sought to help preserve scores, memorabilia and legacy of Maureen Forrester

Jan 4/06| For Immediate Release


Dr. Gordon Greene
Acting Dean, Faculty of Music
(519) 884-0710 ext. 2151


Michael Strickland
Manager, Media Relations & Information
(519) 884-0710 ext. 3070

WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University is seeking a patron or patrons to help it preserve the legacy of Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester.

Laurier is acquiring a lifetime’s worth of material accumulated over the long career of a performer described as the great contralto of her time, Canada’s grande dame of song and one of this country’s musical ambassadors to the world. The collection includes musical scores written for and dedicated to her, as well as photos, concert memorabilia, press reviews and sheet music with her notations.

“The vast majority of the collection is comprised of her personal sheet music, of which there are about 4,000 items,” said Leslie De’Ath, music director of Laurier’s opera productions, who inventoried the collection. “The real value for any music lover lies in the signatures on the front covers and notations throughout the scores.”

Laurier is purchasing the collection, appraised at $50,000, and is seeking a patron or patrons who can help preserve it. The collection will be maintained in the university archive and portions will be displayed in the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall. Laurier’s faculty of music would also use the collection for teaching.

The collection includes:
•    Musical scores written for and dedicated to Forrester, with written dedications on the title pages. There are 20 of these, from prominent Canadian and international composers.
•    Photographs, both publicity and family. Many are believed to be sole copies, crucial to any visual accounting of her career and life.
•    Concert memorabilia, including programs, posters and press reviews. These document her life as a performer and represent the most complete compilation of such material.
•    Working copies of her music, complete with her markings and highlighting. These include several scores that she recorded.
•    Framed items and documents related to her 16 honorary doctorates, as well as her appointments as chair of the Canada Council, companion of the Order of Canada and chancellor of Laurier.

Now that she is retired, Forrester’s long association with the university makes it an appropriate repository for the collection. Forrester served from 1986 to 1990 as Laurier’s third chancellor. In 1994, the university named its main musical performance facility the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall.

“In all, the archive represents a wonderful collection of material from a remarkable Canadian contralto and her impressive career,” said Gordon Greene, acting dean of the faculty of music. “Given our long association with Chancellor Forrester, we are very excited to help preserve her legacy for future generations. We expect classical music lovers will share our interest in recognizing the contribution of an important Canadian icon.”

Anyone interested in helping to preserve Forrester’s musical legacy should contact Michelle Breault at (519) 884-0710 ext. 2094 or


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