Professor of Music in the School for Studies in Art and Culture, James K. Wright has been named The Louis Applebaum Distinguished Visitor in Composition (2019-20) at the University of Toronto.
Wright, whose research focuses on film music, post-tonal music theory and analysis, and twentieth century music, is also well known as a prolific composer of vocal and choral works, many of which involve the integration of music with visual art and dance.
Recently, Wright authored the book They Shot, He Scored: The Life and Music of Eldon Rathburn (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019), which examines the life and work of the Canadian composer Eldon Rathburn. Known to his peers as “The Dean of Canadian film composers,” Rathburn wrote over 275 film scores throughout his 40-year career working for the National Film Board of Canada, and scored many of the early IMAX films. It was Applebaum who, in his role as Director of Music at the NFB, first hired Rathburn to work for the film board in 1947.
“Given Louis Applebaum’s pre-eminence among Canadian composers of the twentieth century, the stature of previous Louis Applebaum honorees, and the important and historic role the University of Toronto has played in post-secondary music education in Canada, I am deeply humbled by this honour,” said Wright upon learning of his appointment.
Wright will commence in his role as The Louis Applebaum Distinguished Visitor in Composition (2019-20) during the Winter term.
“I am keenly looking forward to engaging with composition students and faculty at the U. of T., and to giving the annual Louis Applebaum lecture on my recent book examining NFB film music and the life and work of Eldon Rathburn,” he says.
The previous University of Toronto Louis Applebaum honoree was Canadian-born Hollywood film composer Howard Shore, who is celebrated for scoring such iconic films as Mrs. Doubtfire and The Lord of the Rings series.
Wright has also served as Vice-President of ONMC (Ottawa New Music Creators) and on the Board of the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. He teaches music theory, composition, music perception, and musicology in the School for Studies in Art and Culture.
The Louis Applebaum Distinguished Visitor in Composition was established by Sandra and Joseph Rotman to honour the memory of the Canadian film composer Louis Applebaum (1918-2000). The inaugural visitor was U of T alumnus and 2013 Oscar winner Mychael Danna. Subsequent visitors included Paul Chirara, Richard Bellis, Lawrence Shragge, Richard Bronskill, and Howard Shore. The 2019-20 visitor is Professor James K. Wright.
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