He brought the people to opera

(Canscene) — For years, I’ve had commercial messages thrust upon me which, to satisfy their own own egos, the advertisers insist on performing themselves. Most of them are colossal bores from a jeweller who loves dressing up to a furniture importer who sprouts a patriarchal beard and rides elephants.

The exception proved the rule with Richard Bradshaw’s enthusiastic radio commercials promoting Canadian Opera Company productions. In a few words he brought grand opera into the 21st century but not only did he bring opera to the people — he brought the people to opera.

The maestro in the auditorium bearing his name

COC announcements promoted come-as-you-wish dress codes and low-cost seating for young people. plus free concerts at the Four Seasons Centre’s Richard Bradshaw auditorium.

While his determination and skill at negotiating brought an opera house to the people, , Bradshaw had long created justification for the Four Seasons Centre by bringing he people to opera.

These words are from the conclusion of And the Music Plays On, my still uncompleted novel As the central character, a writer in his 80s ponders his eventual departure, he closes the story with these words

“It means everything to me to know the music that has sustained me often, tortured me sometimes, caused me to shout for joy, brought tears to my eyes and a song to my lips will survive me and go on an on.”

I tremble to invade another’s thoughts, but I feel no single person did more to give meaning to that sentiment than Maestro Bradshaw.

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