Stewart Goodyear: Canada’s Queen of Ontario

Image copyright BANGERRA Photography Image caption Goodyear was given an honorary doctorate for his service to the arts

The city that gave the world Hip-Hop may now have a special place in the heart of one of Canada’s most renowned pianists.

Stewart Goodyear was awarded an honorary doctorate for his service to the arts on Tuesday at the Royal Conservatory of Music, a nationally ranked institution with a global reputation for classical music.

His first visits to the school came back in 1981, but Goodyear, now a resident of Canada’s largest city Toronto, had a way with words when he described the honour.

“You know – you’re pinching yourself – you know! Amazing! How cool is that?” he said.

“This is like a ‘junior Dame,’ if you will. Sort of the Glenda Jackson of the piano world right now.

“She is the ‘Queen of London’, I guess. She is a great classical singer, and I think that Glenda Jackson is the Queen of Ontario right now.

“So, when I heard about this double distinction for both classical performance and engagement with young people, I thought ‘wow, this is really special’.”

Glenda Jackson (right) is Canada’s Queen of Ontario

Goodyear began his playing career while studying at Northern Michigan University at a time when the school was not affiliated with the school of music, and, therefore, remained steadfastly focused on academics.

“You have to take classical music seriously, it’s not the frivolous, sort of side thing – or it should be,” Goodyear said.

“It’s literally medicine. It’s really something you go to medical school for. It’s like a profession. It’s only a sense of fulfilment when you reach a certain level.

“We’ve all been fighting a battle with that – making everyone in the world take classical music seriously. And we’re sort of having a great deal of success with that.

“I believe that in this case, the recognition should be really as much for the faculty, the young people, the talented children who come out every year to masterclass at the Conservatory.

“And I think it’s a great merit to everybody in the Conservatory.”

Goodyear received the honorary doctorate along with a 25-year award for excellence in teaching, a citation that takes into account his contributions to the music world and to academic communities alike.

Goodyear met his wife, Cathy, when both were studying at the University of Toronto in the late 1970s, and he has devoted his career to championing classical music in Canada’s largest city.

He has held a long-term residency at the school, and was instrumental in the launch of the Conservatory’s piano-making program back in the 1990s.

Image copyright 2017 BANGERRA Photography Image caption He was also a U of T jazz percussion teacher

He has been a long-term supporter of the TSO, the country’s leading music company, and is also an honorary chair and honorary life member of the Western Concert Orchestra.

“I also feel very strongly, and I’m not alone in this, that the Conservatory as a provincial, national institution, it needs to place more emphasis on classical music in schools,” Goodyear said.

“And I am at the forefront of that movement. It’s sort of the Glenn Gould of the Canadian classical music scene.

“The many young people I’ve played with and fostered in a variety of different institutions really do love classical music.”

Goodyear can now add the King of Toronto to his lengthy list of awards and accolades.

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