Claude Emile KENNESON

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  • "I met Claude Kenneson at Banff School of Fine Arts in the..."
    - Terry Sefton
  • " I studied with Claude in El Paso, Texas ca. 1954 through..."
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  • "I was one of the girls at the house below Kato's at the..."
    - Emily nee Helfer
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    - David Olney
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KENNESON, Claude Emile
April 11, 1935 - October 9, 2013
In his 79th year, at the long-term care centre in Edmonton where he had lived for almost six years.
Claude was born in Port Arthur, Texas to Ann and Claude, Sr and grew up in El Paso. He received the MMus degree from University of Texas under his beloved mentor, Horace Britt. With his wife Carolyn and daughter Sharon, he moved to Vancouver in 1959, where their son John was born. After a productive period in Winnipeg, including two years as Music Director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, he became the first professor of cello at the University of Alberta where, at the time of his death, he was professor emeritus.
He was "the compleat musician": cellist, conductor, teacher, composer, arranger and orchestrator, and the author of four books, one of which was also published in Japanese translation. He was an accomplished pianist, and also played the bassoon, flute and bass clarinet. He was a musicians' union member from the age of 16 until his death. His many outstanding students include the current cello professors at the University of Toronto (Shauna Rolston) and UBC (Eric Wilson).
He was a member of the symphony orchestras of Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal (on tour in Russia with Zubin Mehta). But his true metier was chamber music. He was a founding member of the Corydon String Trio in Winnipeg (with his esteemed colleague, Lea Foli) and the University of Alberta String Quartet, and was the cellist of the Rolston Trio with dear friends, Thomas and Isobel Rolston. International chamber music performances included many at the Purbeck Festival in Dorset, UK and the Cheltenham Festival, the Universities of Colorado and Missouri, and recitals at London's Wigmore Hall and in Copenhagen with Sylvia Hunter and two more Wigmore recitals with Brian Harris.
His original compositions and cello transcriptions constitute The Claude Kenneson Papers in the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library at Yale University. These works are also in the music libraries of the University of Toronto and the Banff Centre, and many are recorded on CBC Records, Calliope,and Naxos. In 2007 he was made a Chevalier du violoncelle by the Indiana University.
He is dearly loved and remembered by his daughter Sharon (Robert) Flores and the family and son John (Kim) and family in Texas and cousin Sharon Hunt and family in New Mexico. He is also missed by Brian, his colleague, chamber music partner, caregiver, and friend.
Honouring his wish that there be no formal public memorial, his family will hold a private gathering of remembrance at a later date in El Paso, where his remains will be placed beside those of his mother and father.
Published in The Edmonton Journal from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25, 2013
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