Robin: artist, musician, performer, composer, teacher, mentor, writer, hilarious jokester, probing conversationalist, foodie, golfer, voracious reader and a most curious mind, has left us. Devoted husband to Eleanor, “King of the World” to his children Bryce and Dorothy, “Ogi” to his grandchildren Esme, Grayson and Lucie and father-in-law to Richard and Jill.
Robin was a percussionist in orchestras across the U.S. and came to Canada in 1968 to join Seiji Ozawa as the principal percussionist of the TSO. In 1971, he was a founding member of the renowned percussion ensemble Nexus. He was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame, he won a Toronto Arts Award and the Banff School’s Donald Cameron Award. He was a guest conductor for New Music concerts, Array, CBC, the Art of Time Ensemble, and for over 20 years he directed and conducted the University of Toronto’s contemporary music and percussion ensembles. He was a teacher at the Eastman School of Music, York University and a leader of master classes around the globe. Robin was an avid writer and blogger on subjects ranging from “Winter Camping in Killarney” to the genius of Toru Takemitsu.
That’s just a précis of the many threads of Robin’s storied, adventure-filled life. He had two essential qualities; an insatiable, fearless curiosity, and an unflinching, uncompromising sense of right and wrong. Anyone who ever shared a glass of wine or a meal with him understood this. He was ferocious in his pursuit to make sense of the world around him, engaging anyone and everyone who crossed his path, on any subject. “What do you mean?” he would ask. “When and where did that concept arise? How do you spell that?” Robin would then pull a dictionary, atlas or book (and later an iPad) off the shelf. But on Friday, February 26th the questions and inquiry stopped for the first time in 79 years as he floated off peacefully for what Eleanor has described as “his final tour.” He will be missed, but never forgotten by those he loved.
There will be no formal funeral or services. In lieu of flowers, we ask you to consider supporting an arts organization you love in his honour. Dorothy Anne, Bryce, Jill, Richard, Esme, Grayson and Lucie would love to hear your Robin memory in the comments below.