Clarence Epstein, senior director of Urban and Cultural Affairs, worked with Jackson throughout the project’s planning and implementation phase. “Christopher saw the future of Fine Arts beyond just the classical educational model — one where we were seeing the introduction of technology and art in all its forms as being more critical to an art education.”
Jackson worked hard to bring the different Fine Arts departments closer together. “That connection and the idea of scholarship that went beyond your own narrow discipline was very important to him,” Adams says.
As director of the Grey Nuns project, Jackson was also very supportive of Concordia’s successful negotiations to purchase the large heritage structure on René Lévesque Boulevard.
“An appreciation of the historical was a huge part of his personality and his career as a musician,” Epstein says. “The Grey Nuns acquisition brought to the downtown campus this valuable and rich part of Quebec’s heritage that now Concordia could steward.”
As a musician and conductor, Jackson was widely recognized as one of Montreal’s leading figures in the international early music scene. He co-founded SMAM in 1974, at a time when the movement to revive early music, played on the original instruments, was taking off in Europe and North America.
“He was front and centre of that movement in Montreal,” says Adams. During its beginning years, the studio was an orchestra as well as a choir, and Adams joined as a baroque flutist shortly after moving to Montreal in 1977.
As the orchestra’s leader, Jackson was exceptional, Adams says. “He was the kind of conductor that inspired everybody. I think that's what made him a good administrator as well — his ability to pull everybody's best out of them, and bring them into the vision that he had.”
On occasion the two friends would perform as a duet, Jackson on harpsichord and Adams on the flute. He was an amazing musician, she recalls. “We had a blast playing together. It was easy, it was fun, it worked and we didn't have to talk a lot. It was one of those musical relationships that gets way below the skin.”