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Honorary degree citation - Otto Joachim*

By: John Miller, June 1994

Mr. Chancellor, it is with great pleasure that I have the honour of introducing to you the distinguished Canadian composer, performer, teacher, and since the age of seventy, visual artist, Otto Joachim. With a life in music spanning almost eight decades Otto Joachim has been noted for his personal vision, eclecticism, tenacity and dedication to the arts.

C'est dans sa ville natale de Düsseldorf que M. Joachim fait ses études de violon et d'alto. En 1934, voyant l'ascension d'Hitler, il quitte l'Allemagne pour se rendre à Singapour et Shanghai. Pendant quinze ans, il s'y consacre à l'interprétation et à l'enseignement, tout en s'initiant au design électronique et à la réparation.

After arriving in Canada in 1949, Otto Joachim's eclectic creative spirit found truly fertile soil in which to grow. The fifties and sixties are a chronicle of expanding activity: playing with l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, becoming principal viola from 1961 to 1965; founding the Montréal String Quartet; playing viola with the McGill Chamber Orchestra; and founding and directing the Montreal Consort of Ancient Instruments for a decade -- at a time when it was not yet "fashionable" to be seriously involved in early music -- all the while continuing to influence the younger generation of Montréal musicians through his teaching of viola and chamber music at both McGill University and the Conservatoire de Musique here in Montréal.

Otto Joachim had returned to active composition in the early 1950s and while building medieval portative organs for the Consort in the late fifties founded his own, very leading edge electronic music studio (the third in Canada and the first private one). In the mid-sixties he reduced his performing and teaching obligations to devote more time to composition, and electroacoustics.

Otto Joachim a choisi des styles de composition et des langages dont la fluidité, l'originalité, la netteté et le caractère distinctif reflètent sa propre personnalité. Ses compositions comptent une grande variété d'oeuvres : pour orchestre, pour ensembles de chambre, pour musique électronique, pour enregistrement seulement, toutes créées au gré de son inspiration, selon des formes structurelles soigneusement agencées ou des méthodes d'improvisation indéterminées et aléatoires.

En 1971, en tant que représentant nord-américain d'un fabricant britannique de synthétiseurs, M. Joachim a fourni à l'Université Sir George Williams son premier appareil et n'a cessé depuis de s'intéresser et de collaborer à l'essor de la musique électronique à Concordia.

J'aimerais maintenant vous faire écouter un court extrait d'une oeuvre qu'il a composée en 1987 et qui s'intitule Points.

But the eighties witnessed yet another change in the ever growing life of this creative human being, Otto Joachim took up painting and sculpture.

It appears that nothing is too great a challenge for him. I met him through my interest in performing in a live electronic music ensemble and quickly developed a warm and enduring friendship with him. Painting and visual exploration come naturally to him, and no technique or style is beyond his interest. And he has been prolific with more than 200 paintings over the past decade, one of which now graces the lobby of this very Concert Hall.

Mr. Chancellor, it is therefore indeed a privilege for me, on behalf of Senate, and by the authority of the Board of Governors, to present to you Otto Joachim, composer, performer, teacher, multidisciplinary artist, that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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