Recent loss to the Music Department family: Claude Kenneson

The Department of Music learned with sadness of the passing of one of our professors emeritus, Claude Kenneson. Professor Kenneson was the University of Alberta's first professor of cello and taught at the Music Department for 35 years.

Leonard Ratzlaff - 13 November 2013

Claude Kenneson (1935-2013)

The Department of Music is saddened to have learned of the passing on October 9 of Professor Claude Kenneson, professor emeritus and first professor of cello at the University of Alberta. Professor Kenneson was born in Port Arthur, Texas, and received his undergraduate and Masters degree in cello at the University of Texas, studying with Horace Britt. Prior to his appointment at University of Alberta, Claude lived in Vancouver and then in Winnipeg, where he was music director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for two years.

Professor Kenneson joined the Department of Music in 1965 and taught here until his retirement in 1990. 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. As a conductor he also directed performances of the Alberta Ballet and the Banff Centre Ballet. He attracted many fine students during his tenure in our Department. His many outstanding students included the current professors of cello at the University of Toronto (Shauna Rolston) and UBC (Eric Wilson), as well as Amanda Forsyth. For many years Claude also taught at the Kató Havas Summer Violin School in Dorset, UK. At the Banff Centre, he was a founding member of the Gifted Youth Program, where he taught in the chamber music program for many summers.

While he was a member of symphony orchestras in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal, Professor Kenneson's true métier was chamber music. Founding member of the Corydon String Trio in Winnipeg (with Lea Foli and Gerald Stanick) and the University of Alberta String Quartet, he was also the cellist in the Rolston Trio with Thomas and Isobel Rolston, and he performed extensively both in Canada and internationally, including several recitals at Wigmore Hall in London with pianist and U of A colleague 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 Chavalier du violoncelle by Indiana University. He is dearly loved and remembered by his daughter Sharon Flores, son John and cousin Sharon Hunt 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, a private gathering of remembrance will be held by his family at a later date in El Paso, Texas, where his remains will be placed beside those of his parents.

Leonard Ratzlaff, with excerpts from Edmonton Journal obituary