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Dr. Peter Simon Conferred the Title of President Emeritus of The Royal Conservatory

Dr. Peter Simon Conferred the Title of President Emeritus of The Royal Conservatory

Published on June 6, 2024

The title will take effect upon his retirement on September 1, 2024, after 33 years of leadership

Alexander Brose, Dr. Peter Simon, Tim Price

In a star-studded yet personal evening, Dr. Peter Simon was bestowed the inaugural title of President Emeritus at The Royal Occasion which honoured Dr. Simon’s leadership of the past 33 years.

In his comments before conferring the title on Dr. Simon, the Chair of The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Board of Directors, Tim Price, said, “This designation is reserved to honour in retirement, a president who has demonstrated exceptional commitment and contributions to the RCM and exemplified the highest standards of personal and professional integrity, civic responsibility, vision, and leadership. It is given in recognition of having provided outstanding and distinguished service to The Royal Conservatory, and the Board was unanimous in its agreement to create and award this title to Dr. Peter Simon.”

I am honoured and humbled to receive the designation of President Emeritus. I am so proud of all that The Royal Conservatory has achieved in the past three decades and am thrilled that my connection to this great institution will continue upon my retirement.
Dr. Peter Simon

The Royal Occasion is an annual Signature Event and fundraiser for The Royal Conservatory recognizing those who have made extraordinary contributions to music and the arts. This year’s sold-out event on May 23 was dedicated to Dr. Simon whose 33 years of leadership included:  

  • rebuilding the RCM’s headquarters now known as the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning which included the renovation of historic Ihnatowycz Hall and the building of Michael and Sonja Koerner Hall 

  • founding Learning Through the Arts, the RCM’s public education division, and ARC Ensemble, a chamber music group consisting of senior RCM faculty members whose focus is the research and recovery of works by 20th century composers that were suppressed or marginalized. 

  • launching The Glenn Gould School and renaming the RCM’s school of the community to the Oscar Peterson School of Music – both named after two of the RCM’s most beloved alumni; 

  • creating the Digital Learning Division as well as Remote Examinations which enable access to the RCM’s gold standard of music education, free from geographic boundaries; 

  • establishing The Marilyn Thomson Early Childhood Education Centre – the research from which was used to design the curriculum for The Royal Conservatory’s Smart Start early childhood education program – currently being launched across North America

The event featured appearances by members of The Royal Conservatory community including: 

  • Honorary Fellows of The Royal Conservatory: Denise Donlon (2011) was the host for the evening’s proceedings, TELUS President & CEO Darren Entwistle (2010) delivered stirring and personal comments about Dr. Simon, Steven Page (2004 as a member of Barenaked Ladies) performed three pieces with the Art of Time Ensemble led by Andrew Burashko (an RCM alumnus), and Jens Lindemann (2012) closed out the evening with a stunning rendition of beloved RCM alumnus Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom 
  • inaugural ​Jazz Artist-in-Residence, Robi Botos
  • The Royal Conservatory Orchestra, which was not only comprised of students of The Glenn Gould School, but also RCM alumni and faculty members including Atis Bankas, Marie Bérard, Erika Raum, Barry Shiffman, and Joaquin Valdepeñas. The orchestra was conducted by Maestro Earl Lee, an alumnus of The Taylor Academy and soloists included Blake Pouliot, also an alumnus of The Taylor Academy, and soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, an alumna of The Glenn Gould School. 

The event was also deeply personal with video tributes from luminaries such as Eugene Levy, k.d. lang, Paul Shaffer, James Ehnes, and former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, as well as a moving speech from Dr. Simon’s children, Nicole and Justin, and a vocal performance by Alexander Brose, President & CEO Designate of The Royal Conservatory, accompanied by pianist Dianne Werner Simon, Dr. Simon’s wife – much to the delight of the sold-out Koerner Hall audience.

This year’s Royal Occasion was presented by TELUS. The Royal Conservatory thanks them for their generous support along with Celebration Sponsors Heather Edwards and Power Corporation of Canada, Commemorative Program Sponsor Mawer and Tribute Video Sponsor Yamaha.