Skip Navigation

Fellowship and Artistry Celebrated at 2019 Royal Occasion

Fellowship and Artistry Celebrated at 2019 Royal Occasion

Published on May 31, 2019

2019 Royal Occaison (Lisa Sakulensky)
On May 15, 2019, The Royal Conservatory of Music celebrated the importance of partnership, the spirit of fellowship, and the incredible contributions of extraordinary Canadians.

At its signature annual fundraising event, The Royal Occasion, the RCM bestowed Honorary Fellowships upon celebrated piano duo Anagnoson & Kinton, the dedicated arts patrons at BMO Financial Group, and rock legends Lighthouse. Honorary Fellowships are the most prestigious designation conferred by the organization.

An audience of several hundred filled Koerner Hall for the event, which included stirring performances by the honorees, as well as students of The Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists, The Glenn Gould School, and The Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program.

“It is an honour to be honoured,” said James Anagnoson, one half of Anagnoson & Kinton and Dean of The Glenn Gould School. During his humble and heartfelt acceptance speech, he related the unique privileges of a career in the performing arts, which has allowed him to bring music to communities around the world for more than 40 years.

For his long-time musical partner Leslie Kinton, receiving an Honorary Fellowship from The Royal Conservatory was equally meaningful. A former student and current faculty member, he feels a strong connection to the organization whose halls he walked as a child. “Every time I come back here,” he noted, “I feel like I’m coming home.”

Many employees at BMO Financial Group feel a similar connection to the RCM given their experience with its examinations, acknowledged Head, Community Giving Nada Ristich, who accepted the Honorary Fellowship on behalf of the organization. She also expressed pride in BMO’s decades-long history supporting Canada’s arts sector. Regardless of the type of support an organization requires, Ristich noted, “support of the art form is first and foremost”.

“We are unbelievably honoured,” said Lighthouse co-founder Paul Hoffert, who felt a distinct thrill in accepting the fellowship in Koerner Hall, which he described as “a new treasure in Toronto”. He also felt humbled to know the band would be included among the generations of legendary musicians - including Randy Bachman, Oscar Peterson, and Buffy Sainte-Marie - also previously named as Honorary Fellows of the organization.

Following his brief speech, Hoffert joined his bandmates on stage for what he promised would be “a little bit of rock and roll.” True to his word, Lighthouse closed the show with a blast of rock classics – the set list included  hits Sunny Days, Pretty Lady, and Fly – that had audience members dancing in their seats.

After the ceremony, guests spilled out into the Leslie and Anna Dan Galleria to enjoy drinks and desserts and to continue the spirit of fellowship. Among them was Gary Berman, CEO of Tricon Capital Group Inc., who happily handed out cupcakes to fellow revellers.

Berman was proud to represent Tricon House, which, along with Renette and David Berman, were the Presenting Sponsors of The Royal Occasion. He was delighted to support an organization he admired, one that, in his words, has had “an enduring impact on our cultural vitality.”

The Royal Conservatory sends its deepest thanks to all the sponsors and supporters of the 2019 Royal Occasion.