York University Professor Catherine Robbin, an internationally renowned mezzo soprano and director of classical vocal studies in the Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Arts, has been named an officer of the Order of Canada.
From left, Catherine Robbin with the Governor General of Canada David Johnstone at the Order of Canada ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. Photo: Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall
© 2012 Office of the Secretary to the Governor General of Canada
The honour, bestowed by Governor General David Johnston on Sept. 28, recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation. Robbin was among the 27 new members, 15 officers and one companion invested into the Order of Canada at a ceremony held at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
“To be included among the illustrious company of Canadians honoured this way is a truly humbling experience,” said Robbin. “I feel so fortunate to have had a life in music that has allowed me to meet wonderful people around the world, and now to bring my experiences to another generation of young singers at York University.”
Robbin has graced stages across Canada, the United States, Britain and Europe, appearing with leading conductors and orchestras in recital, concert and opera performances. Her discography features more than 30 CDs on premier labels such as Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Philips, Teldec, CBC, Marquis and Decca. While she is noted especially for her interpretation of Baroque and Romantic repertoire, her recordings range from Vivaldi and Pergolesi cantatas and the masses of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, to operas by Mozart and Handel and the songs of Schumann, Mahler, Duparc and Ravel. Her honours include a Juno Award, Gramophone Record of the Year, Grand Prix de Disque and a Grammy nomination.
After a public performance career spanning more than three decades, Robbin joined the faculty in York University’s Music Department in 2002 and retired from the stage the following year to dedicate herself full-time to teaching. An inspiration to her students at York, she is also much sought after to adjudicate and conduct art song and lieder master classes at festivals and music schools in Canada and the US. She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and serves as president of the Canadian Aldeburgh Foundation, an organization that supports Canadians studying and performing in the Britten-Pears Young Artists program in the U.K.
“Through her strong leadership and example, Catherine has galvanized our classical vocal performance program, taking it in exciting new directions,” said Professor Louise Wrazen, chair of the Department of Music. “She has had a profound influence in promoting young talent through her teaching, with the successes of her students now extending internationally.”
“We’re proud of Catherine’s achievements, and extend warm congratulations to her on this most recent, well-deserved honour,” said Faculty of Fine Arts Dean Barbara Sellers-Young. “The Music Department and the Faculty of Fine Arts are privileged to have a colleague of such distinction working with us to nurture the next generation of artists.”
The Order of Canada, established in 1967, is one of this country’s highest civilian honours. Recipients have enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country. To date, more than 5,000 people in all sectors of Canadian society have been invested into the Order.