Christopher Dawes - Musician and  Minstrel

Chris BW02As theatre music professional Dawes has worked with Kingston and Toronto companies, the latter including Tapestry New Opera, Canadian Stage Company and Theatre on the Grand. In 2003/4 he was Musical Director of Ryerson University Theatre School’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum directed by Ted Dykstra, but also began a fruitful and continuing relationship with the Theatre and Drama Studies offered jointly by the Sheridan Institute of Applied Arts and Technology and the University of Toronto at the latter’s Mississauga campus, composing the score for and musically directing the Greek tragedy, Aeschylus' Choephori (The Libation Bearers) for the program’s professional theatrical production company, Theatre Erindale.


After six seasons, Theatre Erindale continues to be a creative focus in Dawes’ theatrical work:

2003/4 - Choephori (‘The Libation Bearers’) by Aeschylus - Director Heinar Pillar

2004/5 - Unity (1918) by Kevin Kerr (DIrector Patrick Young), Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton - Director Sue Miner, and Love’s Labours Lost by William Shakespeare - Director Heinar Pillar.

2005/06 Thirteen Hands by Carol Shields - Director Ron Cameron-Lewis (remounted at Hart House Theatre in 2007.

2006/07 Waiting for the Parade by John Murrill - Director Lezlie Wade, The Maid’s Tragedy by John Fletcher - Director Patrick Young, and Middleton’s A Chaste Maid at Cheapside by Thomas Middleton - Director Rod Ceballos.

2007/08 Women of the Klondike by Frances Backhouse - Director Marc Richard, and Ellen McLaughlin’s versions of The Trojan Women by Euripides and Lysistrata by Aeschylus - Director Catherine McNally.

2008/09 Bonjour, La! Bonjour! by Michel Tremblay - Director Terry Tweed, The Taming of the Tamer by John Fletcher - Director Patrick Young.

Dawes’ production company Organ Alternatives was founded on the presentation of innovative organ concerts and other events, usually involving drama, dance, film and other interdiciplinary content. The culmination of this activity was in the fall of 1999, when on commission from the Glenn Gould Foundation, Chris wrote (and portrayed Gould to Peter Tiefenbach’s Bach as part of the 2nd International Glenn Gould Gathering) Two Musics in Mind, an original play in which Johann Sebastian Bach and Glenn Gould meet in an organ loft, which was broadcast nationally on CBC Radio 2 that year, remounted in Stratford for its second production in summer 2003, and revived again in 2007 at the Niagara International Chamber Music Festival and Toronto’s International Bach Festival.

Through the OrgAlt magazine, which he published from 1992 to 2007 under the names Organ Alternatives and, and through other journals such as Organ Canada and The American Organist to which he is frequent contributor, Dawes’ writing about the organ and interviews with its foremost figures has sought to break with tradition by informing, entertaining and engaging the non-organist in the instrument’s often-secret world.

Another current project is his editing of, and composing music for Dedicatus Deo, a published collection of poems and hymns by the Rev. Gerald E. Butterworth and music of Jamaica’s Hon. Robert C. Lightbourne. The collection will reach publication in fall 2009, along with a commemorative CD recording.

Dawes has pursued a longtime interest in the media and communications: from fall 2004 to spring 2006 he completed North America’s first and only graduate program in Music Criticism, at McMaster University in Hamilton, where his work (available online at dealt with ”Imploding Musical Genre” based on the modernity-implosive concepts of Jean Baudrillard, Marshall McLuhan and Theodor Adorno, and the creation of a radio show “Genre Implosion” carefully mixing music from every style and era on the basis of musical content in an effort to transcend the restrictions of the genre system of categorizing music. In addition to a long and continuing freelance career in print and Internet journalism, from 1994 until 1998 he was producer and co-host with Alex Baran of "The King of Instruments", a 20-episode series on Toronto’s CJRT FM devoted to the organ and its culture.