lakel_765_bioLarry Lake, one of the most ardent champions of new Canadian music and composers during the last quarter of the 20th century, died in Toronto on Tuesday, following a long battle with cancer.

Lake was best known in recent years as the host of Two New Hours on CBC Stereo/Radio 2 until the show was cancelled in 2007. On this show, and in many other ways from the early 1970s on, Lake sought out the best, most provocative and what he believed would be the most enduring in new Canadian works and composers and tried to share these with as many people as possible.

The broadcaster’s insights were fed by a practical connection to music: He began his musical life as a trumpeter. After moving to Toronto from his native United States in 1970, he became an enthusiastic fan and composer of electronic music. He was one of the co-founders of the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, a collective that continues to produce and perform music occasionally to this day.

His biography in the Canadian Encyclopedia (here) shows that he wrote an opera that used live electronic music in 1980.

In his manner and in how he approached his craft Lake was low-key, but there was a lot going on behind the quiet exterior. He was all about substance over show, an attitude that earned him deep respect from several generations of new music fans, performers and composers.

One of his enduring legacies is the University of Toronto’s annual Karen Kieser Prize for promising composition students, established in memory of Lake’s late second wife.

John Terauds

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6 Responses to Obituary: Canadian broadcaster and new music champion Larry Lake has died, aged 70

  1. Scott Belyea says:

    I’m sorry to hear that Larry Lake is gone.

    I knew of him for a few reasons, but in terms of listening time, Two New Hours would lead the pack. It was one show which I’d make an effort to hear regularly. The non-hyped and serious exploration of new music, often discussed between the composer and Lake, made it unique.

    It was one of a small number of radio shows which for me represented the best of music presentation. Other examples included Jeff Healey’s My Kind of Jazz, and multi-part specials such as Peter Tiefenbach’s The Case for Anton Bruckner.

    When Two New Hours was cancelled, I wrote Lake a note of appreciation and thanks. I hope he received it.

  2. Richard Paul says:

    I had the honour of working with Larry Lake while working at Two New Hours at CBC Radio, where he was my research consultant. I will always remember his wonderful sense of humour and respected his encyclopaedic knowledge of music. He will always remain in my memory as a gentleman, scholar and generally great guy. R.I.P. Larry, you influenced and mentored many people….more than you will ever know.

  3. I also had the pleasure of working with Larry at CBC – when he was producing the performance and documentary series, Themes.and Variations, hosted by Karen Kieser and Harry Mannis. Larry liked to call it “Themes and Deviations”! To echo Richard, Larry was both a gentle soul and erudite, with an often wry humour.

  4. I am truly and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my Uncle Larry Lake My uncle was a truly gifted man with a dry sense of humor and brilliant wit. He will truly be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with my cousin Anne Kieser who probably knew him best, and his daughter Destiny. Remember we are fragile beings and nothing is ever certain…I pray he is at peace and in a better place with my aunt Karen, His wife Caroline, and loved ones. Just remember:
    “We are visitors on this planet. We are here for one hundred years at the very most. During that period we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. if you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.”- Dalai Lama

  5. His music will live on and will be admired by future generations!
    Condolences to the Lake family!

  6. […] to the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, of which he was a member, Larry Lake will be present at his own memorial event at the Arts & Letters Club on Nov. […]