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Ulla Colgrass talks about her husband, Michael, in Toronto.

Michael Colgrass had a remarkable life lasting 87 years, from 22 April 1932 to 2 July 2019.

His health had been failing gradually in recent years, but as his friends know, he enjoyed life until the end. They went with him to concerts, came to play music in his home, and brought food and laughter. Michael did not want any ceremonies after he was gone, but he always loved a party. So his wife Ulla and son Neal arranged a festive celebration on November 10 in Walter Hall at the University of Toronto. People poured in from Canada, Europe and all over the U.S. to play music and talk about how Michael had influenced their lives as composer, educator, therapist and friend. Michael’s family came from many parts of the States. More than 25 people took to the stage and over several hours played some of Michael’s favourite music, from jazz to Bach and new music. See presentations by Ulla, violist Rivka Golani, pianist Joanne Kong, and others.

Three major orchestral works by Michael were issued shortly before he died as a CD from Boston Modern Orchestra Project with the title work “Side by Side” with soloist Joanne Kong, as well as “The Schubert Birds” and “Letter from Mozart.” A rather complete listing of his works can be found here at his website.

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Listen to Joanne Kong perform Michael's "Side by Side" for harpsichord, prepared piano and orchestra with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP).