Oscar Peterson to Be Honoured with Statue in Ottawa

BY Stephen CarlickPublished Mar 19, 2010

To honour late Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson, plans are being made to erect a bronze statue of the performer outside the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

As the CBC reports, Peter Herrndorf, CEO of the arts centre, and Brian Robertson, a producer who helped organize the Roy Thomson Hall tribute to Peterson in Toronto, launched a fundraising campaign on Wednesday (March 17), which has a goal of $210,000.

When that goal is reached, Canadian sculptor Ruth Abernethy - who has to date created bronze statues of pianist Glenn Gould outside the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto, Toronto actor Al Waxman in Toronto's Kensington Market, and Manitoba Theatre Centre co-founders John Hirsch and Tom Hendry in Winnipeg - will begin construction of the Peterson statue. The finished product will depict the jazz legend sitting at a bench next to his instrumental companion, the grand piano, and is set to be unveiled June 30 as part of the Canada Day celebrations, assuming the financial goal is met.

The statue has already received support from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen, who were among the first to donate.

"Oscar Peterson is a quintessential Canadian success story," Harper said in a press release. "He came from humble roots to become a legendary performer who inspired countess artists all over the world."

Liberal MP Bob Rae is also a supporter, who hopes the fundraising campaign will inspire "jazz lovers and Canadians everywhere to contribute to this wonderful tribute to one of our country's national treasures."

Former Ontario premier Bill Davis and Senator Tommy Banks, another Canadian musician, are also supporters of the statue.

Peterson grew up in Montreal. After 65 years as a jazz composer, recording artist and respected musician, he passed away at the age of 82 in December 2007.

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