‘I was surprised’: Coldstream composer, conductor to join Order of Canada

Composer, musician and conductor Imant Raminsh has been appointed to the Order of Canada. Megan Turcato / Global News

A Coldstream man is set to receive one of Canada’s highest honours.

Musician, composer and conductor Imant Raminsh is among 103 Canadians who will be appointed to the Order of Canada.

Over the years, Raminsh helped to launch the Youth Symphony of the Okanagan and AURA Chamber choir, among other musical groups. He has also played violin with the Okanagan Symphony and has composed music that’s been heard around the world.

Despite his storied career, though, he was as humble as ever when he learned, late last month, he would be receiving the Order of Canada.

“Of course I was surprised,” Raminsh said. “I thought, ‘Where is this coming from? Is this maybe not some sort of practical joke?'”

READ MORE: Hamilton’s Ron Foxcroft among newest Order of Canada recipients

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The letter from the governor general’s office certainly wasn’t a joke. Raminsh’s appointment to the Order of Canada was formally announced this week.

“I arrived [in Canada] a little over 70 years ago as a little refugee kid from war-torn Europe and now I’m being honoured,” said Raminsh, reflecting on the significance of the honour.

“Canada has been good to me,” he said. “The opportunities were there for me to discover, which might not have been the case in many other situations.”

Watch: In this archive footage from 2006, Imant Raminsh and a choir of British Columbians prepare to preform at Carnegie Hall. Mike Roberts reports.

Click to play video: 'From our archives: Imant Raminsh prepares for Carnegie Hall' From our archives: Imant Raminsh prepares for Carnegie Hall
From our archives: Imant Raminsh prepares for Carnegie Hall – Dec 30, 2018

Perhaps no performance was more memorable than the time he was invited to conduct his own works at Carnegie Hall in 2006.

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“It’s one of the few meccas of the musical world. When you walk out on stage, your voice takes on a resonance you never knew it had,” said Raminsh.

READ MORE: Four Winnipeggers appointed to the Order of Canada

Although he is being honoured for a lifetime of achievement, the 75-year-old musician is far from calling to a career.

“Some people regard it as a milestone year, my 75th,” Raminsh joked. “Of course, when you regard the fact that I’m planning to live to be 200, then I haven’t even reached middle age yet.”

Raminsh continues to teach in Vernon, where he is passing on his musical knowledge to a new generation of musicians.

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