For the love of music

Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

McGill alumnus Graham Sommer, Professor of Radiology, Emeritus, at Stanford University, is also an accomplished pianist and composer.

By Andrew Mahon

Longtime McGill supporter and alumnus Graham Sommer, M.D., C.M.’72, has pledged $1 million to the University to fund a Canada-wide competition for young composers, providing an exciting forum for the creation of new musical works. The competition will be launched in 2017 to coincide with Canada’s 150th and Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations.

“The Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers will shine a spotlight on the best young composers from across Canada, bringing them to the attention of the Canadian public and the international musical world,” said Julie Cumming, Interim Dean, McGill’s Schulich School of Music, which will oversee the competition. “The prize-winning pieces will generate an exciting new repertoire of concert music for future generations. The Schulich School of Music is grateful to Dr. Sommer for choosing McGill and Montreal as the home for this extraordinary initiative.”

Support for the competition emanates from Dr. Sommer’s enduring passion for music which has resonated at McGill notably through the Dr. Graham Sommer Piano Fund, which supported the restoration of pianos in McGill residences and the purchase of a new piano for Douglas Hall.

Dr. Sommer has also directed his support to McGill’s Faculty of Medicine. In 2006, the Dr. Sommer International Scholarships in Medicine were established, awarded to outstanding international students in the MDCM program.

A native of British Columbia, Dr. Sommer was a graduate of McGill’s class of ’72 and pursued a successful career in academic radiology at Stanford University for 37 years before retiring in 2016 as Professor of Radiology, Emeritus. In addition to his ‘day’ job, Dr. Sommer is an accomplished classical pianist in his own right and a keen performer who has written a number of compositions.

The inaugural Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers will be launched in Spring 2017 and will be open to Canadian composers 35 years of age or younger. More details about the competition and information about submissions will be available later this fall.


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