SVOBODA o@ca.on.york.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-01-13 published
Andrew Yin SVOBODA
By Joseph SINASAC, Thursday, January 13, 2005 - Page A20
Classical music composer, son, friend. Born February 4, 1977. Died December 29, 2004, in Burlington, Ontario, of a heart attack, aged 27.
In his 1996 Assumption High School yearbook, Andrew Yin SVOBODA left this inscription. "To all: One day when space and time collide, I'll meet you on the other side." A little deeper than usual for a high school graduate, perhaps, but not for Andrew. To those who knew him, the words were typical of this older man in a young man's body. Throughout his short life, he was always a little more mature, thoughtful and wiser than his years would suggest.
Andrew's sudden death cut short the life of one of Canada's most promising young classical composers. He was attending Columbia University's esteemed music program on a full scholarship. His works -- musicals, choral music, symphonies -- had been performed in Montreal, New York and Paris.
Music had become Andrew's calling, but there was nothing preordained about that. As a high-school student he was a top scholar and was often advised that he should pursue studies in mathematics and science. But from the age of 7 he had been studying piano, sometimes reluctantly, at the insistence of his father, Josef. Though obviously talented, he had not considered a future in music until he was asked in 1995 to write a musical for his high school. The result was Earth Angels, a musical on the 1917 Halifax explosion, for which he earned a special scholarship. It awakened new possibilities for his future.
After high school, Andrew went to McGill University in Montreal, where he obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in music, finishing in 2003. McGill was followed by a year of studies at l'Ecole Normale Superieur de Musique in Paris and then Columbia last fall.
Andrew came from an atypical Canadian family, though not a particularly musical one. His Czech father had emigrated to Canada after spending years in a Communist prison camp; in Canada he became an environmentalist and professor at the University of Toronto. Andrew's mother, Lewina, was of Chinese background from Hong Kong. Both took their Catholic faith seriously and kept their two sons deeply involved in their local parish. In the summers during their teens, Andrew and his older brother, Michael, would sometimes accompany their father on his field expeditions in the high Arctic. Josef talks about how he always hoped to instill two things into his son: a love of music and the ability to speak French. Years of piano lessons and French immersion paid off in the fluently bilingual musician.
Though single-minded about his music, Andrew wasn't one-dimensional. Following his funeral, old Friends talked about his other sides his deep faith, unquenchable humour, love of cooking, fondness for popular musicals, prowess at sports (especially volleyball) and, most notably, his ability to be a friend.
Matt HUCULAK, who studied English literature at McGill when Andrew was there, recalled the many times he and Andrew were joined by a group of Friends for serious discussions on literature and music. But sometimes things were not so sublime, such as the time Andrew taught Matt, a California native unfamiliar with Montreal winters, that fresh snow makes a most satisfying material for snowballs and dumping down someone's pants. "He was a very profound, spiritual person, a true artist," Matt said. "But there was still that childlike wonder he had."
On the night before his death, one of his best high-school Friends, Lisa MOODY, went with Andrew to see the new movie version of Phantom of the Opera, which he enjoyed. After recounting how he could liven up a room with both music and fun, she said, "I really believe in my heart he will be forever our angel of music."
Joseph is a friend of the SVOBODA family.

SVOBODA o@ca.on.york.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-01-17 published
Andrew Svoboda
By May Ebbitt CUTLER, Monday, January 17, 2005 - Page S6
May Ebbitt CUTLER, a former publisher of Tundra Books, writes about Andrew Svoboda who was featured in Lives Lived on January 14.
In 1997, I was looking for a composer for a family musical I had written called Aah-pootee! That's Snow! and phoned Marina Mdvani, a prominent Russian pianist who had come to teach at McGill. She recommended Andrew. He was not yet 20 years old so I had to be reminded that musical talent can emerge very early.
"But can he write an original tune?" I asked. "Absolutely," she answered.
And he did -- for 12 songs and dances.
When we performed Aah-pootee! at McGill in 1998, The Montreal Gazette referred to the "very good music by McGill's young, obviously gifted, Andrew Svoboda."
Two years later, we produced Aah-pootee! at the New York Family Arts Festival. The New York Times reviewer said the music "ranges delightfully from lullaby-like melodies to jazzy tunes," and the Off-Off Broadway Review gave it top rating, noting that Andrew's "jaunty tuneful score gives just the right light tone... to the wise and wonderful show."
Andrew had extraordinary musical talent.


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