Oscar Peterson: the permanent commemoration

Oscar Peterson (1925-2007) has been described as one of the greatest piano players of all time; his mark on the jazz world unmistakable.

In commemoration of this Canadian artist's profound impact, the Oscar Peterson National Committee has commissioned Canadian artist Ruth Abernethy to create a commemorative statue in the heart of the country, at Canada's National Arts Centre.

That statue was unveiled amid great celebration on June 30, 2010 by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. More than 10,000 people lined Elgin and Albert Streets to participate in the unveiling. Montreal musician and broadcaster, Gregory Charles hosted the event, Trevor Payne and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir sang, and Jazz Pianist Oliver Jones played “Hymn to Freedom”.

“Oscar Peterson re-defined swing for modern jazz pianists for the latter half of the 20th century up until today. I consider him the major influence that formed my roots in jazz piano playing. He mastered (brilliantly) the balance between technique, hard blues grooving... and tenderness.” American jazz pianist, Herbie Hancock

It was a fitting tribute for a wonderful Canadian. Led by Peter Herrndorf, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre, the Oscar Peterson Sculpture National Committee helped create and finance the statue of Oscar Peterson, and his piano, symbolizing Oscar’s extraordinary contribution to the musical history and cultural life of this country, while reflecting the sense of pride Canadians feel about the man and his music.

Now Canadians can come and visit Oscar Peterson in Ottawa on the corner of Elgin and Albert Streets and can imagine “playing a duet” with this wonderful musician.

View CTV News coverage of the event

Watch the making of the Oscar Peterson sculpture 

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