Saturday, February 2, 2019

Oscar And The Hymn To Freedom

Outside the National Arts Centre downtown is a sculpture of the great Canadian jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson, sitting at his piano and looking like he's just taking in the applause of his audience. The sculpture was unveiled in 2010 by Queen Elizabeth, and is the work of master sculptor Ruth Abernethy, who's done a lot of sculpting work around the country. Of the many statues in both cities, I'd say this is a personal favourite of mine, and there's enough room on the piano bench for photo ops with Oscar. I took the first two shots one snowy evening in January. Oscar was retaining some of the snow. My title comes from one of his signature tunes, Hymn To Freedom. You can see Oscar's take here. Or you can hear this tribute lyrics version by Oliver Jones, Dione Taylor, and Dave Young. I've seen Ms. Taylor perform the song in concert.

A few days later I came back and photographed some more. Speakers mounted on the wall up above play his music throughout the day and the evening, probably only stopping when the building closes up for the night. Perhaps not even then, as I've not been past here at three in the morning to see if it's still playing.

As I mentioned, the bench is popular for photo ops. Oscar's face is so warm and expressive. That guy beside him? Not so much. In the background, buildings like the British High Commission, the Chambers, and Parliament Hill can be glimpsed.

The piano itself emerges from the wall, while Oscar sits with that wonderful smile on his face, and a reputation as one of the best jazz musicians of all time to his name.


  1. he looks cold. I love Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones playing "Hymn to freedom".

  2. Sublime musical experience ... Thank you!
    In the first two photos ... he has a white blanket on his shoulders... beautiful!

  3. A very natural statue ! the piano looks funny in the snow !

  4. The first photos are beautiful, William. This statue is even better when it is covered with some snow.
    Meanwhile I've been listening to "Hymn of freedom", it's great!

  5. Poor Oscar, must sit in the cold, but he looks happy :)

  6. Poor Oscar, he must be so cold but keeps smiling!

  7. une vague de froid supportable seulement par les statues

  8. How bizarre it must be to see yourself as a statue.

    I wonder what he would have thought of this!

  9. Beautifully sculpted, he has such a nice face and he sure knew how to tinkle the keyboard! Fun selfie William 😀

  10. I like your selfie with Oscar. My, Oscar must be shivering in the cold!

  11. Am I thankful for the heat I may live in now! Nice selfie - you just should copy the smile!

  12. Fun selfie William :) Beautiful sculpture indeed. Have a nice weekend.

  13. Interesting. I like that first pic.

  14. A great sculpture it is. The guy next to him has to be that famous blogger.

  15. Great to see the great pianist remembered in this way, though he doesn't look as though he'll be needing to mop his brow as much as he used to when he played. Oscar used to be a very popular guest on TV shows in the UK, for people of my generation it was often our first experience of jazz music. I have several of his CDs and I might just put one on right now!

  16. curious, what did u all chat about that fine cold day? bet u had a very conversation indeed? happy weekend. enjoy it!
    ( ;

    1. oops ... nice conversation, indeed? ... need coffee to early this Saturday AM??!

  17. Such a great statue to a great man. I also like your selfie with Oscar. :-)

  18. @Joan: that it is.

    @Tom: I thought of using that one.

    @Ella: you're welcome.

    @Gattina: the next time I photograph him will be in warmer weather.

    @Jan: thank you.

    @Karl: he does.

    @Marianne: indeed.

    @Bergson: merci!

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Sandi: I think he'd have liked it.

    @Grace: thank you.

    @Nancy: he's used to it.

    @Iris: if I smile it looks like a smirk.

    @Sami: thank you.

    @Anvilcloud: thanks.

    @Italiafinlandia: I agree.

    @Stefan: and a disreputable rogue. 😃

    @John: he was one of the greats.

    @Beth: "cold enough for you?"

  19. Oscar looks cool in the snow! I once met him and he was quite charming.

  20. Oh I love Oscar Peterson's jazz ! What a magnificent sculpture ~ !
    Is that you photographed next to him???? Great photo.

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  21. Such an interesting sculpture and it looks wonderful in the snow:)

  22. These are great. That first photo is almost surreal looking.

  23. They just don't play enough Oscar Peterson.

  24. Brilliant - Well Done & Thanx For Sharing


  25. @RedPat: I'd have loved to see him play in person.

    @Carol: yes, the disreputable scoundrel is me. Genetic curse red cheeks and all.

    @Rosie: I agree!

    @Sharon: definitely.

    @Red: he was a master musician and composer.

    @Padre: thank you.

  26. That sculpture is fabulous!!
    Who is the "grumpy" fellow?! : ) Or rather, the one who is not so warm and not so expressive? : ))
    Rhetorical question!

  27. A beautiful sculpture and a creative selfie! Well done, William.

  28. Nice sculpture! His face looks warm and expressive indeed!

  29. I've always loved the musical styling of Oscar Peterson and have a couple of CDs of his arrangements. He looks awfully cold there, but with a smile. It's a wonderful sculpture.

    I particularly like the second photo of Oscar and his "friend." A lovely hint of a smile there. Oscar makes me smile too.

  30. Oh... just a reminder. ..Super Bowl tomorrow! !

  31. That is one beautiful sculpture,
    and the selfie is cool as well.

  32. Poor Oscar doesn't even have a hat on. Too bad the buddy next to him didn't loan him one. ;-}

  33. @Marie: thanks!

    @Catarina: hah!

    @happyone: it is.

    @Bill: thanks!

    @Tamago: it does indeed.

    @Maria: thank you.

    @Jeanie: it is a wonderful sculpture.

    @Catarina: not watching it! 😃

    @Maywyn: thanks!

    @Kay: I only had the one.

  34. Our favourite Canadian loon, and Oscar!