TORONTO, ONTARIO – Humber College has established a scholarship in memory of Denny Christianson, a passionate musician and educator who devoted his life to developing the next generation of jazz musicians, producers, and composers.

As founding program co-ordinator of the Bachelor of Music Degree at Humber College, Christianson collaborated with music faculty to create one of the most comprehensive undergraduate music programs in Canada. It remains the only four-year music degree at an Ontario college. By combining the latest recording technologies and entrepreneurial business strategies with performance, production, song writing, and composition in jazz, pop, R&B, Latin and world music, this program consistently produces many of the most successful and versatile musicians and music industry professionals in Canada and abroad. Christianson also led the development of a world-class recording studio at the Lakeshore campus.

A multi-talented artist, Christianson was a trumpeter, flugelhornist, arranger, composer, conductor, and bandleader. Over the course of his award-winning career, he recorded more than 250 albums with legendary pop star greats including Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, and the Jackson 5. Christianson enriched the student experience by attracting world-class figures in jazz to Humber as visiting artists, including Kurt Elling, Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride, Mike Stern, Laila Biali, John Scofield, and more. 

Christianson passed away at age 78 in February 2021. He was a driving force in Canadian jazz music and music education and his dedication to the craft has left an enduring mark on generations of students, colleagues, Humber staff and faculty and friends. 

“With Denny having been a scholarship donor, it was only fitting that we continue his legacy and generosity to train young artists and support their development,” said Guillermo Acosta, senior dean, Faculty of Media and Creative Arts, Humber College. “We hope to create a permanent memorial that will support future generations of world-class jazz musicians whose own legacies will commemorate the impact Denny had on music students, Humber and the Canadian music community.” 

The scholarship is designed to encourage and support female artists to break barriers in the music industry, and it will be awarded annually to a self-identifying woman in their third or fourth year at Humber College. 
“Humber College’s creation of the Denny Christianson Memorial Scholarship will serve as a symbol of recognition and encouragement to inspire young women artists to pursue their dreams,” said Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan, president and CEO, Humber College. “Christianson’s passion for music and dedication to developing the next generation of musicians, producers and composers will live on for years to come through this scholarship.” 

For more information about the Denny Christianson Memorial Scholarship or to donate, please view the special tribute page at Denny Christianson Scholarship - Humber College.

The scholarship was announced at Humber’s celebration of 50 years of music education on March 31. 

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Sylvie Lendvay
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