Robert or Bob (Wesley) McMullin. Composer, arranger, conductor, brass and winds player, b Lewiston, Utah, 29 Apr 1921, naturalized Canadian 1946, d Regina 3 Jan 1995. Robert McMullin was taken at age four to Raymond, near Lethbridge, Alta, where he had a year of piano lessons in 1935. He had no other formal music education. He played drums in local dance bands, and after leading an RCAF dance band in Europe during World War II as a saxophonist, he settled in Edmonton. His first major work, Sketches from the Rocky Mountains, was completed in 1948 and premiered that year by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Sir Ernest MacMillan. It was performed later by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and, with the composer conducting, by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra recorded McMullin's second 'sketch', 'Pass River,' in 1950 (RCI 19). In 1952 McMullin wrote Essay for Orchestra on commission for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
Robert McMullin played clarinet and trumpet in CBC Edmonton radio orchestras and served in the early 1950s as music director for 'Linger Awhile,' 'The Bob McMullin Show,' and other network programs. He moved to Winnipeg in 1955, again working as music director, arranger, or player for many CBC programs including the TV series 'Music Hop.' He was music director for productions by Rainbow Stage (for 40 years) and the University of Manitoba Glee Club, and conducted Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra pop concerts and stage shows by Canadian and US pop singers. For a time, he led his own quartet, which performed with guitarist Lenny Breau. After 1970 he divided his time between Winnipeg and Toronto, writing or conducting music for CBC radio, documentary films, and CBC TV series and dramas, including 'House of Pride,' 'The Collaborators,' 'Sidestreet,' and 'King of Kensington,' and for the feature films On the Edge of the Ice Pack (USA 1972), Race Home to Die (1973), and The Shadow of the Hawk (1976). In addition to hosting a nightly classical music radio program in 1974, McMullin was music director 1977-84 for the CBC telecast of the du Maurier Search for Stars.
Additional Arrangements and Compositions
Robert McMullin arranged music for LPs by the US singer Enzo Stuarti, the country singers Ray St Germain and Laurie Thain, the Winnipeg baritones Yaroslav Shur and Terry Smith, the Metro-Gnomes, Paul Grosney's Kansas City Local, and the St Michael's Cathedral Choir School, and for his own LP, Bob McMullin and his Music (1966, CTL CTLS-5078). His arrangements of songs by Winnipeg's Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings (Guess Who? Medley, 1982) and by The Stampeders (Stampeders Medley) are held in the Imperial Oil McPeek Pops Collection. McMullin wrote That's Jazz, a dixieland medley performed by the National Press Club and Allied Workers Jazz Band with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and arranged Roumenya and Kolomeynka, premiered in 1990 by the Winnipeg klezmer band Finjan with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
Among McMullin's other concert works are Prairie Sketches (1958, Waterloo 1960; commissioned for school orchestras by the Ontario Music Educators' Association and premiered in April 1959 by the CBC Symphony Orchestra); Concerto for Orchestra (1974); Concerto for trumpet and orchestra (1979, commissioned by the US trumpeter Doc Severinsen); Colony Trek (1988, an historical narrative, for the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra); and Fanfare (1988, for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra). In 1991, with lyricist Ernie Mutimer, he completed the operetta Cannington Manners. McMullin continued as music director and conductor with Winnipeg's Rainbow Stage in the 1990s, working on such shows as Brigadoon (1994).