Kenneth Nichols, composer

Ken Nichols, Composer (1936- August 6, 2021)

Dr. Kenneth Nichols came to Brandon College 50 years ago to teach piano, music theory, and the Carl Orff method for children. He has written approximately 70 works covering a variety of genres, including three operas. He taught music in China from 2005 to 2007. Now Professor Emeritus at the University of Brandon, he continues to live in Brandon. Dr. Kenneth Nichols was born in Pincher Creek, Alberta, in 1936. His school years were spent in Edmonton, Alberta, where he sang as a choir boy and soloist at All Saints Cathedral under Vernon Barford. Later, he played Horn in the Edmonton Shool Boys Band under Vernon Newlove. Piano studies began with his mother, Edna Nichols, later continuing with Buela Doney. He graduated from Victoria Composite High School in 1955. Kenneth studied piano for five years at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto with Pierre Souvairan, receiving the Licentiate Diploma in 1961. The following year he began a thirty-four year association with Brandon University as a professor of piano and theory/composition. During this time he earned a Masters in piano from Indiana University (1967), and a Ph.D in theory/composition from the University of Minnesota (1981). His composition teachers were Eric Rollinson (Toronto), and Paul Fetler and Dominick Argento (Minnesota). Dr. Nichols has written several works for the stage; his one act opera BOY IN A CAGE , set to a libretto by Betty Jane Wylie, has been featured as part of Prairie Opera’s school tour program. His first opera, THE PRAIRIE GIRL AND THE CHINAMAN, was written in collaboration with librettist Mark Morris as part of Music Theatre Ensemble Programme at the Banff Centre. It was performed in Feb. 1987. His ballet scores include TUMBELINA, A STORY BALLET; SPECTRUM; and REMINICENCES. Nichols’ music is communicative and often lyrical. The chamber music is neo-classical in form, and has been performed by professional ensembles. Three of the chamber pieces include voice. His piano pieces have been used by students in music festivals and exams, and his choral works sung by church or semi-professional choirs. Both the Winnipeg Symphony and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestas have performed his overture SYMPHONIC CELEBRATION.


Ken NIchols” Letters Home” – Clear Lake Chamber Music Festival