Much-admired Canadian composer and sound designer Phil Strong passed last week at the age of 59. He had been receiving treatment for amyloidosis.
Strong was an extraordinary talent, recognized for his work in film, dance, theatre, musical performance, art installations and education. Earlier this year, he won a Canadian Screen Music Award in the Best Original Score for a Short Film category. That was for his work on Ed Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress.
Strong was a kind and gracious man who was as loved as he was admired. Fellow composer, performer and visual artist Kurt Swinghammer called him “a unique, gentle, generous and most brilliant creative spirit” in a Facebook post. Composer and performer David Woodhead wrote that Strong was “one of the most talented and inventive people I’ve ever met and hung out with.”
I met Strong a couple of times in the mid-1990s, after the release of his partner Laurel MacDonald’s remarkable debut Kiss Closed My Eyes. I told him I’d been experimenting with mixing tracks from the album with techno beats. The very next week, he dropped into the studio where I was producing my show with a proper techno mix for me to air. It was exactly the kind of open, generous person he was.
In addition to MacDonald, Strong collaborated with John Oswald, Mary Jane Lamond, Kent Monkman and a long list of others.