Stewart Robertson

Obituary of Stewart Robertson

The Scottish born conductor, Stewart Robertson, died peacefully at home in Carmel Valley, California with his family on February 12 of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

A native of Glasgow, Scotland, Stewart was born to John (Jack) and Mildred Robertson (Redman) on May 22, 1948. He grew up in Cardonald and attended Penilee High School. After high school, he attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and studied piano in London with Denis Matthews, and conducting with Otmar Suitner at the Mozarteum and Hans Swarowsky in Vienna, before embarking on an internationally successful career as an orchestral and opera conductor. After marrying his wife Meryl, they lived in Germany, Switzerland, and back in Scotland, before moving to the United States, with their two children, in late 1979.

Throughout his career, Stewart performed internationally, leading productions with many renowned opera companies, both in the United States and in Europe. As well as becoming Music Director of Florida Grand Opera and Opera Omaha, Stewart spent almost twenty years as the Music Director of Glimmerglass Opera Festival in New York, where he helped lead the company to international acclaim. Besides his passion for working with living composers, he was proud of creating the Young Artists Program at Glimmerglass, and developing the careers of many successful young opera voices. Stewart loved the symphony world, and his career included many guest appearances throughout the world. A champion of new works, Stewart premiered many new orchestral and operatic works and was nominated for a Grammy for his recording of Richard Rodney Bennett’s Mines of Sulphur. Additionally, he made other recordings with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony and the Ukraine State Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also a broadcaster lecturer with NPR, the BBC, and Swiss-Italian Radio and Television.

In addition to music, Stewart had many passions, not least of which were his religious faith, he was an active member of the Christadelphian church, and his love for his homeland of Scotland. For over 20 years, he worked to begin restoration of a castle in rural Argyll. He also enjoyed reading, book collecting, and biblical studies. But in the end, Stewart’s greatest joy was in spending time with his family and since retiring in 2015, he and Meryl have divided their time between their homes in Carmel Valley and Helensburgh, Scotland, enjoying their time with their children’s families and good friends.

Stewart is survived by his wife of 51 years, Meryl, children, Keren Dawson-Bowman and son-in-law David, and Niel Robertson and daughter-in-law Faith, as well as his five grandchildren, Naomi Gallagher, Jonathan and Rebekah Dawson-Bowman, and Aspen and Bardot Robertson.

Private committal at El Carmelo Cemetery in Pacific Grove was handled by Healey Mortuary in Salinas.

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