ANDREA HANSEN was the talented and dedicated creator of the Strings Across the Sky teaching program. She was a member of the Montreal Symphony and Toronto Symphony Orchestras. Prior to her classical career, Hansen enjoyed a long and memorable entertainment career, working with performers such as Glen Gould, Arthur Godfrey, Guy Lombardo and George Burns.
Born to Finnish parents in Kenora Ontario, Hansen was a child prodigy. She performed her first radio broadcast at the age of 4. By the age of 8, Andrea debuted in Toronto Massey Hall. Introduced to violinist Fritz Kreisler at the age of seven, she was inspired by this great musician and by the musical gift passed on to her by her grandfather in Finland, a gifted cobbler and violinist. Music studies continued in Sarnia and Toronto, with full scholarships awarded by the Kiwanis Festival, the CNE Music Competition and the Royal Conservatory of Music.
For fifteen years Andrea and her older sister Florence Hansen played the violin as part of a nightclub act, The “Hansen Sisters”. Then in 1967, the sisters took their final bows and Andrea returned to her classical roots, first joining the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and later, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO).
When the TSO took their Canadian Odyssey tour (1987) to the Western Arctic, it was in Inuvik that Hansen initiated and later developed her remarkable project. Touched by a young girl who asked her, “Will we ever see you again?”, Hansen directed her considerable talent, energy and skill to delivering 100s of donated fiddles to Northern communities and teaching youngsters how to play them. In 1988, Hansen co-founded Strings Across the Sky, a not-for-profit foundation destined to inspire a passion for learning through the violin and the art of fiddling. In 2003, Hansen launched a similar programs in more southern and urban communities intended indigenous children which continue to this day.
HONOURS and AWARDS
Andrea Hansen’s personal SATS work was 100% voluntary. She was a tireless “magical educator” who touched others profoundly. She received numerous awards for this remarkable music teaching program:
- Member of the Order of Canada (1999)
- Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2002)
- The Order of Ontario (2005)
- Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013)
- Lifetime Contribution to Aboriginal Music, Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (2007)
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Toronto Musicians’ Association (2006)
- 125 Confederation Canada Medal (1992)