Howard Cable (1920-2016)

Pops Conductor Laureate (1986-2016)
howard cable

Howard Cable was a true Canadian icon. His 79-year career in the music industry was one of the longest in North America. After forming his first dance band in 1937, Howard’s talent began attracting attention. He quickly earned his own shows – first on CBC radio, and then on television with the popular program Showtime.

In the 1960s, Howard moved to New York, where he conducted two Broadway musicals. In addition, he worked for Richard Rodgers, Meredith Willson, and Frank Loesser, arranging their music for publication. Though his career could have continued indefinitely in the United States, Howard chose to return home to become Director of Onsite Entertainment for Expo ’67. His longest running contribution to Canadian heritage began in 1986, when he was asked by the Commanding Officer of the Ceremonial Guard to write their signature march. This music is still played every day for the changing of the guard on Parliament Hill.

As Music Director of the Royal York Hotel, Howard worked with some of the greatest names in show business – Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, and Jim Carrey, to name only a few.

Howard was always an advocate for music education. While teaching at the Banff Centre for the Arts, two of his students, Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) and Cynthia Dale (Street Legal) went on to very successful acting careers.

Howard’s broad repertoire kept him in high demand. He maintained a busy schedule composing and arranging music, as well as numerous conducting engagements. His huge library of published music was recorded on many labels and is performed worldwide. He wrote the scores for 11 films at the National Film Board.

Howard died peacefully at home in Toronto on March 30, just after spending a day working on the music for his upcoming 2016 concert with Symphony Nova Scotia. Many of stories of his vast career can be read at his blog called “Howard Cable Remembers” (