Award-winning CBC Radio producer and independent filmmaker Robert Chesterman grew up in the London suburb of Purley, near Croydon, in England.  He studied piano with Percy Taylor and GeorgeOldroyd at the encouragement of his mother Mildred, a pianist herself, who recognized his keen ear for music.  Robert attended Ardingly College, a boarding school in nearby county Sussex, for what he once described as "an undistinguished schooling". The death of his influential father, when Robert was 16, affected him profoundly, as did the untimely losses of many close friends during his brief stint with the Royal Air Force, stationed in Rhodesia. He moved to Vancouver, Canada in 1957. Two years later, he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation {CBC) as a fledgling producer and became the host of "Music Diary", a weekly national radio magazine covering a broad spectrum of the arts.

"Rob" found his niche as a director and facilitator of quality radio programming from his earliest years with the CBC.  He headed up the CBC's 'Sunday Night', 'Saturday Evening', 'Monday Evening', 'Tuesday Night', 'Audience' and 'Monitor' series, bringing an international musical culture – as well as top-notch Canadian dramatic and literary talent – to a receptive audience of listeners who were treated to first-class realizations of works by gifted established and emerging artists.  Chesterman's innate understanding of the creative process, his instinctual talents as a director and his uncanny ability to win over even the fussiest of artistic temperaments earned him the respect of an ever-expanding circle of prominent theatrical performers.  Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Edward Atienza, Doris Chillcott, Dorothy Davies, Joy Coghill, Peter Haworth, Martha Henry, Terence Kelly, Otto Lowy, Marty Maraden, John Neville, Eric Peterson, Betty Phillips, Kate Reid, Bill Reiter and Eric Schneider are just some of the illustrious actors who worked under Chesterman's direction in a succession of notable collaborations.  Memorable radio plays produced and directed by Chesterman for CBC listeners include Billy Bishop Goes to War, Edwin Bartholemew's Last Hurrah, Grasshopper Hill, Memoir, The Cherry Orchard and The Idler.  Interspersed with original scores masterfully translated into radio broadcasts from the 1960's through the 1980's were numerous documentaries and interviews instigated and/or recorded by Chesterman covering topical arts issues of the day.  He championed and introduced to discerning ears some exciting Canadian writers – many of whom are considered today to be among the leaders of Canada's literary landscape – such as Margaret Hollingsworth, Laurence Gough, John Gray, John Murrell, Jane Rule, David Watmough, Ian Weir and George Woodcock.  Being in constant contact with the standout talents of such inspired contributors was, Chesterman often remarked, one of the chief rewards of working as a CBC producer.

Chesterman's dual interest in music and theatre led him to produce award-winning features on the Chicago and Philadelphia orchestras, along with a critically acclaimed 8-part series of radio dramatizations on the lives of composers Beethoven, Bruckner, Haydn, Mahler and Mozart.  His many large-scale musical features recorded for radio in Europe and North America won him various awards from the Canadian Music Council and Ohio State University.  From 1964-76 Chesterman produced radio profiles of eminent conductors Ernest Ansermet, Leonard Bernstein, Adrian Boult, Otto Klemperer, Eugene Ormandy, Herbert von Karajan and Bruno Walter.  From his interviews for this series, he prepared his first book (Conversations with Conductors, Robson Books 1976).  Further work with such luminaries as James Levine led to his second book of interviews with conductors in 1990.  In 2007, he combined both books into one compilation to publish Conductors in Conversation: The Complete Collection, an exemplary volume that continually receives rave reviews – and requires re-stocking – at Sikora's Classical Records in Vancouver.

Chesterman's documentary on the choir at King's College, Cambridge, was one of the highlights of CBC's 'Tuesday Night' and the subject of his first Prometheus Films release 'The Boast of Kings' (1981). The film went on to win a Bronze medal at the New York Film and Television Festival.  Following his retirement from the CBC in 1989, Chesterman continued to work as an independent producer and director of films with his own company, Prometheus Productions, and on radio programs such as 'Vienna's Golden Autumn' for CBC's 'Ideas' series.  He directed and produced 'Which Way to Carnegie Hall?', a study of gifted musical children which won the Gold Medal at the New York Film and Television Festival in 1987, and produced and directed 'Summer Song' (1988), a feature film about the British Columbia Boys' Choir on tour in the Netherlands.  His film Gustav Mahler – Symphony #5,  a performance by the McGill Symphony Orchestra conducted by Timothy Vernon, was another Bronze Medal winner at the New York Film and Television Festival (2000) – described by Classical Musical Magazine as "A real triumph, this recording has every right to share shelf space with the celebrated readings of Bernstein, Karajan and other giants of Mahler interpretation."

Chesterman lost his brave but brief fight with pancreatic cancer on June 1st, 2007.  He was 76.

Many CBC Radio 2 aficionados lament the loss of the type of superlative programming pioneered by 'establishment' radio producers like Robert Chesterman – along with his talented longtime CBC colleagues Don Kowalchuk, Don Mowatt and Gerald Newman – as representative of the consistently high standard of quality no longer heard on the airwaves today.  One can, however, if motivated enough, search through the bowels of the British Columbia Archives at the Royal BC Museum (at to find archived recordings of many of the CBC programs which Chesterman and Mowatt painstakingly put together (and in some cases had re-mastered) to make up a permanent legacy of past CBC programming – and important BC radio history.