Sunday, February 20, 2011

Remembrances and looking ahead musically this week

Although I am a little late getting my blog entry out this weekend, I have a lot of ground to cover as many thoughts are swimming around in my head, so bear with me. There is a connection to all the thoughts, I can assure you!

The community lost two individuals in the past week or so that bear mention in this space. The first, of course, is the passing of Henry Burgoyne, the last of the family dynasty to head up the St. Catharines Standard before selling the company to Southam in 1996. Henry had been publisher since 1975, when he was all of 26 years of age and groomed for the position for several years. I never new Henry; however I did know another member of the Burgoyne family, Mary, who ran the radio station I work at, CKTB RADIO. In fact, I was the last hire for the Burgoyne family at the station before ownership changed hands in 1982. I didn't get much of a chance to get to know Mary back in those days, but it was interesting being part of a family tradition going back decades in the community.

Henry passed away earlier this month from cancer at the age of 61 - far too young for a man with so much more to do with his life. The visitation was Friday, which I attended in the evening at Hulse & English Funeral Home, in the same two rooms I stood in almost two years ago when my father passed away. I didn't know many in the room that evening, but I did know Janet & Peter Partridge, both of whom have been long-time clients of mine with my music business, A Web of Fine Music ( Janet was also a Burgoyne before marrying Peter; in my early years at CKTB RADIO both Janet and Peter would be in the station in the evening preparing to record the classical-music show they hosted on our FM sister station back then.

The memorial service for Henry was Saturday morning at 11 at the Ridley College Chapel, where Henry had a long association both in his early student years as well as much later on in his life. I unfortunately could not attend, as I was at another funeral service for the second individual I want to write about today: The Reverend Canon David Vincent Blackwood, who passed away earlier this month in Hamilton, where he lived out his final years after leaving St. Catharines. In fact, David and his second wife Lorraine lived just a few doors down from us here in the city, and we got to know them quite well over the years.

The first time I met them was before I moved to my present house; I happened to be walking down their street on a cold but sunny February day, and noticed a very vocal cat stuck on their roof. Ringing their doorbell and informing them of the fact, it discovered I had been about the tenth or so person to do so that day! I presume the cat finally made it down at some point, but for me, I was welcomed into their home for tea and spent a goodly part of the afternoon getting to know the Blackwoods. I always remember that day!

Reverend Blackwood spent many years in retirement at St. Barnabas Church on Queenston Street, another of my favourite houses of worship in the city. He is perhaps best known for sewing the elaborate vestments the ministers wear; his talent was truly exceptional and in fact, received coverage in The Standard a few years ago. David's funeral was also Saturday morning at 11 am, and St. Barnabas was packed to the rafters with people from all walks of life, all touched by his gentle manner and humility. I, along with many more, were relegated to the church hall to watch the service on the big screen set up. It was clearly the largest turnout for a funeral at St. Barnabas anyone could remember for a long, long time. Certainly a fitting tribute to a man who touched so many lives during his.

So, how do I connect all these in some way? Perhaps not totally, but I will say the music at St. Barnabas is very much in the Anglican tradition, which means absolutely glorious, and that also describes the acoustics at the church as well. Music also plays into my association with the Partridges as well, beyond the fact they are long-time clients of mine. Peter has been orchestrating an organ recital this coming Tuesday evening at another downtown church I have long admired, St. Thomas, featuring the acclaimed organist James O'Donnell. Mr. O'Donnell last appeared at St. Thomas for a recital in October of 2008 and literally brought the house down with his peformance. This coming Tuesday evening, history will likely repeat itself with a varied programme of music both familiar and unfamiliar played on the organ at St. Thomas' Church. Mr. O'Donnell is Master of the Music at Westminster Abbey and Cathedral in London, so will be deeply involved in planning for the upcoming nuptuals of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It promises to be a full house on Tuesday evening, so I suggest you get there early to get a good seat. If all goes according to plan, I hope to be there as well, with a number of recordings by James O'Donnell to sell.

There are not many organ recordings available now, but plenty of discs featuring him as Master of Music and/or conducting the choirs at both the Abbey and the Cathedral, so I will do my best to cover all the bases on Tuesday evening. If you attend, be sure to stop by my table and say hello!

February 20th, 2011.

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