Category Archives: music

Stanley H. Clark: 1933-2011


I found out about Stan’s death via Facebook while we were in England.  He was a high school music teacher extraordinaire.  While I didn’t take music classes at Glebe, I played percussion in the Senior Concert Band and piano in the Stage Band. The Stage Band recorded an LP, played paying gigs, including in a flotilla on the Rideau Canal, travelled to Cuba, and was an all-round fabulous place to play great music, hang with friends, and get through those teen years. 

I have reconnected with many high school friends through social networking, and there is a special bond with those who were in the Stage Band. Stan’s family have put up a Facebook page where many of his former students have shared their memories. As announced on that page:

Stanley H. Clark
Mus. Bac., M.Mus, ARCT, Conductor – Royal Regiment of Canada (Capt. ret.)
Teacher – North Toronto, Parkdale and Glebe Collegiates
Conductor – National Capital Concert Band

After a lifetime of glorious music and marvelous adventure, Stanley H. Clark – teacher, composer, maestro, father, friend – has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Stan’s legacy lives on in the lives of children, grandchildren, countless students and fellow musicians who were inspired under his baton.

No regrets, no condolences. This was a life well lived. Please share your stories and memories at In memory of Stan, support of music and arts in our schools would be appreciated. We suggest or or an investment of your time.

A celebration and final blow in Stan’s honour will be held at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, from 12:00 to 4:00, Saturday April 30th. If you’d like to play, bring a music stand; downbeat at 2 p.m.

I would love to be there.

As a side note:  Our son Michael plays in the stage band (among others) at Lawrence Park CI here in Toronto and with the Youth Big Band. Whenever I go to a concert or gig of his, I get extremely nostalgic for my own high school days. He has an excellent school music teacher who is also a brass player, and someone who knows how to swing.  It makes me immeasurably happy to see his pleasure in playing jazz, and love that he loves the same music I did at that age (and continue to love.) He is looking to music as a career and I know how inspiring great teachers are.

In the search for the Voice of God…

…some believe Gregorian chants are preferable to folk music

  Apr 22, 2011 

Aaron Lynett/National Post

Brother Brian holds his rosary as he, along with Frater Stanislaus (centre) and Frater Herman Joseph (right) rehearse for their choir specializing in Gregorian Chant at the Holy Family Church in Toronto

When Philip Fournier sings a line of Gregorian chant, it hangs like a puff of smoke in the air before it slowly dissipates above the empty pews below.

The sound, listening to it live from a distance of just several inches away in the choir loft at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Toronto, is ancient, elemental. The sound originates in his abdomen — a line of text that flows out like a wave, sung in tones that are dark and rich. The words are in Latin. It is not a song so much as prayer that is sung.

Mr. Fournier, with his ragged sweater and perpetual five o’clock shadow, is part of a small cadre of traditionalists for whom singing Gregorian chant is an attempt to restore what they see as the real music of the Catholic Church — sounds that go back to the time when King David sang psalms in the temple. 

If they had their way, they would storm the parish churches and hurl all the guitars and drums into the street because they believe substituting modern music for ancient music has eroded worship.

Philip Fournier

Read the rest at the link above.

I’m a huge chant fan, although realize that to encourage congregational participation in the novus ordo mass, we need to sing familiar hymns and (re-)inroduce these more traditional forms slowly. Both of the parishes I have belonged to since I became Catholic moved to Latin mass parts for Advent and Lent, and my current choir uses a lot of renaissance (and some medieval) music during the offertory and communion periods. We are also (apparently) ordering the Parish Book of Chant and this should go a long way to including more chant in the liturgy.

Duruflé Mania

I missed choir last week due to illness, but I was happy to be back today, particularly since both of our pieces were by Duruflé.  During the Offertory, we sang Ubi Caritas.

Here’s the Chor of King’s College Cambridge….

Then, during Communion we sang Duruflé’s Notre Pere.

Here’s the Ensemble Vocal de l’AVP singing at l’Église Saint Merry (Paris 4e):

These pieces are stunning in their harmony and forward movement, and are a joy to sing.  While I’m excited to be travelling to England in the next couple of weeks, I’m sorry to not be singing with the choir over the Easter weekend.

Music bonanza!

I attended the U of T Faculty of Music Spring Record and Book sale last Wednesday and scored some great stuff (no pun intended)! Thanks to Jay Lambie, and old high school friend who works at the Faculty Library for alerting me to this event.


  1. RCM Piano and Theory books for Michael
  2. 40 French Hits of Our Times (not really MY times, but great tunes!)
  3. Ain’t Misbehaving arranged for the Canadian Brass (Quintet) – will donate this to Lawrence Park CI’s Music Department for their brass quintet
  4. Sammy Nestico arrangements for jazz band of Take The “A” Train and The Spirit is Willing  (donated to Youth Big Band where Michael plays trombone
  5. An arrangement for jazz band of “Sunny” (also donated).

I was hoping for some trombone or tuba stuff for Michael but there was very little music for brass. Couldn’t get anywhere near the CD table!  Lots of swarming around the piano and vocal scores as well. The prices were great and I was glad I got there early. Afterwards, I dropped into Remenyi on Bloor and picked up the RCM Theory syllabus and a book of etudes for Bass Trombone.

And now, for your listening pleasure.

A cure for the common cold? Yes, please…

I think I’m starting to crawl out from under this heavy blanket of my cold.  My sinuses are feeling much better today and I don’t have a headache, although that may be due to the migraine meds I took last night before bed.  I missed the Evelyn Glennie concert because I was just too sick to get myself there and it seems like it was a wonder.  Sigh.


This morning, a correspondent told me about a cure that she learned of in Cuba:  a handful of mint leaves, steeped in boiling water, with some honey.  I don’t have any fresh mint, but she suggested dried would also work so I’ve consumed a great mug of that and am hoping for the best. I’m off the cold meds, but may need some pain relief if the headache returns.  

Michael’s last Kiwanis event with the school orchestra was this morning, so I had to get dressed and out to transport him, his tuba, and a couple of friends to the venue.  I’m on call to pick him up sometime around noon when it’s over and then I’ll run some errands.  I’m quite behind in my to-do list but I’m simply knackered with this this cold.  I haven’t been this ill for a long time, possibly due to the mega-doses of Vitamin C that I take for something completely different (or has that been disproven?).  Z brought home fixings for dinner last night and assembled everything which was sweet.  Leftovers are available for lunch so I can take it easy. 

I”ll make a chicken pot pie with cornbread crust for dinner (a one-pot meal, and quite easy).  I’ve got nothing else on until tomorrow night when the man-child has a gig with the big band at Hart House (Jazz @ Oscar’s, 9-11:30 pm). 

Feeling like another cup of tea…

Quote of the day: From "Annabel" by Kathleen Winter

“You don’t have to have a solo voice to be in a choir,” he said. “In fact, there is something about a choir that brings together imperfections in the voices and uses them to make something new, like an infusion of different kinds of tea leaves.  It can be quite beautiful.”

This is said by a minor character in the book, but struck me as so true, and as important to the story on many levels.

Annabel is a wonderful book.  I’m not quite finished, but I definitely recommend it.  Hauntingly beautiful and tender, it tells the story of a child born both male and female in a Labrador coastal village.  Kathleen Winter’s sensitive portrayal of the child as he grows is a masterwork.  An incredible first novel.

Aside:  Our choir director always brews a pot of tea on Sunday mornings with (at least) two different types of leaves.  I had never thought of this as a metaphor for the combining of voices in song!

Let’s just say it’s been a heckuva week

I’m dog-tired.

This week has been a bit of a blur and I haven’t felt up to blogging.  Sunday, Michael had back-to-back rehearsals so while he was at his first one, I helped my brother out at his place as he moves into the rest of his four-plex en route to converting it into a single-family-home.  I drove Michael out to his second rehearsal (way out west at Humber College) and then returned home.  We went out to Seoul House for dinner after picking him up, where I forgot my cellphone and had to drive back to get it.

Monday night was his first ever gig with the Youth Big Band. I took him out to the subway around 3 and then Z and I headed down to the Old MIll on the subway around 5:30. The band was backing Bucky Pizzarelli and I was bowled over by how great they sounded.  I have a lot of wonderful memories from my youth playing in a big band, and I just knew how great the kids were all feeling.  The house was packed, sold out, and it was a great, if late night.  On the way home on the subway, we realised that there had been a mixup with Michael’s trombone lesson and he had been expected that evening. He had also just broken up with his girlfriend. I had too much wine along with my terrific dinner which resulted in a migraine the next day.

Tuesday was a relatively normal day (apart from the headache), although Z didn’t make it home for dinner due to work.  Michael and I had a “snack supper” which usually means grilled sandwiches or cheese and crackers or popcorn or cereal.   I wasn’t up to preparing anything else and Michael is good-natured about all this.

On Wednesday, I had a Catholic Women’s League meeting for which I was asked to prepare a reflection just an hour before-hand.  I probably should have realised that I was on the hook for that, but didn’t, so I pulled something Advent-y together while making dinner.  We had a very good speaker from Aid to Women at the meeting, although the turnout was quite small.

Last night I had tickets to an advance screening of The Next Three Days courtesy of The National Post and there was a surprise Q&A with director and screenwriter Paul Haggis afterwards. We both very much enjoyed the movie but didn’t get home until well after 10, which is late (for me).  

Today, Z had a big presentation at 11 am and pretty much everything went wrong.  We were supposed to meet with our financial planner at 8:30 this morning, but after receiving input from his people for the presentation in the middle of the night, Z realised that he had to cancel.  He was on the phone until 10:30 and asked me to drive him downtown for his meeting.  At 10:45, stuck in the hell that is Avenue Road these days, we turned around and he took the call from home, and then raced off downtown after the call to something else that couldn’t be done remotely.  On top of all this, he had a call early this morning to learn that his aunt had passed away.  She was his mother’s sister and was in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease.  It was in some ways shocking when his mother passed this summer before his aunt.

Oh, and it’s his birthday today.  

On the bright side, Alex turned 19 today (he shares his birthday with his father), which is “legal” in Ontario.  I queried as to whether he hit a bar after midnight and received an affirmative reply.  He sounds good and has been calling regularly, which makes me very happy. 

You never know where KISS is gonna pop up…


I attended the wonderful Creepy Classics concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night.  It was a great program of short-ish pieces, all with a spooky theme.  The evening started out with Bach’s Toccata from Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565, with a stage dark, the organ lit in blue, and a witch in a tall pointed hat on the organ.  We got some Mussogorsky, two pieces from Bernard Herrman from work he did for Hitchcock in Psycho and Vertigo, plus Saint-Saens, Berlioz, and Stravinsky.

The musicians were all in costume, and a number of shots were posted this morning on their Facebook page.  I think the award for creativity goes to the trumpet section who blessed us with their KISS getup.  

It was a great night all ’round.

Photos courtesy of the TSO Facebook page.