Gordon Jeffery

Gordon (Dumaresq) Jeffery. Lawyer, organist, conductor, b London, Ont, 15 Jul 1919, d there 4 Aug 1986; ATCM organ 1942, FRCO 1957, FTCL 1957, honorary FRCCO 1973. While studying law at Osgoode Hall, Toronto, Jeffery took lessons from Charles Peaker and Healey Willan.

Jeffery, Gordon

Gordon (Dumaresq) Jeffery. Lawyer, organist, conductor, b London, Ont, 15 Jul 1919, d there 4 Aug 1986; ATCM organ 1942, FRCO 1957, FTCL 1957, honorary FRCCO 1973. While studying law at Osgoode Hall, Toronto, Jeffery took lessons from Charles Peaker and Healey Willan. On admission to the bar in 1942 he joined his family's law firm, Jeffery & Jeffery, in London, Ont, and began a long association with St Peter's Cathedral, serving as occasional organist. He studied organ intermittently 1943-6 in New York with the former Londoner Ernest White and in 1948 arranged for White's return as organist-choirmaster at two London churches and as instructor 1948-51 at the Music Teachers' College.

In 1947 Jeffery purchased the abandoned 65-year-old Beecher United Church, renaming it Aeolian Hall. With assistance from the Silverwood Foundation, the University of Western Ontario bought the hall in 1949 and spent $50,000 on renovations. Teaching studios and classrooms were installed in the downstairs area. A main hall, seating 500, featured an Aeolian-Skinner organ built to White's design for the New York church St Mary the Virgin. The organ's transfer to London was supervised by White. In 1951 Jeffery bought the hall back and commissioned Gabriel Kney to effect further renovations of the organ. Aeolian Hall was the home of several Jeffery projects, including concerts by the London Chamber Orchestra (founded in 1945 and conducted by Jeffery) and the Aeolian Choral Society (founded 1949) and sessions of the London School of Church Music (begun in 1950). In 1968 the hall was destroyed by an arsonist. Shortly thereafter Jeffery purchased the former London Town Hall, renamed it The Aeolian Town Hall, and renovated it in the style of a baroque church. A four-manual recital organ combining French and German features was installed (completed, 1972) by Gabriel Kney. Jeffery's last building project was to commission another classical German French organ by Kney for the small concert hall in his home, which was inaugurated on 16 July 1986.

As a benefactor Jeffery made significant contributions of choral, orchestral and organ music collections to the faculties of University of Windsor, University of Western Ontario, and Wilfrid Laurier University. He owned a number of fine string instruments, including two violins by Stradivarius and one by Guarnerius, which he lent to promising young performers. The instruments are now part of the Faculty of Music String Instrument Bank at the University of Western Ontario.

Jeffery was appointed registrar of the CCO (RCCO) in 1942 and served 1956-8 as president. An avid student of baroque and classical performance practices, Jeffery displayed stylistic integrity in his orchestral programs, performances of oratorios and operas (which continued at The Aeolian Town Hall throughout the 1970s), and organ recitals, both in London, Ont, and in Toronto. He helped plan, and gave a recital at, the International Congress of Organists in London, England, in 1957. He appeared frequently as a recitalist in Europe during the 1950s and recorded two Mozart organ sonatas and a concerto by Handel (with string orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Waddington) on the Westminster Abbey organ during the International Congress (Mirrosonic DRE-1008).