Donald Cook | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Donald Cook

Donald (Frederick) Cook.

Cook, Donald

Donald (Frederick) Cook. Educator, organist, conductor, b St John's, Nfld, 22 May 1937; B MUS (Mount Allison) 1957, ARCM 1958, Associate (American Guild of Organists) 1964, Choirmaster's Diploma (American Guild of Organists) 1965, M MUS (Union Theological Seminary, New York) 1965, PH D (King's College, London) 1982. His principal interest has been church music and organ performance, although he has pursued varied musical activities. After piano lessons from Helen Coates and one year of organ lessons, he went to London to study 1957-8 with Harold Darke (organ) and W.S. Lloyd Webber (composition) at the RCM, and took his first post as organist-choirmaster at the church of St George the Martyr, Queen's Square, London. He studied organ 1963-5 with Alec Wyton in New York and wrote a dissertation on hymnody for his M MUS degree. In 1958 he began a long association with the Newfoundland Cathedral in St John's, where, as organist-choirmaster (1958-62, 1965-7, 1978-), he developed a full choral program of traditional Anglican cathedral music sung by a trained mixed choir. He has also been in charge of church music at Wesley Memorial Church, Moncton, NB (1962-3), The Universalist Church, New York (1963-5), and St Thomas' Anglican Church, St John's (1967-71).

As a choral conductor Cook has developed fine church choirs, particularly at the Newfoundland Cathedral, which in 1986 made two recordings - Evensong and Hymns (Waterloo WR-8033) and Christmas at the Newfoundland Cathedral: A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols (Waterloo WR-8034) - and in 1989 produced Britten's Noye's Fludde. Cook has been the conductor of choirs at Memorial U from 1968 and conducted 1968-75 the St John's Community Choir. He has arranged many Newfoundland folksongs for choirs, notably for the Memorial University of Newfoundland Choral series (Waterloo, 1975-80), which he also edited.

Cook's field of musicological activity is English baroque theatre music. His PH D dissertation was on 'The life and works of Johann Christoph Pepusch, with special reference to his theatre music'. In 1990 he directed Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Pepusch's Apollo and Daphne as Memorial University's annual opera production.

Cook began teaching at Memorial U in 1968 and established the music program there, serving 1975-85 as head, then 1985-90 as director. In 1990 he returned to full time teaching. He has served as president of the Music Council of the Newfoundland Teachers' Association (1967-9) and of CUMS (1987-9), and has chaired the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (1985-7) and the Glory of Mozart International Chamber Music Competition in 1991 in St. John's.

As a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador 400th Anniversary Committee (1982-4), Cook and his cathedral choir went to Exeter, the home parish of the colonizer of Newfoundland, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, to serve as organist- and choir-in-residence at Exeter Cathedral during August 1983. The choir of Exeter Cathedral visited Newfoundland the following summer.


'A survey of hymnody in the Church of England in eastern Canada to 1909,' J of the Canadian Church Historical Society, vol 7, Sep 1965

'Françoise Marguérite de l'Epine: the Italian Lady?' Theatre Notebook, vol 35 no 2-3, 1981

' Venus and Adonis: an English masque "after the Italian manner",' MT, vol 121, Sep 1980

'J.C. Pepusch: an eighteenth-century musical bibliophile,' Soundings, vol 9, 1982

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