James Gayfer

James (McDonald) Gayfer. Bandmaster, clarinetist, organist-choirmaster, composer, teacher, adjudicator, b Toronto 26 Mar 1916, d Lindsay, Ont, 7 Apr 1997; B MUS (Toronto) 1941, ARCM 1946, LRAM 1947, D MUS (Toronto) 1950.

Gayfer, James

James (McDonald) Gayfer. Bandmaster, clarinetist, organist-choirmaster, composer, teacher, adjudicator, b Toronto 26 Mar 1916, d Lindsay, Ont, 7 Apr 1997; B MUS (Toronto) 1941, ARCM 1946, LRAM 1947, D MUS (Toronto) 1950. His teachers included Jennie Goodman Bouck and Reginald Godden (piano), Maitland Farmer (organ), and, at the University of Toronto, Ettore Mazzoleni (orchestration), Arthur H. Middleton, and S. Drummond Wolff. He also studied 1945-7 at the RMSM (Kneller Hall, Great Britain), and was a friend and associate of Ralph Vaughan Williams from 1942. He joined the Canadian army in 1940 and served successively as bandsman (clarinet, Royal Canadian Signals Corps, Europe 1943-5), command bandmaster and command inspector of bands (Oakville, Ont, 1947-51), director of music (Canadian Guards Band, Camp Borden, Ont; Korea and Japan; and Camp Petawawa, Ont, 1954-61), and as the first musical training officer for the Canadian Forces School of Music, Esquimalt, BC, 1961-8. As part of his military duties, Gayfer led a band trip to Japan and Korea to entertain troops overseas. During his military career he was also, in a civilian capacity, organist-choirmaster in various Ontario centres, associate conductor and conductor 1949-54 of the Harmony Symphony Orchestra, Toronto, conductor 1962-6 for opera and operetta productions (Gianni Schicchi, The Mikado, H.M.S. Pinafore, and others) in Victoria, BC, and guest conductor in 1962, 1963, and 1964; associate conductor 1963-4 of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra; and leader of the Kitchener Musical Society Band 1971-2.

After his retirement with the rank of major from the Canadian army, Gayfer taught music 1966-72 at Southwood Secondary School in Galt (Cambridge), Ont (where he also was founder, and conductor 1967-70, of the Galt Community Choir and Orchestra); at Champlain High School, Pembroke, Ont; and 1972-4 at Dalhousie University. He formed the Petawawa (Ont) Legion Community Band in 1978. He served as church organist and choir director at various times in Petawawa and Lindsay, Ont. He also served as an adjudicator throughout Canada. Gayfer's compositions (listed in part in Contemporary Canadian Composers) include two symphonies (1947, 1949); several other works for orchestra including Canadian Landscape (1963, band arrangement Boosey & Hawkes 1975) and Yukon Summer (1985, commissioned by the Yukon Lottery Corporation); a string quartet (winner of a CPRS award in 1944); Six Translations from the Chinese for tenor and small orchestra (winner of a CAPAC award in 1947); a Suite for woodwind quintet (1947, Boosey & Hawkes 1950); Saxophone Concertante for five saxophones (1972, commissioned by Paul Brodie); many works for band, some published by Waterloo or Boosey & Hawkes, and including The Wells of Marah commissioned by the Barrie Central Collegiate Band, Royal Visit (1957, Boosey & Hawkes 1959), The Canadian Infantryman (Waterloo 1960; the official march past of the Canadian School of Infantry), another commission, The St. John Ambulance Canadian Centennial March (1982); and many piano pieces (1936-75), songs, hymns, and choral works, all unpublished. Canadian Landscape was recorded in 1987 by the Edmonton Wind Ensemble (CBC SM-5079) and Royal Visit was recorded by Howard Cable (RCA PCS-1004/Citadel CT-6007) and also on A Royal Salute to Her Majesty The Queen (1984, Attic BLL-121). Three of his songs, 'Alas, So all Things Now Do Hold Their Piece,' 'Angel Spirits of Sleep,' and 'When Raging Love,' have been recorded by David Mills (Master MA-904). Gayfer was awarded the Order of St. John in 1983, and was also honoured by the Canadian Band Association. He was an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. His compositions continue to be performed by the Royal 22nd Regiment Band and other bands.

Writings

'What do we mean by "music education"?' CME, vol 19, Sep 1978


Further Reading

  • Meredith, Joan. 'James Gayfer: bandmaster in the classroom,' CanComp, 58, Mar 1971

    Goar, Carol. 'For the dedicated teacher retirement is a rude word,' Ottawa Citizen, 9 Apr 1977