John Fenwick

(Edward) John Fenwick. Conductor, composer, arranger, consultant, b Hamilton, Ont, 1 Aug 1932, d Toronto 3 Nov 1993; B MUS (Toronto) 1954, M MUS (Toronto) 1956.

Fenwick, John

(Edward) John Fenwick. Conductor, composer, arranger, consultant, b Hamilton, Ont, 1 Aug 1932, d Toronto 3 Nov 1993; B MUS (Toronto) 1954, M MUS (Toronto) 1956. His teachers at the University of Toronto included Oskar Morawetz and John Weinzweig (composition), Boyd Neel (conducting), and Weldon Kilburn (piano, organ). He taught at the University of Toronto (1956-8), and also worked as a CBC TV arranger 1956-9 and music director 1958-61 for Music Fair in Toronto and Melody Fair in Buffalo, two summer theatres-in-the-round. Fenwick also played french horn with the Toronto Brass Quintet. He served 1959, 1961-5, and 1967 as pianist and then music director for Spring Thaw. Living in Halifax in the mid-1960s he conducted the Halifax Symphony Orchestra 1964-7 and the CBC Halifax Orchestra 1965-7. He conducted COC touring productions 1968-74 of Don Pasquale, Carmen, The Barber of Seville, Orpheus in the Underworld, and Così fan tutte. In 1964 he became music co-ordinator for the Charlottetown Festival, later becoming music director, and founded the chamber group Atlantic Orchestra, which performed weekly at the festival. In addition to his festival duties he was music production consultant to Les Feux-Follets, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and other companies.

As music director and composer 1958-64 for the Crest Theatre Foundation, Toronto, and 1963-7 for the Neptune Theatre, Halifax, he wrote incidental music for over 30 stage plays. He arranged and orchestrated Anne of Green Gables and also 20 other original Canadian musicals. He wrote many choral and orchestral arrangements of carols and folksongs, principally for the Dofasco Male Chorus. He orchestrated The Zoo (1875), an opera by Sir Arthur Sullivan, the original score of which had been lost. He also orchestrated CBC TV productions by Norman Campbell and others. In addition to scoring the music for The Legend of the Dumbells (Charlottetown Festival, 1977) and Mavor Moore's hit musical play Johnny Belinda (also for the Charlottetown Festival, 1968), Fenwick composed a symphony (1955) and various short orchestral and choral pieces. Fenwick was also principal librarian 1982-90 of the TS. In 1990 he set up Fenwick Music Ltd, a music production consulting firm for symphony orchestras and the electronic media. The Charlottetown Festival presented successful remounts of Johnny Belinda 1997-8.

See also Roy Fenwick (his father).


Further Reading

  • Champagne, Jane. 'John Fenwick, master of music,' CanComp, 125, Nov 1977

    'Obituaries,' Crescendo, vol 41, Jan 1994