John Ronan

John (Edward) Ronan. Administrator, teacher, choirmaster, composer, b Colgan, near Orangeville, Ont, 28 Oct 1894, d Toronto 15 Oct 1962; MCG, LCSC (Rome, Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music) 1936.

John Ronan

John (Edward) Ronan. Administrator, teacher, choirmaster, composer, b Colgan, near Orangeville, Ont, 28 Oct 1894, d Toronto 15 Oct 1962; MCG, LCSC (Rome, Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music) 1936. He attended Hamilton Teachers College at 16, taught locally, and later went to St Michael's College in Toronto and studied composition privately with Healey Willan. He entered St Augustine's Seminary, Scarborough, Ont, in 1916 and, after ordination in 1922, studied Gregorian chant in New York with Dom Mocquereau at the Pius X School and later in France at Solesmes Abbey. On his return to Canada Ronan taught Gregorian chant 1923-56 at St Augustine's Seminary, organized and taught music classes briefly in Toronto separate schools, became the city's archdiocesan director of church music in 1923, and established the Boys Sanctuary Choir at St Michael's Cathedral in 1926. While attending the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome 1932-5 he visited Paris for lessons with Nadia Boulanger and Louis Vierne. On his return to Toronto he took charge of music at St Michael's Cathedral and in 1937 founded the St Michael's Cathedral Choir School, which he directed until his death. In 1947 he was made a Domestic Prelate in recognition of his achievements and in 1962 he became Protonotary Apostolic.

Monsignor Ronan was an influential teacher and many of his pupils, including John Arab, Bernard Turgeon, and members of the Four Lads and the Crew-Cuts, have had successful careers. A prolific composer, he often wrote at the request of choirs and churches in Canada and the USA. Although most of his works are short liturgical pieces such as anthems, introits, graduals, offertories, communions, and Tenebrae settings, he also arranged some Irish folksongs.