John W. Vandertuin

Blind from birth, John Vandertuin began studies in piano and Music Braille at the Ontario School for the Blind in Brantford, Ontario. He studied organ in Paris with the blind French organist Jean Langlais and made his recital debut there at age 14 performing works by Langlais, Vierne and J.S. Bach.

John W.Vandertuin, organist
photo courtesy John W.Vandertuin).

John W. Vandertuin

John W. (William) Vandertuin. Organist, composer, teacher, critic, organ consultant, born Brandon, Man, 12 Oct 1957; A MUS organ (Western Ontario Conservatory) 1976, ARCT organ 1976, ARCT piano 1978, B MUS organ (Western) 1982, M MUS organ (Western) 1988, DMA (Michigan) 1994, hon FRCCO 2004.

Education

Blind from birth, John Vandertuin began studies in piano and Music Braille at the Ontario School for the Blind in Brantford, Ontario. He studied organ in Paris with the blind French organist Jean Langlais and made his recital debut there at age 14 performing works by Langlais, Vierne and J.S. Bach. In 1976 Vandertuin received the Royal Conservatory of Music's Gold Medal for the highest marks in Canada for the organ ARCT exam. In 1982 he studied in the Netherlands with Piet Kee of Amsterdam's Sweelinck Conservatorium. At the University of Western Ontario Vandertuin studied organ with John McIntosh and Larry Cortner and graduated with an honours degree and the university gold medal. He continued studies with Robert Glasgow at the University of Michigan.

Performing and recording

Although he has served as organist and choir director at churches of various denominations in southwestern Ontario, John Vandertuin is known primarily as a recital organist, memorizing his repertoire from Braille or by ear. He has performed across Canada, in the United States and in France and the Netherlands. He has released several recordings including John William Vandertuin at the organ of the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind, Brantford, Ontario (Crescendo 1982), Glory to His Holy Name (Classic Organbuilders 1999) and John W. Vandertuin, live in concert on the Casavant organ at St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica, London, Ontario, Canada (Crescendo 2005). Dedicated to the memory of Pope John Paul II, this cd was recognized by the Vatican.

Compositions

Most of John Vandertuin's compositions are written for organ, though he has composed for choir as well. His set of organ pieces Three for Holy Week was published by Concordia Publishing House, St Louis. Variations on "St. Christopher" and Variations on "St. Kevin" were published by Darcey Press, Vernon Hills, Illinois. Several organ works and a choral anthem were published by Fairbank Music Publishing, Victoria. Most of his remaining output was published by Tuinmeester Editions, Brantford, Ont, including Toccata on "Veni Creator Spiritus," Children's sacred suite, and Fantasia on "O Canada." Commissioned works for organ, also published by Tuinmeester, include Variations on "AURELIA" (2007), Elegy (2008) and Meditation on "Sandon" (2009). In 2010 he premiered his Passacaglia in A Minor (based on B-A-C-H and H-A-A-S).

Awards

Vandertuin won prizes and awards that include the Prix Conrad Letendre (Montreal, 1979), first prize in the Improvisation category of the National Healey Willan Organ Competition (1980) and second prize in the San Anselmo (California) Improvisation Competition (1987, 89). He was invited twice to compete in the International Improvisation Competition in Haarlem, the Netherlands, one of only two Canadians ever to receive this invitation. In 2012 he was inducted onto the Wall of Fame at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, University of Western Ontario, and recognized as one of its most illustrious graduates. John Vandertuin is a member of SOCAN.