Rowland Pack

Rowland (Sterling) Pack. Cellist, organist, choir conductor, b London, Ont, 15 Jul 1927, d Toronto 3 Jan 1964. As a child he studied piano with his aunt, Ruby Pack, organ with Thomas C. Chattoe, and cello with Goldwin Quantz. At 15 he became organist-choirmaster of Robinson United Church, London.

Pack, Rowland

Rowland (Sterling) Pack. Cellist, organist, choir conductor, b London, Ont, 15 Jul 1927, d Toronto 3 Jan 1964. As a child he studied piano with his aunt, Ruby Pack, organ with Thomas C. Chattoe, and cello with Goldwin Quantz. At 15 he became organist-choirmaster of Robinson United Church, London. In 1947 Pack entered the RCMT on a Diamond Jubilee Scholarship for studies with Isaac Mamott (cello), Kathleen Parlow (chamber music), and John Weinzweig (theory). He joined the TSO in 1948 and succeeded Mamott as principal cello in 1953 but resigned in 1957 to devote more time to chamber music (retaining, however, his position as assistant principal cello 1952-64 with the CBC Symphony Orchestra). After several years of recitals with his wife Carol (b Wright, m Pack, m Birtch; b Trail, BC, 13 Dec 1927; active as a pianist, choral accompanist, chorister and teacher in Toronto), in 1955 he formed the Pack Trio (Carol Pack, spinet, and Hugh Orr, recorders and krummhorn) and Quartet (the trio with the addition of Donald Whitton, viola da gamba and percussion).

While conductor (1958-62) of the Hart House Glee Club, and organist-choirmaster (1958-63) at Thornhill (Ont) United Church, Pack formed the 14-voice Rowland Pack Chamber Singers from the church choir. One of the first Toronto groups to specialize in early music, the singers gave several series (1960-3) with the Pack Consort (a variable expansion of the Pack Trio) at the Heliconian Hall, Toronto, and performed for Ten Centuries Concerts in 1962. Reviewing a concert at Heliconian Hall, Udo Kasemets called Pack 'a model musician - humble, conscientious, hard-working and highly idealistic.... While Mr. Pack's knowledge of music theories of ancient times is obviously very thorough, his performances never smack of dry scholarship' (Toronto Daily Star, 20 Nov 1962).

At the time of Pack's untimely death (of Hodgkin's disease), he, Bert Niosi, and Bill Richards were planning a CBC radio program around the ancient tune 'Sumer is icumen in,' on which they would compose and perform variations. As a memorial tribute the CBC invited Niosi, Richards, and 11 other composers (Agostini, Applebaum, Freedman, MacMillan, Morawetz, Nimmons, Ridout, Schafer, Surdin, Symonds, and Willan) to each provide a variation in a particular style. The composite work, dedicated to Pack and performed by colleagues, was broadcast 21 Jun 1964. Two days later, members of the CBC SO and the TSO, Garnet Brooks, Victor Feldbrill, the Festival Singers, Maureen Forrester, Lois Marshall, Mary Morrison, Jan Simons, and Heinz Unger collaborated in another memorial concert at O'Keefe Centre.