John Barron 1939-2014

It is with great sadness that the family of John Barron share the news of his passing. John died peacefully at home, surrounded by family, after a long and courageous struggle with cancer. He left this world amid glorious music, listening to a recording of the 1975 Ontario Youth Choir (which he had conducted) and taking his last breath on the final note of the final piece, “Le Temps de Vivre”.

He will be deeply missed by Lowell, his loving wife of 47 years, his four daughters, Jennie (Erik Leslie) of Nelson, BC, Naomi (Troy Milleker) of Toronto, Julie (Michael Zaugg) of Edmonton, and Katie (Lee Waxberg) of Toronto, and his eight grandchildren – Quinn, Felix, Liam, Luna, Matilda, Clara, Lucy and Benji – who provided him with such delight in his final months and days. Also lovingly remembered by dear brother Ken (Peggy) of Penticton, many sisters- and brothers-in-law, nephews, nieces, and friends.

John grew up in Trail, BC and left in 1958 to pursue a degree in music at the University of Toronto, where he was blessed to sing under some of Canada’s most well-known conductors, Healey Willan, Roland Pack and Elmer Iseler. It was also in Toronto that John met and fell in love with Lowell. In 1970 John and Lowell moved to London, where he taught music and worked as the music consultant for the Middlesex County Board of Education for 24 years. In 1976, John and his young family spent a year in Kecskemét, Hungary, where he studied the Kodály method of music education. He later devoted considerable energy adapting the Kodály method for use in Canadian schools. In 1985 he and Brenda Zadorsky co-founded the Amabile Youth Singers in London, Ontario, which grew into an organization that now includes eight choirs and has touched the lives of thousands of young singers and their families.

John was an inspiring music educator, consultant, clinician, arranger, author, and conductor. He received numerous awards for his contributions to choral music, including the Order of Canada, and, most recently, a lifetime achievement award from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors. John’s passion, musicality and generosity inspired and supported hundreds of young musicians. He loved hearing from former students and choir members and learning what paths their lives had taken. He especially treasured the close relationship that formed between Amabile and Canadian composer Stephen Hatfield.

Outside of music, John loved golfing, gardening, traveling, and playing cribbage. He had an irrepressibly impish sense of humour, an abiding interest in history, and a quiet but very sincere concern for those less fortunate.

The family offers their deepest thanks to Ben Osaku, Dr Langlois, Dr Joshua, Dr Direnfeld, and Dr Mark Percival for the excellent guidance and care they provided. Heartfelt thanks also to Carol Beynon, Bob Cooper, Stephen Hatfield, and Julie and Larry Steinman for their profound support, presence and thoughtfulness near the end.

Visitation will be Thursday May 8, from 6-9 pm, at Yorke Chapel, 2357 Bloor St West, Toronto. A memorial service will be held at Eglinton St George’s (35 Lytton Blvd, Toronto) on Saturday May 10 at 2:00 pm.

Those wishing to join an ad hoc choir to perform at the service may contact Tammy Rees ( (London) or Olena Jatsyshyn ( (Toronto). There will be a rehearsal at the church at 12:00 pm on the day of the service, with a bus bringing singers from London that morning. Lydia Adams will hold an additional rehearsal for those in Toronto on Friday evening.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the John and Lowell Barron Amabile Choirs Endowment Fund (P.O. Box 201, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 4V8) would be gratefully appreciated.

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