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James M. Gayfer: Biography

James M. Gayfer
1916 - 1997
Region: Ontario

James M. Gayfer

James McDonald Gayfer, SBStJ, CD, Mus. Doc.(Tor), LRAM, ARCM was born in Toronto, March 26, 1916 (and died on April 7, 1997). He received his academic and musical education with Toronto Schools, the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), private teachers, the Royal Military School of Music (Kneller Hall), the Royal College and the Royal Academy of Music, London, England.

From 1942-67, he served in the Canadian Army Active and Regular Force in England, NW Europe, Germany, Korea and Japan. From 1935-42 he maintained an extensive journal describing his musical studies and thoughts. In 1953 he was appointed the first Director of Music of the Regimental Band of the Canadian Guards, and from 1961-66 the first Musical Training Officer of the new Canadian Forces School of Music at Esquimalt, B.C. Here he formed and directed a chamber choir, produced and directed opera and music theatre, as well as conducted band and orchestral concerts. Upon retiring from the Army in 1967, he initiated and taught an instrumental music programme in Ontario at Southwood Secondary School, Cambridge and Champlain High School, Pembroke.

From 1972, his many posts included Associate Professor of Instrumental Music Education at Dalhousie University, Halifax, founder-director of the Petawawa Legion (517) Community Band and Band School, and organist-choir director at St. George's Chapel, CFB Petawawa. He also resumed the direction of the Pembroke Community Choir. Gayfer continued his career as teacher-director of the Lindsay Kinsmen Band from 1980-83. In 1983 he was awarded the Order of St. John (Serving Brother) for St. John Ambulance Canadian Centennial March and was honoured more recently by the Canadian Band Association for his prize-winning march On Parliament Hill and his Fanfare, Toccata and March.

"It is true", Gayfer said, "I am a traditional composer: non-serial, non-aleatoric or electronic. However, I do see great value and significance in all forms of creative expression, as long as it contains real ideas and concepts, in order to communicate, first for the composer, then for the performer and then for the listener. Give me a 'tune', and I'll follow you anywhere!"

Gayfer was active as a teacher, festival adjudicator, composer, director and music educator. He was organist and choir-director of Cambridge Street Baptist Church, Lindsay, Ontario.


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