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Gerald Bales: Biography

Gerald Bales
1919 - 2002
Region: Ontario

Gerald Bales

Born in Toronto in 1919, Gerald Bales received his musical training from his mother at The Toronto Conservatory of Music. There he studied piano, organ, composition and conducting. In 1937, he made his professional debut as pianist, organist and composer at Toronto's Eaton Auditorium. The same year, he was appointed organist and choirmaster at St. Anne's Anglican church where he presented weekly organ recitals. Following that, he held the same post at Rosedale United Church where he continued a similar programme. This was followed by service in the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the war, he became organist and choirmaster at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, where where he gave weekly organ recitals and conducted weekly cantata performances.

During this period he gave numerous organ broadcasts for the CBC. He also formed the "St. Andrews Singers" - a chamber choir - which sang frequently with orchestra over the CBC. At St. Andrew's he conducted many of Handel's lesser known oratorios. In 1956 he was appointed organist and choirmaster at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary. There, he became founder-conductor of the Calgary Orchestra and Chorus Association with which he performed Bach Passions and Cantatas as well as major orchestral works. In 1957, he was chosen to represent Canada as a recitalist at the First International Congress of Organists (London, England). In 1959, he moved to Minneapolis to become Organist and Choirmaster at the Cathedral Church of Saint Mark. In that post, he established the Cathedral Music Series and conducted many first performances of compositions by American, Canadian and British composers. His organ recitals there became a vital contribution to the Minneapolis music scene - attracting numerous guest recitalists of international fame.

Between 1971 and 1984 he taught organ, choral conducting, orchestral conducting, organ literature, keyboard skills and orchestration at the University of Ottawa. He has appeared as organist, pianist, conductor and composer from Washington to San Diego and from Newfoundland to Vancouver. He is a composer of music for piano, organ, choir, orchestra, chorus and orchestra - as well as scores for films and radio. In 1974, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Canadian College of Organists. He is a former National President of the RCCO.

In 1996 he became a member of the Order of Canada and was named an Honorary Vice President of the Royal Canadian College of Organists of which he is an Honorary Life Member.


Gerald Albert Bales passed away on July 4, 2002.


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