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Calgary performing arts community mourns passing of Jack Jamieson

Jack Jamieson was the head of sound of Jack Singer Concert Hall for 34 years. (Photo: Twitter@yycARTS) Jack Jamieson was the head of sound of Jack Singer Concert Hall for 34 years. (Photo: Twitter@yycARTS)

Thousands of musicians might not have personally known Calgary's Jack Jamieson, who passed away earlier this week, but they revered his work.

Pianist Katherine Chi grew up in Calgary and in 2000, became the only Calgarian to win the Honens International Piano Competition performing at Jack Singer Concert Hall, where Jamieson was the sound director for 34 years.

In a 2019 phone interview from Boston, where she now lives, Chi mused about returning to the scene of one of her greatest musical moments to perform with the CPO.

“It always brings back memories. And it is one of the best halls in Canada,” Chi said.

University of Calgary professor and longtime Calgary Herald music critic Dr. Kenneth Delong may have spent more hours sitting in Jack Singer Hall than any other person except Jack Jamieson.

Delong never met Jamieson, but appreciated him.

"For symphony-minded Calgarians, it was a great relief to move (the symphony's musical home) from the Jubilee Auditorium to Jack Singer Hall, when it opened. For one thing, the sound was much, much cleaner and clearer. Also there is good sound everywhere in the hall, but especially in the second balcony. You can’t see much from there, but the sound is beautifully balanced and gracious.

"Overall," he said, "the sound, which can be customized to different performing groups, is one of the hall’s best properties, and we are fortunate indeed to have such a successful performing space for classical (and other) music."

For organists from around the world, Calgary was the home of the Carthy Organ, an instrument housed inside Jack Singer Concert Hall that transformed it into a kind of musical shrine for a certain group of musicians - organists - who would travel from around North America to perform at the Calgary Organ Festival finals inside the concert hall.

Knox United Church organist Chellan Hoffman knew whenever she met an organist from somewhere else, where the conversation was heading when it turned to Calgary.

“The first thing off their lips is, are we going to hear the organ at the Jack?” Hoffman said, in a 2018 interview about the Calgary Organ Festival.

The 'Jack' might have been a reference to the concert hall, but it  could have just as easily applied to Jamieson.

This week, Calgary's performing arts community mourned the passing of a man who made so many  of them sound so much better.

Social media feeds of several of the city's performing arts stalwarts posted tributes to Jamieson.

"To many around Canada, Arts Commons is known purely because of Jack Jamieson's commitment to excellence over 34 years," said the Arts Commons twitter feed. "Our family, and Calgary's arts community, lost a founding member. To those mourning their mentor, friend, spouse, father, & grandfather, we send condolences & love."

For Calgary Philharmonic musical director Rune Bergmann, the loss of Jamieson felt personal.

"I got this extremely sad news a few days ago. It is still hard to believe since I (last) met and worked with Jack just a few weeks ago," Bergmann said, in an email reply to a question from CTV News.

"I will always remember Jack as an extremely experienced and funny man. He worked with so many artists and conductors, and I loved the way he would give me advice in such a way that I felt that this was exactly what I wanted!" he said.

"He would always listen to my wishes and needs and he would know exactly how to make it happen," Bergmann added. "Many great things has been said about Jack the last days. I will miss his smile and comments, and he will be truly missed.

"Thank you for the music Jack."

For IATSE 212 President Damian Petti, Jamieson served as a valued mentor to other technicians.

"Jack was a truly remarkable sound engineer who, over the course of his career, (who) mentored a legion of aspiring sound technicians," Petti wrote, in an email to CTV News.  

"The Jack Singer Concert Hall really gained world renown not just for its physical acoustics but for the masterful sound mixes Mr. Jamieson would create," he added. "His passing is a deep loss to our community, but we can take comfort that his legacy will live on in our community though all those technicians he generously shared his expertise with."

According to his LinkedIn page, Jamieson joined Arts Commons in 1988.

He graduated from the University of Calgary with a degree in music in 1977.

"Jack was always professional, cordial, and warm," said Calgary Philharmonic percussionist Malcolm Lim. "We will miss him indeed."

"He was generous with his time and skill, and exacting in what he asked of those around him," said Arts Commons social impact associate director Josh Dalledonne.  "He was the sound engineer every artist dreams of." Top Stories

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