HomeBreakingSooke music falls silent: Maestro Norman Nelson, founder of Sooke Philharmonic, dies    


Sooke music falls silent: Maestro Norman Nelson, founder of Sooke Philharmonic, dies — 17 Comments

  1. So sad to hear! I never actually met him, but I’ve heard lots of good things about him from many people for many years! A Sooke community pillar, I would say!

  2. So saddened to hear this news…Maestro Nelson was so dedicated to music and in helping young people. Our condolences to all his family, including his musical family and friends. The Sooke community has lost another good one.

  3. What a gift Maestro Nelson was. A heart full of music, and his love for sharing it. A long life well lived, time for a celebration in his memory.

  4. OH NO! So very sorry to hear this! Norman was an absolutely fabulous man… and his talent was priceless. I worked closely with him and the SPO for 15+ years… and every moment spent tossing ideas around with Norman and Jenny was always sheer pleasure! He was a true gentleman with a cheeky sense of humour. He was always fun to be around. Sooke has lost one of its great treasures. So very sad. :'(

  5. One of the nicest men I ever met, his musical talent was unsurpassed. He and his lovely wife Jenny gave so much pleasure to Sooke.
    He will never be forgotten.

  6. Condolences to Jenny and family. Norman was such a lovely and kind gentleman. Talented and dedicated to music, he was recognized here and abroad. He will be missed and always remembered for his talented contributions. Rest In Peace maestro.

  7. It broke my heart to hear of the passing of Norman Nelson. I enjoyed every moment that I got to spend with Norman, he was such an inspiration and a wonderful friend. He will be greatly missed.

  8. Condolences to Nelson’s family and the many people inspired and mentored by him. His bringing together the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra is a wonderful gift to the community as well the musicians who play together. Thank you, as well, to Nelson’s family and friends who loved and supported him.

  9. Terribly sad news for the family and the community.
    Maestro Nelson served his community in a unique manner.

  10. Sad news for Sooke. Norman and his lovely wife Jenny,contributed so much to our community. The Secret garden tour,Fling in the park and all those lovely concerts.he has left a heartwarming legacy to our community. Special condolences to Al his family and those who have worked so closely with him over the years.

  11. I am so saddened to hear of the passing of Norman Nelson.

    Norman was one of the great teachers in my life; he inspired me to really hear and feel music; he treated me with love and kindness; he provided countless opportunities for me to express myself musically and emotionally; and I can say, without a doubt, that I would not have pursued my career in music if he had not entered my life.

    I first met Norman at the age of 12 – a time in my life when I was experiencing episodes of intense anxiety and depression. I was being pressured and mistreated by an ambitious violin teacher, I experienced a difficult move from my early childhood home, and I was relentlessly bullied at my new school. After an abusive 90 minute lesson with my former violin teacher, I told my parents I was done…I was quitting. My mom, who was completing her MMus degree at the University of Alberta knew Norman; she called him upo (and said something nice I’m sure) and Norman agreed to meet with me.

    I was reluctant…but showed up to up to his office on the 3rd floor of the music building at UofA on a snowy Saturday morning. As I turned the corner I saw this wonderful, jolly man, smiling and waving an Edmonton Oilers flag to greet me (he had been told I loved hockey). It is said that we always remember how we feel in someone’s presence – with Norman I felt immediately safe, accepted, joyful, loved, and inspired. I remember feeling (as a 12 year old boy at the end of that first lesson) that I wanted to spend the whole day with him! In an hour, he re-ignited by passion for music and studying the violin.

    For the next many years I went to him every week for what was supposed to be a 60-minute lesson on Saturday mornings; he rarely let me go on the hour…he would keep me for up to 2 hours (or more). He put in his time to take me through the rigours of formal technique, but what he was MOST interested in was listening to music with me. He would run down to the music library on the second floor of the music building and dig out multiple recordings (vinyl records) of a piece of music (often recordings that he was in); we would then sit together, staring out the window of his office, listening to whatever he chose to play for me. His love of music was so transparent – he would laugh, weep, tell stories (endless stories), and point out with dramatic gestures the EXACT moments of performance that melted his heart…and there I deeply learned to love music .

    Some fond memories:
    • On December 10, 1987, Jascha Heifetz (one of the 20th centuries great violinists…and beloved by Norman) died. Norman decided to host a Heifetz memorial at his house and invited several of his students to eat food and watch old videos of his performances. It must have been a busy day for people because I was the only student to show up at his home. Norman and I ate finger sandwiches and watched videos of Heifetz; for hours, a 15-year-old boy and a 60? year-old man listened and watched wonderful, old, mostly black-and-white videos of Heifetz performing…again, with Norman pointing out ALL of the minute details that moved him.
    • The weeks leading up to my mother’s MMus recital. She required a string quartet for her performance. The UofA Faculty String Quartet agreed to play for her (Norman was the leader and 1st violinist of that group). Without hesitation, Norman told my mom that “the boy” should play in the quartet. That was my first experience playing with professional musicians…and he was absolutely welcoming, kind, unintimidating, and a true mentor, in every sense.
    • UofA Academy Strings: Just everything about this was good – the music, the tours, the people, and the many evenings in the Pub with Norman (I was now “of age” and in University).
    • Norman conducting Elgar Enigma Variations with the UofA Symphony Orchestra – especially the “Nimrod” variation which is attached to this post. Actually, anything and everything Elgar that Norman conducted was magical
    The list could go on and on and on and on…

    Norman Nelson was the singular, most important influence in my life as a musician. I will deeply miss him!

    Rest in Peace!

    Elgar: Enigma Variations – Nimbrod

    • Thanks so much for telling these stories; I found them very moving. What a great tribute to Norman Nelson. <3