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WILSON, Dr. Charles Mills

WILSON, Charles

(May 8, 1931- June 13, 2019) - Dr. Charles Mills Wilson (Chuck), beloved husband of Elizabeth for 32 years, passed away peacefully at the Wellington Terrace on June 13, 2019 in his 89th year. He is survived by his daughter Shelley, sons Scott and Stephen, and extended family Judith and Leonard, and grandchildren, Sandy, Lydia, Hartley, Jennifer, Catharine and 10 great- grandchildren. Predeceased by his first wife Jennifer.

Charles was an accomplished Composer, Choir Conductor and Teacher. He received his Bachelor of Music in 1952 (MusBac), and his Doctor of Music in 1956 (MusDoc). He attended the Berkshire Music Centre, Tanglewood, studying in with Lukas Foss and Carlos Chávez and completed his doctoral thesis, Symphony in A, at the University of Saskatchewan, where he also taught harmony and conducted the university choir.

For 10 years, he was organist-choirmaster (1954-64) at Chalmers United Church, Guelph. As founder and conductor (1955-74) of the Guelph Light Opera, he used local singers to present one oratorio and one musical annually. During these years he conducted choirs and taught high school in the Guelph area and was, for a time, Music Supervisor of Guelph Township public schools. He conducted (1962-74) the Bach-Elgar Choir of Hamilton, but resigned to devote his time to study and composition. He began teaching at the University of Guelph in 1979, where he became Director of the electronic music studio and later as Composer-in-Residence.

Vocal music claimed his main attention after 1966, as witness, his two-and-a-quarter hour oratorio The Angels of the Earth (June 1967), by the Guelph Light Opera Company, the Bach-Elgar Choir, and his operas, The Summoning of Everyman (1973), Heloise and Abelard (1972), and Kamouraska (1975). Many of his vocal works were sourced from Canadian poetry and stories. His contribution to the Canadian Music scene was broad and varied, as evidenced in a search of his lengthy professional career.  A list of his compositions can be found on a search of:  the Canadian Music Centre (CMC), the Canadian League of Composers (CLC), and in the Canadian Encylopdia, under Charles M. Wilson.

Upon retirement, he and Elizabeth, a contralto, moved to Gabriola Island, on the west coast. For 16 years, they continued their passion for music together, doing intimate recitals for friends and fellow musicians in the community. They returned to Ontario in 2010, and settled in Fergus. As well as his music, Charles will also be fondly remembered for his love of N scale model trains, and his Brigham pipes.

The family wishes to express their gratitude to the multidisciplinary care team at the Terrace, for their excellent care and compassion during the time spent with them. No services will be held and if desired, a memorial donation, in Charles’ name, may be made to The Wellington Terrace, Long Term Care Home, Fergus.  

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