(Updated with funeral information. For more, visit a memorial Facebook community here.)
Toronto organist, choir director and ever-willing musical collaborator Bruce Kirkpatrick Hill died on Sunday, March 18, while on holiday in Cuba with his wife, Stephanie Martin, from complications related to kidney disease.
He was 48.
Every big city is blessed with a few dozen people whose contributions are invaluable to the continued vitality of its musical life. Hill was one of these local heroes.
Hill was one of the first organists I met after moving to Toronto, joining him on the executive of the local branch of the Royal School of Church Music. The Victoria, B.C. native had just left doctoral studies at University of Toronto, and was organist and choirmaster at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, in Scarborough.
His was an energetic, lively, gregarious presence that radiated an equal love for music and people.
Hill went on to a number of other church assignments, including an 11-year stint as the organist at Christ Church, Deer Park, where he oversaw an active and diverse music programme until 2008.
He was also a regular performer at organ recitals in Toronto and well beyond.
Two of his most recent music positions were director of the Anglican Chorale in Ottawa, and rehearsal accompanist for the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, which holds its 30th anniversary celebration concerts later this month. He was also a regular member of the Exultate Chamber Singers for most of its history.
More importantly, Hill was part of a rich musical team with his wife, York University professor, haprischordist, organist, choir director and composer, Stephanie Martin, helping with accompanist duties, music arranging and recording sessions.
Bruce Hill’s funeral will be held at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, 477 Manning Ave. in Toronto, on Saturday, March 24, at 12:30 p.m.