Diamond Jubilee Medal for School of Music founding director
By Mandy Cook |
Oct. 9, 2012
Dr. Donald F. Cook, retired professor and founding director of the university’s School of Music, was among those presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at a ceremony held recently at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, Ont.
The commemorative medal, created to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne as Queen of Canada, is a tangible way for Canada to honour significant contributions by Canadians. Sixty thousand deserving Canadians will be recognized.
Dr. Cook has been active for more than 45 years as a music educator, administrator, church musician, choral director, organ recitalist and composer. In the late 1960s, Dr. Cook was among the small group of music educators who founded the Music Council of the Newfoundland Teachers’ Association, which subsequently conducted a successful lobby for the recognition of music as a credit course in the K-12 school system. He joined Memorial’s faculty in 1967 and soon afterwards developed and taught the first music credit courses to be offered at Memorial. At the same time he served as music consultant for the university’s Extension Services, travelling throughout the island and Labrador to help organize and provide expertise to a number of community choirs sponsored by Memorial. Dr. Cook went on to play a major role in the establishment of the School of Music and in 1975 was appointed the school’s founding director. During his tenure, a new music building was opened in 1985 and the school grew to become one of the largest and best-equipped music facilities in Atlantic Canada. In addition, he was founding conductor of both Memorial’s Festival Choir and Chamber Choir. He also served concurrently as adjunct professor of church music at Queen’s Theological College and as organist/choirmaster of the Anglican Cathedral in St. John’s.
In September of 1992, Dr. Cook moved to London, Ont., to become principal of the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music. While there, he oversaw several mergers that created Conservatory Canada, a nationwide examining institution. He retired from there in 2000.
He has served as chair of the Music Council of the Newfoundland Teachers Association, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council and the Canadian University Music Society. He has adjudicated and conducted clinics in choral music, piano and organ in all 10 provinces, and also has been a juror for the Ontario Arts Council and for the Juno Awards.
Dr. Cook’s contribution to music in Canada has been recognized both provincially and nationally. In 1992, Memorial University named its new recital hall in his honour, and the same year he was installed as a member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General. Other honours include the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, an honorary doctor of laws degree from Memorial an and honorary life membership both in the Music Council of the Newfoundland Teachers Association and in the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association.