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Donald Brown (Baritone)

Born: April 5, 1925 - Nelson, British Columbia, Canada

The Canadian lyric baritone and teacher, Donald (George) Brown, received ARCT in 1949, and LRCT in 1951. After early studies with Mrs P. Ferguson in Nelson, he studied in Toronto with George Lambert, Emmy Heim, and for three months with Pauline Donalda.

Donald Brown began his performing career in Toronto singing as soloist in Bach's St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) from 1948 to 1954 and in several Messiah performances with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and also roles in opera and in nine Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. He moved to Edmonton in 1954 and to New Westminster, BC in 1958, and continued to teach and perform in both cities. In 1960 he began teaching at the University of British Columbia, where he remained on staff until 1989.

Donald Brown performed in opera, light opera, and musical comedy, as an oratorio and cantata soloist, and in recital repertoire. His opera roles have included Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Beppe and Harlequin in Pagliacci, Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mr Gedge in Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring, and Happy in the Girl of the Golden West. His cantata and recital repertoire has included a number of works by B. Britten, including the 1949 Canadian premiere of his St Nicolas cantata in Toronto. Brown has sung in the premieres of many Canadian works, including Godfrey Ridout's Coronation Ode (1953), Peter Huse's Vanity of Vanities (1963), Jack Behrens' The Lay of Thrym (in the role of Heimdahl, 1968), and Elliot Weisgarber's Night (1974).

A soloist on the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir's recording of J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) (1953, Beaver / RCA Victor), Donald Brown also recorded with the Vancouver Chamber Group on their recording of Ernest MacMillan's Six Bergerettes du bas Canada (1973, CBC) and with the CBC Vancouver Chorus in Jean Coulthard's Five Part-Songs for Voices and Piano (1975, RCI).

Donald Brown has studied vocal physiology, primarily with William Vennard at Oakland University, Rochester in 1968 on a Canada Council grant, and has subsequently given workshops on vocal production and vocal health to groups of musical and non-musical voice users. His singing students have included Lloyd Burritt, Ingrid Suderman, and Lyn Vernon. He has adjudicated at festivals across Canada and in 1991 continued to be active as a consultant to music festivals and as a workshop clinician.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada © 2006 Historica Foundation of Canada
Contributed by
Eduard van Hengel (September 2006)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Ernest MacMillan


BWV 244 [sung in English]

Links to other Sites

Brown, Donald (The Canadian Encyclopedia)


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