Richard Norman NELSON
August 01, 1931 - February 23, 2018
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Richard Norman Nelson, distinguished violinist and conductor, deeply loved and admired by all who knew him, died peacefully on February 23, 2018 at the age of 86. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Norman had a long and full musical career that led him from Assistant Concertmaster of the Royal Philharmonic, London Symphony, and BBC Symphony orchestras and a founding member of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, to Concertmaster of the Vancouver Symphony, founding member of the Purcell String Quartet, and Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. In his "retirement," Norman founded the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997 and directed its 60-plus devoted members until his true retirement in October 2017. He was a recipient of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Barbara Pentland Award of Excellence for his many years of dedicated service to Canadian music. Norman was an extraordinary man with an infectious sense of humour and ready wit. He had a story to tell - often raucously funny - for every situation. Even though his talent and exceptional knowledge of classical music was prodigious, he remained deeply humble. Nor did he take himself too seriously, being equally at home conducting a Beethoven symphony or an "overture" for chain saws at the Sooke Fling. He was passionate about sport, politics, and blistering hot curries. His effect on so many of his students was truly life changing; through shouted encouragement, humour, and wildly enthusiastic gesticulation, Norman taught them to love music and life. He continued to build and nurture vibrant musical communities around him right to the end. His death is a profound loss to everyone whose lives he touched. Norman is survived by his adoring family: his wife Jenny, children Jenny (Glenn), Galt (Shirley) and Cathy (Lyle), step-children Joanna (Chris) and Andrew (Milena), brothers Richard (Luce) and Bill (Norma), and 12 grandchildren: Michael, Kevin, Emily, David, Tim, Katie, Daniel, Sophie, Rowan, Ian, Sophia, and Julia. A celebration of Norman's life will be held in the Sooke Community Hall, 2037 Shields Road, Sooke, Saturday, March 10, 3:30 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sooke Philharmonic Society or to the Harmony Project, Sooke. "Anyone can play the notes, people. But let's play the music!"

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Published in The Times Colonist from Mar. 1 to Mar. 3, 2018.
Memories & Condolences
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6 entries
November 15, 2018
I'll always remember singing opera while canoeing at Elk Island RIP my very gifted friend.
Ralph Thurn
March 4, 2018
I played in Norman's orchestra at the U of A for several years. He taught me how to hear and play the music that lives between the notes. Even when rehearsals were hard, he always had a funny quip to lighten the mood. I will always remember his constant rehearsal direction for "more basses!" He will be missed.
Susanne Thompson
March 2, 2018
I knew and worked with Norman Nelson over a period of more than a dozen years at CBC and beyond. His enthusiasm, warmth, talent and a marvellous sense of mission to the larger community were inspired and inspiring. A profound and living legacy. Bravo Norman! My deep condolences to Jenny, his family, his colleagues, friends and countless students.
Don Mowatt
March 1, 2018
Ever since I first met Noman when he and Simon moved to Vancouver, he was an inspiration to me, not only because of his extraordinarily high standards of music performance but also for his commitment to extend those standards to communities and individuals where otherwise there would be no such access to excellence in music. Although we have lived on the opposite ends of the earth' for the past few decades, many of my most positive memories will always be of the many days and evenings we spent together in Ireland and in Victoria, discussing plans for music in the future - and the political obstacles of the present!
Robert Creech
March 1, 2018
Arthur Hesford will greet him with a cricket bat and ball.
Jackie Karagianis
March 1, 2018
So many memories of music, laughter and happy times.
Carol and Terry McGinty
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