Remembrance: Michael Jarvis

It is with great sadness that Bach on the Rock announces the passing of our dear friend and Artistic Director, Michael Jarvis. All of us at Bach on the Rock are devastated by this sudden and tragic loss. Michael became our Director in 2016, and he took our ensemble to new heights with his talent, musicianship, enthusiasm and dedication. Our rehearsals were full of laughs, and we will fondly remember his wit, sense of humour and smile. He will be sorely missed by all of the Bach on the Rock musicians, our audiences, and Michael's many Salt Spring friends. As his wife Carolyn put it “Michael has unexpectedly moved on to a heavenly gig – perhaps with Handel or Giordani, or whomever else is available to play”.

Michael, also known as “Captain Continuo”, was acclaimed as one of Canada’s finest harpsichordists, fortepianists, organists, and continuo players, and was in high demand as a collaborative artist and performance practice coach. He had performed with most of Canada’s leading orchestras and in chamber ensembles across Canada, the US, and Europe. As a conductor he led many diverse programmes from 17th century French theatrical dance and English theatre music to 21st century 12-tone opera. His creative and fun Gilbert & Sullivan shows with Bach on the Rock were always a big hit with local audiences.

He recorded for many labels and was broadcast nationally and regionally for the CBC, as well as nationally across the US on NPR. His Marquis Classics CD of Hummel’s op. 5 violin sonatas with Paul Luchkow was chosen as a finalist for Best Classical Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards 2013. Their CD, the complete sonatas for harpsichord and violin of Michel Corrette (op. 25), was released, also on Marquis Classics, to glowing international reviews. His most recent CD, with UK viola da gambist Sam Stadlen, the premiere recording of Giordani's op. 30 sonatas for violin, gamba, and fortepiano, was released world-wide on Oct 11, 2019 to critical acclaim.

Michael had taught at the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and Wilfred Laurier University. He was the choral director at St. Barnabas Church in Victoria where he led and mentored young singers in the St. Barnabas Choral Scholar program. He was influential in the early careers of these young musicians, and in the words of one of them “was the definition of a cool boss”.

Michael is survived by his wife Carolyn Sinclair who requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to one of the following organizations: Early Music Vancouver, Early Music Society of the Islands, St. Barnabas Church music program and SPCA Victoria.

We extend our sincere sympathy and condolences to Carolyn, and Michael’s many friends and musical colleagues, on Salt Spring Island and beyond.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

December 28, 2020 2:15 PM

Community Comments

  • Avatar Malcolm Harris says:

    A huge loss for the musical community on the Big & Little Islands. I really enjoyed working with Michael during my first year at ArtSpring, he reminded me of my old choir master from St. Judes, in Oakville, a place Michael knew well. A real Pro. I will miss working with him.
    Malcolm Harris
    Artspring

  • Avatar Caitlin Keenan says:

    This is tremendously sad news! Tyler and I remember fondly our brief time with Bach on the Rock, under the effervescent direction of Michael — a man who truly knew how to blend whimsy, kindness, professionalism, and expertise to great style and effect. His passing is a sincere loss for the arts community, his family, and all who knew him. <3