Michael Purves-Smith, 1945-2018
It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of Michael Purves-Smith, our music director emeritus and principal oboist. Michael was the soul of the Wellington Wind Symphony, and we are devastated by his loss. As Susan Follows so aptly puts it, “Michael was a connoisseur of life.” We remember Michael for his musical leadership, of course, but mostly we cherish the huge influence he has had on us all. Michael’s extraordinary musicianship, insatiable intellectual curiosity, and above all his humanity have been our inspiration.
Michael Purves-Smith Obituary
“He was “a gentle, beautiful man,” said Daniel Warren, who is the current artistic director of Wellington Winds.
“He never spoke hastily or hurriedly. It was always thought out, considered, and considerate.”
Purves-Smith: ‘Gentle, beautiful’ (WR Record)
In Our Own Words
News of Michael’s passing has shaken the Kitchener-Waterloo and broader music community. We in the Wellington Wind Symphony mourn him as a member of our extended family. It is with love that we share these thoughts and memories from WWS members, in their own words.
There was a room full of people with such sadness clearly etched on their faces last night. We are so sorry for your loss.
Michael was a person who did so many wonderful and generous things with his time on this earth, all without the slightest trace of it feeding his ego, or building up his reputation in the eyes of the world. He was always gracious and humble. This to me is a person who has his priorities beautifully chosen. We all only have so much time on this earth and we can chase after superficial things, or we can see what really matters. Michael clearly saw what really mattered and worked to make it happen.
~ Ginger Pullen
I feel knocked down by the loss of Michael and then picked up by the memory of having known him. Its easy to assess the mark he has made on our orchestra- his musicianship elevated and enlightened us but he also improved us by his example. Michael’s soft-spoken intellect and commitment to all the “hot button” issues of our age serve all of us as a paragon of what we should strive for. He left with a lot of unfinished business – a testimonial to his curious mind and his dedication to trying to make this world a better place for all. To Shannon and the boys, I can only offer the love and support that friends do for each other.
~ Gerald Achtymichuk
Michael Purves-Smith Retires as Wellington Winds Music Director
Tributes to Michael Purves-Smith at the time of his retirement from WLU, 2009 (Music Times)
A long time ago, a much younger man, sporting a dark beard (in case some of the younger players are confused, we are not born with white hair. Some of us earn it!) stepped onto a podium and conducted the Wellington Winds ensemble.
The events leading up to the search and acceptance of Michael, as our fearless leader, are a bit fuzzy now. Much water has passed under the bridge since then. But, at the time, who would have thought that this person would dedicate 25+ years of his life, of his musical life, to a group of community musicians.
Through his own arrangements, we were introduced and treated to many other genres of music…to song, to the opera, piano and to the sometimes quirky arrangements of his own compositions. Our minds were set free from the standard band repertoire. We were treated to a smorgasbord of music. How many other bands can say that!
May I suggest that we all raise a glass and propose a toast to acknowledge how fortunate the community, the Wellington Winds AND all of us musicians were/are to have been touched by Michael’s unselfish gifts.
“Here’s to ya, Michael. Thank you so much.”
~ John Monkhouse
So many wonderful memories of Michael where do I begin?
After I left the podium with the Winds there were a number of ‘guest’ conductors that kept the group alive and well. How ‘well’ may have been in question, however,