From Andras Molnar, Feb 7, 2018
A friend to many
Johnny was not only a fabulous trumpet player but a wonderful person. I had the privilege of sitting next to him for many years in two difference orchestras. We just looked at each other and smiled. One day he played a solo with Hannaford Street Silver Band. Returning to his seat next to me, I just asked him – out of the blue – what happened, Johnny? It became a standard joke until this day – lots of laughter…..
From Barton Woomert, Feb 6, 2018
I first met Johnny in July 1980. I was playing a concert at Ontario Place with Boris Brott. It was a concert that was part of my audition for the Hamilton Philharmonic. The trumpet section was Johnny, Jim Spragg and me. This was the first time I had met Johnny and I liked him immediately. He was kind and supportive and his great sense of humour was contagious.
I remember thinking, ” wouldn’t it be great to work with Johnny again?” Well, two years later I was hired by the Toronto Symphony and so began eleven years of “music making” with Johnny.
Johnny was a fabulous musician and trumpeter. He was also a wonderful colleague. Over those eleven years we shared many laughs, we played countless concerts, we suffered under the batons of cantankerous conductors and we formed a friendship that I cherish to this day. The memories of Johnny’s fine playing, his sense of humour and his kindness are still vivid in my mind. I consider myself fortunate to have worked with Johnny and to be able to call him my friend.
Rest in peace Johnny Cowell.
From Scott Irvine, Jan 27, 2018
Johnny inspired me in many ways as a trumpeter, but my personal favourite was the Johnny that composed the high energy 15 second Musicamera theme for CBC television in the 1970s.
From Jamie Stager, Jan 26, 2018
I did not know Johnny well, but as a trombonist I had the privilege to play with him many times in the Toronto Philharmonia (formerly North York Symphony). As I came to better know the extent of his storied career, I was struck by his unassuming demeanor and his humility. Johnny was always affable and quick to offer a joke here or a kind word of encouragement there. But most of all, I was impressed that even after so many years of star turns and prestigious performances, he was still enthusiastic to play in the Toronto Phil’s trumpet section. It didn’t matter which chair, or what the music was, he still loved to play. His love of music making and collegiality will be something I’ll always remember and keep striving for. Thanks, Johnny!
From David Bourque, Jan 26, 2018
I had the privilege to work with Johnny for 10 years at the Toronto Symphony. He and Joan lived not too far from me, and I would often encounter Johnny and Joan at a local donut shop on the way home from a concert.
Johnny was a fabulous musician and valued colleague. I often shared some stories and laughs with him as he walked past my “place” backstage on his way to TrumpetLand.
One of my favourite stories was that of Seiji Ozawa’s commission of Girl On A Roller Coaster as an encore for a TSO Ontario tour. Johnny would drive Seiji from town to town as Seiji did not like to fly. Johnny told the hilarious story of how Seiji introduced the encore as “Gull On A Lollollcoaster”.
Johnny will be deeply missed.
From Norman Engel, Jan 24, 2018:
Thank you Johnny!
I was very saddened to hear of Johnny’s passing today. It brought back many wonderful memories of his music making and friendship over the past 36 years. Johnny and I first met when he performed as a soloist with a string group of TSO members in 1982 and I was asked to perform the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Trumpets with him at my high school. He was such a great mentor from that day forward. This experience with him when I was a teenager led me to pursue a career as a musician. He was still in the TSO trumpet section many years later when I had the opportunity to perform with the orchestra as a professional myself. Johnny and I performed together for many years after that, and he was always the most humble gentleman you could imagine! And had amazing stories about his illustrious career that spanned over 75 years! Johnny had a trumpet career one can only hope to emulate, I certainly have tried! With all that he has accomplished in his long life, the one thing that remains with me the most about knowing him is his humility. He always gave of himself without question and passed along a good word about life and music! I will miss you Johnny, it was so great to have known you!