Kerrison, Davenport

(John) Davenport Kerrison. Pianist, teacher, composer, editor, b London 1841, d Jacksonville?, Fla, after 1927. He studied in England with John Boardman and Benedict Rolfs and in the USA with J.N. Pattison and Louis Gottschalk. About 1866 he settled in Toronto and became organist at St John's Church. He organized the Choral Union, which first sang at the Music Hall, 21 Jan 1868. Until 1875 Kerrison conducted and played in Toronto, and in July 1872 he toured southern Ontario with the violinist J.W. Baumann. By 1873 he had become conductor of the Toronto Orchestral Union, which accompanied operas and operettas and gave concerts. He returned to New York to become organist (mid-1874?-October 1878) of St Stephen's Church and to teach at the Grand Conservatory of Music.

Kerrison was back in Toronto by 1878 and opened a school, staffed by himself and his wife, in rooms at the Grand Opera House (Toronto). His chosen name for the school (Royal Canadian Conservatory of Music) was, it would appear, disallowed because of the unauthorized use of the word 'Royal'. He amended the name in 1879 to Toronto College of Music (not to be confused with the Toronto College of Music founded in 1888). In October 1880 he began Arion, a monthly 'Canadian Journal devoted to music, art, literature and the drama' and published it until October 1881. In the Ontario Music Teachers' Association (Canadian Society of Musicians) composition competition of 1886 Kerrison was one of five successful entrants. In 1887 he and his wife taught in private studios which they called the Canadian Conservatory of Music. There is no evidence to indicate that he was a resident of Toronto after 1888. Eventually he obtained a D MUS from the University of New York.

Kerrison's larger works include Canada, a symphonic overture in four movements first performed in Toronto 22 Jun 1881 in a four-piano arrangement; a Concerto in E Minor and a Concerto-caprice, both for piano and orchestra; The Bells, Opus 35 (1908), a four-movement symphonic poem; an operetta, The Oreads, performed in Toronto 23, 25, and 26 Feb 1870; two light operas, The Curfew, performed in Toronto 30 and 31 Jul 1879, and The Maid of the Mill; and a grand opera, The Last of the Aztecs (1914). He also composed numerous piano pieces and songs, including 'God Preserve Our Native Land' (1883) and 'The Flag That Bears the Maple Leaf' (1889). Among his publishers were Nordheimer and Suckling in Toronto and W.F. Shaw, Presser, and G. Schirmer in the USA.