The Wesley Singers of Barbados’ tour of Ontario was marred with the loss of tenor, Colin Norville. The accomplished musician died last Thursday in his Toronto hotel room as the group was preparing for its final choral concert last Sunday at Christ Church-St. James British Methodist Episcopal Church in the city’s west end.
A graduate of the Royal College of Music and the recipient of the Silver Star of Merit, Norville joined the Wesley Singers in the early 1990s.
“Colin was considered a musical icon in Barbados,” said the group’s musical director, Walter Forbes. “He was an outstanding tenor who was well-travelled. He taught music and was held in very high regard by those whose lives he touched.”
Forbes said he spoke to Norville about two hours before his sudden death.
“We were at the same hotel and I spoke to every member that morning, including Colin,” said Forbes. “I was therefore stunned to learn of his passing. His loss is ours as well and he will be sorely missed.”
Norville and his wife, Annette, was the only couple to be part of the touring Wesley Singers that started performing nearly four decades ago. She participated with the group in last Sunday’s show.
The late Sydney Harris, the organist at James St. Methodist Church, launched the Wesley Singers to include the 20 Methodist churches in Barbados.
“It was his desire to have at least one member from each church represented, but that changed in later years to include other denominations, including Moravian and Pentecostal,” said Forbes, who is a founding member.
This was the group’s second visit to Canada. The members have toured the Caribbean, the United States and England.
Last Sunday’s performance was dedicated to Norville.
“There was no way he would have wanted us to cut short this trip,” said Forbes. “This is the least we could do for him.”