Allan Crane: a man of music

Memorial

Jan DeGrass / Arts and Entertainment Writer
July 17, 2014 10:09 AM

Young vocalist Hannah Westlake appeared at 2008’s Festival of Wind Music by invitation of organizer Allan Crane.

A man who contributed immensely to the Coast’s music scene passed away in June. Allan Crane of Roberts Creek was a lover of classical music, a teacher, a writer and a great promoter of anything musical. He founded or revived many organizations including a vocal group, a performance series and a festival of wind music.

“If you wanted something done, then Allan was the one to get things done,” recalled friend Jo Hammond.

Others also recognized it.

Hammond recalled how one member of the Sunshine Coast Arts Council made this pronouncement at a meeting of directors. Crane’s involvement with the Arts Council was the first step towards bringing more music to the Coast.   

Crane arrived on the Sunshine Coast in 1967 making the journey from his home in Birkenhead, England by freighter, and he took up a teaching position at Langdale Elementary School, later becoming the district librarian.

The Coast appealed to him since he already had a friend in Wilson Creek who collected vintage recordings and socialized with other music fans once a week. This led to a lifetime interest in record collecting and musical lore.

In the 1970s Crane initiated an amateur vocal group, the Centennial Singers, for those who enjoyed singing madrigals. (It has continued as today’s A Cappella Strait under director Janice Brunson.)

He founded a series of classical music concerts to attract professional musicians from off-Coast to its 1970s venue at the former Twilight Theatre (now Gibsons Cinema). The Countryside Concerts, as they were called, later grew into the current Coast Recital Society (CRS) and moved to Sechelt.  

“It was Allan’s vision and persistence that created the Coast Recital Society,” said artistic director Frances Wainwright. “He was a great believer in high artistic standards and worked tirelessly to bring outstanding classical performers to the CRS and to make CRS concerts vital and important within the fabric of Sunshine Coast life.”

Pianist Ken Dalgleish remembers him as one who always thought big.

“He had no qualms about phoning top name artists and inviting them to the Coast. We ended up getting major artists here.”

Dalgleish also describes Crane as very civil, very educated and recalls that he liked early music and sang bass with enjoyment.

Hammond notes that Crane kept up his connections with professional musicians all his life, frequently going into Vancouver for concerts and remaining tied in with the Music in the Morning concert series.

Crane always encouraged young people to take up music and he got his opportunity to support them through scholarships and by inviting them to perform at the Sunshine Coast Music Society presentations. The society had been started much earlier under Lynn Vernon, but had taken a hiatus for many years.

“He resuscitated it,” said Hammond.

The society organized concerts for graduating music students and presented an annual Wind Music Festival, another initiative from Crane.

“All the different things he made happen because of his persistence,” said Raven’s Cry Theatre manager Deb Proby.

The three-metre Steinway concert grand piano that now lives at the theatre came about because of a particular effort on Crane’s part in fundraising and lobbying to bring this piano to the Coast, not without controversy.  He was disappointed when the Arts Centre purchased their smaller grand piano. Dalgleish remembers the issue and noted that you don’t accomplish big things in the community without getting a reputation.

“He was not afraid to voice his opinion,” Dalgleish said.

Though Crane did not have much family on the Coast, Proby points out that the community was his family.

“He really cared,” she said. “He was always wheeling and dealing to bring more theatre and music to the Coast.”

At this time there is no formal memorial planned, but the arts and music community may come together in the fall for a celebration of his life.

The Coast Recital Society will be dedicating their first concert of the season on Oct. 5 to his memory; it features brilliant young violinist Timothy Chooi and pianist Amanda Chan. Crane would be proud.       


© Coast Reporter

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