P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra founding member John Clement remembered for love of music

A teacher and founding member of the Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra and Singing Strings Youth Orchestra is being remembered today not only for his love of his music but also for his joy in sharing it with others.

John Clement died Thursday at the age of 79. His daughter, Wendy Evers-Forrester, says music remained an important part of his life until he passed away.

"It was the thing that sustained him right until the end," she said. "While he was in the hospital, we would listen to music all the time." 

A violinist and teacher

Clement was a violinist and violin teacher who taught music in P.E.I.'s public school system for many years after moving from England to accept a teaching position in 1971.

He continued teaching privately, along with his wife Jenet, also a music teacher and founding member of both orchestras.

Evers-Forrester, herself a music teacher and conductor, said her father firmly believed music played an important role in a child's education and well-being. He dedicated his life to teaching as long as he could, she said. 

She said her father had Alzheimer's, a disease that first took away his ability to play the violin, then his ability to teach and finally, to conduct. 

Despite his illness, Evers-Forrester said he still gave her an important lesson in conducting: He taught her something she didn't know during a lucid moment three weeks before his death. 

Musical service planned

Clement's family and friends are planning his memorial service, which his daughter said will be filled with music and as many of his favourite songs as possible. 

Singing Strings Youth Orchestra said they are welcoming members, alumni and any musical friends to join them to play a musical piece, Ashokan Farewell, at the closing of Clement's memorial service. 

In a news release, symphony music director Mark Shapiro said Clement will be remembered for his kindness and caring, gleeful spirit.

"John will be greatly missed, and not a day will pass wherein we do not thank him from our innermost heart, and joyfully celebrate his immense contributions to our musical community."

Orchestra season dedicated to Clement 

Symphony president Bruce Craig said the orchestra's 50th season will be dedicated to the memory of Clement.

"He is really going to be missed by all of us." 

Many Islanders including students, orchestra members and colleagues are remembering Clement after learning of his death through Facebook posts by the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra and Singing Strings Youth Orchestra. ​

In a post on Singing Strings Youth Orchestra, Natalie Williams Calhoun said, "We will always remember his smile, the twinkle in his eyes, his high standards, his passion for music, his great stories, and his fondness for every musician that passed through our program."

Tom Ogden commented on Facebook: "I am so fortunate to have had him as a teacher, mentor, and friend. It's true — he was pure kindness and we were all so lucky to have known him." 

Others wrote about how Clement helped them find their voice. 

"John treated everybody with kindness and respect, and he had a brilliant sense of humour to go along with that," wrote Patrick Moore.

A visitation will be held at the Belvedere Funeral Home on Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. The memorial service is scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. at Park Royal United Church. 

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