Glenn Mallory devoted his life to music in Hamilton
It has been written that “wisdom comes with age.” And in Hamilton, there were few wiser when it came to music than Glenn Alan Mallory.
In a November 2006 interview with The Hamilton Spectator, done on the eve of his retirement as music director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, which he’d founded in March 1965, Glenn, then 75, was only too happy to define what others throughout the centuries considered ineffable.
“Music is an emotional thing. Music is an intellectual thing. Music is a physical thing. Music is a social thing. At its best, music is a spiritual thing. I have just defined a human being. Music, from my experience, is the only activity with the possible exception of making love and being in love that simultaneously encompasses every aspect of our humanity. So, it’s natural that if you’re interested in music, and like music, you go ahead and spend a lifetime in it. And it’s a good life.”
Sadly, that good life came to end on Wednesday, May 17 when Glenn passed away peacefully in the presence of family and friends. He would have turned 86 on June 2.
Glenn was a Hamiltonian through and through. Born here in 1931, he grew up on Balmoral Avenue and attended Memorial School. It was in Grade 9 at Delta Collegiate that Glenn caught the music bug, learning how to play five notes on a bugle. He graduated from Delta Collegiate where he was class valedictorian in 1949, and went on to study music education at the University of Toronto (class of 1953) before returning to Hamilton to teach high school music and English. He married Patricia Smith in 1955, and the two had three children, daughters Jane and Martha, and son Tom. In 1967, Glenn became music supervisor for the Hamilton Board of Education, retiring in 1990.
In addition to his 42 years conducting the HPYO, with whom he’d racked up countless concerts, toured to Carnegie Hall, to England, and points in between, Glenn led the amateur Dundas Valley Orchestra for 14 years until June 2011, and had guest conducted Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra education concerts as well as productions by Burlington Light Opera and Hamilton Theatre, Inc.
More than 800 young musicians passed through Glenn’s hands at the HPYO, some of them going on to careers in music. One was Terry Ball, a professional violist and now retired music educator, who played in the HPYO for the first 10 years of its existence and remained a lifelong friend to Glenn.
“This is going to be quite a loss for the community even though he led a long and productive life,” said Ball. “He’s going to be remembered by an awful lot of people.”
People like conductor Boris Brott, who first met Glenn in 1969.
“He was a very special individual, was very inspiring to young people and had a global vision of what could be done,” said Brott.
1969 was also when a then 16 year old Stephen Pierre, now HPO principal clarinet, auditioned for and was selected by Glenn as first clarinet in the HPYO.
“That was the reason why I went into music,” said Pierre. “It was because of him. He made it such a wonderful thing.”
Scott Whittington, a professional musician and recently retired educator, admired Glenn for his “warmth, humility, selflessness and great sense of humour.”
“It was his way with the musicians that left an indelible print on me,” said current HPYO music director Colin Clarke. “He was gentle, kind, respectful, and genuine.”
During his life, Glenn was honoured with the Betty Webster Award, The Hamilton Spectator’s Community Service Award, an induction into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction, a D.Lit from McMaster, nominations for Hamilton’s Citizen of the Year, and other accolades.
Lastly, this scribbler must thank you, Glenn, for your help, for the concerts we did, and the Handel organ concertos we performed together. Adieu, my friend.
Glenn is survived by his two daughters and four grandchildren. A memorial service celebrating Glenn’s life will be held at Burlington Baptist Church, 2225 New St., Burlington, on Saturday, May 27 at 1:30 p.m.
Glenn Mallory founded the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and spent 42 years conducting it. He died May 17.