IN MEMORIAM | Canadian Tenor Donald Bartle Dies At 91

By Anya Wassenberg on August 25, 2022

L-R: Sheet musc by Siggy Nowak (CC0C/Pixabay); Donald Bartle (Photo: Maura McGroarty)
L-R: Sheet music by Siggy Nowak (CC0C/Pixabay); Donald Bartle (Photo: Maura McGroarty)

Tenor Donald Bartle has died at age 91. During a 50-year career in choral music, he sang with many of Canada’s premier choral ensembles.

Donald Bartle, B.A., M.Ed., A.R.C.T. sang with both Elmer Iseler and Lydia Adams in the Elmer Iseler Singers. He was a founding member of the ensemble’s precursor, the Festival Singers of Canada, established in 1954 by Elmer Iseler under the name Festival Singers of Toronto.

Bartle performs as a soloist on their recording Ten Centuries Concerts: Gould, Schumann and Beckwith, recorded in March 1966 at the University of Toronto, and broadcast a few days later.

His work is also recorded in the compilation Beckwith, J.: Canadian Composers Portraits.

The Elmer Iseler Singers issued a statement of condolences for “our dear friend and colleague, Donald Bartle”. Bartle was the first recipient of an Elmer Iseler Singers’ Honorary Life Membership.

Bartlet and his older brother both sang in choirs growing up in Windsor, Ontario. The family moved to Toronto, where both siblings sang at St. Simon’s Anglican Church. As he went through school, he divided his time between sports and music. Despite the competition for his attention, Bartlet’s contributions to choral music in Toronto are notable.

  • Studied and received his A.R.C.T. at the Royal Conservatory of Music;
  • A member of the Canadian Opera Company from 1956 to 1960;
  • He sang with the Carl Tapscott Singers;
  • A 30-year member of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, noted for his turn as the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and for the tenor solos in Handel’s Messiah;
  • He joined the Elmer Iseler Singers in 1989, receiving the Lifetime Honorary Membership in 2000;
  • The tenor soloist in churches across the city, including Metropolitan United, St. James Cathedral, St. Paul’s Bloor Street, St. Paul’s Anglican, among others.

Don was also known for his support of the Toronto Children’s Chorus, founded by his wife Jean, who also served as Artistic Director.

Rest in peace.

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