Passing of Former NTCI Music Teacher, Orval Ries

Passing of Former NTCI Music Teacher, Orval Ries

Passing of Former NTCI Music Teacher, Orval Ries

Conductor and musician Orval Ries, formerly of Toronto, passed away on March 30, 2024. Ries was an oboist, vocalist, and teacher, and conductor. After his retirement, Ries relocated to Ridgetown in Western Ontario.



Orval Ries, a life in music



Orval Ries was born in Toronto, and began his musical studies as a vocalist. He made the switch to the oboe, and was the recipient of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Mary Osler Boyd Award for 1958/59. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor’s degree, and performed as a soloist and orchestral musician.



In 1959, straight after graduation, he went on to teach winds and percussion at North Toronto Collegiate Institute, from which he’d graduated just a few years prior. He led the senior and junior bands to Kiwanis Festival wins, and the school orchestra to other provincial wins during his tenure. In 1961, he left his teaching position for Europe, where he studied and performed in London and Paris.



On his return to Canada, he settled in Toronto, and began to explore conducting at the University of Toronto, as well as continuing to perform and teach. As a vocalist, he performed with the Canadian Opera Company and the Festival Singers of Canada.


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Banner photo courtesy of Mic Johnson.

The Senior Band with Orval Ries in 1960–1961.

“How daunting it must have been for Orval Ries on the first day of school in 1959, when, straight out of university, he returned to his alma mater not to play his oboe, but to teach students — some only five years younger than himself! To be on the other side of the podium could not have been easy; he was replacing the dynamic Stanley Clark, and along with the excitement, the young Mr. Ries could never quite escape the Senior Band with Orval Ries in 1960–1961. feeling the “burden of preserving the empire.” Yet under his baton, and despite the ongoing prowess of the Barrie bands, the senior and junior bands did claim Kiwanis firsts.”

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