August 29, 2019
Kerry Stratton was a ray of light at The New Classical FM. While many know him as the artistic force and conductor behind the Toronto Concert Orchestra, or as longtime host of The Oasis and Conductor’s Choice, I knew him as my office neighbour and the “poetic encyclopedia” of music knowledge. (News story about Kerry’s passing here.)
I’d only met Kerry now and then at concerts until I started working at The New Classical FM. When I was working different hours, my workday overlapped with Kerry’s shift as host of The Oasis. One of my favourite times of day was when Kerry arrived – swept in, really – referring to me as “an unclaimed treasure”, making grandiose statements regarding the weather, the abominable traffic he’d encountered, or how lovely I looked that day (even going so far as to disapprove of my cat-eyed glasses I once wore). He and I swapped jokes and quips and snickered a lot, like those kids in the back row in class.
Kerry was a quoting machine. I write composer birthday pieces, and try to avoid the dry bio format, and include something funny or interesting about the personal life of the composer. Kerry always obliged, lobbing me interesting tidbits without hesitation, quoting some related poetry along the way. It actually reminded me of my father, who used to memorize long passages of poetry for the sheer enjoyment of the beauty of a well-strung-together sentence (which this is not). Kerry was such a master of the spoken and written word – if you were ever lucky enough to have a conversation with him, you’d know.
I miss Kerry. The best way to remember him is him doing what he did best: make music. Here he is, ever the gentleman with sensitive accompaniment to singer Jessica Rose.
Liz Parker is the Digital Content Editor for The New Classical FM.