Kenneth Solway, age 56

Jan Bloom

LOVES Wooden Canoes
I found this notice on line today regarding the passing of Kenneth Solway.

Toronto, the, 4/9/2010:

Kenneth Solway, who helped found Toronto’s Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, died on Thursday morning. He was born in 1954. A wire report stated the probable cause as a heart attack.

Solway was born and raised in Toronto before going to Vancouver and Holland to complete studies as a recorder player and oboist.

“When he came back, he had a dream of starting an orchestra,” said longtime friend and musical collaborator Alison MacKay. It was a dream he shared with his first wife, bassoonist Susan Graves, who died of consequences from a brain tumor in 2005.

Solway and Graves organized their first six concerts as members of the Toronto Chamber Music Collective in 1978, on a budget of $11,000. In May, 1979, the group gave its first performance as a Baroque orchestra.

“He and Susan slaved on the project. They personally put posters on lampposts,” MacKay recalled.

On the strength of one international-level soloist, Solway convinced the Lincoln Center in New York City to program the group in one of its concert series. The following season, there were 10 Toronto concerts on offer, one of which included Jeanne Lamon, a young American violinist whom he convinced to become the group’s music director in 1981.

Solway and Graves' tenure with Tafelmusik did not survive major financial problems in the early 1980s, but their founding efforts had taken root.

Within 10 years, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra was already enjoying international critical praise thanks to ambitious touring efforts, and was offered a recording contract with Sony Classical.

“Kenny was an incredible visionary,” MacKay said.

Solway and Graves left the big city for Baltimore, a hamlet north of Cobourg. Graves played principal bassoon with the Kingston Symphony Orchestra, while Solway ran an organic farm, crafted wooden canoes and taught shop at a local high school.

The couple would return to Toronto to sell produce and lamb in one of the city’s first organic neighbourhood markets, on Markham St.

Solway leaves behind a son, Jesse, an advanced student of double-bass at the Royal Conservatory's Glenn Gould Professional School, and his second wife, Stephanie Todd, whom he married last year.

Solway, who had a number of chronic physical problems stemming from a teenage car accident, had been in hospital for back surgery last month.
Too young

Makes me want to dust off my oboe, and offer an air on a G-string on Ken's behalf. Too soon, so sad.
Ken's passing is indeed sad news. I never met him except through his helpful correspondence dealing with a Chestnut I restored for a friend. His inscription in my copy of his book about the Chestnut's history takes on a whole new weight now.
Ken Solway Chestnuts

What has become of Ken's Chestnut forms and his canoe building business itself?

Thx, Rob
spoke to his son this past spring, he was unsure what he was going to do with them, but with the loss of both parents its understandable. he wont be building; the forms are the business much like most builders. he had no plans for them at this time