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Jim DeFina

$11,685.68 (raised so far)

About Jim DeFina

Jim DeFina was a compassionate, joyful and inspiring musician, teacher, leader, friend, brother, husband and father who passed away August 6, 2012 at the age of 71.

Born in October 1940 Jim had a lifelong love affair with music. From being a reed side-man in professional jazz bands for ten years, five of which were spent in Japan where he became fluent in Japanese during his time with the US Navy, to using his knowledge of the physics of music and sound waves to contribute to the development of clean combustion technology, Jim fully understood how positively impactful music can be. He saw that music, like meditation, forces us to be completely present in the given moment; it pulls us from the distractions of the modern world to a place of focus, peace and awareness.

Jim also understood that playing music was not easy and not accessible to everyone. As a teacher he worked with passion and warmth to problem solve ways to unlock complex musical projects for his students; to instil, or “install” as he coined it, in them the kind of self-confidence that leads to true, lasting motivation and self-esteem. Just weeks before his passing Jim was thrilled to have the opportunity to travel with the WCSO to Albania for a two-week goodwill tour playing, teaching and donating instruments to children who would otherwise never have the exposure to classical music.

An active contributor to music in Canada, Jim was principal clarinettist, long-time board member and past president of the West Coast Symphony. He received a Masters degree in Clarinet Performance from the UBC School of Music in 1983, and trusted in his capacity to learn and grow throughout his life. Jim also played principal clarinet in the Opera Appassionata Orchestra, a role he loved, and over the years performed with many chamber and orchestral groups in Vancouver.

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The impact of your support

The Jim DeFina Memorial Scholarship in Music is a scholarship offered in memory of Jim DeFina (MMus’83) by his family, friends and colleagues in the West Coast Symphony Orchestra. The scholarship honours Jim’s firm belief in the transformative power of music as well as his inspirational vision, warmth and energy that was an example to his students and so many around him.

The award is made on the recommendation of the School of Music to an outstanding fourth year undergraduate student majoring in a wind instrument. Preference will be given to students who intend to pursue a career as a full-time professional musician. Your gift will help sustain Jim’s belief in the potential of music and education, while honouring the memory of an esteemed colleague and leader.

Messages of Remembrance

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  • It has been an incredible privilege and humbling experience to play in the wind section for West Coast Symphony Orchestra alongside Jim DeFina. He challenged us to do our best always, without excuse, and in return we were rewarded with so many moments of truly inspired musicianship from him. He was able to make a whole room pause and listen to an orchestral solo like no one else I've ever known. This video celebrates some of his most beautiful and exciting solos from the last 10 seasons. Thank you, Jim and much love.

    Risa McDonell, 3rd Flute, West Coast Symphony Orchestra
List of Donors
  • Anonymous Donation

  • Anonymous Donation

  • Rachel DeFina

  • Norma Butterfield

  • Grace Makarewicz

  • Tammy Chan

  • Bernadette Ohrman

  • Donors through the West Coast Symphony

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