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May 9, 2023Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University is saddened by the passing of professor emeritus and renowned organist Jan Overduin. Jan passed away May 3, 2023, in his 80th year. He was born in Franeker, Holland on May 12, 1943, and emigrated to Canada in 1955. Jan studied organ with various teachers, including Alan Harrington, Peter Hurford, Gordon Jeffery, and Marie-Claire Alain. He also studied improvisation and choral conducting with Jean Langlais and Wilhelm Ehmann. Jan won several prizes at international organ festivals and performed widely in Canada and Europe.
Jan was a passionate educator and conductor. He taught at Wilfrid Laurier University from 1978 to 2003, where he was professor of organ, theory, and conducting. He conducted the WLU Choir and Chapel Choir. He also founded the Niagara Chamber Choir, conducted the Menno Singers and the Mennonite Mass Choir, and served as director of music at various churches in Ontario. He was known for his musical versatility, creativity, and spirituality.
“Jan Overduin was more than a colleague to me. He was a friend, musical partner, and a source of inspiration,” says Barrie Cabena, Laurier Faculty of Music professor emeritus. “We shared a sense of humor that brightened the halls of the Faculty of Music, and we teased each other with affection. We worked together since 1978, and he was always supportive of my endeavors.
"We made a recording of music together in the Laurier chapel and toured Germany together playing duets on organ. He was a master of the instrument, performing the complete works of Bach and Pärt, as well as many contemporary pieces. He had a spiritual journey that resonated with me, and he honored me by being the first to premiere many of my compositions. I will always remember him as a brilliant musician and a dear friend.”
Jan is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, 11 siblings and many friends and colleagues who admired his talent and generosity. A service for Jan will be held at First United Church, 16 William St. W., Waterloo at 11 am on Saturday, May 13, 2023. The service will be livestreamed. In place of a visitation, all are welcome to attend a video tribute celebration of Jan’s life in the sanctuary of the church from 10-10:45 a.m. A reception will follow the service in Hilliard Hall, First United Church. There will be an interment at Mannheim Mennonite Church Cemetery at 3 p.m.
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