Peacefully with family by his side after a heroic battle with dementia, on Friday, September 29, 2023, at the Drew Nursing Home at age 85. James Arthur Stark, Professor Emeritus, Mount Allison University, Department of Music; loving father of Danny (Leif), New Jersey; Andy, Phoenix, Arizona; Kim, London, Ontario; Laura (Christopher Higgins), Florida; and Paul (Jessica Tilley), Burnaby, BC; proud Grandpa of Mika, Faewyn, Kieran, Caela; survived by sister Sherry Cameron (husband Chuck deceased), brothers Dick and Tom (Mary), as well as several nieces and nephews.
He grew up in Minneapolis and studied with Roy Schuessler, completing his Bachelor of Arts (Music) at the University of Minnesota in 1960. He then moved to Canada to pursue his post graduate studies with Aksel Schiøtz at the University of Toronto, receiving his Master of Arts and Ph.D. (Musicology) by 1973.
Pursuing a career in performance and musicology, he taught voice and music history from 1966-74 at the University of Western Ontario, where he specialized in oratorio and Lieder and gave regular recitals. In 1968, he became a naturalized Canadian citizen.
In 1974, Dr. Stark moved to Sackville to serve as head of the Department of Music at Mount Allison University until 1982, and he continued to teach musicology and voice there until 2003.
In 1985 he began to study the Irish harp with Grianne Yeats in Dublin. He performed medieval songs, Irish folksongs and arrangements, and his own compositions, including a cycle of 'Songs of Middle Earth', settings of poems by Tolkien for harp and voice.
The principal focus of his academic research was on 19th-century vocal pedagogy and 20th-century voice science. His exhaustive studies in these fields led him to spend countless days in the British Library, in the Bodleian Library, and in many other libraries, medical schools and voice science labs in the Netherlands and the U.K. His book, 'Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy,' remains one of the defining accomplishments of his professional career.
He grew to love the Maritimes, raising five kids, performing in many concerts and recitals, accompanying himself and his daughters on the harp, making his own arrangements of Irish traditional songs, composing, recording, and teaching full time. Meanwhile, he meticulously restored, and proudly maintained his 1910 farmhouse with a large garden and apple orchard, and for years he, with his family, raised pigs and chickens. James also loved to cook, especially for large gatherings, having grown up in a restaurant family. His life always revolved around his family and his work, but in retirement he remained a very private person.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of Jones Funeral Home, Sackville (506-364-1300) Funeral arrangements will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made by visiting www.mta.ca/donate and selecting Music Bursaries in Memory of Dr. James Stark.
Sharing of memories and condolences may be sent to the family by visiting the online memoiral at www.jonesfuneralhome.ca or through the Jones Funeral Home Facebook Page.