It’s with heavy hearts that JAZZ.FM91 shares that Dr. Michael Arthurs, the respected musician and educator who for the past year has served as musical director of the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band, has passed away. He was 60.
Dr. Arthurs joined JAZZ.FM91 in September of 2022 with more than 25 years of experience as a composer, arranger, music teacher, freelance musician, and recording artist both in Toronto and internationally.
Since then, he has been a champion, advocate, confidant and fearless leader for the 13 young musicians in the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band. Dr. Arthurs’ calm and cool leadership has led the band to perform at a professional level, with their last performance taking place at the Kensington Market Jazz Festival on Oct. 1, 2023.
Through experience and a passion for music education and development, Dr. Arthurs has played a formative role in developing the high-school and middle-school students in the band. He has instilled a deep knowledge and appreciation for music in each band member. However, it was his kindness and warmth that we will remember most. His selfless drive to see each young musician thrive has had a lasting impact on the musicians and the band going forward.
“Michael was our team member, our friend, and an important member of our community,” says Dana Wigle, General Manager of JAZZ.FM91. “He was a leader, an inspiration, a role model, and an ally to every young member of our JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band. We could feel his passion and love of working with young musicians in everything he did with us, and his impact has no bounds.”
Born and raised in Toronto, Dr. Arthurs earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition (jazz emphasis) from the University of Texas at Austin. He studied the saxophone and jazz improvisation with artists such as Pat LaBarbera, George Coleman, Bill Evans, James Moody and Joe Lovano. He served as assistant professor of saxophone at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., and as a lecturer of saxophone techniques at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. He also served as musical director for the Louisville Metro Big-Band, the University of Louisville’s Jazz Lab II, and Archie Alleyne’s The Evolution of Jazz Ensemble, before joining the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band.
A service for Michael Arthurs will be held this Friday, Oct. 13, at Griffen-Mack Funeral Home. Visitation will be at 11 a.m., followed by a funeral service at 12:15 p.m.
All of us at JAZZ.FM91 want to express our condolences to Michael’s family. His presence on our team will be missed and his impact on the work that we do with and for young musicians in Toronto will be lasting.