One of the important elements that has made singing with the Grads and attending our concerts a special experience is the outstanding quality of the professional musicians, who regularly perform with us. This quality was personified in spades in John Cran, the legendary bassoonist, who sadly died in early April, aged ninety-two.
John spent a large majority of his 92 years, performing as principal bassoon with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In his career with the SSO, he played under the great Eugene Goossens and with such important wind players as Charles Mackerras, who was an oboist with the orchestra before becoming a major conductor, and the distinguished flutist, Neville Amadio, whose playing was admired by visiting conductors such as Eugene Ormandy.
John’s love of music was such that, after retirement from the Sydney Symphony, he continued to perform regularly with us and with such organisations as the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra. The Choir is very fortunate that the musical skills of our Music Director, Christopher Bowen are such that we have been able to establish long-term links with John and other fine professional instrumentalists.
John’s personal style was unfailingly gentle, unassuming and professional.
It was always reassuring for us choristers to see him take up his position in the ranks of the woodwind section at our concerts. He did this regularly, including in our Sydney Sings performance of the Verdi Requiem in 2017, in which he performed on his ninetieth birthday. He also played the Principal Bassoon part in our Sydney Sings performance of A German Requiem of Brahms on November 2019. John was so closely identified with his beloved instrument that some of us used to think he looked rather like a bassoon. It is good to know that the Cran name will continue to be linked with the Choir through John’s bassoonist-daughter, Lucinda, who has already played in a number of our concerts.
Farewell, John Cran! We are honoured to have been able to share in your distinguished artistic life.