Home 9 Composers 9 Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn (b. 1942) is the longtime Conductor and Artistic Director of the Vancouver Chamber Choir. Well known internationally for his mastery of choral technique and interpretation, he travels widely as guest conductor, lecturer, clinician and master teacher. He is also an active composer, arranger and editor and has had many compositions published, performed and recorded around the world. In 2001 Mr. Washburn was named a Member of the Order of Canada (the nation’s highest civilian honour) and in 2002 received Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee Medal for his lifetime contribution to Canadian choral art.


by Jon Washburn

SATB a cappella – complete book – CP 1654   – duration 41:30  
Narration booklet – (the prose of Dylan Thomas) – sent via PDF
Choirs looking for the perfect half to their Christmas program will find this option very attractive. The music is lovely and eminently singable for any choir. Jon has arranged eleven familiar Christmas carols to accompany the reading of the Dylan Thomas classic – “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”.  The mood created is delicious. Listen below to learn how the narration works with the singing. The Vancouver Chamber Choir had the reader (of Welsh descent) read from an arm-chair under a lamp, stage left, on a slightly elevated platform – very effective! The choral score is marked with narration cues – and the narrator’s script is marked with choir cues. Everything flows as smoothly as a sled over snow.

The Vancouver Chamber Choir, called “Canada’s jewel in the crown of choral singing”, recorded the entire work complete with narration under Jon’s direction. Give it a listen! – just click on a title. The CD is available for purchase.  (click here if interested)

1) Still, still, still – duration 4:00 – also available separately – CP 1650 – see below
2) Fum, fum, fum – duration 1:30
3) The Huron Carol – duration 2:15
4) See amid the winter snow – duration 2:30 – also available separately – CP 1658 – see below
5) Ding, dong, merrily on high – duration 1:30
6) O Christmas tree – duration 2:00
7) God rest ye merry, gentlemen – duration 1:00
8) O little town of Bethlehem – duration 1:45
9) Here we come a-caroling – duration 1:15
10) Patapan – duration 1:30 – also available separately – CP 1657 – see below
11) Silent night – duration 3:30


arr. Jon Washburn

SATB a cappella   – CP 1750   –  duration 3:40
This arrangement of Kosaku Yamada’s popular children’s song Akatonbo (Red Dragonfly) was composed by Jon Washburn for the Vancouver Chamber Choir’s third tour of Japan in 2009, when it was sung for the Emperor and Empress in a private concert at the Canadian embassy in Tokyo.

Akatonbo is a song for the autumn season. The sunset and dragonfly reminded the poet, Rofu Miki, of his childhood and how much he had missed his sister, who had married and moved away from her home and family. Jon Washburn has treated the piece as a choral fantasy, separating the several phrases of the melody with wordless polyphonic lines which express the deep feelings which the simple words evoke.

Rise! Shine!

arr. Jon Washburn

SATB a cappella – CP 1960   –  duration 7:40
1) Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child; 2) There is a Balm in Gilead; 3) Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; 4) Rise! Shine! for the Light is a-Comin’
It’s wonderful that choirs everywhere can share in the rich heritage of spirituals. Jon wrote this medley for the Vancouver Chamber Choir and their 1989 tour to the Soviet Union.

See Amid the Winter Snow - from a Dylan Thomas Christmas

by Jon Washburn

SATB a cappella –  CP 1658   – duration 2:30  

A Stephen Foster Medley

arr. Jon Washburn

SATB a cappella or with piano – CP 1935 – duration 6:45
This is Washburn at his best with a witty combination of well-beloved folk songs from the south. It begins like a dream and ends with an up-tempo “glorioso”. “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair”, “Camptown Races”, “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Beautiful Dreamer”, “Oh, Susanna”. Audiences and singers will love this medley.
Stephen Foster was America’s Schubert – the lyric laureate of the 19th-Century South. With Foster, sentiment became a virtue, expressed in sweet harmonies and haunting tunes. The underlying emotion of these songs is nostalgia; a pervasive longing for things lost which seems to permeate the very intervals of the melodies. Like Schubert, Foster died young and poor, as though fulfilling the prophecies of his own songs. Jon Washburn’s medley of favourite Stephen Foster songs was composed in 1985 for the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and premiered on a concert called Music of the Great Songwriters. 

Still, Still, Still - from a Dylan Thomas Christmas

by Jon Washburn

SATB a cappella – CP 1650   – duration 4:50  

Patapan - from a Dylan Thomas Christmas

by Jon Washburn

SATB a cappella  –   CP 1657   – duration 1:30