Members of the Orchestra
John Gowen was born, raised, and educated in Toronto. His father was a chemist, pianist, and church organist, while his mother taught John the Kelley Kirby system of piano from the age of three. Piano at the Royal Conservatory was just fine until John got to his first music class at Willowdale Junior High late, and was rewarded with the double bass. During his teenage years John played jazz bass and then rock during the Yorkville era, as well as having a part-time job in musical instruments at the T. Eaton Company. He also enjoyed a somewhat checkered career at Northview Heights Collegiate. At age 19 John decided to sell all his electronic instruments and buy a bass from Ed Tait who later became his colleague in the TSO. Four years later, after his studies with Tom Monohan at the University of Toronto, John auditioned and joined the TSO in 1972. During his University years, John played in the Hamilton Philharmonic and the National Youth Orchestra. Throughout his career with the TSO, John has taught at the Royal Conservatory, the University of Toronto, and Western University.
John has been blessed with four wonderful adult children, Katie, Nick, Andrew and Caileigh, and a beautiful wife, Elizabeth Gowen who plays bassoon in the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet, and the Stratford Festival Orchestra. John and Liz live in Stratford, Ontario full time in a big old house with 6 cats. John and Liz particularly enjoy the large artistic community of actors and musicians in Stratford. John is looking forward to retirement to pursue the filing cabinets full of music he has never gotten around to play, and Senior Softball in Stratford.
John lists his greatest musical influences as J. Omar Walmsley at Willowdale Junior High, Elmer Iseler, Glen Wood at Northview Heights, Tom Monohan at Uof T, and his wife Elizabeth. Without exception, these people encouraged him to think big, that talent was only something to work from, and that practice allowed you the freedom to play music.