Witty and charming, generous with her time and resources and quietly thoughtful, Jane was a gifted musician with seemingly boundless energy. A born storyteller, she loved to make people laugh. Passionate about the causes she held dear, she inspired others to step outside their comfort zone and engage with the world around them in new ways.

Allegro: A musical star rising
Jane’s talent at the piano revealed itself at an early age and led in due course to bachelor and master degrees in music from the University of Ottawa. She was a pianist of extraordinary range who could summon with equal ease Bach’s Goldberg Variations, gospel tunes, and a vast catalogue of jazz standards. While her remarkable skills might have pointed to a professional career in chamber music, Jane followed her heart and dedicated her career to bringing people together through music. She found
her calling as a church musician and community choir conductor, creating musical spaces where people found acceptance and flourished.

Allegro giocoso: Coffee and chocolate, huzzah!
Food brought Jane great pleasure, both the cooking and the eating of it. Her favourite foods included pizza, pickles, pie, and chocolate in all its forms. Her beverages of choice were red wine, Scotch and coffee. At choir rehearsals, Jane generally had a coffee mug beside her, and her choristers knew the perils of caffeine-inspired tempos. The most apt of the many tongue twisters she taught her choirs over the years was the coffee one: “I want a coffee in a proper copper coffee pot.” It inspired the gift of a
bright copper pot that still sits in a place of honour above Jane’s desk.

Adagio: Heart and soul
Jane had a tender heart and an artist’s soul. She cultivated rich relationships with treasured friends and family. Her niece Grace was one of the joys of her life and Jane threw herself into being an auntie. She sought beauty wherever she went – in her music, in the backyard oasis she and her partner Cora created together, and in the picturesque West Kootenay mountains they both loved to visit. Jane found particular sanctuary in gardening and each year, come summer, she retreated to the garden to replenish her energy and fuel her soul.

Scherzo: Whimsy
Jane understood the unique ability of laughter to dispel tension and dissolve resistance, and she made it a personal mission to elicit laughter in every setting of her life. She had an impressive repertoire of silly faces and was apt to pull a face at unexpected moments, especially when someone tried to take her picture. It generally took much patience and many retakes to capture a genuine, smiling photo of Jane. She used humour when teaching and conducting, quipping phrases like “acapulco” (for a cappella) and “can belto” (riffing on bel canto) to make singers laugh. She would caricature choral mistakes to take the sting out of corrections. Her humour ran to the absurd or Pythonesque, and she gleefully devised wacky
costumes for Hallowe’en and the Pride parade each year.

Rondo: From east to west
Born in Campbellford, Ontario, Jane grew up in Kingston. She moved to Ottawa to attend university and there launched her career as a professional musician. The year Jane turned 40, she and Cora moved across the country to Calgary, where Jane continued to pursue her career as a choral conductor, church music director, collaborative pianist, and piano teacher. She found the creative energy in Calgary exciting and began exploring in earnest ways to use music and collaboration to shine a light on social justice issues and open the way for healing and building trust within and between communities.

Finale: Hawaii
Jane passed away unexpectedly just before sunset on January 17, 2024, with her beloved partner Cora by her side. She was visiting Hawaii with Cora and two dear friends, and she spent her final days delighting in the breath-taking beauty of Kauai and basking in the restorative energy of the land and the ocean. She had been living with metastatic colon cancer for two years and was hoping to see the spring and celebrate her 53 rd birthday in July. Ever burgeoning with creativity, she was planning to turn her focus to composing when she returned from Hawaii. The notes playing in her mind never made it to paper, but they are not lost. Jane would invite us to listen for the music in the world around us – in the sweeping flight of birds, the breeze rustling in the trees, the shimmer of sunlight on water – and know that her music is playing in every moment.

Jane is deeply missed by her partner Cora Castle (Calgary); her mother Marilyn Perry (Kingston); her sister Ann Perry and brother-in-law Scott Howarth (Toronto); and her niece Grace Perry-Howarth (Montreal). She is also survived by uncles, aunts and cousins in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and in-laws in Calgary. She was predeceased by her father Douglas Perry.

Heartfelt thanks go to the oncology team at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, who cared for and supported Jane during her journey with cancer.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
– Julian of Norwich

Memorial donations may be directed to the Jane Perry Legacy Fund through Calgary Unitarians here.  Details about the legacy fund will be posted in the coming weeks.

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