Ian Turnbull, winner of the first PAS Outstanding Chapter President’s award in 1991 for his leadership in Ontario, Canada, turned 90 years “young” on November 6, 2020.
Born in Worcester, England to parents of Scottish descent, Turnbull joined the British Army Band as a “Boy Entrant” at the age of 15, serving in Europe, the Far East, and the Caribbean until 1957. The following year, he emigrated to Canada where he joined the Band of Her Majesty’s Canadian Guards and attained the rank of Principal Percussionist. In 1963, Turnbull transferred to the Band of the Royal Canadian Regiment where he served for seven years before transferring to the (then) National Band of the Canadian Forces in 1970. After three decades of service, he retired from the military in 1976.
While serving with the Band of the Royal Canadian Regiment (1963-1970), Turnbull was also the Principal Percussionist with the London (Ontario) Symphony Orchestra. He established the percussion department at the University of Western Ontario in 1964 and served on the Faculty of Music until 1970.
Following his military retirement, Turnbull managed the Belle Air Music Company in London from 1977 until 1995. Upon his “second retirement,” Belle Air Music established the annual “Ian Turnbull Award” for percussionists at UWO. He was also named to the Mayor of London’s New Year’s Honors List in 1988 for promoting music in the region.
Ian Turnbull became the founding president of the Ontario Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society in 1980. (Prior to that, there had been one chapter representing all of Canada; Ontario was the first province to establish its own chapter.) He organized the first OPAS Day of Percussion held at UWO in London in April 1981. A decade later, Turnbull presided over the Tenth Anniversary of the Ontario Chapter with a three day “Celebration of Drums” at UWO. He also served 14 years on the PAS Board of Directors (1986-1993 and 1996-2001). In 2001, Ian Turnbull received the “Outstanding PAS Service Award” at PASIC in Nashville, Tennessee for his significant contributions to the Society.
Turnbull still resides in London, Ontario with his wife Joan and continues to enjoy life… and music!