Joseph and Arlene Nimmons Pach | UNB

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College of Extended Learning

Joseph and Arlene Nimmons Pach

Years of residency: 1964-1993

Picture of The Pachs taken in 1961


It was 1952. The performance was in St. Thomas, Ontario. Joseph Pach was to showcase violin spectaculars; Arlene Nimmons to accompany. From this initial encounter, they took the Violin and Piano Repertoire to appreciative audiences across Canada for the next 48 years! Arlene and Joe married in 1954. Prize winners in the 9th Annual Munich International Competition in 1959, they decided to adopt their current professional name after being introduced as "Die Duo Pach von Canada". The Duo has toured Canada, Great Britain, Europe and the United States, broadcast for the BBC, the CBC, Radio Canada International, PBS, Hessicher Rundfunk and Radio Eirrean, released multiple records, raised 3 children and now have 5 grandchildren.

In 1964, the Canada Council sponsored their Canadian Tour. Their Fredericton performance invoked such a tremendous response that the University of New Brunswick offered them Resident Artists positions. During their 29 years there, they developed a large, loyal and appreciative audience for Chamber Music. Under the arrangement of Arlene, The Brunswick String Quartet, which Joseph played first violin for, has been playing in Fredericton and touring in Canada, to the US, and Europe.

In recognition of her contributions to music in Canada, Arlene and Joseph were awarded Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Saint Thomas University (1988) and Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of New Brunswick (1993).

Before coming to UNB (1928-1964)

Joseph Pach

Arlene Nimmons Pach

Headshot of Joseph Pach. Courtesy of UNB Archives, PR, File 767, No.2

Concert Violinist, born in Toronto on 8 Jan 1928. A pupil of Chris (Christoff) Dafeff at the Toronto Conservatory of Music (Royal Conservatory of Music) 1933-45, Pach made his professional debut at six and had won three gold medals at the CNE by the time he was twelve. He studied 1945-50 with Kathleen Parlow at the University of Toronto and continued to perform throughout his student years. After his 1947 Toronto Symphony Orchestra debut playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Pach appeared with the TSO again in 1975 and 1977. He was soloist with orchestras across Canada including the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra, the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra and the New Brunswick Symphony Orchestra. In 1965 he toured the Atlantic Provinces with the Halifax Symphony Orchestra.

Headshot of Arlene Nimmons Pach. Courtesy of UNB Archives, PR, File 767, No.1

Pianist and teacher, born in Kamloops on 26 May 1928 and died in Fredericton 2 Mar 2000, sister of Phil Nimmons, studied with Boris Roubakine at the TCM. After her 1947 debut with the Vancouver Junior Symphony and CBC Vancouver recitals 1948-9, she performed extensively in Toronto and throughout Ontario 1951-5 and premiered works by Harry Freedman, Kenneth Peacock, and Phil Nimmons. Her early chamber music activity included appearances with flautist Nicholas Fiore, violinist Steven Staryk, and the Summerhill Woodwind Quintet. Arlene taught at UNB, the Banff SFA, and the Institute de Ribaupierre (Lausanne, Switzerland). She also appeared on the CBC as music critic and commentator, and was columnist for the Vancouver Daily Province.

1952, a performance in St. Thomas, Ontario, Joseph and Arlene played together for the first time. They soon fell in love and got married in 1954. Prize winners of the 9th Annual Munich International Competition in 1959, they decided to adopt their current professional name after being introduced as "Die Duo Pach von Canada". In 1961, they received Canada Council fellowship and made their London and BBC debuts and performed in Europe.

Arlene, Joseph with their daughters Laurie and Ellen leaving for London, 1961.

Coming to UNB (1964)

Here is the story of Arlene and Joseph coming to UNB, told by their oldest daughter Laurie:

"In 1964, we were living in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I was 9 years old and my sister, Ellen, was 5. Arlene and Joe Pach were doing odd jobs: CBC Radio Broadcasts; Dad sat back desk with the Vancouver Symphony from time to time meanwhile they were building their Duo repertoire and concertizing across Canada. Note concerning the VSO: Joe Pach was offered the Concert Master chair of the VSO, however, being committed to a solo career he did not wish to rock the boat or ruffle any feathers so he turned it down. Speaking of which, in 1959 he was also offered the Concert Master’s chair of the Viennese Philharmonic, turning it down for the same reason."

"In 1964, The Duo Pach embarked on a 2 month concert tour across Canada. At the reception following their Fredericton, New Brunswick performance, Colin B. MacKay (UNB President 1953 – 1969) offered The Duo Pach “Resident Musicians” positions at the University of New Brunswick. Colin B. said they were exactly what the University needed. That year, we moved from Vancouver to Fredericton where we, as a family, took up residence in the Bridges House family apartment."

Arlene and Joseph practising in the UNB Observatory

Recidency at UNB (1964-1993)

At the time Arlene and Joseph appointed musicians-in-residence at UNB Fredericton, there was no music activities around the campus after the leaving of pianist Paul Helmer. They first started with the regular Friday lunch-time concerts (listen), and then added regular recital concerts and workshops.

Duo Pach rehearsing for a recital. Courtesy of Reg Balch and UNB Archives, UA PC 23 No.1(3)

In the 60s, Joseph completed a tour in the Atlantic Provinces with Halifax Symphony Orchestra. He has also actively cooperated with other orchestras in the Maritimes as soloists such as Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and CBC Halifax Chamber Orchestra. In 1967, Arlene and Joseph commissioned and premiered Jacques Hétu's Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Chamber Orchestra at the Charlottetown festival in PEI. In the summer of the same year, they performed 4 concerts in Montreal at the Canadian Pavilion of Expo '67, which was recorded, made into a record, and distributed all across Europe (listen).

Duo Pach practising at their home in UNB. Courtesy of UNB Archive, UA PC 23 No.1(1)

In the summer of 1966, the first UNB Summer Chamber Music Festival was held. Founded and directed by Arlene, the festival became a tradition of UNB for 18 years and had grown into a two-week event with famous musicians from around the world giving concerts and workshops. It was best known starting 1970 as the Summer Festival of Chamber Music and All That Jazz since Jazz became a big part of the festival. There is a dedicated page for the festival where you can learn about more details of this series of wonderful events.

The Pachs seen rehearsing &#34Opus UNB&#34 with guest musicians for the 4th Summer Festival of Chamber Music, Memorial Hall, 1969. Courtesy of UNB Archives, UA RG 340, 8111c

In 1970, Canada Council for the Arts agree to provide financial assistance for having more resident musicians at UNB. As a result, Andrew Benac(violin), James Pataki (viola) and Ifan Williams (cello) joined UNB and The UNB Pach String Quartet was formed. After two years in 1972, Andrew Benac left the group so they performed as a string trio for a year. The next year, with the arrival of Paul Campbell as second violin and Richard Naill as cello, the Brunswick String Quartet (read more) was formed. In 1984, Richard Naill was replaced by Paul Pulford. Before its dissolution in 1989, they have toured Canada, USA and Europe, participated various music festivals, taught at music camps, been broadcast frequently on CBC, and gave countless school concerts across Atlantic Canada. Most of these activities were under the arrangement of Arlene, who has also performed with the group regularly through its existence.

Shot of the UNB Pach String Quartet in front of the Keswick Covered Bridge, 1971. Courtesy of UNB Archives, PR5463

Joseph Pach (front), James Pataki and Ifan Williams playing to students at the Forest Hill School, 1973. Courtesy of UNB Archives, UA RG 340, 10017d

Arlene and Joseph remained at UNB as resident musicians until their retirement in 1993, when UNB decided to rearrange its music activities. In that year they received Honorary Doctorate of Literature from UNB. 5 year ago in 1988, they were awarded Honorary Doctorates of Laws from St. Thomas University.

Daily Gleaner - Duo Pach: last performance as UNB resident musicians
Daily Gleaner - Duo Pach: farewell performance
Newspaper Clip: The Pachs honoured and received Honorary Doctorates

After leaving UNB (1993 onward)

Arlene and Joseph continued to record, and to perform on CBC radio and in concert through the 1990s. They were about to embark on a career move to Vancouver Island when Arlene died of cancer in Fredericton, New Brunswick, March 2, 2000. In Memorium from UNB Perspectives on March 13, 2000:

"Arlene Pach mourned
The university community is saddened by the death on March 2 of celebrated pianist Arlene Nimmons Pach, who with husband Joe, served as UNB’s Resident Musicians for 29 years.
Arlene Pach made her debut at 18 with the Vancouver Junior Symphony. A graduate of the University of British Columbia and the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, she was a specialist in chamber music and a well-known teacher and lecturer on the art of music appreciation. She joined forces with Joseph Pach in 1954.
Ten years later, they came to Fredericton as The Duo Pach on a coast-to-coast tour of Canada sponsored by the Canada Council. The tour brought them to UNB for the first time, and it was on the basis of their performance here that they were invited to become Musicians-in-Residence.
In recognition of their contributions, UNB bestowed honorary doctor of letters degrees upon the Pachs in October 1993. St. Thomas University had awarded them honorary doctor of laws degrees in 1988.
A memorial service was held at the J. A. McAdam Memorial Chapel on March 7 with Rev. Monte Peters officiating."

Joseph Pach currently resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and continues to give concerts, lecture recitals, workshops, music camps, adjudications, master Classes and residencies.

Career Highlights:

  • The Unitarian Church, Toronto, 1st Public Performance, 1954
  • Duo Prize winners Munich International Competition, 1959
  • Wigmore Hall Debut, London, England, 1963
  • National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1963
  • Cross Canada Concert Tour, Victoria B.C. - St. John's N'f'l'd, 1964
  • Resident Musicians, The University of New Brunswick, 1964-93
  • Premiered Jacques Hetu Double Concerto, John Fenwick Conducting, The Charlottetown Festival, P.E.I., 1967
  • Expo '67 - 4 Concerts in the Canadian Pavilion, Montreal, 1967
  • Maritime Tour with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Mario Bernardi Conducting, 1973
  • Concert Tour, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia
  • Concert Tour, The Okanagan, British Columbia
  • Opening Festival, National Arts Centre, 2 concerts

Listen to Arlene and Joseph:

Schubert - Duo Sonata, D.574, from Friday lunch-time concert series in the 60s

Live Recording at the Canadian Pavilion of Expo '67

A playlist posted by Laurie Pach, includes:
Duo Pach playing Kreisler encores, Joe plays Carmen Fantasy and Chausson Poeme, Duo Pach playing Bottesini Grand Duo with bassist Gary Karr, and Joe jamming Czardas in a restaurant

Read more:

Information presented here is mainly from the above links, UNB Archives, and Laurie Pach.
Last updated: June 12, 2018