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New fund continues tenor's teaching legacy

'He was always doing whatever he could to make their journey successful'
May 11, 2016 3:26 P.M.
Cheryl Blackwell, representing the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, remembers Peter Collins Wednesday.

Piano and keyboard stools sat empty while a guitar stood idle in its stand at the Kamloops Symphony Music School as family, friends and colleagues remembered Peter Collins Wednesday, announcing a new fund for students in need of financial support to pursue music.

Collins, a Kamloops opera singer and musician who rose to the national stage before returning home to teach and inspire others, died a year ago from cancer at 42. 

Peter’s father, Doug, said his son upheld the Freemason tradition of helping others, making the bursary a fitting legacy. 

“Peter had the ability to capture people’s hearts with his music and he washable to inspire the same passion in his students,” he said.

“Peter loved his students, and he particularly cared about those who need some extra help,” said Peter’s wife, Rochelle Collins. “He was always doing whatever he could to make their journey successful.”

Carlene Wiebe, a fellow vocal teacher at the music school, grew up knowing Collins and recalled his passion for music; they both advanced to music studies at UVic as young singers before working professionally in Vancouver and Toronto.

“Peter used his incredibly beautiful voice to inspire so many people,” she said.

That was after the tenor had a career with the Canadian Opera Company, “honing his voice with some of the best opera voices in the world,” she said.

The memorial fund grew from donations after Collins’ death last May, combined with contributions from the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group’s emerging musician fund. Doug as well as Peter worked for the broadcast group, represented Wednesday by Cheryl Blackwell. She remembered his dedication to all things music.

“He took his guitar everywhere.”

A matching grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage doubled the fund, which expected to grow to $50,000 by next year. An additional donation of $10,000 from the Freemasons was announced by Doug Collins, grand master of the Grand Lodge of B.C. and Yukon.

The fund will be administered by the B.C. Interior Community Foundation.

Application forms are available at and the first bursaries will be awarded this fall.

Peter Collins, third from the left, in the Canadian Opera Company production of The Magic Flute, 2005. (COC/Michael Cooper)


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