David Mills | The Canadian Encyclopedia


David Mills

David Mills. Bass, actor, b Moose Jaw, Sask, 29 Jan 1929; ARCT 1957, BA (Toronto) 1966.

Mills, David

David Mills. Bass, actor, b Moose Jaw, Sask, 29 Jan 1929; ARCT 1957, BA (Toronto) 1966. While studying 1947-9 at the Regina Cons with Alicia Birkett he sang in churches, on radio (CKRM and CKCK), and in recital, and wrote the libretto and music for an operetta titled The Rebel, which was performed by music students of the University of Regina. Studies followed at the RCMT with George Lambert and D'Alton McLaughlin. Though mainly a recitalist, Mills made his oratorio debut in 1953 with the Yorkminster Choir (Toronto) under McLaughlin and sang the bass solos (1954) in Beethoven's rarely performed Der Glorreiche Augenblick, Opus 136 with the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir under Emil Gartner. He sang with the National Opera (Toronto) in 1953, with the Marseilles Opera in 1957 and 1958, and at the 1958 Summer of Musicals in Chicago. Accompanied by his wife, the pianist Marjorie Mutter, Mills has made recital tours of Europe (1960, 1961, 1965, 1970, 1977, 1979, 1983, and 1988), has performed in the USA, and has toured Canada eight times, frequently performing programs of Canadian art songs. He has premiered songs by James Gayfer, Welford Russell ('The Conqueror' and 'Farewell to Arms'), Court Stone (the bass lead in his operetta Traumerei in 1980), the Polish-Canadian Boleslaw Szczeniowski, and Leon Zuckert. Szczeniowski and Zuckert have set Mills' own poems to music. Mills gave masterclasses in 1972 at the Okanagan Summer School of the Arts and has worked as an adjudicator in Canada and Scotland.

Mills has published two books of poetry, Isobelle, a Novel in Verse (Toronto 1989) and The Social Comedy (Ottawa 1990). His show David Mills - His Poetry and Songs was first performed in Toronto in 1989 and was repeated in centres such as St Catharines, Winnipeg, and Vancouver throughout 1990. He has composed settings of poetry of Pauline Johnson and Robert Browning, and has composed a solo cantata titled Vision of Peace to texts from Isaiah.

Mills' voice is a rich basso described by Pauline Durichen as 'displaying vibrant deep-range control... and at times a soulful sweetness at heights where few basses dare linger' (Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 19 Oct 1987).

In addition to his work as a singer, Mills also pursues a career as an actor for Circle Films, Altlantis Films, CBC TV, and other production companies.


David Mills Sings Pop Concert Favourites. Mutter piano. 1969. Quality V-1636

David Mills Sings Art Songs by Canadian Composers: Dela - Mercure - Russell - Szczeniowski - Weinzweig - Zuckert. Mutter piano. 1975. Master Recordings MA-275

Cry of the Prophet and Other Canadian Song Classics: Applebaum - Blackburn - Boivin - Coulthard - Dela - Lordly - Szczeniowski - Zuckert. Mutter piano. 1977. Master Recordings MA-377

Je voulais te dire: Bissell - Dela - Gayfer - Lordly - Mills - Szczeniowski - Zuckert. Mutter piano. 1990. Master MA-904