COOPERSTOWN – John Andrew Cannon, 39, the organist and choir director at Christ Episcopal Church, died in the early morning hours of Friday, Feb. 10, after a massive heart attack while visiting his brother in Charlottesville, Va. An autopsy found the heart attack was caused by undiagnosed atherosclerosis.
Born at Huntsville Hospital in Alabama on Jan. 3, 1978, John grew up in Scottsboro until age 15. He loved playing sports: baseball and basketball, tennis and golf, among others. Sidelined after breaking his arm in third grade, he redirected his energies to learning to play the organ.
After attending Scottsboro City Schools, John completed high school at Loomis Chaffee boarding school in Windsor, Conn., where he studied organ under Francis Angelo, a pupil of world-renowned organists Marcel Dupre and Clarence Waters. John received the junior and senior prizes in music.
John earned a B.A. in 2000 and a master’s degree in 2003, both in music performance, from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., where he studied under Dr. Peggy Johnson and Dr. Robert Cavarra, who became a lifelong mentor. He was inducted into the Golden Key International Honor Society award in 2000 in recognition of outstanding scholastic achievement and excellence.
From 2003 to 2007, John was assistant university organist for the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., under university organist Robert Delcamp. He accompanied the University Choir for CD recording tours in England, to Wells Cathedral in 2005, and York Minster in 2007, resulting in the CDs “O Lord, Open thou our lips” and “Choral Evensong from York Minster.”
In spring 2006, John worked under internationally acclaimed organist and composer David Briggs while Delcamp was on sabbatical. John later premiered an original Briggs composition based on the hymn tune “Lobe den Herren, o meine Seele” at the Cathedral of St. John in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2010.
John returned to Fort Collins, and from there he traveled across the country and the world giving organ recitals while serving as organist and music director at Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Estes Park. For the past two years, he was organist and choir director at Christ Episcopal Church in Cooperstown.
He gave recitals in grand cathedrals like St. John the Divine in New York City, Washington National Cathedral, St. Paul’s in London, St. Philip in Atlanta, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. His last concert was in November at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
In 2009, John competed in the Luxembourg-based competition “Organs without Borders,”; he was semifinalist at the Rodgers Organ Competition in Phoenix in 2011.
John is survived by his parents, Henry Brevoort Cannon III and Kathleen Johnsen Cannon, and brother Henry B. (Brevy) Cannon IV.
Funeral services will be held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scottsboro at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 4, followed by a reception luncheon in the parish hall.
Contributions in John’s memory can be made to the organ music program at Colorado State University by sending a check to: CSU Foundation, P.O. Box 1870, Fort Collins, CO 80522, with memo line indicating “IMO John Andrew Cannon,” or through the website www.advancing.colostate.edu/give, selecting Fund 60985.