Nfld. & Labrador

Organist from Bay Bulls furthering musical career in Toronto

An organist from Bay Bulls has been travelling and playing in churches around the world, and is one of the few Canadians to play at the Vatican. Now, he's headed to Toronto to further pursue music.
Organist Robin Williams has moved to Toronto, after playing for churchgoers in Bay Bulls for almost 20 years, reports Leah Balass 2:43

An organist from Bay Bulls has been travelling and playing in churches around the world, and is one of the few Canadians to play at the Vatican. Now, he's moved to Toronto to further pursue music in the Catholic church. 

Robin Williams, now 30, first charmed the CBC audience at just 13 years old when he was the official organist playing for mass at the Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Bay Bulls.

Many people are struggling through different crises, or are on hard times, or have things they need to pray for, and music can be the conduit for that prayer.- Robin Williams

At the time, Williams had a simple but strong motivation for playing.

"I used to come here and see the organ some Sundays but nobody playing it, and it didn't make me feel very good," said a 13-year-old Williams.

Now, Williams has travelled the world to play for churchgoers across the globe, even performing at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in 2010.

"I think it really captivates my soul, my spirituality, my faith," he told CBC News.

Williams said it isn't just his passion for music that's set him down this path.

"I feel grateful that I can help people pray. Many people are struggling through different crises, or are on hard times, or have things they need to pray for, and music can be the conduit for that prayer," he said.

'Like a duck to water'

In 2013 alone, he played 100 funerals in St. John's.

"Many people are inconsolable at funerals, but somehow music is able to calm them," said Williams.
Robin Williams says while his music is taking him to Ontario, he hopes to someday be able to return to St. John's. (CBC)

John Fitzgerald has known Williams since he was 11, and calls him one of the bright lights of the St. John's organ community.

"He took to the pipe organ like a duck to water," said Fitzgerald.

"He's exceptionally talented. He's part of a generation of Newfoundlanders we're now seeing who have travelled abroad and they've had very substantial and significant experiences musically internationally."

Williams recently relocated to Toronto, where he will pursue his passion for music and faith while teaching at a Catholic school.

However, he'd love to return to St. John's one day to continue playing for his community.

With files from Leah Balass