Eugene Dowling and Dennis Latham Scholarship

For 25 years, Eugene Dowling was Principal Tubist with the Victoria Symphony and was a faculty member of the University of Victoria’s School of Music for over 30 years. His recording, The English Tuba, on the Fanfare/Pro Arte label was nominated for a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy) and received a number of favourable reviews and radio play across North America.

Gene studied with euphonium virtuoso Leonard Falcone (Michigan State) and legendary pedagogue Arnold Jacobs, former principal tubist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Northwestern). At Northwestern, he also studied conducting with the late John P. Paynter.

Gene also founded Victoria’s TubaChristmas ensemble in 1978, just four years after the original New York City event in 1974. For 36 years, under his direction, the annual Victoria low-brass celebration raised thousands of dollars for local charities and was featured in such diverse venues as CBC TV's The Journal and with the Victoria Symphony Christmas Pops program. Aware of his declining health, Gene passed the TubaChristmas baton to former student and tuba protégé Paul Beauchesne in 2014; the much-loved annual event continues to this day as a popular seasonal fundraiser.

Yet decades before Gene Dowling passed away in 2015, he began a wonderful friendship with Dennis Latham. Dennis was instrumental in growing the Eugene Dowling Scholarship and ensuring that it would support as many low-brass students as possible.

“I began playing the euphonium in Saskatchewan in 1950 in the original Moose Jaw Junior Band,” recalled Dennis. “By 1976, I was playing euphonium with the 5th Field Battery Victoria and continued for 19 years—and for 40 consecutive years I played with TubaChristmas in Victoria. In 1977, I met Gene Dowling, tubist, who became a mentor and fine friend, who inspired me to continue playing. Gene’s successor at the University of Victoria, Paul Beauchesne, has continued to be an inspiration.” (Dennis Latham. Deed of Gift: University of Victoria March 1 2019.)

What Dennis didn’t write on the above occasion is that he presented a euphonium recital in 2005 to celebrate his retirement from his law practice of 30 years. Gene—his fine friend and client—was the guest artist. By then, the musical lives of “the gown and town” were richly intertwined; the two friends frequently played together, and many of Gene’s students—like professional tubist Max Murray—became musical colleagues of Dennis’.

Indeed, the tradition of Dennis playing with UVic students continued after Gene’s death. In the summer of 2020, Jason Gordon (euphonium) and Scott Gordon (tuba)—both students in UVic’s School of Music—played side by side with Dennis and their instructor, Paul Beauchesne, outdoors on the Latham deck. This remarkable performance brought together four generations of tuba lovers, as Gene’s name was ever-present throughout the day. Dennis passed away February 2021, and the Eugene Dowling and Dennis Latham scholarship was renamed to honour their intertwined legacies.

Return to Index