Tuesday, May 6, 2003


John Contadino composed church music

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

John Louis Contadino, a distinguished musician who wrote music for the Roman Catholic litany, died Thursday at Christ Hospital after a long illness. The East Walnut Hills resident was 78.

Mr. Contadino was best known for the ease with which he composed music. He taught at McNicholas High School, retiring in 1980, but his first love was church music. As organist and choir director for a string of Catholic parishes in Greater Cincinnati, he often reworked existing pieces to create new ones that his congregations cherished.

"He was just amazing," said his daughter, Lisa Stephenson of Manhattan. "He could take two notes and put it into a lush melody in a nanosecond. It was just his talent. He was really a master."

Mr. Contadino served at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Norwood, All Saints Church in Montgomery, St. Francis de Sales Church in Walnut Hills, St. Augustine Church in Covington and Sacred Heart Church in Camp Washington, where he was still organist and choir director at his death. Until the end of his life, he was "never far from an organ," his daughter said.

His son-in-law, Charles Stephenson of Manhattan, said, "His musical additions were like brush strokes, which comprised an unforgettable final product."

Mr. Contadino also conducted the annual Guardian Angels Follies and the WCPO-TV orchestra, served as the organist for Beechwood Home and WLW-AM radio and as music director for the Cincinnati Youth Orchestra.

"With a professional knowledge of music that encompassed opera, symphony and contemporary composers, he was as familiar with the compositions of Sir Edward Elgar as he was with those of Sir Elton John," his son-in-law said.

A native Cincinnatian, Mr. Contadino graduated from Purcell High School and completed a master's degree at the College-Conservatory of Music. He did post-graduate work at Shrivenham University in England and studied privately with Eugene Perazzo.

Mr. Perazzo was a talented musician and organist for WLW radio in the days when Rosemary Clooney and other stars were starting out. Before his career took him to New York, he accepted Mr. Contadino as a student because they were both of Italian descent.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Contadino's survivors include: his wife of 46 years, Megs Contadino; his mother, Alba Contadino of East Walnut Hills; and a grandson.

Services have been held. Burial was at St. Mary Cemetery.

Memorials: Sacred Heart Church, 2733 Massachusetts Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45225-2296.

E-mail rgoodman@enquirer.com

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