Lindon, however, is as mysterious and neglected a figure as either. In a way, Lindon’s background is one that would be more likely encountered in a Victorian-era novelist or intellectual – the sickly, precocious, fragile son of an Anglican vicar, from earliest days shielded by a protective mother from the vissicistudes of life, and encouraged into intellectual pursuits. In Scotland he would have been called a Son of the Manse; but Lindon’s father’s parish was one of the largest and most remote on Earth; indeed, it was the Kingcome of Margaret Craven’s “I Heard The Owl Call My Name”
As readers of that novella will recall, everything in Kingcome had to come up the river, and the grand piano which Mrs LIndon insisted on acquiring for her Samuel was no exception. The same went for the violin, the trumpet, the oboe, the tuba, the xylophone, the hammered dulcimer, the harpsichord, the marimba, the double bass, the kettle drums, the clarinet, and all the other instruments that Samuel required. Some of these came by seaplane, but many were too massive and took up too much precious cargo, so glided on barges along the waters of British Columbia.
The word “multi-instrumentalist” is perhaps overused, but in Samuel Lindon’s case, it proved entirely apt. In Kingcome, he used correspondence course material to supplement the enthusiastic but amateur tutoring of his mother and the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw lady who played a small organ in the chapel. Achieving the various grades in exams set by the British Columbia Conservatory of Music was impossible, and as young Samuel was entirely homeschooled he flew past the radar of Vancouver-focused music circles.
It was therefore with no expectation that the BC Conservatory staff who would adjudicate his audition for admission attended one November morning. They were non plussed when Samuel, with only his mother’s assistance, brought into the draughty room his clarinet, dulcimer, home-made metallophone, Lambeg Drum, violin, cello, guitar, zither, lute, and samisen. Their expectations were further lowered when Lindon announced his three audition pieces were of his own composision, and he proceed the distribute a score which, he further explained, was written in a musical notation of his own invention.
Their expecations were entirely confounded when Lindon went on the produce what all judges agreed was the most glorious and entirely unique musical experience of their lives. He played all his instruments with virtusio skill, and managed by pacing the room very fast and by a combination of ambidexterity and seemingly prehensile feet, played them with a considerable degree of orchestration. His music burned with energy, and then would immedatiately evoke calm and infintite space. On the spot, he was offered a place.
The following September, he began as a student. Rapidly, it transpired that he was unteachable; indeed, his teachers would have learned from him, if he was capable of transmuting his musical approach into anything even approximating conventional Western notation and practice. What is more, he was finding the transition to Vancouver difficult. He was almost entirely silent outside the Conservatory, except for sudden outbursts of uncontrolled singing. He would disappear for days on end. His parents had placed him under the roof of an Anglican vicar in a suburban parish; too late, they realised that his difficult transition to urbanity mirrored that of so many Kwakwaka’wakw youth.
In this period, Lindon still used his unique notation, which defied all attempts at explanation, and had nothing in common with the various avant garde attempts at unconventional notation that had been made over the years.. It turned out he was perfectly conversant with conventional notation, but felt that it did not capture the dynamic qualities of his music. His notation was described as being a bush of raging lines, without discernable rhythmic qualities.
As an exercise, he composed three pieces in conventional notation; Tallis One, La Tour and Meadow Mornings. The title of the first was a nod to Thomas Tallis, whose Spem In Alium he expressed admiration for. And then, at the end of his first year, he disappeared from Vancouver.
The reader may not be surprised that he returned to Kingcome. After a period of a year, he enrolled in the Vancouver School of Theology. This stint in Vancouver was marked by no disappearances, and an entirely orthodox theological and practical outlook. He was ordained, and on his father’s retirement, was appointed to Kingcome.
And there he remains, known to the outside world only by three pieces of piano music on Spotify. Kingcome Parish, however, has a fantastically well equipped musical group.