Willan, Healey

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Willan, Healey

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Healey Willan, composer, teacher, organist and choirmaster, was born at Balham, London, England on 12 October 1880. He was educated at St. Saviour's Choir School, Eastbourne. In 1913 he moved to Canada to become head of theory at the Toronto Conservatory and organist at St. Paul's church. The following year he was appointed lecturer at the University of Toronto. In 1919 he was appointed music director of the Hart House Theatre, a post he held until 1925. In 1921 he became precentor of St. Mary Magdalene church where he established the high-church music tradition through the use of plainsong and Renaissance music. He stayed at St. Mary Magdalene until his death in Toronto on 16 February 1968. His other posts included: Vice-Principal of the Conservatory, 1920-1936; professor at the University of Toronto, 1936-1950; University organist, 1932-1964.
Agnes Butcher (1915-), pianist and teacher, premiered the concerto dedicated to her on 24 August 1944 in a broadcast performance in Montreal for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation with the orchestra conducted by Jean-Marie Beaudet. These same performers later recorded the concerto for release on the CBC IS Canadian Album No. 1, RCA DM-1229. The first public performance of the concerto was held in November 1944 with Butcher being joined by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ettore Mazzoleni. Sometime before 1984 Butcher changed her surname to Boucher.


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