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Vol II No. 5
Arts & Music

Healey Willan, Part II: Canada and A Life’s Work

by Mark Dwyer

By 1911, Healey Willan was well-established in London. He was the Organist & Choirmaster at St John the Baptist, Kensington, and he had music proofreading work for Novello’s. He often deputized at All Saints’ Margaret St. for Evensong. He had a small number of private students and he conducted a number of choral societies as well. He was busy playing organ recitals, and had passed the demanding FRCO exam (Fellow of the Royal College of Organists) at the tender age of 18, some 13 years earlier.

Willan was immersed in London’s rich cultural life and was acquainted with the panoply of characters associated with it. He had studied the organ with William Stevenson Hoyte, the organist of All Saints’; at the time, one of Hoyte’s other pupils was a young Leopold Stokowski. Stokowski and Willan became great friends. Willan attended the Thursday evening parties at Westminster Cathedral organist Richard Runciman Terry’s home, where discussion surrounded the newly-discovered polyphonic choral works of the Renaissance, and particularly the Tudor music which Terry unearthed. Willan had been made an associate of the Philharmonic Society, which meant he was allowed to attend any or all of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s rehearsals. He was a great fan of Philharmonic conductor Arthur Nikisch, who succeeded Elgar as Director.

Willan had exquisite and

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