“I am English by birth, Irish by extraction, Canadian by adoption, and Scotch by absorption.”
These words correspond with the variety of influence for his compositions. Though he is well known for his ecclesiastic writing style, the influence of the romantics (especially Brahms and Wagner) is also notable. Willan also dismissed the need to explore contemporary musical style and adhered instead to a more traditional form. This being said, his compositions for choirs instill a sense of sublime mystique given their traditional simplicity.
His contributions to Canada began in 1913 when he emigrated from England and accepted a position as head of the theory department at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. He furthered his career by lecturing at the University of Toronto and taking a position as organist-choirmaster at St Paul’s Anglican church. In 1921 Willan left St Paul’s in favor of a position at the church of St. Mary Magdalene; this was a position he held for the remainder of his life.
Willan wrote dramatic, orchestral, symphonic, and chamber works as well as composing for piano, organ, choir, and solo voice. Some of Willan’s most celebrated works include An Apostrophe to the Heavenly Hosts (1921) and Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue, for organ (1930). Part of his prestige lies in his choral writings and his use of plainsong as well as the impelling character of his organ writing.
Willan was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1967 and he received a diploma from the province of Ontario in recognition of his role in Canadian musical life.
Born 1857 in Broadheath, Worcester, Edward Elgar showed musical promise from an early age. Until 1900 Elgar remained unbeknownst outside of the midlands, although, he participated in orchestral events and produced a few small-scale works for his local community. In 1899 came his Big London Break; Hanz Richter conducted the first performance of the Variations on an Original theme (enigma) and commissions for compositions followed resulting in the attention of Richard Strauss. The latter announced his opinion of Elgar describing him as a foremost English composer of the day. Overnight an Elgar vogue became prominent in the European continent.
The years 1901 thru 1914 were years of great success for Elgar. During this time Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 established Elgar as a household name. When it was suggested that the trio of this same march be paired with words, the result was so popular it was deemed an alternative national anthem. This piece was titled “Land of Hope and Glory” and was published in 1902 as part of the Coronation Ode. Shortly after this publication (in 1904) Elgar was knighted, Sir. Edward Elgar.
Among his best-known works are the aforementioned Enigma Variations and Pomp and Circumstance Marches both for orchestra. But, Elgar produced works for the theatre, solo voice, choral, small chamber ensemble, and solo piano mediums as well. His compositional style references the harmonic language of Romantics like Brahms and Schumann and the character of his music ranges from patriotic ditties to an embodiment of deep-set melancholy.
Sir Ernest MacMillan
Canadian composer, conductor, academic, and performer. MacMillan showed an early delight in music. Consequently, his training in performance, which began at the age of eight, was followed by a well-attended public performance on organ at the age of ten. During his early teen years Ernest MacMillan and his father moved to Edinburgh where the younger Macmillan attended music classes at the local university.
His focus on the organ as his primary instrument was, in his later youth, regretted – a sentiment that resulted in the pursuit of his studies of piano in Paris. While in Europe, Macmillan visited the Bayreuth Festival, anevent that placed him in German territory at the outset of WWI. He was detained from further travel until his return to Canada in 1919. But, during his detainment MacMillan produced an entire draft of his String quartet in C minor, and admittedly gleaned much insight into conducting technique and experience.
His return to Toronto and his newfound confidence in conducting was well received. He accepted a post in 1931 as conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and upheld that position until 1956. His academic pursuits were maintained as well – MacMillan held a teaching and examining position with the Toronto (Royal) conservatory of music and from 1927- 1952 he held a position as dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto.
For his contributions to the Canadian musical progress MacMillan was knighted in 1935. The list of his awards and recognitions is extensive; note that in 1985 his family, with aims to assist gifted young professional musicians established the Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation. He also has a collection of papers housed reverently in the National Library of Canada.
Since its inception in 1994, the New Brunswick Summer Music Festival has attracted some of Canada’s finest classical musicians. We have become a recognized iconic festival unique in our approach to classical chamber music.
The concert series includes four evening concerts with a special evening finale. The series traditionally featured the work of two composers - one well known to audiences and the other much less known.
Featured Composers from past festivals include:
1994 Beethoven and Dohnanyi
1995 Mozart and Korngold
1996 Schubert and Zemlinsky
1997 Dvorak and Martinu
1998 Milhaud and Walton
1999 Schumann and Walton
2000 Strauss and Hummel
2001 Arensky and Janacek
2002 Poulenc and Kalnins
2003 Berwald and Rathburn
2004 Auric and Prokofiev
2005 Tailleferre and Brahms
2006 Mozart and Le Chevalier de Saint George
2007 Mendelssohn and Phil Nimmons
2008 Ravel and Louis Applebaum
2009 Beethoven and Robert Fleming
2010 Antonin Dvorak and Claude Champagen
2011 Tchaikovsky and Adaskin
2012 Debussy and Kenins
2013 Greatest Hits from Our Past 20 Years
2014 Brahms, Schumann, and Morawetz