Friday, October 21, 2011

Healey Willan Society Established by Canons Regular of St. John Cantius

NLM readers will know that I have mentioned before the great work of the composer Healey Willan, particularly within the context of the potential for English chant and polyphony. Accordingly, I was delighted to hear that the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius have established the Healey Willan Society "in consultation with Mrs. Mary Willan Mason [daughter of Healey Willan], for the purpose of fostering the musical works of Healey Willan."

Not only this however, the Canons Regular share the good news that this past June, Mary Willan Mason legally entrusted the musical legacy and estate of her father to them. So then, what are their plans in this regard? They comment:

While Willan’s music is known and loved by church choirs, organists and instrumental ensembles, much of his music in no longer in print or has never been published. After Johann Sebastian Bach, Healey Willan is the most prolific composer of church music. It is the goal of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius and of the Healey Willan Society to bring back into print as many musical works of Healey Willan as possible. This will be accommodated through Biretta Books, Ltd., the publishing house of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. The Healey Willan Society will foster an increase in the public performance of his musical works in churches, concert halls, etc., as well as through audio recordings, as well as in film, radio, the Internet and television, etc.

Willan's legacy is more than worth preserving. I have been a great admirer of him and his music since the late 1990's.

Healey Willan, Missa Brevis no. 2, choir of the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, Toronto

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