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Alfred Whitehead: Biography

Alfred Whitehead
1887 - 1974
Region: Atlantic

Alfred Whitehead

DR. ALFRED WHITEHEAD (b. Peterborough, England, 20 July 1887; d. Amherst, Nova Scotia, April 1, 1974). In England he studied organ with Haydn Keeton in Peterborough and Eaglefield Hull in Huddersfield, receiving an ARCO diploma in 1910. Immigrating to Canada in 1912, he obtained his FCCO diploma (1913), his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto (1916), his Doctor of Music degree from McGill University (1922), and his FRCO diploma (1924), receiving the Lafontaine prize for first place in the FRCO examinations. He also studied painting in Montréal from 1922 to 1947. He began his career as organist and choirmaster of Trinity Congregational Church in Peterborough, England (1905-12), and continued in Canada as organist of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Truro, Nova Scotia (1912-13). From 1913 to 1915 he was a teacher and assistant director of the Mount Allison Conservatory in Sackville, New Brunswick. He moved to Québec, where he was organist at the Anglican Church in Sherbrooke (1915-22) and at Christ Church Cathedral (1922-47) in Montréal, where he founded and conducted the Cathedral Singers (1931-39). He was also instructor in organ and theory at the McGill Conservatory (1922-23). In 1947 he returned to Mount Allison Conservatory as dean and professor of organ and theory, becoming dean emeritus on his retirement in 1953. From 1953 to 1966 he was organist at Trinity St. Stephen Church in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

Whitehead's compositions are mainly for choir and organ and follow in the same tradition as Healey Willan, excelling in rich tonal harmonies and intricate contrapuntal lines. He received many honours, including the Nova Scotia Society of Artists award (1955) and honourary Doctor of Laws degrees from Mount Allison (1958) and Queen's (1970) universities.

Contemporary Canadian Composers; Edited by Keith MacMillan, John Beckwith; Published: the Oxford University Press, 1975. p. 236.

CAPAC, Nova Scotia Society of Artists

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