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Ruth Watson Henderson: Biography

Ruth Watson Henderson
1932 -
Region: Ontario

Ruth Watson Henderson

Ruth Watson Henderson has an international reputation as a leading Canadian composer of choral music, and as an admired pianist and organist.

She has done much to promote the artistry of children through her wealth of compositions for treble voices, using the expertise gleaned over 29 years as accompanist of the Toronto Children’s Chorus under Jean Ashworth Bartle. She has also written a wide spectrum of acclaimed works for adult choirs, beginning while accompanist of the Festival Singers under Elmer Iseler.

Her works are commissioned, performed and recorded worldwide, by such well-known choirs as the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Toronto Children’s Chorus, Exultate Chamber Singers, and the University of Toronto choirs. The Elmer Iseler Singers devoted an entire CD, "Sing All Ye Joyful", to Ruth’s works.

Although most widely known for her prolific body of choral works, Ms Watson Henderson also writes for piano, organ, and other instruments. One organ work, "Celebration", won a worldwide competition honouring the Royal Canadian College of Organists’ Centennial, thus earning the piece a première at Westminster Abbey.

Recognized for her lifetime of service to music, Ruth has been paid many great tributes by the music community, not the least of these being the myriad concerts devoted solely to her works by national and international choirs, often with the composer at the keyboard.

Although she is no longer actively performing in public, Ruth’s music is still widely performed.

Pianist, organist, and prolific composer, Ruth Watson Henderson has often been described as a “Canadian national treasure”.


Click here to listen to all works by Ruth Watson Henderson