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2023 Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation Prize

07 October 2022 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

It is with much excitement that we announce the Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation Prize. Funded by the Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation and administered by the RCCO, this prestigious award of $7,500 is given in memory of Canada’s preeminent musician from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Sir Ernest (1893-1973) was a Companion of the Order of Canada, and recipient of the only knighthood conferred on a Canadian musician. Perhaps best known as the conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for 25 years, he was also conductor of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for 15 years, as well as Dean of the University of Toronto Faculty of Music for 25 years, and Principal of the Royal Conservatory of Music for 16 years. He founded and/or presided over most of the major national organizations dedicated to music, including the Canadian Music Centre, the Canadian Music Council, the Canada Council, CAPAC (now SOCAN), and Jeunesses musicales du Canada. Sir Ernest's extraordinary contributions to the development of music in Canada, in virtually all aspects, as orchestral and choral conductor, organist, chamber musician, composer, arranger, educator, administrator, lecturer, adjudicator, writer, and statesman, are unparalleled.

As an organist, he was a prodigy, and was appearing publicly in Toronto by the age of ten. He passed the (British) ARCO exam in 1907 while still only 13, and the next year assumed his first professional position as the organist at Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto. In 1911 he was awarded the Carte-Lafontaine prize as the top student in the FRCO exams that year in London. He later held organ positions at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Hamilton and Timothy Eaton Memorial Church in Toronto, toured widely as an organist, and composed the fine concert piece Cortège académique (1953). MacMillan wrote about his career as an organist in the article “The Organ Was My First Love,” published in the Canadian Journal of Music in 1959.

His life story has been told in an award-winning biography by Ezra Schabas: Sir Ernest MacMillan: The Importance of Being Canadian (University of Toronto Press, 1994) and in the fine Encyclopedia of Music in Canada article by John Beckwith, available in English here and in French here.

Offered in odd-numbered years, the prize will support the artistic development and career advancement of a young organist; it may be used to assist with travel, a workshop or study program, participation in a festival or competition, or other relevant purposes

Candidates should be at an advanced stage of their musical education, under thirty years of age at April 30, 2023, and should hold either Canadian citizenship or permanent residency of Canada. They should also be members of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

Candidates will be expected to prepare a program of no more than 40 minutes of music drawn from three categories:

  1. the works of J. S. Bach – a slow and fast movement from Trio Sonata III, IV, V or VI
  2. French symphonic school – two contrasting movements from an organ symphony of Widor or Vierne
  3. Contemporary Canadian Organ Music – one of these movements from theSonatas of Raymond Daveluy:

3rd Sonata : Chaconne, 2nd Movement
5th Sonata : Scherzo, 2nd Movement
5th Sonata : Final, 4th Movement
4th Sonata : Fantasy, 1st Movement
4th Sonata : Fugue, 3rd Movement
         Epilogue on "Nun Danket" and "Ballerma"
6th Sonata : Toccata, 4th Movement

The winner will be selected by recorded audition and references, adjudicated by a jury of representatives from the RCCO and the wider musical world beyond. The jury may withhold its recommendation if it considers no applicant is of sufficiently high artistic standard.

The application and reference letter deadline is April 30, 2023.

For the Application Form and further details, please click here.

For information on the Sir Ernest MacMillan Foundation, go to:



The Royal Canadian College of Organists

20 St Joseph St

Toronto, ON M4Y 1J9

Phone: 416.929.6400
Email: info[at]

The Royal Canadian College of Organists

20 St Joseph St

Toronto, ON M4Y 1J9

Téléphone : 416.929.6400
Courriel : info[

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