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The Walter MacNutt Scholarship

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The Walter MacNutt Scholarship has been instituted to honour and perpetuate the memory and legacy of Walter MacNutt—Canadian composer, organist, and choirmaster—by nurturing the development of the accomplished and dedicated liturgical musician. The scholarship has a value of $5,000 and will be offered biennially in odd-numbered years.

Born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 1910, Walter MacNutt moved to Toronto in the late 1920s. He studied organ and composition with Healey Willan, and piano at the Toronto Conservatory, and rapidly became a notable figure in the Canadian music scene.

Beginning his career at Holy Trinity (Barrie, Ontario), he subsequently held posts at Holy Trinity (Toronto), St. Peter’s (Charlottetown), All Saints (Winnipeg), All Saints (Windsor), and St. Thomas’s (Toronto). During the Second World War, he served with the Canadian Armed Forces. In his early years, he composed mainly secular art songs and instrumental works. His piano suite won a national competition in 1931, and his symphonic tone poem was performed by the CBC Radio Orchestra. In the 1950s, the Windsor Singers presented his British folksong arrangements weekly on CBC Radio.

During his tenure at St. Thomas’s (1954–77), he composed most of his sacred works: devotional motets, Christmas carols, Eucharistic settings, hymn tunes, descants, and plainsong arrangements. He sought to craft music of melodic warmth and harmonic strength, which would be appealing and accessible to singers and listeners alike. All of Walter MacNutt’s compositions and recordings now reside at the Canadian Music Centre in Toronto. His published works are available from Mayfair-Montgomery Music Publications Inc. (Keswick, Ontario) and Leslie Music Supply Inc. (Oakville, Ontario).

The donor of the Walter MacNutt scholarship, Robert Maclennan, served as a chorister at St. Thomas’s Church from 1962 to 1977 and (for many of those years) as the deputy organist. During that time, it was his privilege and joy to experience the art of the consummate liturgical musician (and to learn and employ those skills detailed in the scholarship application form).

In Robert’s view, this calling requires not only an aptitude for and dedication to church music and the organ, but also an affinity for the liturgy of the church, a commitment to the people involved in the process, and a compatibility with the spiritual foundation of the whole enterprise. Equipped with this worldview, a professional musician may find it easier and more rewarding to participate in “the collaborative creation (with ministers, choristers, and congregations) of an intellectually and emotionally coherent and compelling aesthetic and spiritual experience” (from the scholarship application form).

Walter MacNutt’s consummate art, generous personality, and deep commitment radiated from the organ of St. Thomas’s Church, and drew music, liturgy, and people (from many parts of the world) together into an indescribably rich devotional and celebratory experience. If this award can help others to integrate their skills and talents with the liturgy and people, and to enter into and enjoy such an experience, the donor will be well rewarded.


Deadline for applications:  March 31, 2019.

Application form is available here.  Completed applications should be mailed to:

The Walter MacNutt Scholarship,
c/o The Royal Canadian College of Organists,
414 - 15 Case Goods Lane
Toronto, ON M5A 3C4

or submitted by email to info@rcco.ca.

414 - 15 Case Goods Lane
Toronto, ON
M5A 3C4

Phone: 416.929.6400
Email: info@rcco.ca
414 - 15 Case Goods Lane
Toronto, ON
M5A 3C4

Téléphone : 416.929.6400
Courriel : info@rcco.ca

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