On March 27th I had the great privilege of attending the Kingston Symphony’s performance of the Requiem by Healey Willan. I sat with Mary Willan, Dr Willan’s daughter, and we chatted about the circumstances facing her family during those early years, and why Willan did not complete this work. Singing in the choir was Martha Clarke, widow of F.R.C.Clarke who was the musicologist who completed the Requiem from sketches and orchestrated the work. The whole event was very festive, and the conductor, Brian Jackson, signed my score after the concert. He had also conducted the premiere performance 23 years earlier – to the day!
I left Kingston on a bus for Ottawa since there had been a train derailment down the line and no Via trains were getting through in either direction.
In Ottawa I had a three-day stint in the National Archives. I had requested to see correspondence between FRC Clarke and Healey Willan and the sketches in Willan’s own hand from 1910 onward. The exchange of letters is fascinating, mapping out a relationship that grows in mutual respect over the years. The sketches are exactly what you would expect in Willan’s clear and confident hand. You can see for yourself in this digital photo I took with permission from the archives. It’s the first page of the score.