Leslie Richard Bell

Leslie Richard Bell, choir conductor, arranger (b at Toronto 5 May 1906; d there 19 Jan 1962).

Leslie Richard Bell, choir conductor, arranger (b at Toronto 5 May 1906; d there 19 Jan 1962). A versatile musician with wide-ranging interests, Leslie Richard Bell devoted his life to bringing art music to ordinary people through teaching, radio series, and writing (Toronto Star 1949-62). He founded the Leslie Bell Singers, a women's choir of 36-100 voices, in 1939, and at various times also had mixed choirs (for the 'Jolly Miller Show' with Howard CABLE) and an all- male choir. Convinced that there were common denominators between the best of so-called art and popular music, he had the singers perform his own arrangements of music, embracing a diversity of styles from Renaissance madrigals to popular songs of the day. This programming concept was highly successful with audiences and has been widely imitated elsewhere. Over 50 of his arrangements/compositions were published. Since 1973 the Leslie Bell Prize, administered by the Ontario Choral Federation, has been awarded to assist a choir conductor in post-graduate training. Leslie Bell's son, Richard Bell (1946-2007) became noted as a keyboardist, songwriter and vocalist. He performed with Ronnie Hawkins, and as keyboardist in Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band. In the 1990s he became the keyboard player in the reconstituted THE BAND.