Derek Holman

Derek Holman, composer, organist, choir conductor, professor (b at Illogan, England, 16 May 1931).

Derek Holman, composer, organist, choir conductor, professor (b at Illogan, England, 16 May 1931). From 1948 to 1952 Holman studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Before arriving in Canada in 1965 he held various posts, including master at Westminster Abbey Choir School and assistant organist at St. Paul's Cathedral. His first positions in Toronto were as organist-choirmaster at Grace Church on-the-Hill and choirmaster at Bishop Strachan School. From 1967 until 1996, he taught at the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO. From 1975 to 1985 he conducted the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus. He was organist-choirmaster at the Church of St. Simon the Apostle from 1981 until 1998. His compositional output has largely been in theatrical and choral music, written in a tonal-centred, contrapuntal and angular style with energetic rhythmic gestures. Among frequent collaborations with Robertson DAVIES, he wrote the children's opera Doctor Canon's Cure (1982). His Variations upon a melody by Doctor Arne for two pianos (1999) explores Davies's life and work by using Arne's "Water Parted" theme from Artaxerxes, which appears in Davies's novel A Mixture of Frailities. Night Music (1985) won the National Choral Award in 1988. Contrasts (1992) for four voices and two pianos is a setting of five poems that illustrate five different aspects of the Canadian heritage. A Music Canada 2000 commission for the TORONTO SYMPHONY choir and children's chorus plus three soloists was The Invisible Reality, based on poems by P.K. PAGE. The latest of many commissions (Nicholas Knock, The Heart Mislaid, Airs and Echoes upon a ground) from the Aldeburgh Connection is the song cycle The Death of Orpheus premiered in 2005.